Women in Comics Month: Interview with Emily Dell
Feb 28, 2018
In honor of Women in Comics Month this March, PREVIEWSworld talks with writer Emily Dell!
PREVIEWSworld: Who is your current comics employer?
Emily Dell: Emet Comics
PREVIEWSworld: What is your primary job title? In a quick phrase or two, could you define your job’s key responsibility?
Emily Dell: Writer/Creator of VERONA. VERONA is an original idea that I pitched to the publisher of Emet Comics when the company was just starting. And I’m very glad she went for it!
PREVIEWSworld: Could you please explain how your work helps make comics a reality? (Connect the dots for us. Where are you in the flow of getting a book into reader hands?)
Emily Dell: I start from the blank page, creating a script that I then polish with feedback from the publisher and artist. Once the publisher, the artist and I think the script is ready, the artist starts thumbnails. During thumbnails the script can still evolve, as the artist may have great ideas on how to position a beautiful panel, combine a few panels into one or add panels to clarify the story. Once art is finished and we’re into color, there’s usually a dialogue polish before it’s lettered. It’s a collaborative process.
PREVIEWSworld: What’s the part of your job you enjoy the most?
Emily Dell: I love the iteration. If that sounds nerdy, it’s just a way of saying “I love the creative back-and-forth,” with all the partners in the process. Working with artists and colorists has helped me better understand storytelling and character, on a very fundamental level. There have been times where we created an interesting side character in an early episode, and the artist had such fun drawing this character and I had such fun writing, that it became a bigger character by the end!
And there is literally nothing cooler than receiving a page of art or colors, and seeing how someone took your work and brought it visually to life, with their own creative imprint.
PREVIEWSworld: What comic titles have you worked on?
Emily Dell: Just VERONA so far, but very excited for the next!
I’ve been a proud comic book geek since childhood, reading ARCHIE and then X-MEN (I remember the 1991 X-MEN #1 reboot!) and then Image and Dark Horse and small press titles. When I was a kid my mom came home from a business trip to India with a pile of comics called Amar Chitra Katha. We devoured them. It was a decade later that I learned they were comics of the Ramayana and Bhagavad Gita, Hindu holy texts... We just thought they were great stories!
PREVIEWSworld: While there are loads of professionals in the comics industry, there are only so many folks who get to do what you do! How did you get started? How did you learn all the skills you needed for your position?
Emily Dell: “How did I learn all the skills I needed?”.... I’m still learning, always paranoid that I’m fumbling in the dark and going to screw it all up. I came from the film world and had never written a comic, so I just tried to listen and learn as much as I could. My process went like this: Try. Screw up. Listen to feedback, try again. Repeat.
I’m very fortunate that people believed in the project. Their faith kept me toiling and always improving. The quality of comics today is so incredibly high – I mean people like G. Willow Wilson and Brian K. Vaughn are churning out masterpieces every day!! – So I knew I had to bring my A-game. And it’s not like I set out to re-write Shakespeare or anything. So... Healthy fear. That’s my process.
PREVIEWSworld: Please tell us about the coolest experience you’ve ever had thanks to your job!
Emily Dell: The first time I was at a con with my title and someone picked it up off the table and bought it – someone I DIDN’T KNOW – I cried a little bit. Not ashamed.
Comics have been an incredibly important presence in my life, keeping me company for years and showing me worlds I could never imagine. The idea that I was creating something that could be that presence in another person’s life was humbling. And so incredibly cool.
PREVIEWSworld: Every industry professional has something they absolutely love about comics. Whether it’s a particular title or format, audience or tradition, or something else, we’re all hooked. What’s special about comics for you? Would you be willing to share a treasured memory about it?
Emily Dell: I know that Comixology, Webtoon and other e-reader platforms have been great for our industry, but I love flipping glossy pages. I love the smell of them. That’s me, hopeless high-gloss addict.
PREVIEWSworld: Do you have an online presence we can link to and share with our readers?