Back in March, BOOM! Comics hired Matt Gagnon to oversee their upcoming Farscape comics. Per a press release sent out last week, Matt “was quickly promoted to managing editor, overseeing the production of all BOOM! titles,” reporting to their editor-in-chief, Mark Waid.
Matt spent four years as a buyer at Meltdown Comics, the 15-year-old large comic shop in L.A., before moving to BOOM! He’s no stranger to the publishing side of comics, as he was co-editor of the latest volume of the Meathaus comic anthology.
To see how the new job was going, I sent a few questions to Matt via email.
JK: You’re coming to BOOM! from the comics retailing world. What did you do for Meltdown Comics?
Matt: My title was Purchasing Manager, which means I did the ordering for our stores through Diamond, our mainstream distributors, and beyond. Gaston, the co-owner of Meltdown, besides being one of the best business men I’ve ever met, also became a good friend and mentor to me. We had a great short-hand between the two of us. I was also planning events – like Y:THE LAST PARTY – working the counter on Wednesday’s, flexing on thieves. You know, the usual.
JK: Did that help prepare you for your role at BOOM!?
Matt: Immensely. I wouldn’t be where I am without Meltdown. Having customers and friends that are professionals in their fields made every shift at the MLT like a master’s class in the entertainment industry. It’s my alma mater. It’s where I learned the mechanics of the industry and really fell in love with the comic book community. I mean, you spend every day around people that are passionate about the same things that you are. It’s just a great place to be.
JK: What does a managing editor at BOOM! do, specifically?
Matt: Besides getting Mark Waid’s coffee? I work with our ever-growing editorial bullpen to make sure we’re pulling our weight and hitting our deadlines, in addition to editing my own titles. It also means I’m kind of the utility in-fielder, putting out fires and fixing problems. I’m here to serve the team and our creators. Frankly, Mark works as hard as three men, so if I can take a little of the weight off his shoulders, perfect.
JK: You’ve been with BOOM! for a few months now. What are your general impressions so far?
Matt: Honestly? I love it. Personally, it’s a really exciting new challenge for me. The team is solid as a rock. Chip Mosher is the most aggressive marketing and sales director in comics (as you know, JK!). I work next to boy wonder Ian Brill, which is entertaining. We bounce ideas off each other, B.S. about obscure TV shows, trade quips, and debate the comics news of the day. Not that I need to sing the praises of Mark Waid, but he’s a strong leader and makes everybody around him better at their jobs. Ross Richie and Andrew Cosby have an inspiring vision that is clearly working.
JK: Looking at the BOOM! line, what are the strengths and where do you see opportunities for improvement?
Matt: We’ve found a nice balance between original and licensed properties. Our monthly output is very focused and that’s a credit to the discerning eyes of Mark and Ross. We’re not publishing recklessly and outside of our means. We also have a strong track record of working with exceptional writers and artists. Like I mentioned above, we have one of the most aggressive marketing teams in comics. Chip and marketing and sales assistant Jacqui Bryant work tirelessly to promote our books, creators, and make more readers aware of our titles. As for improvement, we’re definitely working every day to prove to retailers that we’re a publisher they can count on.
JK: What are your goals for the line? When people think of BOOM!, what do you want them to think of?
Matt: I want to help create something lasting. I want to help build the careers of the young creators I believe in. I want more people reading BOOM! comics, and I realize that a lot of that is up to me. For me, it’s all about story. If people think of BOOM! as a publisher where they get powerful, satisfying stories — what more could you ask for?
JK: One of the criticisms fans have had about BOOM! is the lateness or non-appearance of some books. No doubt you saw some of that on the retail side. Is this something you’re going to tackle?
Matt: That’s a great question. You’ll notice that lateness isn’t as much of an issue now that Waid is on board and settled in. I’m committed to making sure our titles ship on time. Because, you know, I’ve been there. I have first-hand experience of seeing my customers say enough is enough on egregiously late titles. Hell, banning certain creators altogether. But I won’t lie to you, this is obviously an industry-wide problem and no company is perfect. I do have the benefit of having a clear perspective of this issue from both retail and now publishing.
I’m like the Ghost of Retail Past around the office. I keep reminding everybody of former direct market conflicts. Ross probably wants to punch me.
JK: What BOOM! books are you most excited about?
Matt: I’m working on an H.P. Lovecraft project with Chuck BB that I’m really proud of. Chuck is a huge talent and it’s going to be one of the best-looking books BOOM! has ever published. We also have a new miniseries coming out later this year by Michael Alan Nelson (Fall of Cthulhu, Second Wave) that is fantastic. Michael is one of the best comic book writers that is coming up right now.
Oh, and I know everybody is in San Diego spin mode right now, but you guys will seriously want to pay attention to the BOOM! announcements next week. We have some impressive announcements, and one in particular that is going to turn some heads.