[DISPATCH] Meet Rob Levin
We spoke with a new community-side addition to the team, THE VALLARS is back, and more!
Welcome back to the latest brand new installment of the [DISPATCH], a weekly direct report from us to you, with news, recaps, exclusive content and more.
Thank you to everyone who hung out with us on Saturday for [WORLDS WORTH WATCHING], where we checked out 1995’s Ghost in the Shell. Those are always a ton of fun, and we’ll be doing another one very soon.
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Earlier this month we shared our State of the Universe, and part of that was some new additions to the 3W/3M team. We previously spoke with Molly Mahan, the “Editrix Maxima,” about her role. If you haven’t checked that out, it’s a must-read.
Today we’re sharing a conversation with another new team member, Rob Levin. His efforts are focused on you – the 3W/3M Community – and he shares more about how he’s approaching that below.
3W/3M: Welcome to the team, Rob. Your role was announced as “in addition to the creative side,” focusing on the community aspects of 3W/3M. Can you tell our readers what that means?
Rob Levin: My focus is on community and content. There’s not a huge emphasis on having fancy titles because it’s a small company and everyone wears multiple hats, but what I do is a mix of community manager, copywriter, and journalist/editor. I think that broadly covers it.
As an example, one of the first things I was tasked with was really operationalizing the post calendar. While there was always a plan for what kinds of posts and how often, sometimes the actual creation of the comics and all of the world-building an undertaking like this entails means that it’s hard to keep every plate spinning. There have been some tremendous stretches where comics were coming out a regular clip and there were process posts and community events, and there have also been a few times where things went a little quiet. So when I agreed to come on board, I started by reading everything that had been published in any form, took a look at where things were in the pipeline, and then built out an initial post calendar. Until that point, no one person had been able to step away from everything behind worked on to get a 10,000-foot view and really figure out how to program things.
Things change, of course, and the calendar still undergoes some shifts, but that’s also one of the benefits of us being digital and not beholden to the solicitation cycle of traditional print comics. And while that might irk people here and there, it also allows us to surprise (and hopefully delight). The main goal for me is to make sure that 3W/3M readers are getting something of quality on a regular basis, and that we’re constantly raising the bar rather than resting on our laurels.
Molly [Mahan] is in charge of wrangling and overseeing creative across all the projects, and we talk and review schedules all the time to figure out when comics will go live, how else we can expand on the stories, and deliver engaging posts even in the weeks when we don’t have new comics being released every day.
Members of the community may have already noticed some small shifts, like the introduction of the [DISPATCH] posts on Mondays, more interviews with the various creators we work with, and trying to make sure we never go too long without hearing from us. There’s a lot more beyond that, including Community Events like Live Draws and [WORLDS WORTH WATCHING], as well as some upcoming things you’ll hear more about soon.
To date, you’ve primarily been a comic book editor. What made you the right person to handle something like this?
I’m definitely best known as an editor, but I also have a much less publicized part of my career when I worked at Comic Book Resources for six years. I was an editor, occasional journalist (mostly under the anonymous “CBR News” identity), and community manager. We won two Eisner Awards during that time, so I maybe should have talked about it a little more, but I was very much trying to keep my creative projects separate from the journalism side of things.
In addition to editing and helping to manage the publishing schedule there, I also spearheaded the creation of several CBR social media accounts, identified best practices and changes for our social channels, worked with the community forums, and more. I imagine that CBR experience combined with working with Jonathan on a book at Top Cow way back in 2008 probably pointed the team in my direction.
The 2008 project was The Core, Jonathan’s book with artist Kenneth Rocafort, right?
It was, yes. I’m proud of that entire 2008 Pilot Season slate, which was the first year we did original projects. It featured a murderer’s row of talent, many of whom have gone on to have some amazing careers and become household names for comic readers.
I haven’t actually brought it up with Jonathan yet, but at some point I’d love to do an in-depth conversation with him about that project, his goals for an eventual series, whether any concepts seeped into his later work, etc. Maybe that’s something we can do for a future [WORLDS WORTH READING].
And are you editing anything for 3W/3M?
