Blah Blah Blog – Reader Questions 4

An entry from my old school Marvel blog of days gone by, this one answering more questions posed by the readership at that time.

Reader Questions 4

August 1, 2008 | 1:00 AM | By Tom_Brevoort | In General

Took a day off for an editorial meeting—of which there’ll hopefully be some video footage next week. But here we are back with the last of the reader questions:

Ø What is the cause of the delay with the most recent issue of Fantastic Four? Hitch keeps saying that he’s close to done, and yet the book is way off-schedule.

Posted by colonelgreen on 2008-07-29 09:41:16>

Well, in fairness, the book is a few weeks behind, rather than “way off-schedule.” But late is late. It’s inking. Andrew Currie, who’s been inking the series, injured his hand, which slowed down his production quite a bit for a time. Bryan stepped in to help with some of the inking, but even so it took a lot longer to get done than we’d expected. We had lined up somebody else to come in and help out during this period, but that person backed out of the job after two weeks of producing no work, so that set us behind as well. But #559 went off to the printer last week, and hopefully we’ll have things back into a swing on #560 and moving forward.

Ø As you said BND won´t go anywhere and there is no plains for reverse it, so why using Mephisto , deals and magic instead of divorcing Peter and MJ ? Spider-Man always was a comic that dealt with personal problems and human tasks, that what made Spider-Man comics so unique, divorce instead of using mephisto could ha been a way to show that Peter is a human being and could face human problems like divorce. I definitively know you won´t respond and will think it is offensive, but would be great to know why Mephisto instead of divorce.

Posted by claudio pahl on 2008-07-29 10:45:32>

I think there are two reasons why you don’t divorce Spider-Man, one a publishing reason and one a larger marketing reason. The publishing reason is that a divorced Spider-Man really isn’t all that much better than a married Spider-Man. It’s yet one more thing that makes him old, makes him your parents rather than being you. The marketing reason is that Spider-Man is more than just a super hero, he’s Marvel’s corporate icon, so doing a story in which Spider-Man gets a divorce is tantamount to Marvel endorsing divorce. And while you might not think so, that’s still a real hot-button issue in certain circles (as I’m sure will become apparent at some point during this year’s Presidential campaign.) And that means it would have much more far-reaching consequences than just the sale of issues of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.

Ø Will the Incredible Hercules title and numbering return to the Incredible Hulk anytime?
Can you make some calls and find out when we can hope to hear some casting announcements for Cap, Avengers, and Spidey4?
Can you explain the point of Marvel Apes?
Now for BND…I’m enjoying the book for the most part, and I understand the need for Marvel to want Pete to be their lovable loser, but does he have to be such a man-child? I have found contentment with the agita, except for the timeline issues. Would it give to much away to explain how BND fits into current universe continuity?

Posted by TConway on 2008-07-29 13:01:49>

No, there are no plans to turn INCREDIBLE HERCULES back into INCREDIBLE HULK—we’ve got another HULK book that we’re quite happy with.
Afraid I can’t help you on casting questions for the Marvel movies—that’s all the purview of our film division.
Does Marvel Apes need a point? It’s Marvel Apes!
I can’t say I agree with you about Peter being a man-child, but different strokes.
And BRAND NEW DAY is happening now, just like the rest of the Marvel line—it fits in the same way every other book does.

> anything planned for Omega Flight ?

Posted by notapotatoe on 2008-07-29 13:05:11>

Not in the immediate future.

Ø Why don’t you guys ever put any effort into promoting Spider-Girl, especially if you want the Anti-BND fans off your backs ?

Also why aren’t there any writers within Marvel Comics, that can help assist Tom Defalco and write within Spider-Girl’s world ?

Posted by CAmbm on 2008-07-29 14:22:08>

I don’t think the Anti-BND fans are going to be placated by SPIDER-GIRL no matter how hard it was promoted.
And I don’t think there’s a need for other writers to help Tom DeFalco with SPIDER-GIRL and her universe. That’s Tom’s baby, so to me it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to bring in other creators to treat it differently. I still remember the small spate of outrage when Sean McKeever did a fill-in issue.

Ø I was hoping you could give us some insight into the role editors play in the lateness of books. I could be mistaken but I believe the editor is responsible for selecting the creative team. When you select a creator who has had lateness problems in the past what steps do you take to prevent lateness in the future? I’m getting very frustrated with lateness and from the outside looking in it doesn’t appear that you guys are doing anything to limit late books. I find this especially frustrating with a series like Old Man Logan. Apparently the book will not ship in September or October. With a book like this that is essentially a What If story that does not affect any other books why not wait until it is complete, or mostly complete, to solicit the first issue? And please do not give me the “comics are produced by human beings” excuse. I’m sorry but I just don’t believe that. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of monthly periodicals produced by humans that ship on time every month, year after year. I really believe that scheduling is the problem and I hope to hear what steps Marvel are taking to limit late books in the future.

