Carol Danvers has gone by Binary, Warbird and of course Ms. Marvel, but later this year she’ll be promoted to Captain Marvel in a new series by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Dexter Soy.
Marvel Senior Vice President and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort revealed what those teasers were about during his Talk to the Hat panel at WonderCon today. Brevoort said the series spins out of this year’s big Avengers vs. X-Men event. Click over to CBR to see some pages from the new book.
More than three months after Marvel said it was merely delaying the debuts of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Route 666, Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort revealed this morning that the planned revivals of the CrossGen titles “have been shelved for the time being.”
Announced in August at FanExpo Canada, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Route 666 were set to join recent revivals of Ruse, Sigil and Mystic in December and February, respectively, under Marvel’s fledgling CrossGen imprint. Buoyed by nostalgia for the defunct publisher, Ruse and Sigil had solid enough debuts, selling an estimated 28,500 copies each in February 2011. But by their conclusions in June, sales of Ruse had plummeted to about 10,500 copies, and Sigil to 8,900. Mystic‘s August premiere was considerably weaker, moving around 18,800 copies. By October’s Issue 3, that figure had tumbled to about 6,000, suggesting nostalgia only goes so far.
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and illustrated Peter Nguyen, Route 666 was to re-imagine the CrossGen horror series, transplanting protagonist Cassie Starkweather to the 1950s, where she was a deputy to U.S. Marshal Evan Cisco. Likewise, writer Peter Milligan and artist Roman Rosanas put a new spin on the Mike Perkins-Tony Bedard espionage comic Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, with a young agent ordered by MI6 to assume the role of super-spy Charles Kiss.
Let’s not mince words, the online presence of Tom Brevoort has provided hours of great reading for Robot 6 readers. Given his constant and unflagging willingness to interact with consumers via social media, Brevoort is a quote machine (His Twitter bio? “A man constantly on the verge of saying something stupid–for your entertainment!?”). There’s always a directness (some would say bluntness) to his manner online–making him the ideal subject for an interview. Last year saw Marvel promote Brevoort to senior vice president for publishing. 2011 was a year of some major successes for Marvel, as well as a year where some hard business decisions were made. In this interview, conducted in mid-December via email, I tried to cover a great deal of ground (we even briefly discuss DC’s New 52 success)–and Brevoort did not hold back on any of his answers. For that, I am extremely grateful. Like any high profile comics executive, Brevoort has his fans and his critics (and many in between), but I like to think this exchange offers some perspectives everyone can enjoy.
Tim O’Shea: Whether it’s in your job description or not, fan outreach via social media is definitely part of your job–clearly by your own choice. What benefit or enjoyment do you get from interacting with the fans/consumers?
Tom Brevoort: I’m not sure that I get a particular benefit, except maybe just being the center of attention for a few minutes—maybe everything I do is motivated by ego! I’m a whore for the spotlight! But I started doing this kind of outreach back in the formative days of internet fandom, largely because I like the idea of internet fandom. I know that, if the internet had existed when I was a young comic book reader, I’d have been on those message boards and in those chat rooms all the time, obsessively—just like a certain portion of the audience today. So I like the idea of giving back, of being accessible enough that anybody who has a question or a concern knows where to find me, or at least to find somebody with an insider’s track who might have the background and knowledge to speak to their point. In a very real way, it’s all an outgrowth of what Stan Lee did in his letters pages and Bullpen pages. Joe Q, I think, was really the first person to perfect that approach for the internet age. As EIC he was incredibly available to the audience in a myriad of ways. It’s a philosophy that’s very much woven into our DNA at Marvel. And for the most part, our fans are interesting, vibrant, cool people, especially when you meet them in person.
Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president of publishing, has begun digging into his archives for The Marvel Age of Comics, his new Tumblr blog devoted to “rarities and original art from the formative days of Marvel.” It launched just yesterday, and there’s already some terrific images, including a page of original art from 1941′s Captain America Comics #6, John Byrne’s character sheet for Kitty Pryde and, above, Jim Steranko’s Christmas card from when he was working on Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
“DC extended the terms of their returnability Ponzi scheme for two more months. Until we get to a month in which retailers are ordering straight up, without needing to hit unrealistic numbers in order to qualify for returnability, you guys looking at the limited and skewed charts that you get to see aren’t going to be able to see what is clear to those of us who get to see the actual numbers and track the day-to-day week-to-week sales flow of the business.”
– Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president of publishing, responding to a question on his always-interesting Formspring account about when, in his view, the Diamond charts will accurately reflect sales of DC Comics’ New 52 titles
Comics | While going through a box in his attic, a Grange Park, Illinois, man discovered a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, the first appearance of Spider-Man, that he had bought as a kid. While other copies of the comic have fetched as much as $1.2 million, Chimera’s Comics is selling it for $12,000 due to its condition. [LaGrange Patch]
Comics | Brian Truitt profiles Marvel’s Fantastic Four, talking to Mark Waid, Tom Brevoort and Tom DeFalco about the long-running comic. [USA Today]
Publishing | Janna Morishima, formerly of Scholastic and Diamond Comic Distributors, has joined Papercutz as its first marketing director. [Papercutz]
[Reader question:] Why do writers persist on doing controversial directions/stories that are disliked by fans? We pay good money for these books, so we should naturally get something we enjoy. Consumers shouldn’t feel compelled to vent frustration about their purchases.
[Tom Brevoort:] Writers don’t do stories specifically to piss off fans. Writers write stories about which they feel passionate and invested. As a reader, you’re entitled to one thing and one thing only: a reading experience in exchange for your purchase. And if you like that reading experience, the expectation is that you’ll come back for more. But the audience does not and should never be in control of the stories. Writers are writers because they know how to do what audiences don’t know how to do—tell stories that affect you and move you. It’s way tougher than it looks. Storytelling isn’t a democracy, you don’t get a decision in how the stories go. All you get is your one vote, with your dollars or your feet.
— Marvel Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort, drawing the line on fan entitlement. See also Grant Morrison on nerd culture and Bryan Lee O’Malley on A Song of Ice and Fire. There’s something in the air.
To help celebrate its 50th anniversary next year, Marvel will publish a line of graphic novels featuring current creators retelling classic superhero tales. Called Season One, the initiative marks the company’s first entry in recent history into original graphic novels.
“We’re hoping to introduce folks who have never read any of these characters to these characters in this format, and also provide an interesting and illuminating story for people who have read a lot of Fantastic Four and Daredevil,” Tom Brevoort, Marvel’s senior vice president of publishing, tells USA Today. “If you want to dip your toe in the water and find out the essence of what Marvel is all about, here is a nice place for you to start in big, sizable, meaty chunks.”
The first wave will feature: Fantastic Four: Season One, by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and David Marquez, due in February; X-Men: Season One, by Dennis Hopeless and Jamie McKelvie, in March; Daredevil: Season One, by Antony Johnston and Wellinton Alves, in April; and Spider-Man: Season One, by Cullen Bunn and Neil Edwards, in May. A second wave will debut soon afterward.
Season One isn’t a relaunch or an Ultimate Universe-like initiative — “”Everything you know about them, everything that’s existed for the last 50 years still exists and is still there,” Brevoort says — but neither is it a mere retelling of the characters’ origins. “These are individually new stories,” he says, “even though they’ve got bits and pieces of old and formative origin stuff in and around them, as well.”
Visit USA Today to see a preview of Fantastic Four: Season One.
By its nature, the DCU has a more optimistic outlook on the world, and the Marvel U has a more pessimistic outlook….the DCU is Aaron Sorkin’s “The West Wing”–it’s not how government actually works, but it’s the way you wish that it worked, the way you’d like it to be–idealistic, passionate, energetic, spirited….But too often, DC seems to try to turn away from their core viewpoint, to make their characters darker or more dystopic or more downtrodden. And it just doesn’t play in the long run.
Judging from the comment-thread contretemps they always seem to touch off, everyone either loves or loves to hate Marvel Senior VP of Publishing Tom Brevoort’s publicly aired thoughts on DC Comics. Readers of Brevoort’s Formspring account appear to be no exception, judging from a recent question that asked Brevoort to expand upon his earlier notion that part of DC’s problem, as he perceives it, is their attempt to be more like Marvel rather than playing to their own strengths.
