Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Midtown Comics - Marvel: Meet the Publishers Part 2

The Marvel Men with Thor Parker 

 Welcome back for part two of the Marvel: Meet the Publishers panel. Here you will find the answers to questions like "Will the X-Men ever find happiness?" "What does Tom Brevoort like?" and "What is so important about Get Kraven?" Read and enjoy.

What plans are there for the characters on the West Coast such as the X-Men and the rest of the Marvel Universe? Were they intentionally being kept apart and will they eventually be folded back into the fold?

Lowe said they were trying to do bring the X-Men out of their bubble and have them interacting more with other Marvel Universe characters, little by little, like making Blade a huge part of the first arc of Dracula, while Spider-Man plays a large role in the second arc, and the plans are to keep incorporating them into stories that have them being heroes while they wait for anti-mutant scourges to attack. The Uncanny Annuals are a great place for them to do that.

Brevoort added that it was less about geography and more about the stories that are being told.

Next, Leonard stood up saying he wanted to ask about their “baby killing” methods. Lowe responded, “We can talk about that for hours.” The real question was what was their favorite part of the job?

Lowe said, “For me, it’s still seeing the art. A page of art comes in and just blows you away.” Paniccia added, “It’s like Christmas. You remember reading a script and you try to envision how it will pulled off and the artist turns in a page and it’s mind-numbing.

For Cebulski, it is going to the events and meeting the people, whether they are the creators or fans. He likes how everyone is like-minded but with different opinions, so the discussions are interesting.

Brevoort likes the way Alonso says, “Hit Monkey.”

Alonso reiterated Lowe’s comments about seeing everything come together the way they had imagined.

How did they get their start at Marvel?

Brevoort and Lowe started as interns. Seeing how everything worked is what sold Lowe on the job. Paniccia “wanted to break in as a penciler and it just led to all kinds of different roads and [he] wound up an editor.”

Alonso had worked in magazines and newspapers and he answered an ad for editors at DC comics. He only got the interview because he had written an article that painted an unflattering portrait of a guy who stolen the hiring editor’s girlfriend, and he took the interview so he could see the building. After some hesitation, he took a job with Vertigo and during his time there he rediscovered superheroes so when the opportunity to go to Marvel came up, he went.

Cebulski took a different road. He knew he wanted to work in comics but couldn’t draw so he did several different jobs like working in anime and Manga, ended up at Marvel, did some editing and writing, and now he is in “talent management because he is good with people and can drink more than most.

What is an Omega Class mutant and what do you do when a character gets to a resolve point like Rogue?

Lowe explained an Omega Class mutant is the highest you can go with a mutant’s powers. As for characters that reach conclusions of major character arcs like Rogue getting control over her powers, they play with them and see what they can do. Then he added, “Will Rogue always be in control of her powers? No way. No way.” Don’t worry Rogue fans there are no immediate plans for it. Lowe then went on to talk about how much cooler and more interesting Rogue’s powers were now that she had control.

Are you planning on bringing any characters back from the dead?

No. As Lowe put it, “Dead is dead.” To which everyone started cracking up. Paniccia mentioned in the Ultimate Universe those who die would stay dead.

Someone asked if they could elaborate on the hiring process.

Alonso started to talk about the regular hiring process but the questioner wanted to know about the intern hiring process, which is completely different. There is an internship coordinator who handles everything. It is unpaid and must be done by a full-time student who can receive college credit for it. For more information go here

The next fan asked if the guys could give us a sneak peek at any new big heroes who will be coming out.

Lowe talked about the five new mutants introduced in Generation Hope. Alonso spoke of some “really cool bad guys in Fear Itself.” Paniccia said there were new villains in Hulk. Cebulski said he was a big fan of teen heroes and spoke specifically of Youth in Revolt. He said there is going to be a Fear Itself tie-in with them and all the other teen heroes from around the world.

How do comic news sites affect your daily work in regards to spoilers?

Lowe said it depends on a case-by-case basis. They’re not crazy about it because it can hurt sales but as Alonso pointed out, “the hit to miss ratio is pretty high.” He said sometimes parts of the scoops are kind of true while the rest is not, but sometimes, the real info does come out, but they tend to have good relationships with the news sites so a lot of the information has gone through them before publication. Then Alonso added, “Sometimes it’s so wrong we’re, like, put it up there.” It was also pointed out that sometimes the data is old and whatever had initially been discussed has been completely changed.

Are there future plans for the Young Avengers past the Children’s Crusade?

Brevoort said, “We don’t want to say too much beyond that.” He didn’t want to give too much information away, but the characters will be seen again.

Has there ever been a time when a creator has had to leave a book suddenly? How do you handle it?

Paniccia said it happens. Alonso said, “Every once in a while a writer will just leave you in the lurch. They’ll go and sign with DC or something like that.” Not that he’s still bitter about it… Brevoort spoke of a writer who “fell off the face of the Earth” and how they had to scramble to get everything taken care of. While it doesn’t happen often, when it does, they deal with it as it comes and hope for the best.

What books do you feel aren’t getting enough recognition?

