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Talking Comics with Tim | Tom Brevoort

Tom Brevoort, photo by Luigi Novi

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.

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Gillen’s X-Men as a modern-day Authority?

In the wake of X-Men: Schism, Marvel’s mutants are split down the middle and heading in two divergent directions. While Wolverine’s team is following in the footsteps of Xavier’s original plans for the X-Men, the Cyclops-led team based in Utopia is on a different track. Dubbed his “Extinction Team,” the primary purpose of the team is to stand between mankind (not just mutantkind) and threats that would render them extinct.  It sounds like a unique kind of mission for the X-Men, but an interesting question on writer Kieron Gillen’s Formspring reframes it in a familiar way.

Gillen was asked: “The x-men seem a lot like the old superhero team The Authority lately. is that intentional?”

“The Authority are certainly one of the big influences on [Uncanny X-Men],” answers Gillen. ” The Extinction Team are certainly the closest the MU has ever had to something that occupies the niche the Authority dominated in the Wildstorm U.”

While saying that most modern super-hero comics were inspired by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch’s The Authority isn’t too far off-base, seeing this straight correlation by Gillen fires off my fan synapses and helps define a team that, frankly, I was having trouble with even after reading Uncanny X-Men #1. Although I don’t want to see Gillen and crew follow this analogy too closely, it makes me more interested to see where the book goes next.

Also, isn’t it interesting that in the pin-up for Avengers vs. X-Men that it’s Cyclops’s X-Men versus the Avengers pictures? Both Wolverine and Beast seem to be lunging after their former teammates in the X-Men rather than the Avengers, who they currently owe more allegiance to.

Food or Comics? | Post-Thanksgiving hangover edition

Angel & Faith

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Graeme McMillan

I have to say, this is an amazingly slow week for me in terms of new releases. If I had $15, I’d pick up the fourth issue of Dark Horse’s Angel & Faith series ($3.50), which has surprised me by turning out to be my favorite by far of the new Buffy series (due, in large part, to Rebekah Isaacs’ artwork, which is superb). I’d also grab the third issue of IDW’s Star Trek monthly ($3.99), in the hope that it’ll be as good as the first two issues; hardcore Trek fans, you should really be looking at this book, if you’re not already. Also on the list to grab: Thunderbolts #166 (Marvel, $2.99), continuing a great storyline from what might be one of the most underrated books from either of the big two publishers. One of the few nice things about Marvel’s recent Cancelpocalypse was seeing so many people speak up about how much they love Thunderbolts, and I’m right there with them; Jeff Parker’s done great things with this book.

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Comics A.M. | ‘Death of Phoenix’ page fetches $65,000 at auction

From Uncanny X-Men #137

Comics | An original page by John Byrne and Terry Austin from Uncanny X-Men #137, the 1980 issue that featured the death of Phoenix, sold at auction Wednesday for $65,725. As ICv2 notes, the sale continues the trend of 1980s comic art going for high prices; a page of Frank Miller art from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #3 sold for $448,125 in May. [ICv2.com]

Digital | ICv2′s Milton Griepp makes the case for publishers to provide sales information on digital comics. “Why would this information be useful? There are a number of reasons. One is that it would help distributors (most importantly, Diamond Comic Distributors) and retailers selling physical comics and graphic novels identify which titles have the largest audiences in digital form. They could then make sure that they’re merchandising the top digital titles appropriately, so they can take advantage of demand for physical titles that results from digital exposure (we’ve been hearing that there’s a significant phenomenon of digital purchasers looking for collections of comics they’ve purchased online). Digital demand can also indicate potential demand for physical books from consumers that aren’t purchasing digitally; a good book, after all, is a good book, and if digital purchasers are finding a title that’s not as popular in physical form, it may indicate that there’s an untapped market of consumers of physical books as well.” [ICv2.com]

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Documenting Chris Claremont’s epic run on Uncanny X-Men

Although Chris Claremont didn’t create the X-Men, he’s the one that defined them from 1974 to 1991, leaving a lasting impact on the characters and influencing future writers who worked on the franchise. And in a new documentary called Comics In Focus: Chris Claremont’s X-Men, the documentary filmmakers behind the recent Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis films take on the legendary scribe’s impact on Marvel’s mutants. And to get it made, they need your help.

