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During the 1960s creation of Marvel Comics, when Jack Kirby, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko conceived the core stable of characters and the emerging shared-setting of the Marvel Universe, the line’s writer/editor/spokesman Lee created a fictional Marvel Bullpen.
Based on the crowded, raucous studio environment of the Golden Age, which Kirby actually worked in and Lee essentially interned in, Lee’s Bullpen presented he and his collaborators and employees as a big happy family, joyfully creating comics for their young readers an environment that could seem as fun as working in Santa’s workshop.
At the time of its creation, Lee’s fantasy might have been a pure invention (although later, after Kirby and Ditko left the publisher and Lee was promoted out of his hands-on control of the line, such an environment would occasionally come into existence, depending on the year, the employees and the owner at the time), but it did hint at an aspect of reality.
The characters who were making Marvel comics were in many ways just as colorful and talented as the characters starring in them; the story of Marvel Comics is at least as exciting as any story in Marvel comics. And, in a very real way, Sean Howe’s book Marvel Comics: The Untold Story is probably the Marvel story of the year—bigger, more epic and with greater conflict and drama than Fear Itself or Avengers Vs. X-Men or even that billion-dollar feature Marvel Studios released over the summer … the movie’s monstrous success being what gives Howe’s book a sort of validating end-point, a raison d’etre; to both Lee’s decades-long ambition to see Marvel characters on the big screen, and owner after owner’s ambition to become very, very rich off the heroes Kirby and company created.
Marvel has revealed Joe Quesada’s variant cover for The Amazing Spider-Man #700, the final issue of the long-running series, which is ending as part of the Marvel NOW! initiative. The issue features a regular cover by Mr. Garcin, and a second sketch variant by Quesada.
Before the year closes out, fans are in for one of the biggest shocks to hit the life of Peter Parker. Just when you thought all was going well for the World’s Greatest Super Hero, think again. This December, secrets are revealed, but the twists and turns are not done yet! Join Dan Slott, Humberto Ramos, and a cavalcade of talented writers and artists in witnessing Amazing Spider-Man come to a close as we celebrate 50 years of Spider-Man!
The Amazing Spider-Man #700 will be one of only two Marvel comics on sale Dec. 26, which Diamond Comic Distributors as designated as a skip week because of the holiday. The other is Avenging Spider-Man #15.1, by Chris Yost and Paco Medina, which continues what Marvel is billing as “the must-read story.” See the full Quesada cover below.
As promised, Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada appeared last night on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, where he promoted Marvel NOW! to a national audience — “We’re not rebooting our universe, but if you’re a fan of the movies, or if you’re a lapsed comic-book fan, it’s the perfect opportunity for you to come in and start on the Marvel Universe” — while the talk-show host played the role of the nervous creator hoping to sell the House of Ideas on his own characters.
But these weren’t just any characters; these were the heroes and villains that sprang from the mind of a 6- or 7-year-old Jimmy. Or so we’re told. There’s the Terrific Ten — “There’s 10 of them, and they’re terrific” — led by Muscleman, the King of Superheroes (complete with crown), and featuring Colored Kid, who has all the powers of a rainbow, Lucky Lad, who’s kind of like a leprechaun. Of course, the heroes need villains equal to their … terrific-ness. Enter, the Terrible Ten, which includes Evil Eye, Doctor Bolt and Bleach Master (with his Clor-Ax).
Surprisingly, neither team was exactly what Quesada had in mind for Marvel NOW!, so he makes Kimmel a pitch of his own. (By the way, who knew Quesada was so stingy with his comics?) Watch the full video below.
In a bit of corporate synergy, Joe Quesada will pay a visit Tuesday on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live to launch Marvel NOW! with the debut of Uncanny Avengers, and to … propose a team-up with the talk-show host?
“First Jimmy Kimmel rocked the Emmys in front of the entire world and now he’s set his sights on the Marvel Universe,” Marvel’s chief creative officer said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to meeting with him to see just what he has planned for the Avengers, Spider-Man, Wolverine or whichever of Marvel’s superheroes interest him the most. But this is Marvel NOW! and we’re going to need the biggest ideas to compete with what we’ve planned! One things for sure — you’ve never seen Marvel on TV like this before!”
USA Today teases the Sunday premiere of Disney XD’s Marvel Universe animated programming block with a preview of “Master Class,” a series of shorts in which Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada demonstrates how to draw some of the company’s most famous characters. Here, the veteran artist tackles the Incredible Hulk.
