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Talking Comics with Tim | Ryan Stegman

Scarlet Spider

Say the name “Scarlet Spider” to a longtime Marvel reader and you’re bound to get a range of reactions. But come the new year, Marvel is hoping all the reactions will be positive and numerous when the new Scarlet Spider series launches on January11. As recently confirmed in Marvel’s Point One one-shot, the new Scarlet Spider is none other than Kaine, the Peter Parker clone recently cured during the Spider Island event. Unlike many of Marvel’s series set in New York, Scarlet Spider will enjoy the unique cityscape of Houston, Texas — one of many factors that has me looking forward to reading it. Before the series gets started though, series artist Ryan Stegman stepped away from his drawing table to take part in this Q&A. In addition to this interview, CBR also is offering a preview of the first issue. After reading this (and enjoying the preview), be sure to check out the recent installment of Comic Book Resources’ “Axel-in-Charge,” where Alonso interviewed Stegman.

Tim O’Shea: How did Marvel approach you about joining the Scarlet Spider creative team? Was getting to work with [series writer] Chris Yost a deciding factor in joining the project?

Ryan Stegman: I had been working on an issue of Amazing Spider-Man and I made it clear as I could to editorial that this is the type of stuff I wanted to be doing. I practically begged. And Steve Wacker said that he would love to have me back and but that ASM was booked up artist-wise for the foreseeable future. I couldn’t argue this, because the artists that they have are fantastic. So one day, out of the blue he called me up and told me about this idea and I was sold. No offense to Chris, but that wasn’t a selling point because I think I was hired before him! Chris turned out to be the icing on the cake.

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Marvel bringing Daken: Dark Wolverine to an end

In a just-published interview with Comic Book Resources, Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso revealed Daken: Dark Wolverine will be coming to an end, following a wave of cancellations that includes X-23 and Ghost Rider.

Although he didn’t indicate when the series will conclude, February’s Issue 21 is billed as “Issue one of the story the series has been leading up to,” suggesting the beginning of the final arc.

Addressing recent cancellations in this week’s “Axel-in-Charge” column, Alonso told CBR’s Kiel Phegley, “It’s always disappointing when a title comes to an end. I’ll bet everyone reading this column still mourns the death of a title or two they loved – and wonder why the book didn’t stick. And I guarantee you that as frustrated as a fan might be, there’s a writer, artist and an editor who are even more disappointed. That’s just the way things go sometimes. The market won’t support it.

“That said, I’m proud of X-23’s run,” he continued. “Two successful limited series and an ongoing series ain’t bad. Ditto for Daken [who is also ending his series]. From a supporting role in Wolverine: Origins to the lead of ongoing series that included him slicing Frank Castle to bits – enter Franken-Castle.  Both were characters that gained traction in a market that, well, doesn’t really have a great track record of supporting new stuff. And both characters anchored legitimate monthly titles. We don’t do R&D at Marvel. We’ll stick by a title for a while – like we did with Spider-Girl – but there comes a point where that title has to earn, usually sooner than later.”

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Marvel teases ‘It’s coming’ at New York Comic-Con

An ominous-looking postcard from Marvel arrived today at the Comic Book Resources offices teasing “It’s coming.” What It might be is anyone’s guess, but the note on the back from Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso promises we’ll find out more Oct. 15 at the “Cup O’ Joe” panel at New York Comic-Con.

Comic Book Resources will, of course, be covering the entire four-day convention, which kicks off Oct. 13 at the Jacob Javits Center. Marvel also encourages those who can’t attend to catch the announcement live at 5 p.m. ET Oct. 15 at Marvel.com/itscoming. “Because trust me,” Alonso writes, “you won’t want to miss this.”

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The next big wait project emerges: Man-Thing by Gerber and Nowlan

In last week’s Axel-In-Charge Q&A right here at CBR, Marvel’s Editor-In-Chief Axel Alonso ended the weekly exchange with a loose-lipped hint that a long-delayed Man-Thing project is lumbering its way toward comics shelves. “All I can say,” said Alonso, “is we do have a Man-Thing project coming out soon that is older than some of Marvel’s assistant editors and well worth the wait.”

Well lucky for you, I know what he’s talking about.