Using the popular crowd-funding website Kickstarter, the documentary producers Sequart Research & Literary Organization and Respect Films are asking for $3,500 in fan support to make the film happen. Director Patrick Meaney spoke with Claremont as well as many of his chief collaborators such as Art Adams to get the inside-baseball perspective on the the writer and his definitive work.

If the funding is met and the film does well, the producers hope this will be the first in a series of Comics In Focus documentaries looking at the major moments in comics history.

So far over $400 of the $3,500 has been raised with 28 days to go, with excellent prizes for those that donate $10 or more.

Chain Reactions | Uncanny X-Men #1

Uncanny X-Men #1

Uncanny X-Men returned this past Wednesday with a new #1, just two weeks after the previous run ended. Written by Kieron Gillen with art by Carlos Pacheco, Cam Smith and Frank D’Armata, the story revolves around Cyclops and his post-Schism “Extinction Team” of Storm, Hope and a bunch of folks who couldn’t participate in a game of “raise your hand if you’ve never gone through a stage that others characterized as ‘mainly super villain.’” The book features a more serious tone and mission for the team than their back-in-Westchester friends appearing in Wolverine and the X-Men, as well as the villainy of Mr. Sinister and cameos by most of the other “Team Cyclops” mutant characters who decided to stay on the West Coast.

So what did folks think of this issue? Here’s a sampling of reviews on Uncanny X-Men #1:

Ron Richards, iFanboy: “Uncanny X-Men #1 is everything that Wolverine & The X-Men #1 was not, and I mean that in absolutely good way.  Where Aaron delivered a whimsical, comedic at times, fresh new start for Wolverine and the mutants at the new school in Westchester, Gillen’s representation in Uncanny X-Men #1 is a serious, more adult world that these mutants live in. And that’s exactly how it should be.”

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Comics A.M. | Susie Cagle arrested at Occupy Oakland; more on Steve Rude

Susie Cagle

Legal | Susie Cagle, the cartoonist covering Occupy Oakland who was tear-gassed last month, was arrested early Thursday morning during the protests in Oakland. According to her father, cartoonist Daryl Cagle, Susie was being held at Santa Rita Jail in Alameda County, Calif. and was charged with unlawful assembly, even though she was there covering the event and had a press badge. Update: According to her Twitter account, Susie Cagle is out of jail and was charged with a misdemeanor, “present at raid.” [Fishbowl LA]

Legal | Tom Spurgeon offers more details on comic artist Steve Rude’s Halloween altercation, which led to the Nexus creator’s arrest that same night. According to Rude’s wife by way of Spurgeon, Rude was in costume handing out Halloween candy to kids trick-or-treating when his neighbors’ dogs began barking. Rude threw rocks at the neighbors’ fence, which led to a confrontation with them. Rude tore the neighbor’s shirt and pushed him, leading to the assault charges. Rude suffered physical abuse during the arrest and in jail before posting bail. [The Comics Reporter]

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Food or Comics? | Everybody wants a piece of the Action

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Graeme McMillan

It’s a slow week, this week; if I had $15, I’d use it to catch up on some recent enjoyments like Action Comics #3 (DC, $3.99) and OMAC #3 (DC, $2.99), two of my favorite titles from the New 52 relaunch–OMAC in particular has been a really weird and wonderful joy–as well as the final issue of Marvel’s great and sadly underrated Mystic revival (#4, $2.99). I’d also see if the parody-tastic Shame Itself #1 (Marvel, $3.99) lives up to its potential, because “Wyatt Cenac + Colleen Coover” sounds pretty promising to these ears.

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Food or Comics? | Butcher Baker and Daredevil‘s Food Cake

Daredevil #1

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item. We’re coming a little late today due to a power outage in my neck of the woods — due to a blackout, not because I spent the money for the electric bill on Flashpoint or Fear Itself tie-ins.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Graeme McMillan

Because I’m not doing San Diego this year, some kind of crazy comic karma has decided that this week will be filled with comics I want to read. For example, if I had $15, I’d run to grab Daredevil #1 (Marvel, $3.99), which I’ve been looking forward to for some time — Mark Waid, Paolo Rivera *and* Marcos Martin? How can anyone refuse? — before scooting back to the DC aisle to pick up both DC Retroactive: The Flash – The ’70s #1 and DC Retroactive: Wonder Woman – The ’70s #1 (Both DC, $4.99), because I am such a sucker for old-school DC that even this weird “slight return” of the same seems exciting to me.

