Sure, Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort’s formspring account — on which anyone can ask him anything they want — is often little more than a Festivus-style airing of grievances for people outraged that a) Jean Grey is/isn’t dead/Hope; b) Spider-Man and Mary Jane are no longer married; c) Thor lost a battle to [insert name of any character Thor ever lost a battle to]; or d) the awesome Ronan the Accuser/Unus the Untouchable crossover idea you wrote down on the back of a box of Wheat Thins doesn’t count as being a “published writer” for the purposes of Marvel hiring you to write Uncanny X-Men. But every once in a while something really interesting will pop up. Case in point: the following exchange…
Since its so tough to sustain new titles (Atlas, Cap Britain etc) is there any chance we could see an ongoing split feature like the old Cap/Iron Man Tales of Suspense? Maybe fans of two low selling titles are enough to support one shared book.
I’ve been thinking about this very thing recently–just haven’t concluded which two features would have the greatest chance of success.
“We’re not done with Philly per se, but we do seem to be done, at least for the moment, with the Wizard conventions.”
–Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort, answering a Formspring question about Marvel’s third Wizard World Philadelphia no-show in a row by making Marvel’s severance from Wizard’s convention wing more-or-less official. (On its blog, Wizard reports that this year’s Philadelphia show “broke ever [sic] attendance record EVER!! The show was a HUGE success!”)
One of the most welcome aspects of yesterday’s big DC digital-comics announcement from a creator-rights perspective is that “creator incentive payments” are a part of it. In his interview with CBR’s Kiel Phegley, co-publisher Jim Lee compared the payments to the royalties creators receive for print sales, saying “the freelance community will be happy that they’re being compensated in every way their stories are being sold.” That aspect of the arrival of digital comics publishing has been shrouded in mystery up until now, so DC’s move is a big first step.
Sorry, DC, but despite what your nice letter says, you are NOT “the first to announce a participation plan for talent” for digital comics. I’m not sniping at DC, just correcting misinformation that’s being sent out freelancers, some who work for both companies.
“On sale today: HAWKEYE & MOCKINGBIRD #1. Guaranteed to have 100% less heroin use and impotence than the average comic starring an archer.” —Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort, implicitly comparing H&M #1 to DC’s much-maligned Justice League: The Rise of Arsenal, on his Twitter account last week.
“On sale tomorrow: YOUNG ALLIES #1 by Sean McKeever and David Baldeon. It’s like what you wanted Sean’s TEEN TITANS run to be!” —Brevoort, contrasting McKeever’s new teen-team title with his creative-differences-marred previous teen-team title, on Twitter this week.
Consider this the nerdiest public service announcement ever. If you’re like me, you were vaguely aware that at some point in Jeph Loeb’s ongoing Hulk run, its semi-eponymous star, the villainous and uber-powerful Red Hulk, grabbed Thor’s hammer Mjolnir and delivered Ye Olde Smacke-downe on the God of Thunder. You’re also vaguely aware that this is more or less a total no-no — no matter how physically strong Rulk is, only those who are “worthy” are even able to pick the hammer up. And there aren’t very many such people: According to Wikipedia, you’re basically talking half a dozen dudes, consisting solely of people who’ve wielded Thor’s power itself, people who’d be present at a Thor family reunion, and Captain frickin’ America.
Marvel’s senior VP-executive editor Tom Brevoort shares a fun blast from the past over on his Marvel.com blog: a proposal for a series called Young Avengers. But this isn’t the Allan Heinberg/Jim Cheung book that came out in 2005; it’s a proposal from 1989, by studiomates Jim Valentino and Rob Liefeld. Before Youngblood, Shadowhawk, Deadpool, X-Force or even Guardians of the Galaxy, the duo pitched a series about Namorita, Firestar, Vance Astro, Speedball and Richard Rider — as Torpedo, rather than Nova — coming together with two new characters to train under the direction of Rick Jones.