A Man-Thing graphic novel by writer Steve Gerber and artist Kevin Nowlan. Initially started and announced in the 80s, it reportedly fell by the wayside while sitting on Nowlan’s drawing board. The original title was “Screenplay of the Living Dead Man”, intended to be a follow-up from the story “Song-Cry of the Living Dead Man” published in Man-Thing #12 way back when. It wasn’t until Gerber’s passing in 2008 that Nowlan refocused his energies and began working on the project again in his spare time. Back in March, Nowlan told me that it’ll end up being a 62-page painted story, and I even confirmed with Marvel that they’re going to publish it once Nowlan completes it.

With New Teen Titans: Games coming out this week and this other long-awaited release finally coming out, what other great stories might be lurking out there waiting to be finished?

SDCC ’11 | The Early Show spotlights Marvel’s Axel Alonso

Using Comic-Con International and the opening of Captain America: The First Avenger has hooks, CBS’s The Early Show this morning profiled Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso.

“Our fans are hardcore,” he tells correspondent Jeff Glor. “They’re very opinionated. They let you know when they don’t like something. At the end of the day you have to hit them with the right story, you have to back up your event and just stand on your own two feet. [...] In comic books, it’s all about story. People don’t come to a Spider-Man comic book to see Spider-Man punch the Green Goblin — they go to see the journey that brought him there.”

Quote of the day | Axel Alonso on Marvel, movies and comic readers

Axel Alonso

“With every new movie that comes out, whether it’s good or bad, it whittles away this notion that comics are some ghetto for nerds. But our first and foremost responsibility is to tell good stories and to sell enough books and we keep our jobs. With all due respect to the movie studio, I’ve got to pay my own rent!”

– Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, discussing his role overseeing comics
that may provide the source material for the company’s growing movie division

Comics A.M. | Archie addresses gays in military; NYT explains Crisis

Kevin Keller #2

Publishing | We noted in late April that Archie Comics appeared to be embracing cultural and political commentary with its upcoming Kevin Keller miniseries, which features Riverdale’s first openly gay character and his father, a retired three-star general. But now the publisher, or at least the character, is going a step further, marching into the middle of the debate over gays and lesbians openly serving in the armed forces by revealing that Kevin aspires to be a journalist, but only after attending the U.S. Military Academy and becoming an Army officer. “Even though we don’t tackle the specific issue of Don’t Ask Don’ Tell, the goal was to show that patriotism knows no specific gender, race or sexual orientation,” cartoonist Dan Parent says. “While it sounds like heavy subject matter, I tried to show it simply that Kevin, like his dad, loves his country. Being gay doesn’t effect that in any way.” [The Associated Press]

Publishing | DC Comics’ line-wide reboot has received extensive coverage by mainstream media outlets, based largely on the original USA Today article or The Associated Press report. But my favorite piece is this one by George Gene Gustines that turns back the clock to 1985 and attempts to explain to The New York Times audience the effects, and problems, of Crisis on Infinite Earths, and the publisher’s subsequent attempts to streamline continuity: “… If the goal was to make the DC universe easier to understand, the end result was the opposite: to this day, fans frequently mention ‘pre-Crisis‘ and ‘post-Crisis‘ as a way to distinguish stories. Twenty years later, in the Infinite Crisis limited series, DC tried to clean continuity up again: Superman’s career as Superboy was back; Batman knew who murdered the Waynes; and Wonder Woman was a founder of the Justice League again.” [The New York Times]

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The Fifth Color | Not your daddy’s comics

Marvel MAX Explicit tagIn the past few weeks, there have been a plethora of comic book conventions, each with their own unique announcements, promotions and exclusives. But rarely do you get the juicy gossip! These guys have their patter down so well that fans get what they came for, and no one slips up and calls anybody a whore in public (although we still hold out hope for a Frank Miller sighting next year). Marvel’s long-awaited return to San Francisco, home of the X-Men and Axel Alonso, was surprisingly polite and succinct. No major movie news, no grand proclamations, but still an exciting look forward to what lies ahead in 2011.

But you were kinda hoping somebody threw a chair.

Saturday at the Spotlight on Jason Aaron panel I heard something so ridiculous that I marched out of that room with my jaw on the floor. Sadly, Jason Aaron didn’t say it; in fact I would much rather be talking about him and his work. Aaron is a humble, talented and completely brilliant writer, but what EiC Axel Alonso said was far more controversial. Something that left Alonso and myself just stupefied.

Axel Alonso said in front of a very modest crowd at WonderCon that he works with people that think Marvel Comics should not make R-rated content. That there are some professionals in the industry that believe every comic should be PG rated or lower.

He didn’t understand it and neither do I.