[Reader question:] Unless you guys are going to announce something amazing within the next few moths, DC epicly won this year. Though, I always buy anything involving Spider-Man, so you will get more business there.
[Tom Brevoort:] Yes, they’ve epicly won their way down to being 25% of the market. if they keep winning at this rate, they’ll be out of business before long. They’re the Charlie Sheens of comics, winning their way to extinction.
–Marvel Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort on the Distinguished Competition, via his Formspring account. So that would make Marvel…Ashton Kutcher?
Okay, so that was a pretty solid smack from Brevoort Marvel’s crosstown (or round-the-block, as the case may be) rivals. But in other Formspring responses he’s a bit less catty and more comprehensive in his diagnosis of DC’s perceived problems. In one response, he advises DC to “stop trying to become what they think Marvel is” and play to their company’s and characters’ unique strengths, because “their interpretation of how our universe operates and how we plan out storylines and deal with our creative talent is so off-the-mark it’s laughable sometimes….[they should stop] trying to be a bad Marvel clone–because they’re not even getting bad Marvel right.”
In another response, he discusses DC’s recent $2.99 pricing initiative: “they got virtually no uptick on their sales, but cut a quarter of their profit margin away.” Brevoort argues that the audience for (his example) Booster Gold will buy Booster Gold comics regardless of cost, but cutting that cost won’t make a new audience for Booster Gold materialize either out of the non-comics-reading populace or from fans of other properties.
But to hear Brevoort tell it, he’s still pulling for the other publisher. “I want them to thrive and prosper,” he tells one questioner, positing a world where Marvel routinely beats a “a vibrant, healthy, competitive DC” as his ideal. This, he says, is why he thought “their reboot was a necessary step and a smart move overall”…but he adds the caveat that “I don’t think they’ve gone about putting it together in the smartest way possible.” Clearly, some of his initial support for/defense of/optimism about the DC relaunch has dimmed. Hence, perhaps, the talk of tiger blood…
Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso joked around. Avengers writer Brian Michael Bendis worried about retailers. Talent guru C.B. Cebulski said he was “excited” as a reader, “terrified” as a pro, and interpreted the promised creative shake-ups as vote of no confidence by DC in their own creators. Yes, plenty of prominent Marvel staffers reacted publicly to DC’s big announcement of a simultaneous line-wide relaunch and day-and-date digital comics program on Tuesday, but one of them emerged as one of the move’s most prominent defenders: Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom Brevoort. On his Twitter and Formspring accounts, Brevoort repeatedly praised the Distinguished Competiton’s move as a smart, gutsy maneuver that’s precisely what the publisher needed to do to attract a larger readership.
Here are a few choice quotes from Brevoort on the topic, edited slightly for clarity; click the links for full context.
“Just to be clear, for all of the irate DC readers out there, I genuinely think this is the kind of bold and daring thing that DC needs to do. I can sense the hand of my old boss Bob Harras in it, among others. And I’d never bet against a JL book by @GeoffJohns0 and @jimlee00.”
I’m hard pressed to think of a more unexpected development in superhero comics over the past half-decade or so than this: Somehow, the Avengers and Green Lantern have become the genre’s biggest franchises. On a one level it’s not much more complicated to explain than “Brian Bendis and Geoff Johns are very good at writing superhero comics people want to read, and their editors are very good at recognizing this and structuring their lines to support those comics.” Both writers reimagined these perpetual also-ran concepts — Bendis broke the team up, reassembled it with a mixture of Marvel superstars and personal favorites, and placed it at the center of years’ worth of shadowy conspiracy storylines; Johns revived the character at the core of the concept as we know it, then cracked that concept open to reveal a sprawling sub-universe of heroes and villains that arose from the original concept in a totally intuitive way; both of their publishers crafted multiple major event comics in which these freshly popular properties took center stage.
