EDITORIAL SIMULATION Move 4

DISCLAIMER: All individuals, sales figures, situations and occurrences involved in this editorial simulation are completely fabricated as part of the game, and do not in any way reflect the actual real-world opinions, viewpoints or situations involving any of the creators or titles named. THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION!

First things first here. Another week has gone by and I haven’t heard anything from Erik Merk, our Image player, and no move was posted by him. At this point, I’m afraid that I have to conclude that he’s stepped away from the game–hopefully by choice and not because something terrible has happened to him. So at any point when you read this, Erik, please let us know that you’re all right.

Consequently, we’re going to simply shut down all of the gameplay from the Image side. I don’t think it makes sense to bring in a replacement player this far into the Simulation and with so many moves made–although that would be how a company would have to handle things in the real world if an editor left for whatever reason. So while this will simplify the gameplay a little bit as there won’t be an Image player vying for sales and resources actively, we’ll assume that Image is still a part of the imaginary industry and just won’t specifically address what they’re doing or play out any moves for them.

Also, I feel like there are some places where people are struggling with the 500 word limitation on moves. While I don’t want anybody to write a novel (and the more you write, the more I need to write in response) I’m not going to be a rules lawyer on any of this. If you need to run long on occasion, feel free to do so. Just be judicious about it.

So with our remaining four players and two companies, here we go:

MARVEL OFFICES

KYLE’S OFFICE

While you reached out to Sal in the MARVEL HEROES office about the use of the High Evolutionary, you received no response. Sal did e-mail you, however, about setting up tie-ins for the WORLD WAR KREE storyline that he’s got cooking. But not a word about the High Evolutionary. So now you’re going to need to figure out what you’re going to do here. You’re going to need Al to start writing so as to make sure his first issue can come out when it needs to, but you may run into difficulties if you give him a green light and there’s subsequently a conflict with the other editorial office.

Apart from that, your writers are all working on their first scripts, which will move into production by your artists in the natural course of doing business.

The question of Jamal Campbell on X-FORCE will be handled further down, once we get to the area concerning Kurt’s office. On the other hand, Leah and Luciano are now in place on X-FACTOR.

The question of delaying the launch of X-FORCE and bringing in the other artists and cover artists will need to wait until the central matter of Jamal is resolved. As such, all of that business is tabled until the next move. However, the EIC mentions in passing that the VP of Sales has already added X-FORCE to his budget in the original launch month since you had put it forward, and so he’s not going to want to lose it and the associated revenue from that month. That’s not an impossible stumbling block, but it is a consideration.

The New Media team is interested in Leah’s X-FACTOR playlist. There may be a way to do something with it online or through social media. Some of this, though, will depend upon what songs and artists are a part of it, and whether there are any lyrics that might be dicier than something Marvel would want to be associated with, and so forth.

SAL’S OFFICE

On your marketing plan, the Marketing group is open to at least some of what you’re proposing. It’s a bit dicey to simply have creators post their own videos from their smartphones without any editing or oversite–you don’t know how good they’re going to look, how polished the message is going to be, and whether or not they’ll be effective and do more good than harm. For a video component, they suggest that you work through the New Media team so that any such videos can be properly vetted and edited so as to still get across the message that you and the creators want, but eliminating any awkwardness or weakness in production.

In terms of announcing their projects, the VP of Sales is going to want to wait on those announcements for the period of time in which they’re going to do the most to help initial orders from the Retailers. There’s a sweet spot for this: too early, and the announcement comes before anybody can order any books and any excitement may have dissipated by the time you get to actual ordering time. Too late, and you’ve missed the window to impact on your orders. So that aspect is going to have to be timed out properly with everybody. It’s also going to need to fit into the overall strategy for the entire line, when other projects might be being announced or promoted for the best possible return.