Posted by rialb on 2008-07-29 16:05:40>

This is a “the heart wants what it wants” sort of matter for you, I think, so let me hit a few of these points and see if I can’t give you some answers. First off, comics are a talent-driven industry, in a way that an issue of TV GUIDE or ENTERTAINMENT WEEKY or FISH MONTHLY isn’t. You don’t buy those magazines for who’s writing the articles, you’re buying them for their informational content. In this regard, comics are closer to television programs or movies—the talent both in front of and behind the camera make a great difference in how well your product does. And not all creators are equal. I don’t select a creator because he’s got a history of being late, I select him because he’s got a history of being talented and getting people to buy his work in quantity. There’s also a budgetary component to this as well—a Mark Millar/Steve McNiven WOLVERINE book is going to sell better and bring in more revenue than one by no-name creators. So you want to put those books out—and when you start well ahead of time, you anticipate that you’re going to be able to. But, and I’m sorry you don’t like to hear this, human beings are involved, and that means that sometimes they overestimate themselves, sometimes life throws a curveball or gets in the way, and sometimes they get called upon to do other things because “you’ve got plenty of time to get back to that other project. It’s not coming out for months.” On something like “Old Man Logan”, though, it’s not just a big What If story—it’s got ties and connections to what Mark is doing in FANTASTIC FOUR and 1985, and so it needed to ship in proximity to those two series. We do calculate, we strategize, and we plan, and sometime we even do pull in other creators to finish out a given series. But especially in today’s world of trade Paperbacks and Hardcover Collections, a desire for consistency is paramount. I read an article a while back where Neal Adams was speaking about this phenomenon. And one of his points was that, in the old days of the 60s or 70s, comics were considered ephemera, so if a guy had to hack out an issue in a week to make a deadline for somebody, he’d do it and not worry about it too much, because even if that issue was a bit shoddy, it would be gone inside of a month. But now, almost everything is getting collected in permanent editions, and so that hack-job or fill-in rush job would follow the artist around for the rest of his life. And especially at the price point that new comics costs, nobody wants a mediocre book, especially not the fans—some of you will say you’d rather have fill-ins, but the history of sales trends shows conclusively that you don’t, not as a whole. Any series that starts plugging in quickie fill-ins inevitably goes down in sales—that’s one of the things, I believe, that’s hurting our competition at this point. So what are we doing? We try to calculate accurately, and we’ll make adjustments if the schedule runs into trouble—sometimes by not soliciting an issue for a given month, to buy our creators more time. We try to be smart about it. But part of being smart is realizing that quality will out, and that as a whole people would rather have a quality product than one that’s just there. It’s terrific when you can get them both, and we expend untold amounts of man-hours trying to do so as consistently as possible, but when the chips are down and a call needs to be made, quality will out.

Ø You know what I don’t understand? Why didn’t Marvel just sink all of this creative talent (i.e., Bendis, Wells, Wacker, McNiven, Bachalo, Jiminez, etc.) into making Ultimate Spider-Man come out three times a month? They could’ve just kept regular Marvel Universe Spider-Man married and put a decent long-term creative team on Amazing Spider-Man (e.g., Slott and JRJR) and cancelled the other two 616 Spidey books. That way he’s still married for the long-time fans, while the new readers will flock to Ultimate Spider-Man.

Makes perfect sense to me. But, then again, I feel the same way about Astonishing X-Men. If they wanted to have a more self-contained X-men book with a superstar creative team on it, why not just put Ellis and Bianchi on Ultimate X-Men and cancel Astonishing with Whedon and Cassaday’s departure from the book?

These are the decisions that make the Ultimate line redundant and ruin a perfect opportunity for Marvel to have the best of both worlds. In other words, one universe that is older and where things have changed radically over time (616) and another where things are more timeless (yet modernized) and which closely resembles the movies (Ultimate).

Posted by Jackraow21 on 2008-07-29 20:20:36>

This is a case where you’re misinterpreting the goal. The goal wasn’t to have “an” unmarried Spider-Man—the goal was to fix the fact that Spider-Man was broken. I went into this a little bit at the Chicago convention, but let’s face facts: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is the “real” Spider-Man, the book that dates back to 1962 when the character began. And if that’s broken, then the character is broken, no matter how many ULTIMATE SPIDER-MANs you might have. (By your logic, if fans want a married Spider-Man, they should just start reading AMAZING SPIDER-GIRL and leave AMAZING SPIDER-MAN to the new readers.) But as I told CAmBn a few questions ago, that’s not really what those readers want.) So increasing the frequency of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN wouldn’t have gotten the job done. And in fact, increasing the frequency of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN didn’t have anything specific to do with ONE MORE DAY, but was an idea we had because of the circumstances. Had the Spidey books stayed with Axel, ONE MORE DAY would still have happened as it did, but we’d still have a separate AMAZING, SENSATIONAL and FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD series right now. In the case of Warren and Simone on ULTIMATE X-MEN, I’d guess that part of the reason that didn’t happen is that that wasn’t what those creators wanted to work on—the books aren’t the same, as you well know. And from a publishing point of view, if you’ve got a title that sells as well as ASTONISHING X-MEN, you don’t just close up shop—you try to find new ways to sustain those numbers and that interest in the property. Why on Earth would I want to cancel one of my three best-selling titles–especially when I can have both ASTONISHING and ULTIMATE X-MEN?

More later.

Tom B

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