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WonderCon | Don’t fear mutants, fear the beard

Uncanny X-Men #534 WonderCon variant

Uncanny X-Men #534 WonderCon variant

Although Marvel has held panels at WonderCon over the last couple of years, they haven’t exhibited on the show room floor … until this year, that is. Not only will they have a booth on the floor April 1-3 when the show returns to San Francisco, but they also plan to bring copies of Uncanny X-Men #534 featuring a cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli that Giants fans will appreciate. It’s awesome to see Cyclops and crew supporting their new hometown’s championship team.

“Being from San Francisco, I am ecstatic about how strong Marvel’s presence will be at WonderCon this year,” Axel Alonso, Marvel’s Editor-In-Chief, told Marvel.com. “And with San Francisco now the adopted hometown of the X-Men, it just made perfect sense to create a variant for this show which celebrated the city and its achievements.”

Axel Rose: Thoughts on Marvel’s new editor-in-chief

Wow — between Erik Larsen and Eric Stephenson, it sure seems like Axel Alonso pissed in Image Comics’ Wheaties at some point!

Hey, it wouldn’t be a Robot 6 post without a “let’s you and him fight” angle. But now that that’s out of my system, there’s a lot one could say, pro and con, about Axel Alonso’s promotion to editor-in-chief of Marvel. Actually, the level of surprise with which the news was greeted says something all by itself. True, he’s never been the public figure that his predecessor Joe Quesada and colleague Tom Brevoort (who, again, has long said he didn’t want the EIC job) have been, so in that regard he’s an unknown quantity to readers and fans. To creators and editors, however, everything I’ve heard indicates that his reputation is sterling, dating back to his involvement in Vertigo — he’s well-liked personally and well-respected professionally (unless you’re Darwyn Cooke).

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Industry reactions to Marvel’s Axe-cellent news

Axel Alonso, by Skottie Young

The news broke yesterday that Axel Alonso will take over as editor-in-chief of Marvel Entertainment, following Joe Quesada’s shift in focus to Marvel’s multimedia initiatives. Here’s a few reactions over the last couple days from various folks around the industry:

Tom Spurgeon: “I don’t know Alonso at all, not even a little bit, but he strikes me as a comics-first guy in a period in comics history where Marvel as a publishing company could use every bit of close attention that comes with having a savvy, comics-first guy in that position. That’s not in any way implied commentary on Joe Quesada, I swear. I’m comparing Alonso to other people that might hold that position in this day and age, not to his predecessor. Quesada’s run would have to be termed a big success. Moreover, he leaves that historical position I believe still generally well-liked and certainly widely admired, which is sort of astonishing given the decisions that job calls for over time.”

Tom Brevoort: “This is Axel’s moment. He shouldn’t have to share the spotlight. He well deserves it.”

Jason Aaron: “My bold prediction: the Axel Alonso era at Marvel will be just as exciting and groundbreaking as the Joe Q one, only with more cursing.”

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Marvel promotes Tom Brevoort to Senior Vice President of Publishing

Tom Brevoort

Not to be outdone by his former fellow Senior VP – Executive Editor and (Cup o’ Joe: Marvel T&A partner) Axel Alonso, outspoken editor Tom Brevoort has been named Senior Vice President of Publishing by Marvel. Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada broke the news via Twitter while also congratulating Alonso for his ascension to the Editor-in-Chief position held by Quesada until today. Marvel tells CBR that further details about both promotions are forthcoming.

With his (imho) admirably candid Internet presence across a variety of platforms, Brevoort has emerged as Marvel editorial’s de facto voice, often to the tune of reader controversy. This has always struck me as a reversal from the “Nu-Marvel” days of the early 2000s, prior to Brevoort’s involvement in the publisher’s new Avengers and event-driven era, when the editor was viewed by many fans as a traditionalist counterpoint to/bulwark against Quesada, Alonso and then-President Bill Jemas.

In related news, can comic book publishers please take a brief break from industry-rocking publishing and personnel news for a little bit? I’m getting tired, and falling way behind on my stories.

Marvel promotes Axel Alonso to Editor-in-Chief; Joe Quesada to focus on Chief Creative Officer duties

Huge news from the House of Ideas: Axel Alonso has been promoted to Editor-in-Chief of Marvel Entertainment. Previously serving as Senior VP – Executive Editor alongside Tom Brevoort and overseeing the X-Men and MAX lines among other projects, Alonso will now oversee all of Marvel Publishing’s day-to-day aspects and report to Publisher and President Dan Buckley. Alonso replaces Joe Quesada, who shifts to full-time focus on Marvel’s multimedia initiatives in publishing, digital, film and television alike within his existing role as Chief Creative Officer.

