How Lee & Kirby's "Fantastic Four" Birthed the Marvel Universe, Part 1
As Comic Book Resources reported Monday, longtime Marvel colorist and Archie Comics artist Stan Goldberg passed away Sunday at age 82 following a recent stroke. The obituary recounts much of his lengthy and prolific career — it spanned six decades, from the Golden Age of comics to the birth of the Marvel Age to the wedding of Archie Andrews — so we won’t recount the details here.
Instead, we’ve rounded up statements about Goldberg, his impact and his influence, from Marvel, Archie Comics, the National Cartoonists Society and more:
“No less than Stan Lee, Jack Kirby or Steve Ditko, Stan Goldberg was one of the pioneers of the Marvel Age of Comics. As Marvel’s one-man coloring department, it was Stan G who determined that Iron Man would be red and gold, that the Thing would be orange, and that Spider-Man would be red and blue-black. He was also a talented cartoonist specializing in teen humor strips such as Millie the Model and Kathy the Teen-Age Tornado, which led him to become one of the mainstays of the Archie Comics line for decades. Stan was a gregarious and upbeat individual who was always a pleasure to work with.”
— Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s executive editor and senior vice president of publishing, in a statement to ROBOT 6
Tom Brevoort is a saint. Seriously, I don’t know how he can keep an open ask forum on Tumblr and be patient enough to answer incoming questions from fans morning, noon and night. He’s an incredible resource and incredibly honest, which makes some of his answers hard to stomach, but at least you know Brevoort cares enough about Marvel comics and his job as senior vice president of publishing-executive editor to give you the truth.
Recently, he was asked about the length of a comic’s storyline and, in particular, whether editors inform writers how long an arc is going to be. The question came in regard to Brian Michael Bendis’ run on his two X-Men books where, in a way, I agree that there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of answers and/or change. Particular complaints aside, Brevoort responded:
Every story is different, every series is different, and every creator is different. All throughout his career, Brian has engaged in long-form storytelling. And he’s not the only one — Jonathan Hickman is another good example. And for those that enjoy what they do and stay on for the ride, there are payoffs for that devotion.
Who are we putting that devotion into? The comic characters? The creative team? The publisher? Who decides where a book begins or ends?
“There’s always room for more; there’s always room for further diversity. Whether it’s more Latino characters, or more Black characters, or more LGBT characters — you pretty much can pick any group of people, and as long as you’re not talking about middle-aged white men like myself, they’re probably underrepresented in the world of superhero comics. It’s tough from a sales perspective, because all of the characters that are still the bedrock, firmament characters tend to be guys that were created in the 1960s if not earlier, at a time when comic books were predominantly, if not exclusively, white. While it’s nice that we’ve made some steps — we have more female-led books than ever before — that doesn’t mean we should stop coming up with them. Just because we have a few books that have Hispanic characters, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look for more opportunities to do more there. The same thing is true with every demographic that you can speak to. No matter where you happen to sit within the cultural zeitgeist, it’s never mission accomplished. It’s always, ‘What’s next?’ There’s always going to be somebody who is underrepresented, or that you could represent more truthfully or more affectingly.”
– Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president of publishing, discussing the titles introduced as part of the “All-New Marvel NOW!” initiative
Considering that Marvel’s Original Sin begins with the discovery on the moon of the Watcher’s body, minus his eyes, it’s perhaps unsurprising the publisher opted for a somewhat ghoulish way to promote the upcoming event series in comic stores: Marvel-branded bouncy balls that resemble Uatu’s missing eyeballs.
And given that writer Jason Aaron teased last month, “Whoever holds one of the eyes is able to explode a bomb full of secrets and unleash all the various secrets of the Marvel Universe into the wild through that eye,” it seems only fitting that Marvel Senior Vice President Tom Brevoort, keeper of many of those secrets, has been spotted with one of the missing organs. There’s no telling what may come of this …
The eight-issue Original Sin debuts in May.
