Comic Universe Integrity: how does it work?

I've been wondering. Who is the person, or the team, that decides what is allowed to chang in comics and who is allowed to change it? For Marvel, for example.

I'm talking about smaller things (like in the new Hawkeye, he's living in an old appartment block, who is allowed to change that? Or a hero eying a heroine and wanting to tap that) all the way to more significant or huge things (new char joins/quits Avengers, Heroes crossing path with others in their issues, somebody getting killed or killing someone) and so on.

1) How much liberty does a writer have? Or is he being told by a person/team? And then, how are Civil War/Secret War like events organized?

Does anybody have some insight into this? How is overall integrity being upheld? How does this work?

2) And is somebody proof-geeking issues before they come out? I don't know, somebody eating an apple, although in some crossover issue 6 years back, it was established by some writer, that he is alergic to apples.. a writer can't have read ALL issues of everything...

does nobody have some insight into this?

Interested myself. I imagine there's creative teams and writing bibles (reference guides with important character detail/history). A writer's liberty depends on where he works (smaller companies=more freedom) and also his reputation (Alan Moore could get away with stuff most other people wouldn't have been allowed to do at the time.)

As best I understand it, what Marvel does is:

Major directions are planned at least a year in advance.  Writers may "pitch" ideas for specific books or an editor may recruit a writer for a specific book.  In any case, the long term direction is decided and individual scripts all have to be approved prior to printing.

Most of the editors of a specific title are pretty continuity savvy, but iirc, there's an additional person/department that also checks for continuity as well.

 

I would think DC's process is similar, but ever since the new 52, there have been consistent rumors of editorial interference at the last minute.  For example, Williams said that was why he left Batwoman - he was told he had to completely change an already approved script.  There are various accounts of specifics, one such list is here.

 

For smaller companies (Boom, Image, etc...) I presume the company pretty much leaves the creators alone to do as they please, within reason.

Yeah

What Paw said.

it's clear that the continuity editors often throw their hands up in the air sometimes saying "heeeey ooooooh I'm on my lunch breaaaaaak yo" Phone Post 3.0

Kneeblock - 
paw - 


As best I understand it, what Marvel does is:



Major directions are planned at least a year in advance.  Writers may "pitch" ideas for specific books or an editor may recruit a writer for a specific book.  In any case, the long term direction is decided and individual scripts all have to be approved prior to printing.



Most of the editors of a specific title are pretty continuity savvy, but iirc, there's an additional person/department that also checks for continuity as well.



 



I would think DC's process is similar, but ever since the new 52, there have been consistent rumors of editorial interference at the last minute.  For example, Williams said that was why he left Batwoman - he was told he had to completely change an already approved script.  There are various accounts of specifics, one such list is here.



 



For smaller companies (Boom, Image, etc...) I presume the company pretty much leaves the creators alone to do as they please, within reason.



This is pretty much how it goes. Every year Marvel at least has a "writer's retreat" with editorial and a few key personnel where they pitch storylines for the year. This is usually when the big "events" are decided. Who ends up in the drivers seat on the events is sometimes a matter of who pitched them and other times is a matter of who's available. It's usually the latter when the event idea is being pitched by editorial. 



The hierarchy at both Marvel and DC is such that you have the Editor in Chief, then a group of Editors who oversee a group of books. For example, the Spider-Books is one office, the X-books is another. Solo titles might fall into another group regardless of the character's X or Avenger status. Over at DC, you have line editors since they have historically had separate publishing lines, like Vertigo. 



Beneath the editors are a phalanx of Assistant Editors who basically run the day to day on the individual titles. The Assistant editors are the ones who proof the books and make sure everyone's getting their stuff in on time. Beneath them of course are a smattering of Editorial assistants and interns who do the continuity checks, the coffee runs and the layout work for the printer. 



The writers and artists are sort of sideways to this whole hierarchy since even most staff writers work from home. The vast majority of the modern comic writing and artistic landscape is freelance, which has its benefits (e.g. being able to work for whomever), but also its drawbacks (no benefits or pension). There are people who get locked down to exclusive deals, but it's not like they're working out of the Marvel bullpen like in the old days. 



Over at places like Dark Horse, Image, Fantagraphics or Top Shelf, you see a much smaller staff, in some cases consisting of only 5-6 people. Dark Horse has a bunch of licensed properties which necessitates a slightly larger editorial staff, but most of the work is just approving creators' submissions and corresponding with licensing partners. Image does most of its quality control in the submission process, so their main editorial job is cutting royalty checks and scanning finished art. 



When it comes down to it, at Marvel and DC, there is one guy who is the major domo of continuity, mainly because they've got a certain amount of street cred and a more or less encyclopedic knowledge.



At Marvel it's Tom Brevoort.



At DC it's Geoff Johns.



 



Nice write up.



Brevoort's knowledge of Marvel continuity is scary!  One other guy worth mentioning is Mark Waid.  Although he was the EiC/COO of Boom!, Waid's knowledge of all things Superman is redonkulous.

Great answers! Thread was totally worth it, thanks!