Job Title & Description:
Owner of AndWorld Design: A comic-based design studio, handling graphic design, lettering, and production for independent and major comic book publishers.
Deron Bennett an Eisner nominated comic book letterer and creator best known for his work publishing Quixote. We asked Deron to chat with us about his career in the comic book industry as well as the state of diversity on both the mainstream and indie side of comics.
Jamie: How long have you been working in the comics industry?
Deron: 12 years
Jamie: Describe why you chose the industry and the path you took to get there (education, internships, etc.)
Deron: As a child, I wanted to make cartoons. I was always drawing and got to be pretty good at it. Around middle school, I learned that I was a pretty good writer as well. Comics just struck me as the perfect medium to combine the two and tell the stories that I wanted to tell.
I followed that passion and got a degree in Sequential Art from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Out of college, I moved to LA and landed a job at TOKYOPOP as a production artist and letterer. The connections that I made there allowed me to branch out as a freelance artist where I could work from home, handling production and lettering for other companies and small clients. As my business expanded, it afforded me opportunities to do what I set out to do in the first place—tell my own stories.
Jamie: What are the highlights of your career so far?
Deron: In 2012, I was nominated for an Eisner Award (Best Lettering). I’ve also had back to back nominations for Best Letterer in the 2014 and 2015 Harvey Awards. My biggest personal victory is self-publishing Quixote. I’ve been fortunate enough to have those efforts recognized, with Quixote being nominated for a 2015 Glyph Award in two categories (the Rising Star Award and Best Artist).
Jamie: What current project(s) are you involved in?
Deron: Well, we just started up on the Arkham Knight series for DC, which is a lot of fun and have also been working on the comic adaptations for The Flash and Arrow. Actually, I’ve been lucky enough to be working on a lot of equally popular properties such Skylanders (IDW), Airwolf (Lionforge), Miami Vice (Lionforge) and He-Man (DC). Some other notable projects to keep an eye out for are KING (Jet City Comics), featuring some spectacular work from Bernard Chang and Josh Fialkov, Hacktivist: Volume Two (BOOM!), and the very much controversial Strange Fruit (BOOM!). I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Eric Dean Seaton and I have been in talks about continuing the Mantamaji story, but I’ll let him tell the details!
Jamie: Any lessons learned you like to share about your time in the business so far?
Deron: This is a small industry. And that can be a blessing and a curse. The connections you make today can be the same ones that help you to achieve success in the long run. At the same time, any enemies you make can also come back to haunt you. Everyone knows everybody. As for myself, I keep things as professional as possible and avoid that sort of negative interaction because it can only poison your career. And I guess that is the main takeaway…stay professional. If you maintain that attitude in all aspects of your work, only positive things can come.
Jamie: What are your thoughts of Marvel and DC’s recent strides for diversity? Is it enough?
Deron: I mentioned in a recent interview that we are seeing an openness to diversity permeating the industry. And that’s exactly what I see happening here. Publishers, including the Big Two, are realizing that readers want expanded representation in the books that they read. They WANT diversity. Marvel and DC are catering to that.
Is it enough? Only time will tell. But it’s exactly the sort of change that we need to propagate more diverse content. It has opened the dialogue and given a bit of transparency as to what is lacking in the industry. Most people don’t see a problem until the issue is brought to light. And now, with recent campaigns like Marvel’s Hip Hop covers, people inside and outside of the industry are paying attention. And that’s huge.
Jamie: What comics are you currently reading?
Deron: A bit behind on my reading, but just picked up Cyborg 1, Fables 150, and We Are Robin 2.
Jamie: Any advice you’d like to pass along to someone interested in the comics industry?
Deron: In this age of accessibility, we now have the means to do for ourselves. In the past, if you wanted to get published or have your work even looked at, you had to go knocking on doors. Now you can create content and have people come to you. Post your work, get a following, market yourself, kickstart yourself — whatever you have to do, you can do it yourself. If you are putting out quality content and putting in the work to get it out there, you become the only person that determines your success.
Jamie: Are you attending any events or participating in any panels in Spring/Summer 2016?
Deron: Appearances to be announced, but will definitely have more information soon as it comes.
Jamie: Any last notes or information you’d like to include?
Deron: I definitely want to encourage readers, especially people of color, to financially support the content that they want to see. Comics is a business and just like any other business, sales are the determining factor of whether or not the product will succeed. I’m not suggesting that you consume everything out there just for diversity’s sake — you still need to be discerning. But definitely go out there and see if the book is worth your dollar. And if it is, spend it!
If you are a comic book writer, editor, illustrator, or owner contact us through the site so we can feature you on the Comics Creators You Should Know series.