“If you’d asked me several years ago, I likely would have spoken about some tipping point where you have too much and everything crashed. Part of that is that I grew up in a world where there was one X-MEN book, one AVENGERS book and, well, three SPIDER-MAN books (counting MARVEL TEAM-UP.) But today, I think that, while there is a tipping point potentially somewhere out there on the horizon, it’s nowhere near as close as we sometimes like to think (or fear.) What matters is the quality of the work. How many BATMAN books are there at this point, every month? How many WOLVERINE books? And still, those characters are more likely to sell better than, I don’t know, THE FLASH or STORM. The audience likes what it likes, and so long as what you produce is good, they will always be content to have more. It’s when the quality goes down that you have a problem — but you have that problem with there being only one book as well.”
— Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president of publishing, responding to a question on his Formspring about how to address character “oversaturation,” if it’s even an issue that exists
Legal | As the dust begins to settle on the ruling last month by a federal judge that Arthur Conan Doyle’s first 50 Sherlock Holmes stories have lapsed into the public domain in the United States, out march the analyses pointing out the buts. Chief among them, of course, is the possibility of appeal by the Conan Doyle estate, which contends the characters were effectively incomplete until the author’s final story was published in the United States (the 10 stories published after Jan. 1, 1923, remain under copyright in this country until 2022).
However, Publishers Weekly notes that because U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo didn’t rule directly on that “novel” argument, the estate may be satisfied with the ambiguity of the decision, given that uncertain creators still may seek to license the characters to steer clear of any trouble. Estate lawyer Benjamin Allison also insists that the Sherlock Holmes trademarks remain unaffected, an assertion that puzzles author and scholar Leslie Klinger, who brought the lawsuit. “There is a very good reason why the Estate did not assert trademark protection: The Estate does not own any trademarks,” he told PW. “They have applied for them, and there will be substantial opposition.” There’s more at NPR, The Independent and The Atlantic. [Publishers Weekly]
Passings | Chris Bird pens an obituary for Leon Kuhn, a British cartoonist who was active in socialist and progressive causes and whose work appeared regularly in the Morning Star as well as in The Big Book of Bureaucrats. He often marched in demonstrations carrying placards of his cartoons. Kuhn died last week at age 59; the sole news article about his death simply says he “died under a train” at a London subway station and that the death is not being treated as suspicious. [Counterfire]
Manga | ICV2 rounds up Viz Media’s announcements for the beginning of 2014, including three new series. [ICv2]
Creators | Jonathan Hickman and Tom Brevoort talk about Avengers #24.NOW, which kicks off the All-New Marvel NOW initiative. [USA Today]
Although superhero comics fans typically react to series relaunches with howls of derision, there’s little arguing with the sales numbers: Somebody is buying all of those new No. 1 issues. Just ask Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president of publishing.
Responding to a loaded question on his Formspring account — “Why is Marvel terrified, no dare I say PETRIFIED, of having a book reach more than 15 issues before getting reset to issue number 1?” — Brevoort explains, “We’re not terrified, nay PETRIFIED, of any such thing. But neither are we living in the past.”
“The number is there to serve a function, but it has no intrinsic value in and of itself,” he continues. “It’s comfort food and nostalgia at best. On this, we follow what you and your fellow readers do more than what you say. We hear complaints about renumbering every time we do it, but every time we do it it results in higher sales, which is the whole ballgame — so if it were your time and your effort, what would you do?”
“It’s a terrible jumping-on point. I don’t think I’ve written an issue 20-something of anything that I’ve done that is a good jumping-on point. With the way you can download all the books now and everything is collected in trades, I’m not even sure I buy into the validity of the argument that every issue should be able to be read as if it was somebody’s first issue. That, of course, may be a complete construct to prop up my inability to do that. [Laughs] So yeah, it’s a terrible jumping on point …”
— writer Jonathan Hickman, addressing the notion that the “Point Now” part of Avengers #24.NOW means the issue is a good jumping-on point for new readers. Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president of publishing, has a differing opinion on the matter.
There just has to be a better way to do this every month. Not only is seeing previews for comics three months ahead of time a little tricky to keep up with and stay hyped for (kind of like finding out your Christmas presents on Halloween and remembering to act surprised on Dec. 25), but it’s also weird in a numbering sense. I know I’ve talked about this before, but Marvel’s Tom Brevoort has been handling some questions on how new NOW! is when there’s a bunch of No. 1 issues on the horizon. Some, like the new Wolverine #1 debuting in February, aren’t even new; the title will continue with its current writer and follow up on the current storyline. When you remember that comics are internally dated months ahead of the date they actually hit the stands, it’s amazing we ever know what is going on in comics.