Anchored by Ultimate Spider-Man and The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, the Marvel Universe block also features such shorts as the “Fury Files” (dossiers on Marvel heroes), “Animated Realities” (superhero moves demonstrated by stunt and special-effects experts) and “What Would It Take?” (a look at the technology required to replicate heroes’ gadgets and abilities in real life).
Disney XD’s Marvel Universe block premieres Sunday at 11 a.m. ET/PT.
“Yeah, of course — that’s what people want to think. But let’s be clear: The DC relaunch is a response to everything Marvel’s been doing, and not the other way around. You don’t set fire to your entire house for no good reason. And by the way, I tip my hat to them. They did something daring and it worked for them. They boosted sales of some of their books. But Avengers vs. X-Men is something that’s been on our docket for publishing for several years now.”
– Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada, reacting to suggestions
that Avengers vs. X-Men is a response to DC’s New 52
“Though Marvel has commented, the internet has decided it will not be satisfied until it sees the longform birth certificate.”
– Men of War writer Ivan Brandon, responding to online reaction to statements made by Marvel Publisher Dan Buckley and CCO Joe Quesada concerning the Gary Friedrich case and the sale of sketches at conventions
Saturday at the New York Comic Con brought news for the Avengers, Superman, Legendary Comics and … Disney’s Prep & Landing? Here’s a round-up of announcements from the show today.
• With a big, blockbuster Avengers movie scheduled for next May, Marvel announced a new ongoing series, Avengers Assemble, by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley. The book will launch next March and will feature most of the Avengers featured in the movie — Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye and the Hulk. The first arc will feature the villainous group the Zodiac.
• Marvel also announced that writer Rick Remender and artist Gabriel Hardman will take over Secret Avengers with issue #21.1, adding new members and pitting them against a new Masters of Evil.
• At the Cup O’ Joe panel today, Marvel also announced a Disney/Marvel crossover — Prep & Landing: Mansion: Impossible. It features the elves from the Disney television special who prepare homes for the arrival of Santa Claus every Christmas eve — only this time they’re trying to break into Avengers Mansion to get it ready for Santa. Written by director Kevin Deters and drawn by story artist Joe Mateo, the story will run in the back of the Marvel Adventures books as well as Avengers #19 in November.
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.”
Legal | Prosecutors in Macomb County, Michigan, rested their case Friday in the second trial of Michael George, a former retailer and convention organizer accused of the 1990 murder of his first wife Barbara in the back room of their Clinton Township comic store. The judge this morning will hear a defense motion for a directed verdict, seeking dismissal due to lack of evidence, before testimony resumes.
George, now 51, was arrested in August 2007, after a detective reopened the cold case, and convicted seven months later of first-degree murder and insurance fraud, among other counts, and sentenced to life in prison. However, the judge later set aside the verdict, citing prosecutorial misconduct — George’s mug shot was shown to the jury — and the release of new evidence that could lead the jury to believe another person was responsible for the murder. His retrial began Sept. 14, and should conclude this week. Prosecutors contend that George staged the killing to look like a robbery so he could collect money from an insurance policy and a shared estate, and start over with another woman. George insists he was asleep at the time of the shooting, and that his wife was the victim of a robbery gone wrong. [Daily Tribune]
Publishing | Chip Mosher, marketing and sales director for BOOM! Studios, left the publisher on Friday after four years. Marketing coordinator Emily McGuiness will take over his duties. [BOOM! Studios]
Atomic Comics, the nationally known Arizona retail chain, abruptly closed all four locations on Sunday, shocking staff, customers and industry figures alike. Although the closing of the stores in Mesa, Phoenix, Chandler and Paradise Valley was initially announced last night by multiple employees and creators, owner Michael Malve confirmed the news this morning in an installment of his weekly newsletter titled “My Final Report.”
“As some of you may have already heard, after 25 years of running a successful business, sadly and much to my dismay, I have shut the doors of Atomic Comics,” Malve wrote. “The villain in this tragedy is the economy. I had hoped to be the superhero and triumph over the recession, but sadly the economic downturn of the past 5 years has proven to be unsustainable.”
In the newsletter, which can be read below, Malve revealed he’s filed for bankruptcy, and that he and his family are losing their home, ” as we had secured it against our leases which we obviously have to break.”
“I know there are many people out there facing very similar situations in these difficult times and now I can definitely empathize with them,” he continued. “I have always been and will forever be an extremely optimistic person and will look at this situation as an adventure. I have very high hopes for the next chapter of my life.”
