Blah Blah Blog – Reader Questions 6

Another classic post of readers’ questions being answered by a much younger me back on my blog of time gone by.

Reader Questions 6

March 16, 2010 | 5:21 PM | By Tom_Brevoort | In General

We’ll get to some more of your Reader Questions in a minute, but first this musical interlude from assistant editor Rachel Pinnelas:

As sung to the tune of “OKLAHOMA”

Oklahoma, where Asgard floats above the plains

And that hoverin’ rock is in for quite the shock

When Normy sends his cavalry to have all the gods slain

Oklahoma, Donald Blake is watchin’ and heaves a sigh,

So his strikes his cane so Thor can once again

Make lazy circles in the sky…

La la la la (and so on and so forth)

Okay then…

> When a book’s writer proposes a Really Big Idea regarding his or her own book, what triggers an editor’s “I need to check with someone else before I can approve this new direction” response?

I have no specific examples in mind…I’m just curious about how a publisher sometimes has to balance the desire to keep moving a character into new directions, versus (for example) the clutter and complication of establishing that the popular recurring character Captain Drywall, in each of his 30 years’ worth of past appearances and in each of his future ones, has always been a team of four tiny aliens wearing a fully-functional and utterly-convincing Human suit, and that drywalling and skim-coating was never the real point to the character.

Posted by Ihnatko on 2010-02-07 16:12:49>

This tends to depend on the book and the character, and just what precisely is being proposed. In general, when it comes to day-in and day-out storytelling, the editors individually have the authority and the responsibility to approve or reject storylines for the characters. But if you’re going to be doing anything that’s going to make a radical and permanent change to a character of significance-death, marriage, childbirth, horrible maiming, turning a hero into a villain, making a costume change on a high-profile character-then you’re going to want to get the buy-in of those higher up on the food chain, because those sorts of changes can have ramifications, not just for the publishing line, but for the rest of the business as well. Typically, though, as Marvel is such a lean organization, we’re all in very steady contact with one another, so these sorts of ideas naturally come up and get vetted more often than not. Every once in a while there might be something that’s a surprise, but that’s typically due to the editor in question not realizing the impact of the storyline they were working on. If the change seems like a good idea, if it opens up new story possibilities, or is likely to attract some attention to the character, if it adds more than it detracts, then in all likelihood we’ll go with it.

> What are your thoughts on having “multiple separate Universes” in the product line, so to speak (IE, mainstream Marvel Spidey, Ultimate Spidey, and Marvel Adventures Spidey”?

Posted by Ihnatko on 2010-02-07 16:16:59>

It honestly doesn’t bother me for the most part. I do think that sometimes it can be difficult for people–readers and creators alike–to keep everything straight, and there are times where you might not be sure just where a particular project falls, which fictional cosmology it’s a part of. But these are relatively insignificant problems to have to deal with. And there’s precedent for this: none of the animated series or films or other media incarnations of the Marvel characters have matched the regular publishing line perfectly-they’ve all made changes and adjustments to the characters or the world in order to suit what worked best for them and their medium. But nobody really worries that the Spider-Man on the old ’60s cartoon isn’t the same as Spidey on SPIDER-MAN AND HIS AMAZING FRIENDS, nor the SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN cartoon.

>What do you see as the future of comics? Obvious choices being those motion thingies, digital versions for book readers, more movies/TV shows, or do you think the backbone of Marvel will be physical comics for a long time? >

This is such a broad question that it’s difficult to answer comprehensively in the space we’ve got here. I think you’re certainly going to see an expansion into the digital realms, and more direct digital distribution of our content, but that will be in addition to the physical comics and TPBs, not in place of them. I don’t think there’s any true evidence that the expansion of the digital realm inevitably means the end of tangible print, at least not within my lifetime. The ratio of importance or overall audience will likely continue to shift more and more to that paradigm, since that’s what the current and coming generations will be used to, but I don’t expect I’ll live to see a day when comics go all-digital exclusively (unless something catastrophic occurs to demolish the distribution systems we’ve got in place now.)

> If written comics disappeared, or dwindled to near nothing, could you see yourself editing something like a video game or TV show?

Posted by PseudoSherlock on 2010-02-07 20:29:40>

Well, hopefully my skills and experience would be able to translate into a different medium such as those you list. It’s more a question, I think, of whether anybody else could see me editing one of those.

>What character created in the last ten years do you think has the best chance of becoming a mainstay of the Marvel Universe at the level of say “The Silver Surfer,” or better? One of the Runaways? Amadeus Cho? Phantomex? A villain? >

The Sentry maybe. Certainly the Runaways, and the Young Avengers characters too.

> Any chance of seeing a few entries in the future in the style of your old blog where you give your opinions on individual comics from yesteryear?

Posted by cjmcaree on 2010-02-08 05:30:14>

That’s always possible, if enough people are interested in it. I had started working up a sequence on the inter-company crossovers I had worked on, but got distracted and never finished it. I’m never quite sure whether that stuff is of any interest to anybody besides myself.

>How about having Mark Waid write the thunderbolts? He’s proven with Kingdom come, Empire and unreedeemable that he’s great at writing bad guys and getting in their heads. I say perfect match! >

This assumes that Mark would have any interest in writing Thunderbolts. I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to him about it as a possibility, but my sense is that he probably wouldn’t, not without some additional hook or story concept that got him excited and motivated. While he does it well, this doesn’t tend to be the sort of thing that Mark most likes writing.

> What is Olivier Coipel’s next project (his Siege art is just awesome) ?

Posted by baxtos on 2010-02-08 05:45:08>

Once we’re ready to announce something, you’ll hear about it. Right now, his focus is on completing SIEGE. (And glad you’ve been enjoying it.)

>I just do not get something in BND in the Amazing Spider-Man. Did he know he made the deal with Mephisto to erase everybody’s memories, in exchange for his marrige? Or is Spidey being serious when he says that she actually left him at the altar? >

Not to just dodge the question, but you’ll get all the answers as to what happened between Pete and MJ at the altar this summer in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, in a story long coming.

> Is John Romita Jr. going to be a regular for the Avengers series coming out in May, or is it just for the first few story arcs?

Posted by jc1569 on 2010-02-08 09:23:48>

When you say “first few story arcs”, how many issues is that? John is the regular penciler on AVENGERS, which means he’ll be on it until there’s some other opportunity that we need him for or that he wants to do. But this is a good question to turn back around to the masses: what would you say constitutes a regular run these days? How many issues does an artist have to produce before he’s the regular artist on the series?

More later.

Tom B

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