But back to the numbering issue: Brevoort has talked about this on his Formspring-turned Tumblr account thusly:
“It might, if what DC was doing was impacting on their sales at all — but it really isn’t. Doesn’t mean we’re going to change the way we go about our business or anything, but for all that there’s a lot of uproar on the internet about whatever decisions DC is making, their sales remain constant. Sends a very clear signal to folks in charge both over there and elsewhere that it really doesn’t matter who works on what series, or how well or poorly they’re treated. So as a whole, the readership will reap what it sows.”
— Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president-executive editor, responding to a fan who wondered if, “with DC continuing on their weird way of interfering with creative teams and basically hating people does this kinda give you guys a new sense of that you’re on target for the quality of product and creative composure that needs to help make the industry thrive.”
This morning, Marvel held a press call to confirm that this week’s promotion of a new team only referred to as “Mighty” would in fact be a new Mighty Avengers title, set to debut in September. Now, you’d think a new team of heroes that includes both She-Hulk (Jen Walters flavor) and Adam the Blue Marvel (lost hero of color) is and tied to Jonathan Hickman’s turn at bat in the latest event series Infinity would be pretty cool. Hickman has assembled Avengers these days for big, mind-bending reasons. These are characters who don’t get enough screen time (if any) and might not get the chance at their own solo title, so why not enjoy this young new team for a chance to see more heroes?
Shouldn’t we be grateful? Don’t we need another Avengers team? How’s that hole-in-your head collection coming?
Comics | Regina, the capital of Saskatchewan, appears to be embracing its role in this week’s Avengers#1 as a target of an alien “origin bomb” that struck the city, changing its biosphere and altering billions of years of evolution in mere minutes. Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice present and executive editor, tells a local newspaper he’s unsure why Regina and Perth, Australia, were selected, but local retailer Chad Boudreau seems glad it happened. “We had no advanced notice of it,” he said. “It just happened that someone reading the comic saw it in there.” He expects strong sales at Comic Readers, with those who don’t typically follow comics buying the issue out of curiosity. [The Star Phoenix]
On his always-raucous Formspring page, Marvel Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort displays a heartening and invigorating amount of patience while responding to boatloads of questions, diatribes and thinly veiled insults. In between, there’s sometimes some interesting information shared, including this photograph of the whiteboard planning of the third act of Avengers vs. X-Men from a year before the series’ debut.
The post was in response to a question from a fan who felt that over the course of Avengers vs. X-Men there seemed to be a shifting toward a different ending than originally planned. Not so, said Brevoort, who showed the photograph as proof.
“The ending that we did was very much what had been planned at the outset,” he explained. “Some individual story details shifted as we went a little bit, but the main points were always the same. Here — attached is a photograph of the wipe board outline of Act Three that we hammered out at the very first AVX retreat, the one we did in Portland a year before AVX #1 came out — now that the series is concluded, I can show it to you. As you can see, while some details changed (Magneto’s role, for one), the broad strokes of what is there is what we ended up doing.”
In addition to clarifying that one fan’s assumption, it also gives us an alternate name for the Phoenix Five, in the “HeX-Men.” It also points to a slightly different ending where all of the mutants on Utopia are transformed into Phoenixes apparently, before failing and giving their powers to Cyclops. Also no mention of Professor X’s death, or even him at all.
Comics | Ahead of Joe Quesada’s appearance tonight on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, and the debut Wednesday of Uncanny Avengers, Marvel unpacks its Marvel NOW! initiative for the national press. “This ain’t a reboot, we’re simply hitting the refresh button. ‘Marvel NOW!’ simply offers a line-wide entry-point into the Marvel Universe that you’re already reading about,” Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso says. Tom Brevoort, senior vice president of publishing, calls it “a game of musical chairs” for creators, who will be switched around to make things interesting. [The Associated Press]
Creators | Writer Gail Simone discusses the coming battle between Batgirl and Knightfall in Batgirl #13, as well as the impending return of The Joker: “The Joker is really the Elvis of comic-book villains. There’s no one with his primal star power, there’s no one else anywhere who has sent more chills up the spines of readers, because there genuinely is something terrifying about him.” [USA Today]