On next week’s Panel Borders comics radio show, Alex Fitch interviews two women working in the comic book industry, in Q and As recorded at previous Lakes International Comic Art Festivals.
Deborah Tate discusses her former role as editor at Marvel UK and Egmont working on titles for children – Sonic the Comic and Care Bears – and writer Mariko Tamaki talks about her graphic novels Skim and This One Summer, and superhero titles She-Hulk and Wonder Woman.
Deborah Tate is uniquely placed within comics, partly due to her experience in both the creative and business sides of the industry. She left Haverstock Comprehensive at 16 for a publishing career, starting as Marvel UK’s office junior. Guided by Marvel’s Financial Controller turned Managing Director, Robert Sutherland, she progressed from accounts clerk to MD’s secretary to Syndication Manager. Sutherland was to play a pivotal role, becoming a lifelong friend and mentor until his death in 2018.
Deborah decided to switch direction to editorial/design, also training as paste-up artist and letterer. For two years she was taught how to put comics and annuals together by hand, on titles which included The Real Ghostbusters, Thundercats, Spider-Man and Care Bears.
She’s is perhaps best known to some as Sonic The Comic’s longest serving editor, guiding the title for five years (two as assistant), and she later launched the official CiTV comic for the ITV network.
A champion of both green and gender issues (see her early activity page for Care Bears) Tate persuaded publishers Egmont (formerly Fleetway Publications) to print STC on eco material. In 1997 it became the first comic in the UK to be printed on 100 per cent recycled paper.
After questioning copyright holders Sega over what she saw as their bland female hedgehog character, Amy, Deborah radically transformed her from a shrinking violet in a minor role to a savvy heroine with her own on-going series (scripted by Beano and Viz veteran, Lew Stringer).
Over 25 years on since its 1993 launch, the much-loved STC had such an impact that a loyal fanbase still exists, with many former readers inspired to create their own unofficial online version. The comic’s lead artist, Richard Elson, dedicated his 2000AD Graphic Novel Kingdom to Tate in 2017.
Tate has represented Malaysian artist Tan Eng Haut, as well as Mick (Judge Dredd/Slaine) McMahon, whom she regularly commissioned on STC, and later represented on his return to 2000AD.
She has edited, consulted, art directed, PA’d, researched, lettered and scripted for companies including BBC Worldwide (Bob the Builder, Disney’s Explorer, Noddy, Fimbles, Toybox), Marvel Comics US (Epic), Redan Publishing, Random House/Jonathan Cape and the Creamfields Music Festival. She also created and wrote a comedy script for Tundra’s Glory-Glory football comic (featuring art by the late, legendary Steve Dillon), about an obsessive Scottish football supporter and his long-suffering wife.
Eisner Award winning author Mariko Tamaki is a Canadian writer, activist and performer with “an avid interest in freaks, weirdos and other fabulous forms of human behaviour”.
She has wowed the comic art world and critics alike with her collaborations with her cousin, Jillian Tamaki, which have included Skim and This One Summer, as well as bringing her distinctive style to popular titles such as Archie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Tomb Raider and The Incredible Hulk.
She is part of the team of creators working on the new imprint from Abrams, Surely Books, due to premiere in spring 2021.
• Panel Borders: Ladies of the Lakes airs at 5.30pm, Wednesday 7th October 2020, repeat broadcast 2.30am, Friday 9th October, Resonance 104.4 FM and DAB (London) / broadcast streamed at www.resonancefm.com / extended podcast after broadcast at www.panelborders.wordpress.com