This is a question I’ve gotten from quite a few friends since my involvement with 3W/3M was announced. I am not editing any of the comics, that’s all Molly – she is the Editrix Maxima – and as I mentioned earlier, we’re in constant contact. Pages and designs are shared as they come in with the whole team, which is both awesome and keeps everyone involved in the process. Mike del Mundo and Mike Huddleston are absolutely two of the best artists working today, so it’s a genuine thrill whenever anything new arrives from either of them. And that’s to say nothing of the [MAPS] contributors, Jason Howard on THE VALLARS, Steve Epting on ACADEMY, or anything else that has yet to be announced…
And in terms of “everyone wearing multiple hats,” the team knows they can tap me as needed for creative feedback, which I think is probably another reason they saw value in me compared to someone who might have a more extensive community background but not necessarily the comics industry knowledge and experience.
What drew you to 3W/3M and taking on a role like this?
It definitely starts with the talent assembled. I have tremendous respect for what Mike, Mike, and Jonathan have done prior to 3W/3M, so being in their orbit was a huge selling point. Add in the fact that they’re creating something new and original – which is a passion of mine – and bringing in a wealth of stellar creators to join them, it immediately felt like something I wanted to be a part of. As I started having conversations with the team and learning Molly, who I worked with at DC, was going to be there, it really felt like not only were they building something special, but they were going about it in all the right ways.
When I first started working in comics, all I wanted to do was be creative. Everything else was secondary. Somewhere along the way, I became a firm believer in process and organization, and finding better and more efficient ways to do things. That’s likely a function of nearly twenty years trying to find order in the chaos that is monthly (and weekly) comics, a news site with no fewer than a dozen stories per day before accounting for breaking news, the video game I worked on before this with massive script/content needs, etc. I like creative problem solving, where I’m building systems and structure to find better ways to do things and making those reproducible for others. At 3W/3M I get to take everything the team had learned while running a Substack newsletter, creating this universe, juggling freelance talent – and doing it all alongside the community – and try to operationalize it. I couldn’t explain this to my 19-year-old self, but it’s a thing I’ve done and been called on to do again and again, and it’s a challenge I’ve come to relish.
Turning to the community part of your role, Juni Ba was the special guest on the most recent Live Draw with del Mundo and Huddleston. Are there other creators we can expect to see joining them in the future?
Yes, absolutely. André Lima Araújo will definitely be on one since he was all set for one we had to cancel last-minute.
We hope to have some more [MAPS] artists join us, but I’ve also spoken to several artists at conventions and in passing, and everyone I’ve broached the subject with has been on board in theory. It’s really just a question of lining up schedules and time zones. We’ve also had some surprise drop-ins in the past with people like Skottie Young and Sanford Greene, so keep your eyes peeled as we may not announce everything we have up our sleeves.
Since you brought it up earlier, what’s up with [WORLDS WORTH READING]? Is that still a thing?
We definitely want to do more. When it was originally announced, the goal was to do it monthly, with a prose novel one month, and then a graphic novel the next, but we don’t want it to just be reading assignments to hit a monthly cadence. We want it to be something everyone can take part in and that we can deliver value on beyond just reading the books. You saw that with the conversation with Adrian Tchaikovsky following Children of Time, and when Mike & Mike interviewed Enrique Fernández for Brigada. We want to make sure we’re supporting the book club with something special every time, be that a conversation with an author or some other things we’ve been discussing.
It's still something we plan to do, and I can promise that we are working to try and do all of our community events on a more regular basis. There’s some schedule coordination to be done there, and that changes as the needs of any project change, but we’re committed to always trying to deliver more for the community as long as there’s interest in the things we’re trying. And we’ll continue trying new things a well.
Can you tell us about any of those new things?
I think it’s a bit too premature to let anything slip today, but I think you’ll be hearing more about at least one of them pretty soon. We’re pushing on a few different fronts as we speak, but going back to the original “what do you do here” question, I’m really focused on trying to make sure everything is running on a schedule that makes sense. But I do mean “soon” in earnest.
Is there anything about 3W/3M that you’ve discovered since joining that you wish more members of the community knew about?
Other than how much work any single comic story takes?
