Here at Gay-Nerds, we love to highlight gay/lesbian people in the industry. Today, I am absolutely ecstatic to present Daniel Ketchum, an editor for Marvel comics. He has been a part of so many of my personal favorite comics such as Uncanny X-men, Runaways, Deadpool, Amazing Spider-man, Moon Knight and Ghost Rider.
GN: I’m just nerdgasming and itching with curiosity. What’s a typical day for an editor at Marvel?
Daniel Ketchum: Well, editors are responsible for managing the entire process of getting ideas from the creators’ heads to the readers’ hands. Most days see me talking about specific stories with writers, giving feedback on art to pencilers, figuring out who the X-Men are going to fight next month, discussing marketing strategies with the Sales and Marketing folks, and making sure that colorist I want to hire for X-MEN: LEGACY has an up-to-date contract on file. Not to mention, trying to make your favorite books generally AWESOME. Whew! You’d be amazed at how many different hats an editor wears over the course of an hour.
GN: It’s a comic nerd’s wet dream to be at Marvel. How did you start working there?
DK: The Cliff’s Notes version: I attended a school at NYU where every student creates their own major. Mine was “Storytelling in the Graphic Novel.” To legitimize four years of reading comic books for class, I figured I should do an internship in the industry. I was hired as intern in Axel Alonso’s Office at Marvel, despite never having read a PUNISHER comic in my life. At the end of my internship, Axel’s Associate Editor at the time, Cory Sedlmeier, told me that he was leaving Marvel and asked if I would be interested in taking his spot. In the month that followed, I wrapped up my internship, graduated NYU and then started as Axel’s newest Assistant Editor…oh, and I got up to speed on PUNISHER!
GN: Has being gay affected the kind of stories you work with in any way?
DK: If you’re referring to my penchant for editing comics featuring Storm, then YES.
But in all seriousness, this is a difficult question to answer! I mean, being gay has certainly informed my tastes, which—in turn—affect the kinds of stories I pursue. I definitely put stock in the principle that if I go out telling stories that I would want to read, then an audience will be there. It’s probably impossible to quantify, though, what you can chalk up to my being gay and what should be attributed to anything else…like the fact that I’m Asian-American or that I love a good horror/thriller movie. I think, in any case, it’s certainly fair to say that, just as is the case with any editor, my particular point-of-view and life experiences certainly influence how I shape a story and the kinds of stories I seek to tell.
GN: With all these retcons and new dimensions popping up, how do you feel about the trend of turning long time characters gay?
DK:Are we talking about Rictor and Shatterstar? I don’t think they were retconned as much as they just finally came out of the glass closet!
GN: Haha, yeah that was crazy how that happened and the whole Rahne pregnancy incident. Do you think there are other characters in the glass closet?
DK: No doubt! I mean, let’s be honest: Namor’s at his best when he’s written like a bitchy gay man. In my opinion anyway, ha.
GN: So, what is your dream project?
DK: As much as I joke that my dream project is editing a mini-series titled “STORM: SHE BEATS BITCHES UP WITH WEATHER,” in actuality I probably don’t have a be-all, end-all dream project. I love working on the X-MEN titles…I grew up reading X-MEN and it’s so exciting and rewarding to be able to contribute to the stories and characters who made me want to work in the industry in the first place.
GN: What’s on the horizon for you? Any news or tidbits that you could get away with telling us?
DK: Well, I’m hoping that 2011 will bring with it many opportunities to tell the sorts of X-MEN stories I’d love to read. We’re starting off on a good foot: I’m currently in the middle of editing my first big event at Marvel, AGE OF X. It’s a big crossover, featuring many of the marquee X-Men characters. It’s everything I want to see in an X-Men book. Writer Mike Carey has been a dream to collaborate with and has made this story something special.
And besides the books I helm, I’ll continue working on books like UNCANNY X-MEN and ASTONISHING X-MEN. I can’t say anything now, but if you’ve enjoyed the ride the X-Books have given you over the past couple years, you’ll LOVE what’s up next. Big things are in store for your favorite mutants! (And I know we maybe say that more than we should, but this time it’s REALLY DEFINITELY TRUE!)
Also: If I had it my way, we’d do an event called Marvel Drag Queens. It would involve many of your favorite characters in drag. Storm and Emma Frost would stay the same, because they’re already pretty draggy.
GN: You worked on Ghost Rider when the person under that mantle was Danny Ketch. Was that intentional or just a funny coincidence?
DK: A little of both? It’s a funny coincidence that my name is so similar to Danny Ketch. But! When fellow editor Aubrey Sitterson left Marvel and the editorial staff was divvying up the projects he was leaving behind, I purposefully laid claim to the GHOST RIDER: DANNY KETCH mini-series…because I’m a fan of the Ghost Rider franchise, but just as much because I thought it would be clever for Daniel Ketchum to edit DANNY KETCH. Luckily, it worked out for the best: it was my first collaboration with writer Simon Spurrier, who I’ve gone on to work with on many X-MEN one-shots and mini-series.
GN: Random Question time! If you could date any comic book character, who would it be and why?
DK: Oh geez. Well, I would say Sunfire, but he’s probably too much of a hot head. (YES! I bask in your collective groan!)
Honestly? I’d probably date Doug Ramsey–Cypher from the New Mutants. He’s handsome, smart and communication certainly wouldn’t be an issue. I’d probably freak out every time he trudged off to battle (because speaking fluent Spanish is NOT going to save you when a Sentinel shoots down the Blackbird jet you’re piloting), but I definitely think there’s a certain humanity or vulnerability to him that’s not present in some other characters. The tricky part will be competing with Warlock to win Doug’s affections!
Runners up include Colossus and Steve Rogers. (‘Nuff said!)
GN: Would you rather have Wolverine’s claws but no healing power or Cyclops’ optic blast but no ruby glasses?
DK: I like to think of myself as a pragmatist. I’d probably have Wolverine’s claws, but not pop them. Just knowing I could in an emergency would be enough. I definitely find that preferable to being functionally blind!
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Tags: age of x, daniel ketchum, industry interview, Marvel