HERoes: Ari Yarwood

We get a chance to have a pressure free conversation about comics with women in the comics creators community. Their creativity is inspiring to people throughout the fandom who enjoy their work.

They are our HERoes.

ariyarwoodAri Yarwood is known for having her hands in comics through the work of editing at Oni Press and lead editor at Limerence Press. From Rick and Morty to Bad Machinery and even comics with the word “poopy” in the title, Yarwood is involved in more books than you can list in an article introduction. Comicosity got a chance to find out just a little about her daily routine and her favorite characters.

Jessica Boyd: What is a typical creative working day for you?

Ari Yarwood: At the moment I’m balancing around 30 projects, and I also manage the editorial office and our publishing schedule, so my day-to-day changes quite a bit! I answer last night’s emails when I get into the office, then run our morning meeting, and by about 10:30, I’m ready to start new things. I run down my to-do list (each project I edit is assigned a day of the week, so I make sure to check in regularly), and then I might be doing a variety of things. I’ll read a script and give notes, or proofread a lettering draft, or schedule deadlines for Rick and Morty (I have a complicated spreadsheet system for Rick and Morty). Maybe I’ll work on casting a new book with an artist. I’ll probably spend some time on Twitter, making sure I know what’s up that day. I could work on writing solicit text or planning a book’s layout. At the end of the month, I file copyrights and add a month to our ongoing digital calendar. If I’m lucky, I’ll get to sit down with a big graphic novel script for a few hours and really dig into it.

I feel like all that is a long-winded way to say my day usually looks like 60% emails, 25% proofreading/planning/editing, and 15% meetings.

JB: What is your favorite part of editing comics?

AY: I love it when I laugh at jokes I’ve read 2-10 times before, or cry while proofreading a book for the third time. It can be easy to get caught in the grind, especially with monthly comics, so it’s really nice to get the reminder that my job is pretty dang fun and exciting. I get to help make art happen! It’s rad!

My favorite part, though, is seeing creators get super excited and happy about their book coming together. I get to work with so many wonderful people, and it’s incredibly satisfying and fulfilling to help put their books in front of readers. I really believe in the work that they’re creating, and seeing a book all printed and in their hands is the best.

JB: Do you work with background noise, music or soundtracks while editing?

AY: Ha! Well, I work in an open office, so my background noise is Charlie, Robin, and James (my fellow editors), and they can get pretty rambunctious. If I’m answering emails, I’ll put on some background Pandora shuffle. For about 6 months, we all listened to the Hamilton soundtrack together. But if I’m reading a script or focusing on notes, I need silence, so I put on big headphones like earmuffs and don’t play anything through them.

PRINCESSP-V1-MARKETING_Preview-1JB: What is one of your favorite stories you have ever been part of creating or editing?

AY:    There’s always something that I love about each project! But if I had to pick one, a book close to my heart is Princess Princess Ever After, by Katie O’Neill. A common refrain I hear queer creators say is that they want to make the books they wished they could have read as kids, and that’s something that’s really important to me too, as an editor. Princess Princess Ever After is the book I wished I could have read in elementary school. Katie has been a wonderful person to work with, and I’m really proud of the book, and I hope it makes kids happy to read it.

JB: What role do you think social media plays in comics or the comics industry?

AY:    Oh, golly. A large one? Twitter in particular has been incredibly useful to me, as an editor. I’ve found amazing artists through Twitter that I work with now, and I might never have found them without that platform. It’s helped me develop relationships with creators who live all over the world. I posted about Dragon Age when I started playing it, and that led to talking to lots of rad people about the game. Carey Pietsch drew my Inquisitor! (It’s posted to my office wall.) It’s also important for talking about issues within the industry: I’ve learned a lot by reading different people’s perspectives. It’s great for building a community that supports indie creators and lets people hear about new books. That said, it completely and totally terrifies me. The amount of harassment that’s targeted against marginalized people on social media, within comics and outside of comics, is staggering. It feels like an eventuality, like it’ll happen no matter what, it’s just a matter of when. And that sucks, to put it mildly.

JB: What is some advice you wish someone had given you before you began working in the comic medium?

AY:    Figure out a work/life balance! This pretty much applies to everyone in the comics business. I started getting gray hair a year into working in comics, and I’m young, dangit. It’s really easy to answer emails from my phone at 10pm, or to show up at work an hour or more early, but that means my brain never shuts off from comics. It only takes one time for a close friend to say “What’s Scott Pilgrim?” to remember that there’s a whole world outside of comics, too. 😀

JB: Who is your favorite protagonist/antagonist in comics?

CharlotteAY:       Lottie from Bad Machinery by John Allison is my favorite protagonist. I’m obviously Shauna, and Shaunas love Lotties, because they do and say all the things we want to do but won’t. Lottie is complicated, but she’s also FUN. I never tire of reading about her.

JB: What is your favorite aspect of comics?

AY:   As a medium, I love the collaborative aspect. There are a lot of cartoonists who create amazing work by themselves, but I think it’s magical working with a team that really gels together, each person adding a perspective and talent that creates something remarkable. And there’s so much you can do in comics that you can’t do in other mediums. One Soul and The People Inside, by Ray Fawkes, those books only work as comics. He works with the grid format and creates something beautiful and unique and emotive.

As a job, I love that at the end of the day, we’re making comics, and it’s kind of goofy. I spent a year working on a Rick and Morty spinoff called Lil’ Poopy Superstar. I have tons of emails with the word “poopy” in them, and it’s perfectly professional. How weird is that?

JB: When it comes to comics, “all I want or dream is …” 

AY:    Agh, so much! I want a huge variety of books to hit the shelves and find their potential readership, including people who aren’t reading comics yet. I want the industry to grow, and be sustainable, and sustain the people who work in it. …And, frankly, I really want to not have to use the buddy system at industry parties.

You can check out the full line of Oni Press books on ComiXology by clicking here.

If you’d like to check out Rick and Morty click here.

If you’d like to read Bad Machinery click here.

Click here if you’d like to read One Soul and The People Inside.

And if you just have to know what Lil’ Poopy Superstar is about, then click here.


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