“At the time this was written in 1989, while both of them had dabbled in doing Marvel work, neither creator had really had a break-out hit. Sharing a studio at the time, they hoped that YOUNG AVENGERS might be it, with Jim writing and Rob illustrating a series they would co-plot,” Brevoort writes.
Although the pages are a bit blurry when scanned in — they were typed more than 20 years ago — you can still read about some of the plots and villains they planned to use, as well as new characters they were creating named Cougar, Brahma, Photon and Combat. Which may sound familiar to readers of Youngblood and related titles.
“As it turned out, work was already underway on the book that eventually was entitled NEW WARRIORS, which prevented this incarnation of YOUNG AVENGERS from moving ahead. It’s actually pretty extraordinary to see how close the line-up for what Jim and Rob proposed was to the eventual NEW WARRIORS team,” Brevoort writes.
If only they’d given Rick Jones some battle armor and a skateboard …
It’s like some kind of comics-industry What If: After decades of dominance, the X-Men franchise relinquishes its flagship status to a different Marvel team, perpetual also-rans the Avengers.
Older fans still shake their heads in disbelief, but that’s pretty much exactly what happened during the ’00s. Despite starting strong with Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, Marvel’s merry mutants stumbled when the writer abruptly departed; Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men may have been a hit, but its self-contained story was never intended to spearhead the line in the traditional sense. Meanwhile, Brian Michael Bendis disassembled the old Avengers and rang in the New, featuring cross-platform pop-culture superstars Spider-Man and Wolverine. He and writers like Mark Millar placed the Avengers characters front and center in a series of line-spanning event comics that became the go-to business and storytelling model for Marvel, cementing the place of the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes at the head of the character class. In a way, Bendis’s House of M event — in which the New Avengers and Astonishing X-Men join forces to put an end to an alternate Magneto-ruled timeline, only for the Scarlet Witch to nearly eradicate the mutant population — can be seen as a ceremonial passing of the torch.
But there was a parallel development as well: Marvel’s new in-house movie wing Marvel Studios announced plans to make a series of films starring traditional Avengers characters Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Captain America, even Ant-Man — and then bring them together for the first live-action superhero crossover, an Avengers film. 20th Century Fox, meanwhile, controls the rights to the X-Men’s teeming mutant multitudes.
This gave rise to one of the more interesting conspiracy theories I’ve seen floating around fandom: Was Marvel deliberately beefing up the Avengers franchise and cutting down the X-Men to better suit their film slate?
This is old news if you, like me, follow Tom Brevoort’s blog and Twitter account with near-religious zeal. But Marvel’s Senior VP – Executive Editor and candidate for Comics’ Most Outspoken Editor has set up an account with Formspring, the service dedicated solely to allowing readers to ask any question they like of its users. Needless to say, it’s a match made in Web 2.0 heaven.
Recent topics include potential copyright infringement by artists and strippers, how novelists or journalists or would-be interns could get work at Marvel, how powerful the Sentry is, the relative merits of back-up stories and the $3.99 price point, why DC doesn’t use recap pages, Jean Grey, Jean Grey, and more Jean Grey, and the list goes on and on — and that’s just over the past day or so.
Sure, it’s rendering my job here partially obsolete, but journalistic ethics dictate that I had to let y’all know. Go ask him somethin’, why don’t you?
Well, this oughta be to partisan DC and Marvel fans what a new Tim Burton movie is to people with Hot Topic gift cards. Outspoken Marvel Vice President-Executive Editor Tom Brevoort has asked fans to launch a write-in campaign to determine whether he’ll hand a copy of the infamous Deadpool variant for Siege #3 — the very book Marvel is offering to send retailers in exchange for copies of unsold Blackest Night “ring” tie-ins from DC — to DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio.
In a possible tip of the hat/tweak of the nose to the postcard-writing campaign DiDio launched to determine whether Wonder Woman would get a #600 anniversary issue, Brevoort says that if he gets 50 postcards telling him to give DiDio the variant, he will … but if he first receives 50 postcards telling him not to, he won’t. Brevoort later went even further, saying if he first gets 50 postcards telling him “to stop with all this stuff” — presumably the chops-busting of DC that’s become his trademark — then that’s what he’ll do.
