In our Editorial Eye series, we go behind the scenes with comic and book editors to learn about their role in the creative process and discover how their passion for their industry helps shape their work.
It’s been a year since Lysa Hawkins jumped into Valiant Entertainment, and, she says in a WWAC interview, she’s completely immersed in the publisher’s vast universe. As Valiant’s editor, her goal is simple: “To make excellent books, propel the characters (and talent) to the next level and, at the end of the day, bring excitement to the company and to the fans.”
But being an editor for a comic book publishing company wasn’t something she’d considered part of her career plans, even though comics have been a part of her life from a young age. Her Uncle Bob got her hooked on classics like Marvel’s Bring on the Bad Guys, and from there, she worked at a comic book store in high school, then studied mythology in comics — “and what is comics other than our modern myths?”
When she was returning home to New York after travelling across the country, stopping at comic stores along the way, it finally dawned on her that she was in New York, and so was Marvel Comics. “So I called upon arrival and lo and behold the rest is history.” Two decades later, her wealth of experience has taken her from the Marvel bullpen, working under Virginia Romita, to editing Generation X, X-Men Unlimited, Domino, and more. At DC Comics, she worked on Batman: Gotham Knights and Teen Titans GO, and brought in Gail Simone to write Birds of Prey.
Now Valiant has all of her attention. “Valiant is such a great company to work for. It’s much smaller than Marvel or DC so you really get the opportunity to know all of the (amazing) staff. I have never worked for such an inclusive and caring company.”
There are other ways in which working at Valiant differs for Hawkins. Most notably — and most excitingly — is that, after working on iconic characters like Wonder Woman and the X-Men, she’s now got the opportunity to help “build new mythos and create new energy with little known (for now) characters who, if I have my way, will be stealing those icons’ thunder before too long.”
In term of her the day-to-day of her editorial role, there’s not much difference in what Hawkins does now, versus what she did previously at DC and Marvel. “As an editor, you spin a lot of plates—meaning, you’re constantly jumping around from project to project making sure all deadlines are met and all the t’s are crossed,” she explains. “I feel much like the 10th doctor…always on the run. It’s always very busy. From daily meetings, finding and then advocating for my talent, and of course, editing! The days are so jammed pack that they sort of fly by, and truth be told, even when I’m home, I’m still reaching out to my freelancers. They can always get me when they need me.”
Hawkins has her finger on the pulse of many of Valiant’s titles, including Punk Mambo and The Forgotten Queen, as well as their relaunch of Doctor Mirage, written by Magdalene Visaggio, featuring art by Nick Robles, letters by Dave Sharpe, and colours by Jordie Bellaire.
Like any of the books she works on, Hawkins works very closely with the teams, starting with making sure the right team is on the right book. “Putting the right team in place is crucial, but once that’s managed, really, the hard part is done. My goal is that all my teams are as excited to be on the project as I am. Which is totally true with Team Mirage. I am so blessed and thrilled to see the work come together; it’s truly a labor of nothing but love and you can feel it on every page.”
Co-created by Bob Layton and Bernard Chang in 1993, Doctor Mirage — a story of a parapsychologist couple and the necromantic places their investigations lead them — was Layton’s response to discussions with his female friends who were discouraged by the fact that so few comics catered to women. The original 18-part series ran until 1995, then was rebooted in 2015 in a 5-part mini-series. Hawkins promises that the new series upholds Layton’s desire to tell stories more grounded in relationship building and character depth. “This is a strong female-centric book. Both Mirage and her “sidekick” in this adventure, Grace, allow for any teenage girl or older to identify with.” This is a story about coping with loss, which is something anyone who has experienced that kind of pain can appreciate.
Being a part of the rebirth of the character is incredibly exciting for Hawkins. “I’m truly delighted to be a part of bringing this tale to light,” she says. “It’s an important story and it’s time for Doctor Mirage to shine.”
The new Doctor Mirage will be shining come August when the first issue of the new series hits stores. But by then, Hawkins will already be busy spinning more plates, as she works tirelessly to bring more of Valiant’s universe to the light.