Everybody is bad at something…some of us at a lot of things. Ignoring all the things I’m bad at that have nothing to do with editing (baseball, writing home, changing the cat litter often, etc.) let me talk about what I’m worst at when it comes to my chores as an editor. No two ways about it, I’m terrible at answering Unsolicited Submissions. What are Unsolicited Submissions? They are story and art samples that I’m sent that I did not ask for. Marvel has a submissions editor (currently Adam Blaustein) whose job it is to answer the literally hundreds of submissions and inquiries about submissions that come through the mail (or by hand) every week. Most of my fellow editors, I believe, turn the submissions addressed to them over to the submissions editor. (There is one conspicuous exception, a Marvel editor who asked not to be singled out by name, who actually answers all of his Unsolicited Submissions within 24 hours of receiving them!) For my part, I think if a person sends in an AVENGERS plot for the AVENGERS editor to look at, the submitter deserves to get a response from the AVENGERS editor (me), or at least someone on the AVENGERS editorial staff (like the assistant ed).
My problem is that I’m very busy. I’ve got the standard workload of a Marvel editor (110 pages a month, or 5 monthly 22 page books) and then some (MARVEL UNIVERSE being 66 pages of material in itself, and an editorially intensive book at there: I not only design each page myself but there are also at least twice as many words as an ordinary comic book per page t be read and proofread). I also do three Mark’s Remarks a month (which will increase to four this summer), and am Marvel’s resident archivist who is frequently being called upon for the alleged wealth of information wedged in my memory. (I won’t even mention my freelance workload on top of this, writing CAPTAIN AMERICA and D.P.7) so I’m busy. So what?
The point is that answering Unsolicited Submissions unfortunately gets pretty low priority on my editorial agenda. As it turns out, I seldom get a chance to go through my submissions more then (ahem, er, well…) once a year. (Since the onslaught of MARVEL UNIVERSE over 16 months ago, it may be even longer!) So realizing my negligence, what did I do? I plunked down the five-inch thick stack of submissions on my (then-) assistant editor Howard Mackie’s desk to sort through. What did Howard do? He conveniently got himself promoted to avoid having to deal with it. So along with his desk, Gregory Wright inherited Howard’s submission pile (which has now doubled in size). I’ve been keeping Greg so busy getting out books on time, he hasn’t had time to do more than growl at the submissions pile when the work on his desk subsides low enough for him to even notice it.
So here’s what I plan to do. I am going to set aside a day or two immediately after we get the next MARVEL UNIVERSE out to have a Submission-a-Thon to hit the stacks. Here’s what you can do. If you’re one of the unlucky many who have work in that stack, be paitent. If you’re thinking of sending work for that stack, make sure your work is great before you send it, and read my Submission Tips in this month’s IRON MAN (#220) first. (I’d tell you here, but I’m out of space!)