So what’ll it be? To give, not to give, or to pipe down entirely? First to 50 wins!
Brevoort says the postcards (one per person, please) may be sent to his attention at Marvel, 417 Fifth Ave, New York, NY, 10016. Start licking those stamps!
Siege #1 was January’s bestselling comic. Written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by Olivier Coipel, it’s the capstone to years’ worth of event-driven Marvel Universe storylines, and the launchpad for a linewide rebranding called “The Heroic Age.” Anecdotally, it’s generated a lot of happy chatter from readers, especially following its gut-wrenching (heh heh) second issue. It’s a major milestone in the Marvel metastory by two of the company’s most popular creators, and it’s literally a chart-topper.
So why, as Marvel Vice President-Executive Editor Tom Brevoort points out, are people saying it’s a flop?
According to ICv2′s sales estimates, Siege #1 sold 108,484 copies. That’s just a hair above the 106,444 copies purchased of the month’s No. 2 comic, DC’s Green Lantern #50, which is the eighth issue of a Blackest Night tie-in arc. Blackest Night proper’s sixth issue sold 135,695, well above the figures for the launch of Marvel’s much-hyped event.
A longer-range comparison makes for grim reading, too. Veteran number-cruncher Marc-Oliver Frisch of The Beat ran down some stats at his blog:
One of the most recognizable, and longest-serving, editors at Marvel, Tom Brevoort recently celebrated his 20th anniversary at the company with a promotion to Vice President – Executive Editor. In his two decades with the Direct Market’s biggest publisher, Brevoort survived the swinging ax of Marvel’s bankruptcy, became known for his encyclopedic knowledge of Marvel history, and was once seen as the leading traditionalist at a “Nu-Marvel” dominated by editors like Marvel Knights’ Joe Quesada and former Vertigo editor Axel Alonso. In recent years he’s become the pointman for Marvel as we know it, helming such era-defining titles as Civil War, New Avengers, and the current event comic Siege.
But he’s also taken on a secondary role, that of superhero comics’ most outspoken editorial voice. On his long-running Marvel.com blog and his frequently updated Twitter account, Brevoort has discussed a variety of issues, particularly the competition between Marvel and DC, with attention-getting candor. I myself have frequently covered his commentary on everything from race and gender in superhero comics to the Blackest Night power-ring promotion, and the ensuing comment threads reveal a comics community passionate about what he’s saying, both pro and con. Rather than continue to cannibalize Brevoort’s existing outlets, I decided to go straight to the source.
I spoke with Brevoort about both sides of his career. We tackled his role as a vocal industry insider: his blog and Twitter, his persona and reader reaction to it, the increasingly thin divide between pro and fan, and even a little mythbusting regarding Marvel’s controversial book swap initiative. And we spoke about his editorial role: His place at the forefront of the event-comic era, the rise of the Avengers as superhero comics’ biggest franchise, the struggle of smaller books in the face of line-wide mania, what Marvel does best, and what Marvel does badly.
“Turns out nobody has any extra copies of those ring books…” Thus tweeted newly minted Marvel Vice President, Executive Editor Tom Brevoort this morning. And based on the accompanying picture, which showed a stack of covers for Blackest Night tie-ins that were part of DC’s recent power ring promotion, your sarcasm detectors were right to go off there.
It’s anecdotal evidence, to be sure, but the photo, and a subsequent pic documenting some 300 mailed-in covers from a single store, show that some retailers at least are both willing and able to take Marvel up on its controversial offer to retailers to exchange one Deadpool variant of Siege #3 for every 50 copies or covers of DC’s “ring books” they receive.
But will the initiative be a success overall, for either Marvel or the participating retailers? Does all the publicity for it factor in positively or negatively? Those probably aren’t the kind of questions you can answer with an iPhone photo, but we’ll see.
