Interview With Ben Abernathy
(May 2001)

Marvel's Collections Editor talks about putting together the Miller Visionaries TPBs and what DD books we could expect soon.

Kuljit Mithra: Can you give a brief bio on yourself and how you eventually became 'Collections Editor' at Marvel?

Ben Abernathy: Well, my comics career really began in 1996 when I interned in the editorial department at Dark Horse Comics while attending Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR. Then, upon graduation, I was hired there as an assistant editor, working on such glorious books as Grendel: Black White and Red, 300, Usagi Yojimbo, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After a year and a half there, love prompted me to move to New York where I got a job at DC Comics, working with WildStorm in the New York offices. After about a year there, an opportunity opened in Marvel's Creative Services Department and I took it. After about six months, the much-loved and sorely missed Polly Watson left the Marvel reprint office for a brighter future. I was lucky enough to land the position!

Mithra: Besides the Miller Visionaries books, what are some of the other TPBs you've been involved with?

Abernathy: Well, at Dark Horse I worked on the first bunch of Buffy TPBS. Here, I've done every collection since Earth X (Avengers Forever, all the Essentials, Ultimate Spider-Man, to name a few).

Mithra: As Collections Editor, you probably have to take care of organizing all aspects of the packaging of a TPB. There obviously is more than just slapping the original art together to form a TPB. Can you go into detail on how this particular Miller project came together and what steps were involved.

Abernathy: Well, the biggest hurdle was getting the approval (and the money) to recolor the book. Then, a number of things begin. We start ordering black&white proofs of the book from our film warehouse and begin scanning and cleaning the pages, prepping them for Steve [Buccellato] to work his magic. Meanwhile, we're firming up the design elements. I get a hold of Frank about doing the cover (which Steve colors) and firm up who we want to do the introduction for the book. Then, while Steve's coloring the book, JG [Roshell] puts his exceptional touch in the book. I check all the colors that come in, tweaking anything that might need tweaking. Then, when the materials are completely done, we get everything together and send it to the printer. They send us a proofs of the book for a final check and then it's off!! That's a really run down version of what we do (usually we have to monkey with film, but that's another story!).

Mithra: Did you have to do any art or text changes?

Abernathy: For the Daredevil book, (I only edited volume 2 and am working on 3, Polly did volume 1) no, everything remained exactly intact.

Mithra: Whose idea was it to reseparate the colours for these volumes?

Abernathy: Believe it or not, I'm not sure. I'd attribute it to Polly Watson and her powers of persuasion!

Mithra: How do you think the story and art have held up now that it's 20 years later?

Abernathy: Are you joking?! Didn't you read the same book as me? I think this body of work will stand the test of age.

Mithra: Have you always been a DD fan? Miller fan? Favourite issues?

Abernathy: Yep! My older bother has ALWAYS been the biggest DD fan I've ever met (he's been collecting them for ages). I think the first Miller DD I ever read was the classic #227 -- the start of Born Again. It doesn't get any better than that!

Mithra: Did you have any ideas you wanted to throw at Frank Miller for his covers or did you just let him draw whatever he wanted? Were there any rejected covers?

Abernathy: Nope, no rejected covers. All this material is obviously really close to Frank's heart, so I think he knew what he wanted on the covers all along.

Mithra: How involved was Frank Miller with the TPB other than the covers? Did he give any feedback or suggestions?

Abernathy: He was involved the whole way--from helping me figure out what issues to put where and then seeing the design pages and mechanicals.

Mithra: Initially the Miller Visionaries was going to be only 2 volumes, correct? When was the decision made to make 3 volumes, and how did you determine the issue breakdown for each volume?

Abernathy: That's a good question. I lay that one again at the feet of Polly Watson. She had the groundwork done for THREE books when I started and I pieced together everything from there.

Mithra: Will Volume 3 go up to issue 191? Will any of the other Miller issues be reprinted like 219, 226, and Born Again?

Abernathy: The only other stories included will be "What If Matt Murdock were an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D." From What If? #28, "What If Elektra Had Lived" from What If? #25, and the Elektra story from Bizarre Adventures #28. Born Again is going back to press later this year, as well as Man Without Fear!

Mithra: Is work on volume 3 already under way? Is November still a tentative date?

Abernathy: Yep!

Mithra: For the upcoming TPBs of DD: Ninja, DD/Spider-Man etc., are there going to be any special features/art, or will they just be straight reprints?

Abernathy: DD Ninja has a giant sketch book of Rob Haynes work...DD/Spidey we haven't really settled out yet!

Mithra: Are there plans to collect the David Mack DD arc (Parts of a Hole) and the Bendis/Mack issues? How about any other DD collections?

Abernathy: Yep and Yep...Parts of a Hole probably sometime next year. Well, let's see -- Born Again and Man Without Fear are coming back, and maybe a Daredevil Essential next year...

Mithra: What TPBs are coming out this year from Marvel? What do you think of Joe Quesada's strategy of making 'arcs' in all the series so that they can be easily collected for TPBs?

Abernathy: I think it's a great idea and makes them much more manageable for our purposes. I think Graphic Novels are the future of comics, and hopefully we'll have a strong futre in that market! What trades this year? To name a few, we have X-Men: Children of the Atom, a Thunderbolts book, Punisher: Circle of Blood's going back into print and a nice Thor collection...

Mithra: And finally, how do you see the new deal with Diamond working with the TPB plans?

Abernathy: Hmmm...I'll have to reserve judgement on that one. Diamond is anxious to work with us, and I think their enthusiasm will help propel our products into a wider market. I hope it's a great and lasting relationship!

(c) Kuljit Mithra 2001
Daredevil:The Man Without Fear

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