Before we drift off into a roasted chestnut-induced slumber, a few last-minute personnel changes to look for having an impact in 2022.
• Over at Artists, Writers, & Artisans (AWA), Michael Cotton has joined the company as an Executive Editor, where he joins CCO Axel Alonso and CEO/Publisher Bill Jemas.
Cotton had a long tenure at DC as Senior Editor, where he last worked on the Superman Group. Before that (a long time before that!) he covered the comics industry at WIZARD and Champion! magazines.
And then there were statements:
“I’ve followed AWA since its inception and have been amazed by the quality of their stories and vision for working with creators in new and exciting ways,” said Cotton in a statement. “The opportunity to carve my own path among this incredibly talented editorial team by assembling an all-new group of diverse creators to deliver fresh original IP for the AWA portfolio is something that I couldn’t pass up. I can’t wait to begin developing content that will excite and resonate with both long-time fans, retailers and new audiences.”
“Axel is, in my opinion, the best there is at what he does,” said Jemas, “and Mike is, in my opinion, the best at what he does. At AWA, Axel has had, and Mike will have, the freedom to do what they each do best and the resources they’ll need to succeed.”
“Since my days at Marvel, Mike has been a mainstay and one of the leading voices in the comic book industry. From his time at WIZARD, his whole purpose has been to advance the industry forward and to support the diverse voices that are so valuable to the medium,” said Alonso. “AWA continues to assemble an incredible team of executives, editors and creators and adding Mike to the team will be invaluable to our ability to continue to develop and diversify the content we produce.”
• And finally, over at Source Point Press, co-founder Josh Werner has taken over at editor-in-chief from Travis McIntire. Werner had served at SPP’s Art Director for nine years. The company has been rapidly expanding, but also drawn criticism for working with problematic creators. In a statement, Source Point maintained that Werner would continue the growth while “facilitating a more diverse, inclusive and robust line of genre focused comics as editor-in-chief.”
There’s a lot more from the PR — a lot more, in fact practically a history of the publisher. We haven’t vetted this information but here it is. Enjoy, good luck, and to all a good night!
“Our publication lineup is going to start reflecting my vision for the company more strongly. By that I mean a bigger diversity amongst both characters and creators and a balanced mix of experienced talent and new voices in the industry. I want to have some of the best stories in the market in the genres we choose to focus on,” says Werner.
While he has been working in comics professionally for more than a decade, Werner’s love of the medium goes much further back. Growing up in Detroit, Werner purchased his first comic, “Silver Surfer #75,” at 7 years old. Soon after, he began selling his own comics on the playground.
“When I was old enough to ride my bike to the gas station, I’d take all my change and use the photocopier behind the counter to make all these comics and sell them at school for a quarter. They were terrible,” says Werner.
Werner became serious about his artistic pursuits in highschool, when he began entering competitions, experimenting with different mediums, and studying under William Tucker, a classically trained oil painter.
“I was super into comics at this time but all my teachers were trying to get me not to go into comics. Then I went to art school and that’s where I decided that I was definitely not going to go into comics,” says Werner. “Eventually, I transferred to a different school where a few of the professors were in comics and they were a huge influence on me.”
At the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, Werner was encouraged to pursue comics professionally by Timothy Truman, a professor and comics veteran known for his work on “Conan the Barbarian,” “Jonah Hex,” “Grimjack” and “Scout.”
Werner’s freelance art career also began in college with magazine illustrations, book covers, and album covers for punk and metal bands. After graduation, Werner continued to freelance while working full-time designing jackets for Pelle Pelle, the Detroit fashion brand. His jacket designs have been worn by the likes of L.L. Cool J, 50 Cent, and French Montana. It was during this time that Werner began self-publishing his own writing and freelancing for Writer Gary Reed.
Reed was the founder of Caliber Comics, which published the likes of Brian Michael Bendis, David Mack, and James O’Barr early in their careers.
“Reed was absolutely a mentor of mine. I met him online first when I was looking for freelance work. I did some illustrations for him and he said I was fast, professional and “pretty good.” Eventually I knew him well enough to pick his brain and we ended up collaborating on some things going forward,” says Werner.
In 2012, Werner co-founded Source Point Press in order to publish “Jack of Spades.” Within that same year, Source Point Press ended up publishing close to 10 titles from other creators.
“It was like we hooked the horses to the carriage and they took off before we could hop in,” says Werner.
Among the publisher’s first releases were short story anthologies featuring David J. Fielding (of Power Rangers fame) and Gary Reed.
“We were going to every single convention we could afford to attend and driving around with trunks full of books. We were begging comic book stores to let us do signings for books that weren’t even in distribution. The first place to let us do one was Green Brain Comics in Dearborn, MI,” says Werner.
During these early days of Source Point Press, Travis McIntire was upstate launching the Michigan Comic Collective, a community of comics talent collaborating on self-published anthologies. Once McIntire discovered Source Point Press, he drove across the state to meet Werner at a signing. Soon afterwards, the Michigan Comic Collective and Source Point Press joined forces, with Travis acting as the editor-in-chief. McIntire remained the editor-in-chief for six years, and led the publisher through a period of rapid growth beginning in 2016.
In 2019, Source Point Press merged with Board Game Publisher Deep Water Games and Gaming Accessory Company N3 Art to form Ox Eye Media. Suddenly, McIntire took on the role of CEO as well as editor-in-chief, while Werner served as both CCO and Art Director. Today, McIntire passes the role of editor-in-chief onto Werner with confidence.
“Source Point is something that I have a deep emotional connection to and stepping away from the day-to-day of our books was no easy task. I recognized that there needed to be a new hand on that wheel but, at the same time, it was key to hold onto some of the things that made Source Point what it is today. There isn’t anybody who embodies those ideals more than Josh,” says McIntire.
Though Werner had been with the publisher from the beginning, he retained the position of Art Director for close to a decade. His assumption of the Editor-in-Chief role signals the start of a new era for Source Point Press.
As a father of two, it’s particularly important to Werner that comics be accessible to children. He has already made strides in this direction with the conceptualization of Source Point Kids!, Source Point Press’s growing line of children’s comics.
“There’s such a big focus on mature comics right now but we want to be a part of growing the next generation of comic readership,” says Werner.
Werner also hopes to maintain a hands-on approach to communicating directly with readers.
“That’s something that [McIntire] was really big on. I don’t ever want to distance ourselves from the readers themselves just because we get busier,” says Werner.
Werner says that Source Point Press will continue with its spirit of spontaneity and the willingness to take risks on projects the editorial team believes in.
“I don’t want to play it safe. Great stories deserve to be told whether they make money or not,” says Werner.