Hit Monkey.”

Brevoort talked about how there is no creator who goes around saying they’ve had enough recognition. Everyone wants more.

Cebulski compared Avengers Academy to the New Mutants and how they had a similar feel. He said he’d like that book to get more attention because “what Christos is doing on that book is amazing.” Brevoort agreed.

Lowe spoke highly of Generation Hope saying it might the best book in the X-office. Alonso wondered why more people were not reading Punisher Max.

A brief pause in the questions as we’re told Steve Wacker sends his regards. Unfortunately he couldn’t make the Q & A. A fan was called on for a question but he was really just waving hi to Steve.

Was there ever a time when bad ideas sounded like good ideas?

“Get Kraven” immediately came out of Alonso’s mouth. Lowe talked about a few X-Men Unlimited issues not coming across the way they were intended. Brevoort didn’t name any books but said as long as everyone did their best, he’ll support it even if it’s a “stinker.” He did point out one major pet peeve is when characters appear on the cover of books and are not a part of the story. But ultimately, he doesn’t believe in airing out dirty laundry and will smile when a fan hands a "stinker" to him to sign, while he is inwardly cringing the whole time.

For me it is two words – Get Kraven,” Alonso reiterated.

Parker asked if the guys ever have to go toe to toe with each other over a creator’s schedule.

Brevoort said he wants all the books to do well and get out on time, but everything ultimately comes down to weighing all the needs of the book and “doing what is best for the most people in the most stuff as often as possible.”

Wilderowens got to ask another question. This time is was about how they as a team are trying to address the female readers who are becoming more important in the geek community.

Right away the jokes started flying. Lowe, in particular, said in the X-Men books they have been “reducing the number of shirts on men.” 
As things calmed down, Alonso said they were aware of the characters that have more appeal to women and they have had different initiatives geared to different demographics.

Cebulski said every office had at least one female editor, unintentionally making it “sound like a quota” as Brevoort put it. Then he went on to talk about how there are more and more female creators like Marjorie M. Liu and Sarah Pichelli.

Brevoort spoke of how it is a deceptive problem because not every female wants the same thing. They are just as diverse as any demographic and he hopes that what they do is appealing to everyone. He also spoke of how it is difficult making sure the books and products are put in places where they can end up in the hands of female readers, new and old. He called it a “tricky puzzle” no one has quite figured out.

Then Paniccia made sure to point out that “Hulk usually doesn’t wear a shirt.”

How far is Marvel planning to go with Marvel Anime?

Iron Man, Wolverine, X-Men and Blade are the ones currently slated. They are performing well in Japan, particularly the X-Men. Depending on how they perform in the US will determine how Marvel proceeds in the future.

Are new artists were still hired through the cold submission process?

Cebulski said most hiring is done through online portfolios or at conventions. The submission process is still “wide open” and they are actively pursuing it, but the number of artists hired through just sending stuff into Marvel has decreased.

Alonso went on to talk about in some ways it is easier for an artist to quickly get noticed because you see the work right there. With a writer, it’s more time consuming and more questions need to be asked like whether they can write more than just a pitch. As he put it, “ I remember reading a pitch that made me laugh, cry and look at the world through new eyes. Then I saw the script and it was, like, oh my god!” Brevoort quickly jumped in with “It’s Get Kraven!” Alonso finished by saying as long as they respond to the art one always has a shot.

At that point, Parker said there was time for only two more questions. He let the guys pick.

Is there or would there ever be an alternate universe where something good happens to the characters, specifically the X-Men?

Brevoort said, “It’s the Dull-iverse. Nothing exciting actually happens there, so there are no comic stories to tell, but they’re getting along great.”

Cebulski threw in, “That’s the DC Universe.” To which the audience responded with groans, lots of laughter and a few applause.

Part two of his question was whether there would be any new cartoons in the near future.

The Ultimate Spider-Man animated show will be coming out and more shows will be produced soon.

Are there any future plans for The Runaways?

Lowe said they were “waiting on the right pitch and angle.” It’s a tough market right now and it would be difficult to relaunch without a strong pitch, but the individual characters will pop up in other books.

And finally, the last question was about X-23 and how they felt about her rise in popularity. Was it anticipated?

Craig Kyle originally created her for “X-Men Evolution” then she came over to the comics in NYX because they saw promise in her. They felt her Wolverine connection might help make her popular, but a lot of credit was given to Craig Kyle and Chris Yost and their ability to flesh out her story.

And with that, the Q & A came to a close and the men hug out for a little bit to meet with the fans. We got to meet all of them and they were just wonderful. I was particularly happy Mr. Brevoort answered my question about how the picture tasted in this. He had to do the take, maybe twenty times, so he was left with an aftertaste. The things people do for art and a good time. 

CB Cebulski with fans
One of the biggest things that stood out to me was how much everyone liked each other. These guys are funny and interesting and they’re the type of people you want to hang out at a bar with. They also made me want to work for Marvel in the worst way, just so I could hear some of the stories and see how it all works.

I can’t wait until the next time I can be around them and learn more. You should come to.

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Pictures by Ron Gejon