Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: As a publisher, Devastator Press has become synonymous with all things comedy and hilarity. What would you say defines a Devastator book, and how do you determine your upcoming slate of publications?
Amanda Meadows: Oh my, thank you! Our goal from the beginning has been to make books that we would want to read. And the humor section at booksellers has always been full of dusty, old Garfield collections. I’d say what makes a Devastator Press book is cultural satire from a fresh perspective and with an unexpectedly weird layer of fiction. Our favorite comedy is from a distinct and interesting point of view. This is why we just can’t (and don’t) take blind submissions. We have our own guidelines and a special form designed to simplify the book proposal format to fit what we need to choose: the idea, how it will be executed, and how you will help market it. We have a 2-month window every year where we accept proposals from our growing list of vetted creators. Then, Geoffrey and I and all the authors from the current slate help decide what the next slate will be.
BD: How would you describe your creative process in working with Devastator’s writers and artists, as well as balancing publishing duties with co-founder Geoffrey Golden?
AM: Great question – I need that answer for myself, too! Geoffrey and I split up the business admin, webmastering, sales, marketing, and publicity duties for the Devastator on top of managing the creative production pipeline.
Infrastructure is key. We need a system to manage each part of the biz, or everything gets jumbled real fast. We use a color-coded Google Calendar to keep track of deadlines, appointments, travel, etc. We also have weekly To-Dos meetings that cover every zone of The Devastator and delineate tasks. A bi-weekly Trello meeting where we check in on every project and keep communication open with authors.
As for the fun stuff: We’re comedy writers ourselves, so we’re really hands-on. We work with each creator from inception of the idea to completion. We help reshape the book idea itself, making the outline crisp and tidy with the author before it gets drafted. We give notes at every draft and milestone. We bring artists or layout designers on each book as needed. And we use the awesome web platform Trello for producing all our books and zines. Seriously, Trello is a lifesaver!
BD: Aside from the comedy genre, do you find that other genres of storytelling appeal to you as a creator, and, if so, do you have any plans to explore these mediums?
AM: It’s funny, when I think of genres, I think of comedy as the default unifier of all things. Devastator Press has written thriller novels, fantasy role-playing games, oral histories, toy catalogs, etc., and they were all funny as shit! So yeah, I’m open to all genres! As for other mediums, I’d always wanted to write radio plays, and now I actually am! The Devastator is producing a comedy series for Earwolf’s Stitcher Premium, and I’m a staff writer on another workplace sitcom for Wondery, both podcasts. 15-year-old me listening to BBC radio comedies would be proud!
BD: As both a creator and a consumer of popular culture, what most appeals to or connects with you in terms of new media? Although a creator’s free time is often limited, our readers often wonder what other creators are “fans of.”
AM: Ooh, I’m a big fan of magical girl stuff. I never left Sailor Moon, so I rewatch the show regularly and have the manga set. So, naturally, I also love new comics series like Zodiac Starforce. I also backed Power & Magic anthology and cannot effing wait for that to arrive in the mail. It probably goes without saying, but my partner and I both breathe comedy. We’re at UCB Theatre a lot, and love very weird, experimental live comedy like our pals, Jamie Loftus and Ian Abramson. As for TV, Stephen Colbert is my favorite person in comedy TV, because a) I met him and b) he was exactly what I hoped he would be – funny and generous and full of stories. God, what else... I’m also a major mark for pro wrestling, cooking shows, and hilariously toothy prime-time soaps like Scandal and Riverdale.
BD: In the troubling and turbulent state of our country, from where do you find inspiration, hope, or courage?
AM: Woof, the world feels… bad! Right now, I look to my favorite PoC creators and professionals for inspiration and self-care tips – smart and insightful people like Shing Yin Khor, Jenny Yang, Jenna Wortham, Stacy-Marie Ishmael, and some serious meme healing from @GothShakira.
BD: As a publisher, how do you strive to inspire hope and courage to your readers?
AM: Oh man, is there anything worse than a comedian who pats themself on the back, or a comedian who thinks they’re “making a difference?” I like to keep my activism separate, but parallel, to my goof business. All I can hope is that Devastator Press can eventually make a funny book for every kind of weirdo, so that weirdos can laugh and think, “Oh shit, someone finally gets it!” That’s definitely a form of comfort, and as someone who felt unseen to mass media for decades, I hope it helps that weirdo stay optimistic about what’s possible.
BD: Are there any current or upcoming projects that you are able to share with our readers?
AM: Well, I’ll formally announce my second book, Best American Emails! Every year, 800,286,087,927 emails are sent, and I narrowed it down to the 30 best ones. It’s a parody of the annual “Best American” short fiction book series everyone pretends to read, but also a satirical look at all the worst types of emails we’ve sent and received in life – spam, complaints, rambling apologies, reply-alls. Altogether, it’s a series of tragicomedies revealing how poorly we manage our relationships.
And our upcoming March book is stunning – it’s a hilarious and gross Adult Swim-style take on human insecurities, called At Least You’re Not These Monsters by Danny Lacy and Mike Levine.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to learn more about your work with Devastator Press?
AM: Follow our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram accounts all with the handle @DevastatorPress! I mostly use Twitter as @DevastatorPress, but you can follow me personally at @Amandonium. And if you’re looking for the whole backstory, check out devastatorpress.com/about to learn all the cool deets about our press!