An interview with Tim Pilcher ahead of BookMachine Brighton

Comics and publishing

This is a guest interview with Tim Pilcher. Tim has spent over 25 years working in comics and publishing at DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint, Comics International, Penguin, Dorling Kindersley and Ilex Press. He is the current chair of the Comic Book Alliance and is the author of over 18 books. He is the editor of Brighton: The Graphic Novel, and the forthcoming, Brighton’s Graphic War. He is currently Humanoids’ UK liaison and has lectured on comics at Trinity College, UCL, Imperial War Museum, ICA and The British Library. Follow @Tim_Pilcher or sign up to BookMachine Brighton on Monday 23rd February.

1. How do you think that comics are going to evolve in the next 3-5 years?

Well, digital comics are constantly evolving and there are more and more online portals setting up. Comixology is the daddy (and now owned by Amazon) but Sequential are a fast-growing company to watch, who provide tons of non-superhero comics online. But I think where comics are really going to evolve is not so much in delivery platforms, but more in the breadth of topics that the medium explores. In Japan non-fiction manga is well-established, but that’s an area that’s just starting to grow with titles like Darryl Cunningham’s Science Tales and Supercrash: How to Hijack the Global Economy. Reportage is another area for growth, thanks to the work of Joe Sacco (Footnotes in Gaza, The Fixer, etc.)  I think the comic book “memoir” has become an overcrowded market and I’d like to see more creators actually approaching the graphic novel as a NOVEL, that is contemporary fiction drawn in a sequential manner. The best recent example of this is Glyn Dillon’s The Nao of Brown.

2. You’ve been working in comics and publishing for over 25 years now. What stands out as the highlight?

There have been loads! But I was very proud to be part of the early days of DC Comic’s Vertigo imprint. I truly believe that the cutting edge comics (aimed at a non-superhero-reading adult) we published then, like the recently reprinted Enigma and Kill Your Boyfriend, laid the groundwork for where the industry is now. I’m also very proud of the 15+ comic-related books I commissioned while at Ilex Press, particularly Alan Moore: Storyteller, The Art of Neil Gaiman, and Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga, which won a Harvey Award. Plus the 40+ titles I created for the Ilex Gift line. Not to mention the incredible graphic novels by Alexandro Jodorowsky I now get to work on at Humanoids Inc!

3. You have written over 18 books. What is your top tip for aspiring authors?

Write what you know, and if you don’t know it, be passionate about it and do the research! I don’t believe there’s a thing called writer’s block, that’s an excuse not to write. If you get stuck, “write around” the problem and come back to it later. The most important thing is to keep the flow and momentum up. You can tweak it all once you’ve got your first draft down. Don’t get hung up on the details too early on. Writing is like sculpting, you have to carve out the large solid shapes, the central structure, before you can start adding the little flourishes. Know what you want to say before you start writing.

4. If you didn’t work with comics and books, what would you be doing?

That’s a really hard one, because publishing has been such an intrinsic part of my life. I guess it’d have to be something in the creative industries, and seeing as I’m totally unmusical I guess it would be film and TV. Either that or in jail!
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