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Food or Comics? | Vengeance, Flight, crossovers and more

Vengeance #1

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item. We’re coming a little late today due to a power outage in my neck of the woods — due to a blackout, not because I spent the money for the electric bill on Flashpoint or Fear Itself tie-ins.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Chris Arrant

If I had $15, my first pick off the shelf would be Vengeance #1 (Marvel, $3.99); I love Joe Casey, and especially when he’s given a long leash and room to play in a big universe. Seeing Nick Dragotta drawing this is an added bonus. Next up would be comics’ dueling summer blockbusters, Flashpoint #3 (DC, $3.99) and Fear Itself #4 (Marvel, $3.99). After that, I’d get the excellent Flashpoint: Batman, Knight of Vengeance #2 (DC, $2.99); when Azzarello is on the ball he’s great to read, and this seems to be that.

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Invincible versus comic-book renumbering

From Invincible #80, by Robert Kirkman and Ryan Ottley

In what may be an incredible coincidence, an unlikely bit of last-minute dialogue rewriting, or a terrifying example of Robert Kirkman’s precognitive abilities, this week’s Invincible #80 offers a bit of commentary on the hot topic of conversation — comic-book renumbering. It seems the trend doesn’t end with DC’s superhero line and Marvel’s Uncanny X-Men. Even Dead Stuff is affected!

Multiversity Comics catches the panel in which Mark Grayson, aka Invincible, swings by his local comic shop after spending time in space only to discover every series has started over with a new No. 1. “Why do they do that?” he asks. “It doesn’t help sales long term and they always go back to the numbering for the next anniversary issue. What’s the point?!”

“Anything for a quick buck, man,” the clerk responds. “These companies have no integrity.”

Update: And while this doesn’t require prescience, the sequence also takes a perhaps self-effacing jab at a creator pledging to release work on time for a year. Check it out after the break.

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Quote of the day | Kieron Gillen on the end of Uncanny X-Men

Uncanny X-Men #544

“When I joined Uncanny after S.W.O.R.D. I thought ‘There’s no way I can get THIS cancelled.’ But there are no limits to my power.”

– writer Kieron Gillen, reacting to this morning’s news that Marvel’s
long-running Uncanny X-Men series will end in October with Issue 544
as a result of X-Men: Schism

The Fifth Color | Azazel, the devil you don’t know

Deviled Ham!

I can't get this out of my head...

Everyone has a a particular favorite in the X-Men. I mean, there’s so many to choose from! The list of Marvel’s merry mutants goes on and on, so it’s not surprising that someone’s a fan of that one guy from issue #86, third from the left (his name was Vindaloo). You may not be able to stand Meggan from Excalibur, but trust me. Someone has a livejournal devoted to her. Super fans dress up like Jubilee and campaigned to get her back in the X-books. Through staff dedication and fan outcry, we have two volumes of the Essential Dazzler. I am certain there is a comic convention by-law where for every so many people, there has to be a question posed for the return of an obscure X-Men character. Bring back Chrome! There are an amazing amount of X-characters contained in the Marvel Universe (despite Wanda’s wishes) and all of them are facets to the unique jewel of the X-titles.

So, who’s the guy who asked for Azazel?

I didn’t think he had a fan club. I didn’t think people wanted to remember the unbelievable “The Draco” storyline he came from. And now, he’s in a movie? Why? Out of all the characters who have had better origins, purposes and basic character design, why in Cerebro’s name did they pick a cheesy self-styled Satan for one of their antagonists?

WARNING:  We are spoiler free!

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Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Hellboy

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on what we call our “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Michael May

If I had $15:

I’d get Hellboy: Buster Oakley Gets His Wish ($3.50) to see Hellboy fight some giant robots in space, Salt Water Taffy, Volume 4: Caldera’s Revenge ($5.99) to see Jack and Benny sign aboard a spooky ship in search of a Moby Dick-like whale, and Sweets #5 (2.99) to see Kody Chamberlain wrap up his delicious New Orleans murder mystery.

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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.”


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