The presumption is that you’d like to do the live interviews through Marvel.com since you’ve provided questions to begin with. They’re happy to do this with you–but the VP of Sales indicates that it may be more effective to place such interviews about the new titles with other outside sites, where they’re likely to reach a broader audience. The downside in those instances is that you’re not going to be able to control the questions being asked, although we can negotiate for some oversight on the final piece.

Michael Spicer is happy to color Dylan on IRON MAN for you. The Talent Management team is a shade miffed that they went and came up with possible options for you and you ended up just hiring somebody in the interim, wasting their time. But sometimes that’s the way things happen.

It turns out that Donny may not be as happy about the outcome of your Iron Fist discussion as you had thought when you got off the phone. People are hearing through the grapevine that he’s be telling other creators that he’s not sure that he can work with you, that this move has taken the big impact out of the opening of his CAP story and that he’s having misgivings about doing WORLD WAR KREE. as a result. He hasn’t said anything directly to you about any of these feelings, but reports are getting back to you about it from a number of outside sources.

The EIC thinks that Skottie can do a variant cover, but that you should hold it in reserve for where you thin it will do the most good–whether that’s the issue that announces the pregnancy, teh issue of the birth, or some other key moment. There are enough other things that Skottie needs to deal with, including writing STRANGE ACADEMY, that he won’t have the bandwidth for a regular series of variants here.

The New Media team thinks that they can set up a poll that you can put a url address for in the first issue of the THOR run. But the language is going to have to be vetted by the Legal Department as there can be specific regulations concerning things such as polls or contests. If they’re not going to be bound by the results of this poll, we need to make sure that’s clear in the legal language, and so forth.

Kurt got back to you and indicated that he was speaking to his writers on the Spidey books about potential WORLD WAR KREE tie-ins. No response as of yet from Kyle on the X-Books.

KURT’S OFFICE

Mark Russell is definitely open to writing some occasional single issue and two-issue stories in order to allow for down time on the part of Sara Pichelli. The VP of Ops reminds you to keep your TPB collections in mind as you go about this. The sweet spot for a collection is 5-6 issues in length. Too few or too many and it tends to impact on sales, as buyers wind up feeling like they’re not getting enough value for the money. So as you block out your story lengths between your different art teams, make sure that you’re building in blocks of 5 and 6 as much as possible.

The VP of Ops also tells you that you need to be judicious about putting resources into play. Every story that you commission needs to have a home, every talent that you activate needs to be working on something that is accounted for. You can’t simply commission a half-dozen single issue stories and then place them later–they’re all going to need specific homes (even if those wind up changing later as needed) so that they can be tracked and accounted for. Also, while he applauds your enthusiasm, he can’t authorize either paying out that much money on that many issues that are not likely to recoup the investment of costs in this fiscal cycle nor can he support tying up creative resources that other titles and editors may need. In other words, you can set up a specific story for a given issue, say your fourth AMAZING SPIDER-MAN or what-have-you, and you can do an occasional everygreen inventory, but you can’t activate as many as you indicated here you’d like to do.

Sara Pichelli finishes her first issue of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, though she’s a good ten days late with it.

Phil Jimenez wants to draw the Guardians of the Galaxy story in SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN. Like his idol George Perez, he tends to be attracted to groups of characters, especially ones he hasn’t gotten a chance to draw before.

On the question of Jamal Campbell, the EIC vetos the idea of having both Kyle Baker and Tini Howard on the call together to pitch their projects. That’s not fair to any of the talent, he says–the artist isn’t going to want to make either of the writers unhappy by selecting the other one, and it may even create ill feelings between Kyle and Tini depending on how it all plays out. No, it’s the editors’ job to be the bad guy, deliver any bad news if it goes that way, and to bear the brunt of whatever problems come up. So he asks that you and Kyle give the details of the two series to the Talent Management group and they will put these two options in front of Jamal Campbell and see how he feels. This way, no matter which way this breaks, we can communicate back cleanly to the writer whose project Jamal won’t be working on and minimize any ill will being generated.

There aren’t any free-floating pitches for any of the Spidey family characters/titles that you listed. If you want to get pitches, you’re going to need to solicit them.

Mark is still cogitating on a WORLD WAR KREE tie-in. Peter indicates that he’d be up for doing one.

MARVEL OFFICES GENERAL

The EIC talks a little bit about the latest sales numbers and standings that you all saw last time. It’s a bit of a pep talk–he indicates that a drop of that nature is to be expected when there’s no issue of a big Event series coming out, and that Marvel is still ahead in terms of total market share by a good margin. While it’s not a cry to be complacent, it does acknowledge that the market can be cyclical. The trick is to make great comics and meet our fiscal obligations overall.

The Talent Management group has spoken to Jamal Campbell, and he’s more interested in doing MILES MORALES with Kyle Baker. So that means we’ll need to come up with another artist resource for X-FORCE. Greg Capullo is still exclusive to DC, so that part of the plan isn’t going to be an option–they can look into the availability of some of the other options that Kyle listed. They seem to think that Marco, Aneke and Ken are all potentially viable options depending on how they feel about the assignment.

The VP of Ops indicates that Gerry Conway is under contract to Marvel for a certain amount of work and his current assignment is running down. So we’re going to need to find something else to utilize him on. Gerry is a legacy creator with a long history with the firm that predates all of us, so the VP of Ops wants to make sure that he’s covered without any mishaps. He indicates that if there might be something connected to the Event being planned that Gerry would be a good fit for, that would be great. Or any other opportunity that anybody can come up with.

DAVE’S DC OFFICE

Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice:

The Executive Editor tells you that in terms of Alex, to let it go at this point. Alex is Alex and always a bit prickly. He’s also not going to be easy to get into the chair for an assignment such as the one you’re talking about, and it’s going to take him longer to complete than just one fiscal quarter–he’s not that fast when it comes to painting pages, which are complex. What’s done is done, so walk away.

When you call Alex, he says the same thing about doing the special. Interior pages take him far longer than his cover work and don’t pay as well either, so he can only justify the time and the effort for projects that really mean something to him, and those tend to be few and far between.

Priest asks you to give him some guidance on what his limitations are likely going to be on SUPERMAN. He’s a grown up, he knows how this stuff works, but as a writer he feels that it’s his job to push boundaries and to tell stories that are personal and that matter to him, and as an editor it’s your job to keep the ball in bounds. He wants to do material on SUPERMAN that would be contemporary and relevant but he wants to get some indication as to DC’s comfort level on language and content. To what degree can he get into contemporary political and social issues here? To what extent can he talk about race? These are the kinds of questions he’s looking for guidance on, because he’d like to have a lay-of-the-land before he commits himself too deeply to a story that’s going to wind up changed.

Brian Stelfreeze tells you that he’s committed to doing a substantial run on SUPERMAN. Other folks on the editorial floor tel you, though, that they’ve heard sentiments like that before.

It turns out that you can’t get Grant Morrison on the phone. But his assistant tells you that she’ll relay the message to Grant. Sana Takeda, it turns out, has had similar difficulties getting through to him.

John Romita Jr. indicates to you quite honestly that he’s going to be taking a wait-and-see approach to doing LEGION. So he’s on board for the first arc, but given the workload involved, he’s not certain that he’s going to be able to keep his enthusiasm up beyond that. And he wants to be straightforward about that going in.

The Coordinating Editor indicates that DC is looking to launch a series starring GANGBUSTER. Given that the character originally came out of the SUPERMAN titles, it would make sense for you to develop this series and get it up and running. There’s an indication that there’s something going on with the character elsewhere in the WB structure–television, film or animation–but nobody is willing to reveal just what. But this is suddenly a thing that DC is hot to move on.

THE INDUSTRY IN GENERAL

On the news and gossip site Bleeding Cool, Rich Johnston reports the following bits of information:

— Is Alex Ross working on a new LEGION launch? There’s been some chatter overheard about it.

