Rejections are not only part and parcel of being a writer, but also of being an editor. I was curious to get an insight into what makes an editor choose one story over another, so I asked Dave Evans...
Dave is the editor of small press publisher FutureQuake, which publishes leading ttitles like Something Wicked, FutureQuake and MangaQuake. He is also the editor of 2000AD [Britain's leading sci-fi and fantasy comic] fanzines Zarjaz and Dogbreath
PLM: Why and when did you first begin work on FutureQuake, and has your role become more challenging since FQP took over the likes of Zarjaz and Dog Breath?
DE: FutureQuake began when Arthur Wyatt [FQ's founder] was trying to get work on 2000AD. He kept all his rejected ideas and decided to put them out himself. I first became involved in 2004 when I was asked to provide the artwork for a story that ran in FQ03. That story was written by a chap named James Mackay, with whom I had produced some Judge Dredd Fan fiction for the 2000AD Online website (now known as Barney). After FQ03 Arthur decided to stop as he was preparing to flee the country as a tax exile for the money he made in SPress.
James Mackay contacted me in October-or-November 2004 to ask if I would join him in picking up the reins from Arthur and carrying on. Along with also new editor Richmond Clements we started work and FQ04 launched at Bristol 2005.
As for the changing challenge since taking over Dogbreath and Zarjaz: It is difficult to say. There is a massive difference between the two sets of titles, with FQ being much more difficult due to the desire to produce the best comic we can. Zarjaz and Dogbreath are immense fun; we all get to play with these incredible toys that Tharg has given us, and as long as we don't go too far we are free to do as we please. My biggest problem with Zarjaz and Dogbreath is sharing: I want to keep it all to myself!
PLM: What are the highs and lows of your position at FQP? For instance, I'm sure that for every gem you discover you have to sort through a lot of dross...
DE: Highs: The first time I saw FQ04 in the box at the printer. I doubt anything can top that first issue for emotional impact for me.
Seeing the cover to FQ06 in the pages of the Megazine. An immense sense of pride seeing that, especially as I designed the character and had the initial plot ideas that were developed into the strip.
Getting TWO strips in as part of the Small Press section in Judge Dredd Megazine [2000AD's sister publicatiob]. As far as I'm aware we were the only team to get away with that.
There are loads of other things I could say. Having big name creators stop by and talk to us about contributing, meeting childhood heroes and finding them a pleasure to drink with, really it is a most rewarding pastime.
Lows: Personally I wish we sold more: not just for financial reasons, but because there is some simply amazing work in each an every issue and it is a crime that these guys and girls aren't getting paid.
PLM: What is you look for in a story? What makes a successful submission to FQ?
DE: That is difficult to say, as each of us on the editorial team will often see something different in every script. Ideally for me I want to read a script that keeps me guessing till the end. If I work it out on page 1 then I lose interest unless the writing is very good.
PLM: Matt Smith of 2000AD has stated in the past that Britain only produces one good writer per year. Is this a theory you subscribe to?
DE: Matt knows what he's talking about: after all he is Tharg's mouthpiece on this planet. Many writers that have appeared in the pages of 2000AD have their roots in SPress: Al Ewing, Arthur Wyatt, Alec Worley, Michael Carroll, and probably more that I can't think of right now, have all worked on SPress titles. The chance to have scripts in print and get feedback from peers is a great way to learn and progress ready to try out for Tharg.
PLM: And finally, what does the future hold for both you and FutureQuake? Do you, for instance, keep a covetous eye on Matt Smith's job should he ever move on?
DE: The Future? Heh, more comics. FQ is hopefully going to be three times a year for the next year or so, to capitalise on the Hi-Ex convention in Inverness that is co-run by my good compadre Richmond Clements (http://www.hi-ex.co.uk/) as well as new issues for MangaQuake and Something Wicked alongside Dogbreath & Zarjaz.
As for Tharg's avatar: he has my email. Let's just leave it at that.
PLM: Thanks, Dave.
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