But in Marvel’s case, the newfound primacy of the Avengers was startling in that the franchise appeared to eclipse the properties that used to be Marvel’s bread and butter, the X-Men and Spider-Man. Sure, Wolverine and Spidey are members of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, and adding them to the team likely gave it that initial push to the top, but it’s really the “Big Three” of Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America who’ve driven the Marvel Universe’s meta-plot for years now. It doesn’t take an omega-level intelligence to notice that these characters, and the team they’ve historically led, fall under the Marvel Studios movie-rights umbrella, while the Web-Slinger, the Ol’ Canucklehead and company belong elsewhere.
[Reader question:] Tom, why are people so concerned with a lack of diversity in a comic? “The Flash Family has become too white with the absence of Wally’s family”, and so on and so forth.I don’t understand this kind of logic. How do you place value of story on race?
[Tom Brevoort:] I don’t know who you are, obviously, but just based on your question I would posit that you’re a white male. I think you cannot overestimate the power that readers, especially younger readers, seeing a heroic character that resembles themselves, can have. For white guys like me, that’s easy–there are hundreds of them. Not so for almost any other demographic you might choose to name. That’s why, I think, people are supportive and even delicate with any character of a particular race or orientation or background. It’s a diverse world out there, and any time we can reflect that diversity in a meaningful way, it’s worth doing.
–Marvel Senior Vice President – Publishing Tom Brevoort, responding to a reader’s scratched-head incredulity on the issue of diversity in comics, and doing so a lot more calmly than I probably would have.
Retailing | The struggling Borders Group, which filed for bankruptcy protection on Feb. 16, has reversed its January decision to close the distribution center in LaVergne, Tenn. The bookseller will instead shut down its warehouse in Carlisle, Penn., leaving the facility in Tennessee and another in California. [Nashville Business Journal, via ICv2.com]
Legal | A handful of publishers address what effect Tokyo’s revised ordinance further restricting the sale of sexually explicit manga to minors might have on the industry. “This ordinance could attack the creativity of genuine authors, not just attacking perverted comics,” says Pascal Lafine of Tonkam, a French publisher of manga. [The Mainichi Daily News]
Publishing | David Itzkoff profiles Marvel, tracing the company’s route from mid-1990s bankruptcy to its current place at the top of a struggling industry. [The New York Times]
“Let’s put it this way…we lowered our prices and didn’t lie about it.”
–DC Comics Executive Editor Eddie Berganza at C2E2′s “Brightest Day” panel this weekend, responding to a fan who asked if DC was better than Marvel.
You might recall the last time price cuts became a topic for discussion at a Reed Exhibitions comic convention. Back at October’s New York Comic Con, DC announced the initiative that would come to be known as “holding the line at $2.99,” dropping co-features (and two story pages) from all of its ongoing series and pricing them all at $2.99 rather than the then-increasingly-customary $3.99. Not even an hour later, Marvel Senior VP-Sales & Circulation David Gabriel announced that Marvel would be cutting prices too, with new books no longer launching at $3.99 as of January 2011. Though few details were forthcoming, the announcement piggybacked on DC’s in such a way as to lead to “DC and Marvel both cut prices”-style headlines (see here and here for examples). But the price cuts many believed were forthcoming on all new Marvel titles largely failed to materialize, with the new $2.99 titles located almost entirely in the limited-series portion of the company’s offerings. This in turn led Marvel’s then-VP-Executive Editor Tom Brevoort to claim that Gabriel’s statement (and, by extension, seemingly corroborative follow-ups at NYCC by Brevoort and Marvel PR guru Arune Singh) had been “misreported or misconstrued,” which frankly was kind of a stretch given the abundance of comics press outlets who reported the story in more or less exactly the same way. And thus you get Berganza’s pointed pushback.
Of course, Brevoort isn’t the sort to take this lying down. When asked about Berganza’s comments on his Formspring account, here’s how Marvel’s Senior Vice President of Publishing responded:
No, we didn’t lie about it. We’ve been offering more new titles at $2.99, and the $3.99 books stay where they are–we never said any different. (Also, given the pasting they took in dollar share in January and February, much of which was a result of their price reduction, I’d be surprised if they hold to it for the entire year as they said they would. I’m guessing that you’ll see more $3.99 DC books around September.)
Ah, comics: From debates about price points to figuring out whether the Hulk is really “the strongest one there is,” you wouldn’t be the same without semantics.