I’m starting to think we should make “What’s Tom Twittering Today?” one of our recurring features, like “Straight for the Art” or “Talking Comics with Tim.” Anyway, spurred by a comment from Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott, Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort took to his do-not-miss-it Twitter account to comment on the age-old competition between Marvel and DC — which, at least on Marvel’s end, seems to have heated up of late:
I am told by @DanSlott that I’m coming across as too mean and petty towards DC. Putting aside why Dan was Twittering rather than scripting[, it] seems like something I should address. First off, my affiliation should be clear, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like DC or it’s people. I know all of those characters just as forwards and backwards, and have edited more DC-related material than any other Marvel editor. And most DC editors have been pleasant. Dan Didio’s been nothing but nice whenever our paths have crossed. But by that same token, DC is the competition. Friendly, but not friends. Frienemies. The sports team rivalry between Marvel and DC is all part of the game, for readers as much as us. Everybody likes to cheer on their faves. It profits nobody for things to get too lovey-dovey with them. That’s dull for everyone. And, particularly when they start pulling plays from our playbook, we pride ourselves at being faster, sharper and smarter in [our] promo as well as in the books themselves. So, long story short, they stink and we’re great! And hey, it keeps us from talking about Dark Horse, Image or IDW …
(I’m pretty sure those last bits were said with tongue in cheek.)
So in short, Brevoort’s take seems to be of the “healthy rivalry” variety, something that’s not just good for the respective companies, but entertaining for their fans. Or, as he put it in response to a fan of both Marvel and DC who said he didn’t like to see the two companies being dicks to each other for no reason: “Never dicks just to be dicks. Always dicks with a point.”
This leaves me wondering a few things:
1) Which plays have DC swiped from Marvel’s playbook, in the eyes of the House of Ideas? ( 1.5) Do Houses have eyes?)
2) Will anyone from DC publicly sound off on the rivalry as well?
3) How does the trash-talk and gamesmanship play with the new corporate stewards of the two companies?
I know where I’ll be looking for the answers …
It’s a Tom Twitter Twofer today! Perhaps unsurprisingly, Marvel Executive Editor and Twitter king Tom Brevoort took to tweeting on the topic of Marvel’s offer to exchange unsold copies of the Blackest Night tie-ins that were part of DC’s successful power-ring promotion for a rare Deadpool-themed variant-cover version of Siege #3. His opening statement:
I see there’s a lot of chatter about our SIEGE #3 offer, so I have to ask the question: how is this bad? We’re making no money on the deal (actually losing a little) but it will put some more much-needed cash in retailers’ pockets, And if your retailer doesn’t have these books in stock, excellent! Good on them, they ordered appropriate to their customer base. But while no retailer wants to hurt their relationship with DC, we’ve been hearing from lots of them that they’re happy we’re offering this. As for the stripping, that’s all about making it cheaper for these guys to send the books back. But we’ll take complete copies too. And sure, send the stripped insides to the troops–well done, you! They tend not to keep comics mint on the battlefield in the first place. And while we listed the titles we’d be taking–all of the “ring” books– we never mentioned either DC or Blackest Night at all. Not a knock. And if DC wants to make their own offer, let ‘em! That’s cool too, if it frees up deadlocked capital for retailers to order new stuff.
“I think I just wrote a Robot 6 article,” Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort said via his Twitter account yesterday evening. Right you are, Tom! This blog’s official Top Tweeter of 2009 kept the magic alive yesterday with an impassioned defense of the controversy du jour, Marvel’s offer to swap unsold DC comics for a Deadpool variant (more on that later). But perhaps even more notably, he posted some revealing comments about the status of Marvel’s recently acquired Marvelman.
On another note, attended a cool Marvelman meeting today where Neil Gaiman told us how his last 2 unfinished storylines will end. Been waitin something like 17 years to find that out!
Brevoort’s followers were soon popping the champagne, but the editor was quick to point out that he was not saying Gaiman would necessarily return to finish the stories, and that future plans for the title have yet to be confirmed: