You need to understand one thing about a guy as talented as Jim Gibbons. There are some people that are born to be leaders — born to be damn good editors. I firmly believe Jim came out of the womb that way. There are few comics editors that I put on par with Tom Brevoort. Jim is on that par. He has never steered me wrong when it came time to praise a note. To learn he is one of the leaders of the new Stela venture does not surprise me and it makes me want to think that this thing will succeed out of the gates. To say I was eager to talk to him about this goes without saying and I can’t wait to see what is store for Stela in 2016. Please enjoy the interview as much as I did.
Tim O’Shea: What first attracted you to get onboard with Stela, Ryan and Jim?
Jim Gibbons: First, Tim, thanks so much for giving us the opportunity to chat about Stela!
In answer to your question, it’s not every day that you have the opportunity to help build a new comics publisher from the ground up! That was a huge selling point for me. I love editing comics, but at a certain point I think I realized that every company in comics has a pretty established way of doing things and a pretty established type of content they provide. The chance to blaze a whole new trail is pretty exhilarating!
But, even more so than that, the format of Stela—by delivering premiere and exclusive comics content built for mobile devices directly to your phone—really impressed me. It seems like the eternal question of comics is “How do we grow the market?” And even while the market is currently the most healthy it’s been in a long time, there are still—for example—millions of people who are enjoying comic book movies, but aren’t necessarily finding their way to comics.
We really believe that by making the entry into comics as easy as, literally, beaming new comics by creators like Victor Santos, Jen Bartel, Irene Koh, Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, Fabian Rangel Jr., Jason Copland, Haden Blackman, Stuart Moore, Sandra Lanz, and Ethan Young (to name a few) directly into your pocket has huge potentially to grow comics readership. That alone was a huge part of the attraction of working at Stela. And then, talking with Ryan, our CPO Sam Lu, and CEO Jason Juan, three guys who are just so passionate about comics, art, and storytelling and about getting into this industry in the best way with big goals… You can’t ask for a better team to sign on to than that!
Ryan Yount: I got a message, out of the blue, from Sam Lu (Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer). Sam and I had worked together for years at Ubisoft—we used to talk about the “Future of Comics”. Over boba tea in Oakland he started describing what they wanted to do, and I was sold pretty much immediately.
As Jim already said, it’s a rare thing that you get the chance to spin up a new comics publisher from the ground up. Being able to lead the Editorial voice for Stela, and set up an environment around treating creators fairly (and paying them fairly!) was huge. And I’m a true believer in the big concept – bringing great comics to mobile gives us a real shot at expanding the readership of comics.