A post from my old Marvel blog concerning the development of the storyline that introduced the Winter Soldier.
We had a meeting last week, a get-together to discuss the direction of some stuff coming up with one of the characters, and where we might be able to take their story. It got pretty heated–at different points during the hour-and-a-half that it went on, one editor would be yelling at another editor over the particulars of some fictional person’s life or beliefs or history.
And then, when the meeting was over, we all walked out of the conference room, and nobody was particularly angry or upset with anybody else.
I love that. I love the fact that we can commit ourselves to the work and display such a passion for these very silly, very childish ideas and concepts, but not have it devolve into hurt feelings or bruised egos, at least most of the time.
There’s an aphorism I use around the office with my own staff of people: “If I’m Not Convinced, It’s Because You Didn’t Convince Me.” Or, to put it another way, I’m always trying to keep my mind open to new ideas, new approaches, new ways of thinking about these characters and these stories. Which doesn’t mean that I’m going to be a pushover all the time–but which does mean that maybe 80% of the time, I’m not going to feel so strongly about an approach to make somebody do it my way. And the other 20% is an escalating scale of stuff that I care about more certainly, and in that area, I try not to be intransient, but it’s progressively more difficult to sway me as you get nearer and nearer to the core. But it can be done–or at least I think it can.
I remember, a few months before CAPTAIN AMERICA came over to my editorial office, there was some discussion about bringing Bucky back–a writer at the time had brought up the idea, and people were talking it over. Joe Quesada and I started talking back and forth about it, and with every exchange our words got louder and louder and our faces redder and redder, until we were pretty much screaming at the top of our lungs at one another. In the end, that storyline didn’t happen then.
But it wasn’t long thereafter that Joe told me that Ed Brubaker was interested in writing CAP, and that he wanted to bring Bucky back. And I had a similar conversation with Ed (though at nowhere near the same volume) in which I outlined all of my problems with doing this, all of the questions he’d have to answer to my satisfaction to assure me that he knew what he was doing, and that his storyline would be additive to the mythos, rather than subtractive. Ed went away for about a week, called me back up, we walked through the checklist, and he had an answer to every objection I had raised. And so we did the story, and it seems to have worked.
And I think ideally that’s how it should work. You neither want to be so entrenched that any new idea or new approach is going to be strangled before it can really blossom, but neither do you want to be so open-minded that you’ll barter away the bedrock of the characters for what momentarily sounds like a good story idea.