Comics editor advises future Texan staffers


Lawrence Peart

Ao Meng, Comics Editor

Ao Meng

Editor's note: A 30 column is a chance for departing permanent staff to say farewell and reflect on their time spent in The Daily Texan’s basement office. The term comes from the old typesetting mark (-30-) to denote the end of a line.

So after two years at the Texan, I’m on my way out.

My first two semesters at the paper were spent on the Life & Arts staff, writing weekly comic book reviews and the occasional entertainment feature. Under the wings of the gracious editors there, I learned how to write. My appreciation of formalism and the art of journalism blossomed under their tutelage. Thanks is especially owed to Amber Genuske — now over at the Huffington — who taught me what an em-dash is and was willing to argue with me for a straight hour whether our audience knew who Thomas Pynchon was. Here I learned ambition.  

I’ve held my current position over the last couple of semesters. I was brought over to the Page by the inimitable Carolynn Calabrese, who taught me how to manage a staff of artists (in her words, “like herding [fucking] cats“) and the methods to effectively impart criticism to myself and others. CC, as everyone knows her, and Victoria Grace Eliot after her, were the founders of the proud contemporary lineage and direction of the Page, the only full page of original, unsyndicated comics strips in American college media. From them, I learned the power of a committed vision and how to hew a workplace culture out of sheer rock. To all the artists who’ve ever worked under me, apologies for all the last-minute emails. You are indescribably brave, bringing your art and drawings to an editor and trusting them to feed your growth. They say that art is the excrement that comes with conscious living — thanks for bringing the goods with a respectable degree of regularity. You guys and gals on the Page are wonderful and you will continue to get better. 

Some words of advice to future editors, and those who aspire for positions working on the Page or the Texan at large: bring your vision, use every resource available to you and constantly reach out. My first contact with the paper was a handwritten letter to the comics page about how much it blew chunks. While I was in the office dropping it off, I stole some Texas Student Media-branded office letterhead and used it to bluff myself Press entry into the Alamo Drafthouse’s annual Fantastic Fest film festival. CC, the Comics Page editor at the time, was wise enough to reach out and engage with me. Through CC, I realized the power of seeing potential in people. When I was brought onboard to edit the page, I realized that people will only give you what you ask from them (by the way, you should ask for everything). We at the Texan, and print media at large, are in a transitory period. It’s a pretty safe assumption that the people here are among the most ambitious here at the University. We work in one of the most volatile industries that exist — you have to be crazy to work here. So collaborate and build bridges. Bring your backbone, and don’t be afraid to leap without a net.

Thanks are owed to the staff and management of TSM and The Daily Texan, and to everyone here that has considered my opinion and entertained my ideas. Allahu akbar, #Moneyteam.


Ao Meng started at The Daily Texan in fall 2010 as a life & arts staff writer. He has been an associate comics editor and is now comics editor.