— It’s been noticed that Al Ewing has been frequenting UK back issue shops stocking up on old X-MEN titles. Could this mean that he’s got something going on in the world of Marvel’s mutants?

— There might be trouble in paradise as Donny Cates has been heard complaining about his current Marvel editor, and that this seems to be of great interest to the new fictitious Image editor, who would like to have him back in the fold at Image full time. where he started out.

Your move.

TomB

6 thoughts on “EDITORIAL SIMULATION Move 4

  1. My first action this week is to call the EIC. I had CC’d him on the e-mail to Sal about Al Ewing’s request to use the High Evolutionary previously, and as I haven’t heard back from Sal, I ask if we can conference Sal in and set up a meeting for later that day, if necessary, or if we can just sort it out over the phone, or if the EIC can just give me the go ahead. I want to get this sorted out first thing so it’s not delaying us any further.

    In regards to Sal’s e-mail about World War Kree, I let Sal know that I’ll speak with my creators to ascertain interest in a tie-in. If he can put together a planning sheet to give us a timeline and outline of the event and where tie-ins would fit, it’ll be easier to plan for.

    If we get a meeting or a phone call, I try to go over this all in one go. If not, I put it in an e-mail.

    Once I have an answer about High Evolutionary, I call Al and pass it on to him to get him going. Hopefully, having been held up by this, he’s had time to think of backup plans in case we can’t use High Evolutionary, in which case, I want to hear them, offer my own, and come to an agreement on the best course. But ideally we can just use the High Evolutionary and everything else can proceed as originally planned.

    I also mention to Al not to take any calls or questions from Bleeding Cool, and not to say too much to anyone until we can do a proper announcement. I remind him I can get him digital access to most back-issues if he wants, but also don’t be afraid to keep shopping local stores if that’s what he prefers, as rumors can be great for hype as long as nobody knows too much too soon.

    In regards to Jamal Campbell – I e-mail the Talent Management Team to thank them for their work thus far, and ask for their help to determine the availability of my other choices for X-Force – Marco Checchetto, Aneke, and Ken Lashley. Because the VP of sales doesn’t want to see the book delayed, I’m looking to see if any of them can start immediately so that we don’t fall too far behind, if they’re interested in the assignment that is.

    I also send a quick message to Jamal himself to thank him for his time and let him know I understand his decision and hope to work with him on something in the future.

    In my regular communications with my other creators, I mention about the World War Kree event and what I know about it, and that I’ll be asking them for input on potential tie-ins, but that we can opt out of doing one if our plans are tight enough. Other than that, I make sure they’re all keeping to deadline with their pages or assignments.

    With Tini, I make sure she’s aware we’ve lost Jamal Campbell and that she doesn’t have any objections to any of the other artists we’re looking to pull in. I’ll take her feedback if she has preferences or other suggestions, but reiterate that we’re looking for someone who can start the first arc ASAP, and that we might be able to consider bringing someone else on board for the next arc when we get to that.

    With Leah, I also mention that the New Media office is interested in her playlist for promotional purposes, but if they use it they may have to alter it due to content or rights to use the music. It’s up to her if she wants to have something like that shared publicly, and we can conference with the New Media office if she has any questions or input.

    If Leah is interested than I also reach out to Luciano to see if he has a playlist, as I’d rather see a promotion that includes both the writer and artist than one that focuses on the writer alone. I know Leah shared hers with him, and maybe it’s working for him, too, or maybe he has his own, but I don’t want him to feel left out.

    Unfortunately, I don’t see anything at the X-office for Gerry Conway right now. I’ll hold off reaching out or suggesting anything until I see if one of the other offices has been able to.

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  2. Gerry Conway has spoken out rather passionately about the use of the Punisher symbol by the police force and BLM in general. If writers turn in good work when they are invested in the material, I wonder if the Spider-Office could have a Spider-Man / Punisher miniseries spin off from from Miles’ book?

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  3. I wholeheartedly agree with and support Christopher. Superman should be at the forefront of political and societal issues. I would just remind him that Superman is the icon, so we’d want to avoid making him look ignorant or bad. Same for Val Zod, so the language from those two characters should be honorable and respectful. That being said, Superman didn’t shy away from taking on Nazis, he wouldn’t shy away from taking on racism. With other characters in the issue, cursing and tense language should be used sparingly, and violence should also be seminal. While we can’t shove the envelope over the edge, I fully support giving it a decent push. I’ll support his story as long as the questionable content isn’t gratuitous. Think a hard PG-13, just short of an R rating.

    I’d let Brian Stelfreeze know I’m in his corner, and look forward to what he can produce. I’d also talk to Ray-Anthony about working on some cover work and keep him up to date on the story and pages so far.

    I’d reach out to Grant again (this time through e-mail), and I’d also talk to other editors he’s previously worked with to determine if this is normal for him. He’s a seasoned pro, but some people prefer not to talk on the phone. I’d also reassure Sana that we’re reaching out to Grant and we’ll get pages to her as soon as they’re available.

    I’d thank John Romita for coming on again. If he is only comfortable for the first arc, I’d still be grateful to have him. I’d let the EIC know how John feels, and then also suggest possibly reaching out to Jorge Jimenez or Fiona Staples to take over after the first arc, depending on availability and how John feels. No calls to them yet, but keeping their names in the tumbler just in case.

    A new Gangbuster run sounds great! I’m a little worried about the vagueness of the project, though. I wouldn’t want to create too wide a variance from the movie/tv/animation version (so fans can crossover and appreciate both) if that’s what they have in mind, so I’d ask a few more questions to try and figure out the direction. That being said, depending on the tone they want, if it’s a darker, more hardcore approach, I’d like to reach out to Gail Simone again to help write it. With as big as Metropolis is, while Superman covers the skies, Gangbuster is down in the alleys, and I’d encourage a humorous, but gritty, hero. Possibly bringing in John Henry Irons/Steel and cast to help Jose Delgado build his armor (veering away from the Luthor story). I’d also try to partner Gail with Greg Capullo, and Dave Stewart coloring. If I find out they want something lighter, I’d reach out to Paul Jenkins to kickstart it, with Joelle Jones doing the art and Paul Mounts coloring.

    Finally, I’d reach out to Rich Johnston and let him know that something big is coming for LEGION, but not with Alex Ross as of yet (maybe in the future). I’d let my EIC know that while I love buzz around a title, I’m not a fan of “Rumor Mill Headlines” and don’t want to get fans hopes up for something that isn’t going to happen any time soon.

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  4. Things seem to be going fairly smoothly here in the Spider-Man office, with Kyle and Jamal both on board for the Miles miniseries (thank you emails go out to both of them, and check in on their progress once Jamal’s had a little time to get things started). Per my original first move plans, now that the creative team is set up, I send out a press release to the media regarding this upcoming series, playing up the “real world” and “current events” angles, to see if there is any interest in interviewing Kyle and/or Jamal.

    Spectacular Spider-Man is chugging along with Peter David writing, and Phil Jimenez and Tom Grummet alternating arcs. I check in with Peter to see who he wants to show up in the next few arcs to help assign the artist that best fits those guest stars. Also, if he does want to do a World War Kree tie-in (as he showed some interest), I ask that he please provide a basic outline to me, so I can forward that on to Sal and work out details.

