By Kiel Phegley
Plenty of people who dive deep into the Marvel Universe each Wednesday may still be unfamiliar with Paul Tobin's name, but his work speaks for itself.
A mainstay of the Marvel Adventures line, Tobin stretched out in 2008 wrapped up with titles like THE AGE OF THE SENTRY. This year, Tobin's star rises a little higher with the villain-centric DOCTOR DOOM AND THE MASTERS OF EVIL limited series rolling out along with the high glamour murder mystery at the heart of MODELS INC. not to mention continuous work on books like MARVEL ADVENTURES FANTASTIC FOUR and MARVEL ADVENTURES SUPER HEROES.
With MASTERS OF EVIL #2 hitting on February 25 with MARVEL ADVENTURES SUPER HEROES #9 featuring Doctor Strange quick to follow on March 11, we thought it the perfect time to jam with Tobin on his love of the obscure corners of the Marvel U, his plans to play with all sorts of new books and why his reworking of Marvel's models won't be as drastic as you may think.
Marvel.com: You're doing a lot of work for Marvel these days, Paul. More than I think people realize. How many books would you say you write on average per month?
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Well, I probably average around four. There's probably been a couple of months where I need to get five or maybe one where I needed to write six done, but right now it's an average of around four.
Marvel.com: That's quite a bit.
] Yeah. It sometimes feels like a lot. But I still have room for more. The ideas percolate for me fast enough. The only month I ever remember having trouble was there was one month where I ended up doing 100 and 40-some pages of script in a month, and at that time I was working a full time job as well. That got a little old that month. [Laughs
] That was a lot of work. I went a little insane that month. There were some talking leprechauns next to my computer. But for the most part, like right now, I have plenty of free time doing four books a month. They kind of roll out of my brain.
Marvel.com: With MASTERS OF EVIL and SENTRY, you've been stepping one foot further into the Marvel U proper as opposed to the Marvel Adventures line. When you're working on the MA books and doing classic interpretations of the Fantastic Four and Iron Man and the rest, have you gotten a feel for writing the characters and their personalities where you want to take it into the Marvel U more?
I want to have a foot on both sides. I love the Marvel Adventures stuff and want to stay there because a lot of my story ideas come up in those areas, but I also want to have a larger body of work in the regular Marvel U. I like that storytelling style as well. And also, when I was talking about doing four or five books a month, it's a lot easier for me to do those if they're different types of book. I [can] do two Marvel Adventures books and then the MASTERS OF EVIL book which is almost in between the Marvel Adventures and the Marvel Universe with its feel. And then I [don't] mind doing some straight Marvel U because that just keeps my mind fresh. Whatever idea I have, I can use. There's a [forum] for it. If I come up with an idea that's a little darker and grimmer, I
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can't put that in Marvel Adventures. I don't want to say that it stifles my creativity, but unless I'm working on both sides, there's not an avenue for certain types of my creativity. That's what I'm looking to do.
Marvel.com: MASTERS OF EVIL feels like a greatest hits of the Marvel villains book. After doing the major heroes month in and month out, did you want to spend some time on the other side of the law?
Yeah. I think that's basically true. I really wanted to work with the villains. I noticed a tendency in my writing in terms of the format which was when you're hero-centric, the villain becomes a secondary character, and you never get to explore why they're doing what they do, and what the Sinister Six are doing when they're not trying to rob a bank or when they're not trying to take over the world. They don't really develop so much as characters and just become icons of villainy [instead]. This series has really given me a chance to explore their lives and their ideas. They're still trying to take over the world, and they're still villains, but I've been able to show them with more depth, and I've really enjoyed that aspect.
The first issue and writing the Sinister Six with Mysterio—Mysterio became one of my favorite characters to write. The Hulk has long been my favorite character, but Spider-Man is my favorite character to write. