CB Cebulski has been a busy man this year at Emerald City Comic Con. In addition to moderating the Marvel “Breaking Into Comics” panel, he also hosted his own “Pint O’ CB” panel, which allowed readers to catch up with a few of the biggest writers in at Marvel. The panel consisted of Invincible Iron Man and Thor writer Matt Fraction, Captain America writer Ed Brubaker, Amazing Spider-Man scribe Dan Slott, and X-Force and Secret Avengers writer Rick Remender. After a short introduction, Cebulski jumped right into questions from the audience.
The first question of the panel concerned Agents of Atlas. With the critical acclaim behind the series, why wasn’t Marvel continuing the series? Cebulski responded that Atlas fell into a category of series’ fans love, but sales just cannot sustain. Characters like Iron Fist, Nick Fury and Cloak & Dagger are loved by so many, but when given their own series, the sale just do not warrant the effort going into them. As Matt Fraction put it:
That was how they got me to do Defenders. They said, ‘It’s all the characters you like to pitch… that we won’t publish right now’.
The next question addressed the different aspects of the Marvel Universe. Since each writer seems to tackle a specific area of the Marvel U, the question addressed whether that type of ownership allowed them to write and create bigger and better Stories. The first to chime in was Dan Slott, who basically said that, if a mistake is made, he can quickly recover from it. He went on to say that he “enjoys the rapid-fire feel of Spidey.”
The rest of the writers mirrored Slott’s sentiments. Remender stated that if he’s doing a three or four issue story-arc and fans turn out to hate it, “Well, hey, it’s only four issues.” Fraction related a story about his first comic book writing gig, Mantooth, and how his pride held him back from writing it.
And I couldn’t write it… And then I thought about the movie ‘Ed Wood,’ and there’s this scene where he’s pitching his movie to a producer, and [Johnny] Depp is like, ‘I’m the director and producer of Glen or Glenda. And the producer says, ‘That’s the worst movie I’ve ever seen.’ And he just goes, ‘Well I’ll do better next time. Anyway, my new picture is ‘Dr. Acula” or whatever…
But that line, ‘I’ll just do better next time’ — that was the key — and once I had that in my head I was able to write my monkey comic.
Soon the questioned moved on to the upcoming Avengers VS X-Men event. One fan in particular wondered whether the original X-Men vs. The Avengers limited series would be referenced, even in passing. Fraction responded with a resounding “no” as he felt that series wasn’t what he would have expected from a match up like that. He then went on to state something that, as a fan, had a profound impact on me, something that I feel every comic book writer should adhere to.
Do right by yourself as a nine year-old. Make this the book you have wanted to see.
Dan Slott talked a little about the appearance of Doctor Octopus in other titles, like Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man. His intentions for the upcoming Spider-Man story Ends of the Earth have had seeds planted much further back than we realize. His goal was to have Doc Ock show up and “beat the crap out of” other characters for some time, to establish him as an active super villain in the Marvel U. Once that was completed, Slott felt the time was right to begin Doc Ock’s swan song, as it were.
The conversation soon turned to a rather hot button issue in the comics industry; the idea of women in comics, both on the pages and creating them. The notion of a new Captain Marvel was raised, a title that is written by a woman, Kelly Sue DeConnick, and will have a rather storng female lead, Carol Danvers, the current Ms. Marvel. Rick Remender pointed out that he got rid of Psylocke’s thong, which, though may seem trivial, helps to establish comic book females as actual characters and not merely male fantasy sex objects. Fraction brought up the book and film, The Hunger Games, the success of which shows as proof that female-led stories can be successful when done correctly. (Though Brubaker did interject an interesting story of how when the adaptation of the film was first pitched, the studio requested to change the lead into a man.)
One fan asked about the Marvel movie business wondering if, given the success of the films, if the way they approach writing the comics changes. Fraction quickly responded no, joking that “it’s great Marvel made a $100 million commercial for my comic book.”
Slott also stated that his writing for Amazing Spider-Man has not changed, even with a film of the exact same title hitting theaters in a few short months. Although he did recognize that not having an issue with the Lizard on the cover would be a missed opportunity. So in a way, yes, the film has influenced him, but only marginally. (Note: this in my assessment, not a statement or interjection made by Slott.)
The penultimate question of the panel seemed to be the least informative. A man dressed as Colossus, complete with a Kitty Pryde cosplayer at his side, was curious as to what would be happening with his character now that he had the power of Cyttorak. Fraction responded with a simple “You are going to love AvX #5.”
The final question of the panel was whether the writers would be moving on to new characters any time soon. Or, given the choice of writing new characters, who would they choose? Fraction, the epitome of quick answers, jumped in with Wonder Woman, alluding to an earlier statement of Wonder Woman being his daughter’s favorite characters. Before the remaining writers could chime in, Cebulski added that, though rumors may be swirling about the panel members moving onto different titles, that wasn’t a topic they could comment on.
While most of the panels at ECCC have been about releasing new information of upcoming titles and projects, it’s always good to hear about a panel like “A Pint o’ CB”. Sometimes, getting to see a truer side of writers and artists is a fun break from the constant news we’re bombarded with almost daily. Being part of the light-hearted and humorous panels makes up for a lot of the frustration we deal with when hearing about changes made to our favorite characters, books we’ve read for years being cancelled, or an unwanted rise in cover prices. Granted, the panel didn’t offer much in the way of news about Marvel’s future, it did provide a temporary relief from information overload.