by Autumn Daughetee
The Kymera Press family has a new addition. Not a baby, but a talented woman and professional. Christie Yant recently joined Kymera Press as our newest writer and editor.
Yant, a science fiction and fantasy writer, will edit Kymera’s Gates of Midnight and the new series Dragons by the Yard. She will also write and art direct future issues of Pet Noir.
Yant was previously the editor of Women Destroy Science Fiction! This was a special issue of Lightspeed magazine and won the 2015 British Fantasy Award for Best Anthology. In addition, her writing has been featured in Year’s Best Science Fiction & Fantasy 2011 (Horton), Armored, Analog Science Fiction & Fact, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, io9, Wired.com, and China’s Science Fiction World. Today Yant is lucky enough to live on the central coast of California. She shares her home with a writer, an editor, two dogs, three cats, and one very small manticore.
Not too long ago I was able to ask her a few questions about her career and joining Kymera Press. Her responses give you a glimpse into her journey to get here and the woman she is today.
When did you first decide to pursue a career as a comic book editor?
“I don’t know if I’d call it a decision, exactly, but in the ‘90s I read a lot of Vertigo comics and loved them. The one thing that they all had in common was the editor, Karen Berger, and I attributed the artistic and literary vision that brought them all under the same umbrella to her. I don’t think I’d ever considered what an editor was or did until then. At the time Sandman was my very favorite title, and if you’d asked me whether I wanted to be Neil Gaiman or Karen Berger when I grew up, I’d have been hard-pressed to choose.”
How did you go about it? Do you have formal training?
“Like a lot of people, I started by writing fan fiction, only instead of short stories, I’d write scripts. No one ever saw them but me (thank goodness)—I’m sure they were terrible. I wrote whole issues about Death, and Lucien the librarian, and Matthew the raven from Sandman. I tinkered a little bit in the Hellblazer universe, too.”
“And I read everything I could get my hands on: Scott McCloud’s Understanding Comics, of course, and Eisner’s books, among others—but the one that really made a difference to me as a writer and future editor was Panel One: Comic Book Scripts by Top Writers, by Nat Gertler. There is no industry standard for how to write a comics script, only in-house standards, and that book included a wide variety of examples. A lot of the differences come down to the relationship between the writer, the editor, and the artist(s). Is it a true collaboration, with a running dialog between the writer and the artists, with the editor offering guidance when needed, or is the script meant to give clear direction to the artists, and if so, is it the writer’s story, or someone else’s? Knowing that prepared me to be adaptable when the opportunity to work for Kymera came along.”
“In 2010 I started working for John Joseph Adams and Lightspeed Magazine, and there I had the opportunity to gain some editorial experience editing short fiction. Every issue of a comic is essentially a short story, with a beginning, a middle, and an end—and of course it’s also something like a chapter of a novel, in that it has to answer the reader’s questions but also pose new ones that will be answered in future issues. It was on the basis of the issue that I guest-edited–Women Destroy Science Fiction!–that a mutual friend recommended me to Debbie [founder of Kymera Press], who then approached me about working for Kymera.”
What do you think of Kymera Press’ mission to publish comics created by women?
“Any branch of the entertainment industry is hard for underrepresented creators to get a toe-hold in, whether it’s film, literature, comics, video games, RPGs—you name it. One of the ways we can change that is by getting more work out there by women, people of color, and LGBTQ creators, and put everything we can behind them to help them succeed.”
“When Lightspeed produced its Destroy series, that’s exactly what we were trying to do: hand the reins over to those groups who have been here all along, have been creating all along, have been doing exceptional work all along, but had the deck stacked against them and were less likely to be seen and heard and read.”
“That’s what Kymera is doing: giving women the opportunities that are otherwise so hard to come by. Once you’ve read them, enjoyed their work, and know their names, once other women and girls see that this is something that they can do and they set about doing it, then the playing field starts to level a little bit. I have two daughters myself, and what I want is for them to see a world in which it is normal and expected for women to write, draw, and edit comics; where they can read about ordinary women and girls doing extraordinary things and not have it be a novelty or written off as unrealistic.”
“Because here we are. We’re doing it. And as the Kymera motto goes: We’re not asking for permission.”
As a woman working in a male-dominated industry, have you faced any difficulties?
“I’ve always worked in male-dominated industries, whether it was photography or IT or publishing. The challenges are always the same: being dismissed, resented, diminished, harassed. But I have real hope right now that things are changing. The treatment of women that was considered normal when I joined the work force in the 1980s is absolutely not considered normal or acceptable to my daughters (or myself!) today.”
Do you have any role models within the comic book industry?
“I mentioned Karen Berger before, of course, and Neil Gaiman, both of whom I imprinted on pretty hard in my youth. Today my role model is Genevieve Valentine, who wrote Catwoman for DC until recently, and is now set to bring back Xena at Dynamite. I’ve known Genevieve since 2010, and have been a huge fan of her prose fiction. When I heard she got the job at DC I was so happy I actually got a little teary—it felt like a personal victory, like someone from my tribe had broken through!—and beyond that, she was writing bad-ass women in comics, just as she had in her award-nominated short fiction and novels. When I first started at Kymera I was desperate to talk to her about it, I was so nervous! She calmed me down and convinced me that it was going to be as fulfilling as I’d always hoped it would be. So far, she’s been right!”
“I’m just so grateful for the opportunity to work with all of the fantastic women at Kymera Press. Let’s go make some comics!”
Check back next week for part two of my interview with Christie.