I won’t have as much to say about the last day of D23 as I did about Friday or Saturday. We were late getting started Sunday morning, which meant I was late to the big Cup ‘o Joe presentation, Marvels’ first foray into the D23 world (except for the five minutes or so they had at the end of the movie presentation on Saturday, of course). We went to the arena when we arrived and headed for the cheap seats; during Saturday’s big movie bonanza, the place was packed to the rafters, but there were only a few people up on level three when we arrived. The sections beneath us seemed to be pretty full, though. Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada was wrapping up his presentation and getting ready to take questions as we sat down.
Creators | Robert Crumb has decided not to attend Graphic 2011, an arts festival scheduled for Aug. 20-21 at the Sydney Opera House in Australia. Crumb told The Australian he withdrew from his headline appearance because of an article in the Australian newspaper The Telegraph that called him “a self-confessed sex pervert.”
“It’s a very, very disappointing situation,” Graphic co-curator Jordan Verzar wrote on the show’s Facebook page. “There were a legion of people eagerly anticipating his visit and the Graphic team and Sydney Opera House had been working for months to pull together the shows he was involved with and to supply an enjoyable first visit to Australia for him. I sincerely doubt that he will ever make it to Australia now. It’s a very sad day, but I’m still excited and looking forward to the rest of the great shows happening at Graphic next weekend.” [The Australian]
Retailers | Birmingham, England comics shop Nostalgia and Comics was damaged during the riots of the past few days; no one was injured, but the windows were broken. [The Forbidden Planet blog]
Although a lot of folks are focused on Comic-Con International and the roll out of the panel schedule this week, Disney’s D23 Expo announced their “arena schedule” for their next event, scheduled for Aug. 19-21 in Anaheim.
I attended the first D23 event two years ago, and the arena presentation were by far the highlight of the weekend. They were announcement-filled, star-studded affairs with all sorts of Disney flair. For instance, the presentation by Walt Disney Studios included appearances by John Travolta, Nicholas Cage, Robert Zemeckis, Tim Burton, the Muppets and Johnny Depp dressed as Jack Sparrow, as they announced the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie. And during the Disney Parks presentation, Darth Vader and a load of stormtroopers came out to announce the Star Tours upgrade.
The first D23 Expo was held right after Disney had announced they were buying Marvel, so the House of Ideas didn’t have a presence. But what a difference two years makes, as Marvel CCO Joe Quesada will host a session on Marvel on Sunday, and Kevin Feige, president of production for Marvel Studios, will join the movie presentation on Saturday. Does that mean we’ll get to see all the Avengers come out on stage in their costumes? One can only hope.
You can find the complete arena schedule after the jump.
A ruling by a federal magistrate judge could open the door for Warner Bros. to gain access to confidential documents the studio insists support its claims against the attorney representing the heirs of creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in their fight for the rights to Superman.
Variety reports that U.S. Magistrate Judge Ralph Zarefsky ruled Wednesday that the documents, stolen from the office of attorney Marc Toberoff and delivered anonymously to Warner Bros. in December 2008, were not protected by attorney-client privilege. However, he postponed a final ruling until Toberoff and his attorneys can seek a decision from U.S. District Judge Judge Otis Wright.
At the time of the theft, a judge ruled that the documents were privileged, and ordered the studio to turn them over to a court officer within 24 hours. However, an attached seven-page cover letter called the “Superman-Marc Toberoff Timeline” was not privileged, and became the basis for Warner Bros.’ 2010 lawsuit against the attorney. The complaint alleges that Toberoff “orchestrated a web of collusive agreements” with the Siegel and Shuster heirs, leading them to reject “mutually beneficial” longtime deals with DC Comics and seek to recapture the Superman copyright. In addition, the studio claims Toberoff schemed to secure for himself “a majority and controlling financial stake” in the Superman rights.
Just last month Zarefsky rejected the studio’s argument that the documents, which purportedly contain a formula for how the two estates and Toberoff would divide the Superman assets, violate the U.S. Copyright Act and, therefore, cannot be isolated from discovery. But this week he determined that Toberoff actually waived privilege when he turned over the documents last year in response to a grand jury subpoena issued after Toberoff met with the U.S. Attorney’s office to discuss an investigation of the theft.
The decision is only the latest twist in Warner Bros.’ increasingly bitter legal battle to hold onto Superman following a 2008 ruling that Siegel’s widow Joanne Siegel and daughter Laura Siegel Larson had successfully recaptured half of the original copyright to the Man of Steel under the provisions of the 1976 Copyright Act. The window will open in 2013 for Shuster’s estate to do the same.