    However, to make sure the flagship book stays on track, I reach out again to Mark to get an idea of what his story lengths will be for the next few upcoming longer arcs, so as to fit the shorter stories in to make 5-6 issue trades as much as possible (per the VP of Ops guidance). For instance, if this first arc is four issues, and the next arc is six, then we’ll take one of the two-issue stories he’s written and put it between to make two six issue trades. Seeing as Sara is already getting behind, we’ll definitely be doing two-issue stories whenever possible (given the restrictions I gave myself above). If this first arc is five issues or longer, I let Mark know that the next “bigger” arc needs to be on the short side, like three or four issues. Unlike Spectacular, I want to avoid alternating between the same two pencilers and make these shorter stories a little special — sticking as close as I can to my move 3 plan by reaching out to artists who don’t do a lot of regular monthly work currently, but who might be willing to do a short one to two issue story in order to say “I’ve worked on Amazing Spider-Man.” For this first fill-in, I reach out to Pia Guerra. If she’s uninterested/too busy with her day job, I move on to Jamal Igle, and go to ChrisCross third. (If none of those work out, see my move three for other possible names)

    Trying to make sure this issue goes out on time, I reach out to the other creators (inker, colorist, letterer), and see what can be done to speed up their portion of the work (possibly a second inker whose work is similar in style to the current inker?), and apologize for the rush.

    Finally, I give Sara a call. I understand everyone has their own speed that they work at, and I love the results, but at the same time, if each issue ends up 10 days behind the previous, that puts us a month off schedule within three issues, which is going to play havoc with everyone, from the other creators involved, to retailers to the fans. Is there anything we can provide that would get her closer to a regular monthly schedule, given that there will be breaks between arcs to give her some catch-up/breathing time?

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  5. Hey, Everyone!

    Firstly, I emailed Kyle and let him know the High Evolutionary is all his after speaking to all of the writers on my team about it. Al is free to have fun!

    I’m really happy and excited that the marketing group is up for some of the ideas. I totally understand where they are coming from and I’m taking their lead on this. I was simply pitching the idea to do something different, but as far as execution of the idea goes, I’m happy to meet all their requirements.

    I completely understand the response from the VP of Sales, and as I mentioned to marketing, I’m going to follow their lead because they know better than I do. I do want to have these all on Marvel.com, although I’m not sure of the tech involved and so I mentioned that Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram are all simple places where I think we can get more exposure because the masses are there rather than us needing to remind the masses to come to Marvel.com. Also, I do have experience in going live across all mentioned platforms so I could help if needed.

    I do understand the promotional aspect of interviews and how we want to allow comic book news media so maybe we pose the interviews from the standpoint of “a behind the scenes look” at the teams. Maybe their preparation process, how did the calls go and whatnot.

    IRON MAN
    The art team is near completion on the first issue and Jason Aaron sent me issue 2 which came together really well. He did have a guest appearance from Captain Marvel to add a subtle hint to World War Kree. I let him know that I would have to run it by the EIC for approval.

    Jason did ask if we can borrow Hank McCoy for a couple of issues so I wrote up a quick email to Kyle asking for him.

    I wrote a handwritten apology to the talent management team apologizing for the inconvenience and for my lack of patience in the matter.

    CAPTAIN AMERICA
    So, with everything going on with Donny Cates I decided to go to the EIC for advice. I let him know the entire situation and I’m looking for some guidance on how to handle this situation. I also ask if we should consider Donny Cates as a flight risk?

    Donny did send in the revised script. I also asked the EIC to look at the climax of both versions, one with the death of Iron Fist and one without. If the EIC thinks the Iron Fist death hits better than the revision then I think we may have to go with Donny’s original script to salvage the relationship. That said, I will ask for a detailed outline of any other idea that could shake up the Marvel U.

    THOR
    The team is doing absolutely great and working well together.
    I agree with the EIC, we can save Skottie Young’s talents for the baby birth issue. With creating a buzz I do want to ask if we can get a variant cover for issue 1 by Walt Simonson.
    WORLD WAR KREE
    I’m waiting for the other Marvel editors to come back with their ideas for tie-ins.
    Donny Cates sent his first draft and I’m in total alignment with his plans. It does seem that he is more excited about this event than his Captain America book. I did note this in my conversation with the EIC about Donny. Ryan sent some ideas for the first cover based on the first draft and OMG! Amazing!

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