Diana Schutz is widely recognized as one of the most astute and discerning editors in the comic book industry. In this capacity, she has worked closely with a wide variety of comics creators, including Frank Miller, Paul Chadwick, Stan Sakai, Dave Sim and Matt Wagner and is perhaps best known for her work on the mature and provocative titles published by Dark Horse Comics for whom she has worked since 1990.
Ms. Schutz grew up in Montreal, studied Philosophy and Creative Writing at college and, after moving to Vancouver, graduated from buying comics to working behind the counter in a comics shop in the late 1970s and early ’80s. After relocating to California, she began submitting articles to various fan publications and in 1982 made her move from retail towards publishing by means of a bimonthly, 32-page newsletter that she put together for Comics & Comix entitled The Telegraph Wire. In addition to meeting and mingling with publishers, distributors, promotion teams and all manner of creators, Schutz started freelance work for “various other fan publications”, including Comics Buyer’s Guide, The Comics Journal, Amazing Heroes and Comics Scene, from which she graduated to a very brief stint at with Marvel Comics as an assistant editor. She found she had entered her job at Marvel with “unrealistic expectations” and ultimately handed in her notice after a mere four days but several months later began work at Comico, which “with its opportunities for creator ownership, and the fact that it was much smaller and more personable, was much more her style”.
By 1990, Schutz began work for Dark Horse Comics, rising (by 2007) to the position of Executive Editor, having variously held the roles of Senior Editor, Managing Editor, and Editor-in-Chief. In July 1999, Schutz instigated the Maverick imprint at Dark Horse Comics which was designed as an umbrella title for a number of creator-owned titles — the aim of the Maverick line was to “push the medium a little bit,” although Schutz recognized that such titles are often a hard sell. The eclectic titles had one thing in common, according to Schutz — “it has a lot to do with the particular project being a labor of love for the individual creator”. During its second year Schutz highlighted Maverick’s “trades program”, collecting previously published materials, a move that was somewhat ahead of its time but she maintained that “…the future of comics resides in the kinds of projects that are going to appeal to a more adult reader.”
Known mainly for her editing skills for which she has been the recipient of numerous honours such as Inkpot, Eisner and Harvey awards Schutz has also written comic scripts for Grendel, Solo, Usagi Yojimbo, AutogioGraphix and adapted a Harlan Ellison story for Dream Corridor. Over the years Schutz returned to graduate studies, and in 1994 she received a Master of Arts degree in Communication Studies from the University of Portland and has become an adjunct instructor of comics history and criticism at Portland Community College. Still a force to be reckoned with at Dark Horse her deft and thoughtful editorial expertise move the comics industry forward into the future.
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A well earned award and it couldn’t go to a more gracious, gentle and deserving a soul.