Content is King. Meet Madefire’s King of Content.
Wow. Let’s hope we didn’t actually agree to call Ben Abernathy our “King of Content.” But from what I hear, he’s pretty awesome. So the occasional royal shout-out might be worth it. Ben officially joins Madefire on September 4th as our new Editorial Director–and we’re all really pumped. He comes from this little place you probably have never heard of: DC Comics 😉Ben nicely agreed to let me get into his head before we chain him to his desk and get him editing his face off on upcoming Madefire titles and episodes. That’s right: with any luck, several months from now Ben will have no face. Whatsoever.
MF: You earned a degree in History. How did you come to work as an editor in the comic book industry?
BA: It’s true, I pursued a degree in history while in college (in fact, I knew by 8th grade I wanted a degree in history) and how does that lead to a career in comic books? Well, in 1996, while attending Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon, I discovered that Dark Horse Comics was based in suburb Milwaukie, Oregon (which I was aware of, having noticed the address while reading Give Me Liberty while in high school). I applied for an internship, despite it being well past the time to apply for and land internships, and was floored when I became their first ever editorial intern. After an amazing four months, I finished out my degree (I even wrote my senior thesis on manga, which was inspired by my internship at Dark Horse!) and when I finished school, they hired me on as an assistant editor in January of 1998. And it all went downhill from there…haha!
MF: From an editorial perspective, what do you think are the greatest challenges and opportunities for comics?
BA: I think the greatest challenge is reaching the audience for the respective product. The traditional comic book stores (and even book stores) is a challenging market for new material to get traction with, and I speak from experience. But I’m confident that hurdle can be cleared with the penetration of technology, particularly smart devices, into the home. Then, the challenge becomes creating/managing the content that people actually want to read and then doing the necessary marketing and P.R. to get the word out. And producing original digital content, I think the opportunities are boundless because of this direct access and communication with the consumer.
MF: You’re joining Madefire, so we think we know how you’d answers this one, but: where do you think the industry is going?
BA: Ah, the leading question! Well, ultimately, the industry is heading to a predominantly digital delivery and that’s not a reflection whatsoever on the direct market or the print publishers–it’s just a reality based on technology and the evolving audience. From the position I held at DC, I had the opportunity to see some of the reading tools being developed for the industry, and from the moment I saw Madefire’s work, I could tell they were ahead of the curve. Way ahead. And you’re right: I wouldn’t be answering these questions if I didn’t believe that 100 percent and wasn’t committed to doing everything possible to help facilitate this next step.
MF: Any characters or stories lurking in your head that you’d like to have see the light of day eventually?
BA: Wow, that’s a great question! While I have contributed central ideas to numerous projects while with DC Comics, I’d never actively sought to push a project of my own or try and be anything more than the best editor I could be. Working in a creative industry, though, I naturally have loads of ideas of my own (including an epic historically-based fantasy series I’ve been contemplating since high school!), but I’ve always focused on being an editor first and foremost–helping creators develop their ideas and facilitate the best possible execution of said ideas. But who knows what the future holds…
MF: You and Liam Sharp worked together for Wildstorm’s “The Possessed”, and “Gears of War.” Any insight, stories or just plain dirt on our illustrious Chief Creative Officer?
BA: Having known Liam for a decade now, I can say with authority that he’s one of the most creatively ambitious and talented creators I’ve ever worked with. If you chart his growth as a creator and forward-thinking businessman over that decade, his track record speaks for itself–while we were working together on the terrifying creator-owned project “The Possessed,” he went on to found Mam Tor, then returned to illustrate “Gears of War” for me, and then helped co-found Madefire–all this while doing projects for other companies, as well as developing his own Madefire projects. That speaks volumes to the kind of creative engine he has, and the vision that he brings to the company. And dirt? Welllll, we’ll just keep that off the record 😉
News about Ben is blowing up his Twitter account and getting Madefire some nice press. Check it all out on our media coverage page.