I spent several soul-searching minutes at the subway stop today debating in my mind whether it would make me more of a jerk to, instead of providing a true original content post tonight I did a Pimping My Stuff job with my recent work on Marvel.com or less of one since at least I'd be giving y'all something. It's a conundrum that will likely plague ethics scholars for years to come, but because I'm too exhausted to tell you why I'm digging the new Adventure Comics or describe at length the hidden appeal of Fatal Attractions, I'm afraid the best I can do is share with you that which has sapped my will to babble about comics during non-billable hours for this night at least.
But seriously, it's been a slobberknocker of a last couple weeks at the day job, but mostly because a lot of stuff myself and my colleagues have been trying to set in motion for some time is all coming together, so it's a good kind of slobberknocker (more of a "Stone Cold" Steve Austin match than a Godwinns one). As always, I'm proud of what we're pulling off and think we're always raising the bar on what a "corporate comics site" can do, so indulge me a moment or two...
I wanted to do something regularly leading up to and through Fear Itself that differentiated itself from the usual stream of teaser interviews and art reveals (though both are great). Something a bit more cerebral. So I borrowed a page from my buddy Tim Stevens' Psych Ward column and approached a couple dozen creators with the same question: "What does [insert character you write] fear?" From there, we go back and forth over e-mail getting in the head of the hero or villain in question in ways we didn't necessarily predict or expect. I don't go in having done any preparation (my proven method for success!) and they don't know what's coming. The hope is we maybe touch on stuff that's important to Fear Itself in the end, but I find the journey and what we learn along the way in many instances more interesting. So far I've covered Speedball with Christos Gage, Loki with Kieron Gillen and Iron Man with Matt Fraction; on tap for tomorrow is Spider-Girl with Paul Tobin. It's a bit different, a bit cerebral and gives me an excuse to talk about the nuances and ticks of comics characters with some brilliant creators, so hopefully readers are getting as much out of the deal as I am.
Age of X Assessment
Ok, this one's a bit more traditional, but it gives me a chance to talk with Mike Carey on the regular about a storyline I'm very much digging thus far (and I've read ahead), so I'm digging it, and again, hopefully others are too. One of the neat things about Age of X is that like Age of Apocalypse back in the day, it dropped you smack in the middle of a re-imagined world without much of a road map, which is what we try to provide in part when we do these "post-game" interviews for each chapter. I get the sense Mike has given a lot of thought to tons of stuff that took place "off-panel," so I think he enjoys filling in the blanks nearly as much as fans probably enjoy getting them filled in. We've hit the prologue and first chapter to date with chapter two on its way tomorrow (and we try to debut art for upcoming chapters as we go).
What The--?! Episode 18
Here's a little What The behind the scenes tidbit for you: Our February episode was originally going to be a Captain America-centric idea we'll likely still use down the line, but then John Cerilli reminded us it was the month of the Oscars and that we did a pretty good spoof last year that got a lot of views, so maybe try that again; we were happy to oblige. Myself, Alex Kropinak and Jesse Falcon yapped on a conference call (Alex moved back to PA so we're fancy now) for about a half hour about potential "targets" before settling on True Grit, 127 Hours and Black Swan, but there were at various points an Inception bit where Deadpool sees us making the episode and something involving Black Bolt and The King's Speech on the table, among other ideas. This was a true group effort as far as writing, but kudos go to Jesse in particular, who locked down the first draft on a train ride to Providence. My major contributions beyond the initial brainstorming (where I'll totally lay claim to coming up with the Red Hulk take off of Black Swan) was renaming True Grit as Legitimate Moxie and throwing in the Iron Monger and Green Goblin jokes that nobody got. This was maybe the best voice cast we ever had, particularly Alejandro Arbona in a superb performance as The Leader, and Alex crushed it as always. This is honestly one of my favorite episodes we've done to date. But the law of averages, we're due for a stinker. Enjoy episode 19!
A Marvel Black History Lesson
For as long as I've been at Marvel, we've always done something to commemorate Black History Month, but this year I wanted to do something a bit more robust and thought out. I liked the idea of doing an oral history of sorts of black characters at Marvel, but came up with it too late in the game to track down as many sources as I'd need to make it really sing (maybe next year). I told Ryan Penagos my problem and he suggested a straight up history piece could be really good provided we had the right guy or girl writing it; then he recommended David Brothers and I slapped my forehead and wondered why I hadn't thought of that (hence another reason that Ryan is my boss). For my money, David is the guy when it comes to talking about race and comics, not to mention just a generally fine writer to both (and a nice fella I've also come to learn). He brought a lot of enthusiasm to the table and the idea to look for connections between what was going on at Marvel and what was going on with society. I did end up tracking down a good handful of quotes to supplement David's piece and the result was a two-part retrospective I'm marking down as a nice little accomplishment for us; hopefully we'll have David back soon doing more stuff for us.
Speaking of very special guest writers... It wasn't that long ago that Ryan turned to me (as he often does) and said "We need to do more Icon coverage." Good point (again: boss). There are some pretty big ticket dudes working on Icon titles and they've generally got some incredible insights to share about their process, particularly when it comes to their creator owned work; this was certainly a resource we were not appropriately tapping. However, not just any standard Q&A column was going to do here. We needed an approach that would give the interview subjects a chance to really share and open up and an interviewer who would ask questions beyond the norm; it was all about getting the right person for the job, but I never imagined we'd get Tom Spurgeon. When it comes to comics journalism, Spurge is a legit legend with a well-earned reputation and respect from just about everybody--I'd be totally intimidated to edit him if he weren't such a sweetheart (ok, I was still pretty intimidated--don't judge me, Tom!). Sean T. Collins provided the hookup and even though we're only part one of the first interview with Matt Fraction deep thus far, I'm feeling like we've got something real special on our hands.
Year of the X-Men Liveblogs
Last but not least, every day this week, we're hosting liveblogs on Marvel.com covering press calls with the teams on some of the X-Men titles as well as Senior Editor Nick Lowe. They're crazy hectic, but a lot of fun. So far we've announced my buddies Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning on New Mutants and talked to Rick Remender about taking X-Force to the Age of Apocalypse. Three more to go, so if you've got the time, come join us!