Ask The Editor: An Interview With Gillian Dempsey

We have had interviews with a variety of creators but it is mostly writers and artists so I thought I’d ask someone with a different perspective. As Managing Editor of Rogue Comics Ireland and someone who has been around the Irish scene for a while, Gillian Dempsey has a unique angle on things. I asked her about her opinions on the Irish scene and all things Rogue.

What first got you into comics? 

After reading The Crow in my late teens, a friend recommended Neil Gaiman’s Sandman & I was hooked. From there I started accumulating collected editions of series that the writers & artists had contributed to and followed recommendations from friends. This led me to series like Lucifer, Transmetropolitan, Fables, The Walking Dead, Preacher, Swamp Thing, Y – The Last Man. I’ve never been a monthly comic collector, always opting for collected editions. Nor did I read DC or Marvel books regularly, but I’ve read key releases from creators I admire e.g. The Long Halloween, The Dark Knight, Quiver, Cacophony, Wonder Woman: The True Amazon. I was an avid watcher of Batman TAS series as a kid – Bruce Timm is a legend! So, if you were to ask me the old question ‘Marvel or DC?’ my answer is DC, because of my love of titles under the Vertigo imprint. 

How did you get into editing? Has your role evolved since then?

While Ciaran Marcantonio was working on the anthology series for Lightning Strike, he reached out for help hitting deadlines. I started copy editing & doing second- and third-eye passes before going to print. I took a more active role as Assistant Editor on LS vol.8. My day job is in IT project management, which is all about deadlines and key deliverables, so an editor role just kinda fit!

What are some of the books you’ve worked on that you’re most proud of?

Neon Skies is my biggest achievement to date. That was a two-year project from inception to final product delivery. Working with Ciaran, Kevin & Cristian was so rewarding and taught me so much. 

You’re a co-founder of Rogue Comics. Can you tell me a little about setting up the publisher and your role as Managing Editor?

We formed Rogue Comics in August 2017. The ‘core four’ – Ciaran, Kevin, Wayne & myself – each brought different elements & experience to the new label, having been involved in various aspects of ‘the scene’ for some years, be it writing, editing, illustration, podcasting etc. The time just felt right, and our model was influenced by the Image Comics story. Our aim is be a portal into the world of indie comic books and tell great stories through the medium of comics. My role as editor is to ensure deadlines are met, scripts are at a high standard and the flow of communication between contributors is maintained so that projects are delivered on time & to a high standard. I also attend conventions to sell our wares, meet new creators & get feedback from our wonderful supporters. 

Rogue Comics has brought in some new members like Clare Foley and Colm Griffin. What makes a creator or a book a good fit?

Having a unique style of storytelling for both artists and writers. Interesting ideas. Enthusiasm. To borrow a phrase from the incomparable Epic Beard Men – a DIYMFS (Do It Your M***** F****** Self) attitude. Someone who is willing to accept advice and direction, and take it on board, but who’s also not afraid to challenge the status quo to the benefit of everyone involved. 

It is well known that you need to know what an editor likes if you want to pitch a book. What kind of books appeal to you?

When I read a treatment or outline for a script, I ask myself ‘Would I run out and buy this book?’ and ‘Do I want to know more?’ My interests, in terms of literature or movies, leans towards sci-fi, fantasy & horror. So if you’ve got a story in these genres I’m all ears. 

Can you tell us about some of the books that we will be seeing from Rogue Comics?

We are already sharing some snippets from our upcoming Talbot/Keane joint “Nazferatu”, which is a horror comic set during WWII in Germany. I’ve very excited to see the finished product, and the fans’ reaction to it. There will be more Ocean City released in 2019 also. And we have a couple more projects in the works, but I don’t want to give too much away just yet – spoilers sweetie!

You’ve been around the Irish scene for quite a while. What do you see as the biggest changes?

The volume of people attending events is expanding every year. So many are family orientated, as new generations of comic lovers are brought by their parents. The standard of work coming out of Ireland is phenomenal, and kids are realising that a career in comics in Ireland is something that is totally achievable. 

As a woman working in comics, do you think the Irish scene has the same problems we are seeing in the Big Two when it comes to diversity and other issues?

You know, I started to roll my eyes at that opening ‘As a woman working in comics….’, as those questions generally bore me, but because it’s you, Dave, I’ll continue. I think the Irish scene is a good example of where diversity is actively encouraged and is blossoming. It has become very clear in recent months that many industries are still total boys clubs, and only by continuing to challenge these in our scene can we effect real change. Women have worked in comics for decades, but it’s only in the last few years that they are getting the public recognition. The internet and social media platforms have certainly helped with that. The Irish scene is still growing and I believe that there are some strong players that have such an awareness of the challenges that ‘the Big Two’ have had, they will make every effort to ensure that kind of toxicity doesn’t impact our scene. And if it rears its ugly head, call it out & change it. 

Are there any changes you’d like to see happen with Irish comics?

No more ‘women in comics’ panels – they are reductive and unnecessary. Work to make all comic events inclusive, so that there is a balance of guests/contributors/creators regardless of sex, gender, ethnicity, social background etc. Continued support for each other as creators & contributors is a must. Yes, there is competition, but we need to be there to build each other up rather than cutting one another down.

You can catch up with Team Rogue at Dublin Comic Con in March. You can you can follow them on Twitter for updates. You can follow Gillian Dempsey on Twitter here.