The Chat section is really cool. Whether it’s discovering some amazing book that Huddleston is reading, del Mundo showing off his sketchbooks, or something from the Community itself – comic and movie recommendations, Alison Humphrey’s awesome threads about [THE COMPETITION], etc. Recently there was a post about picking up issues of Spectrum super cheap. I think it’s just a fun place to hang out and discover new things, with a healthy dose of excellent art.
Since Molly was asked the same thing, can you give us a book, a comic, a TV show, and/or a movie that you’d recommend?
I’m very slowly reading How to Be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question by Michael Schur. It’s a great, and funny, distillation of moral philosophy without the dryness of some of the foremost thinkers in the area.
Comics-wise, my go-to answer for the last couple years has been Prince & Morazzo’s Ice Cream Man. I love the way it switches genres, plays with form, and stays fresh every month. But if you want a newer, slightly self-serving answer, the first issue of Joanne Starer and Khary Randolph’s Sirens of the City – which began life on their Substack – was just released in print, and it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever worked on. Those two are both brilliant, and they’ve created something that really showcases both of their strengths. And while I’m sitting here promoting things I’ve worked on, I think 3W/3M readers will love the new Incal books I worked on at Humanoids – Psychoverse, Dying Star, and Kill Wolfhead – but it’s been agonizing for me knowing that Wolfhead was the first one completed and the last to be released here in the US. It’s career-best work from Brandon Thomas and Pete Woods (though both of them keep raising their game).
Allow me to echo all of the positive sentiment for The Bear, but since Molly already took that one, I’ll add that I loved the final season of Barry. My current must-watch is Justified: City Primeval. It’s so good to have Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens back on TV.
And for movies, I really enjoyed Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One. It didn’t quite reach the high-water mark of Fallout, but what writer/director Christopher McQuarrie has done with that series is pretty astonishing.
What’s one thing you’d like to tell the 3W/3M community about yourself?
I tell people that I like to bake, which is true, but I’m also the kind of person who lives in fear of screwing something up, leading to frequent stretches where I don’t even try to bake anything to avoid those mistakes. So rather than sharing something interesting or impressive, I’m hoping that saying this will inspire me or force my hand to bake something soon.
And finally, are the Atlanta Hawks going to make it happen this year?
I love how you went from the hardest question for me to answer to the easiest. It’s much easier for me to talk about the Hawks than myself.
Realistically, I can’t see them winning it all without some big moves. I may never get over trading John Collins for a bag of chips, but I understand why the move was made. The sad reality is financial flexibility made the team worse, so even if everyone improves this season and the young guys get more run, they’re still a piece or two – and probably a year or two – away. But a full offseason and new coaching staff for Quin Snyder… I think the championship window is starting to open.
Emotionally, I delude myself into thinking every year is the year if we can just get into the playoffs. The 60-win #1 seed Hawks from 2014-2015 and 2021’s Eastern Conference Finals team have done nothing to make me a smarter fan. One day they’re going to make all this worth it.
Thanks to Rob Levin for taking the time to speak with us. This will not be the last time you hear from him.
And now, let’s check out the week that was…
[Q&A] We spoke with [MAPS] artist Caitlin Yarsky about her twisted romance story, KAMPOJ DE LA PERDITAJ, playing in bands with comic creators, and taking on Black Hammer.
[COMICS] It was a BIG week for comics, with not one but two new releases.
The newest story from the [MAPS] Graphic Novel Sourcebook is KAMPOJ DE LA PERDITAJ, with art by Caitlin Yarsky and colors by Marissa Louise. It’s a love story, but not all love stories have happy endings, especially on Heir.
Last week also saw the triumphant return of THE VALLARS. Episode 10 has more of the adventure you crave from Jason Howard and Frank Martin, and it’ll be back with a new episode this Thursday.
[WORLDS WORTH WATCHING] We mixed it up for the latest installment of our community movie club, allowing you to pick from three options. You chose 1995’s Ghost in the Shell, and we checked it out with some of you on Saturday. If you missed it, you can read comments from the team and the community over on Chat right now. Let us know in the comments what you’d like to watch with us for a future installment.
This week we have more VALLARS locked and loaded for you, and we’ll also take a look at a jaw-dropping new piece from Mike Huddleston. Stay tuned!