This marks the end of Quesada’s transformative ten-year tenure as Editor-in-Chief, the longest such reign of anyone in the company’s history save Stan Lee and one that saw the publisher emerge from the shadow of bankruptcy to once again become the dominant player in the North American direct market for comics. Alonso played an integral role in the Quesada regime since 2000, with his experience at Vertigo coming into play as Marvel took major creative and personnel risks during what was known as the “Nu-Marvel” era. Marvel’s press release on the matter touts such controversial projects as X-Statix and The Rawhide Kid as major credits from Alonso’s resume right alongside runs editing Amazing Spider-Man and X-Men, so it seems that Marvel higher-ups value Alonso’s frequently unconventional approach to superheroics.

CBR News Editor Kiel Phegley has the full press release and further analysis.

Talking Comics with Tim: Shawn Crystal

Deadpool Team-Up 896

Deadpool Team-Up 896

Shawn Crystal is a SCAD Atlanta professor I met back in October (as documented in this story). In addition to his role educating storytellers, Crystal is a professional artist equally busy building a name for himself in the comics industry. Tomorrow (February 3) will feature the release of his latest effort,  Deadpool Team-Up 896 (written by Stuart Moore). As previewed last week by CBR and detailed here: “Get ready to hit the road with U.S. ACE, Marvel’s truckin’ hero! He’s back behind the wheels of a big rig with an unlikely partner — DEADPOOL — and together they’re puttin’ the hammer down, ridin’ the open road, and decapitatin’ giant killer raccoons. Good times…if they don’t kill each other first! Featuring the working-class villainy of THE HIGHWAYMAN, and the world premiere of the chart-toppin’ “Ballad of U.S. Ace,” composed and performed by Wade Wilson. What part of ‘Collector’s Item’ don’t you understand?” I was pleased to get an opportunity to talk to Crystal about this issue and creators he respects (as well as find out his David Lapham news). After enjoying this email exchange, be sure to check out Crystal’s blog as well as his  deviantART page.

Tim O’Shea: The first question I have to ask–what reference does an artist use when drawing giant killer raccoons?

Shawn Crystal: There is a very popular book many artists have in their studio, and cherish like the arc of the covenant. It’s called “Homicidal Animals: A reference manual for the aspiring cartoonist.” Unfortunately, I do not own this book, so I had to resort to some more traditional methods. I started with the obvious, books on raccoons that were peppered with glamour shots of these little buggers. I also spent some time seeing how other artists had handled raccoons, mainly animators. There was some decent stuff in “Disney’s: The art of Pocahontas.” I also talked to a buddy of mine, Brad Walker who draws Guardians of the Galaxy, which has Rocket Raccoon as a team member. Researching raccoons was fairly easy; creating the chopper gang was a ton of fun. I needed to design a gang of Uzi wielding raccoons on motorcycles. The first thing I needed to find was a thread, something to make this gang seem like a team. Working for Marvel affords me the luxury of using their library, so I chose the X-Men. Well, the kid in me did. I started designing raccoons based on the themes and shapes of some of the X-Men and their costumes. I also wanted to give this biker gang a Hells Angel’s feel, ol skool choppers and leather. I didn’t want to go with the more current crotch rocket trend. I have an affinity of the art of Von Dutch, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and Robert Williams. I pulled out the books I have on these guys and started drawing. X Men + Hells Angels + Racoons = Crazy fun designing.

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Marvel goes bananas for Hitman Monkey

Jason Pearson's Deadpool #20 cover, featuring Hitman Monkey

Jason Pearson's Deadpool #20 cover, featuring Hitman Monkey

The teaser image set the monkey-loving section of the comics Internet on fire — and let’s face it, that’s a pretty big section of the comics Internet. Now the truth about Frank Cho’s gun-toting mystery monkey has been revealed: He’s Hitman Monkey, a new character swinging his way into the Marvel Universe. Editor Axel Alonso tells Marvel.com this simian assassin (technically a Japanese macaque) will first appear in a two-part Marvel Digital Comic Exclusive by Daniel Way and Dalibor Talijic — featuring Cho’s cover — before wreaking havoc in February’s Deadpool #20. Here’s hoping for an eventual crossover with Gorilla Man from Agents of Atlas.


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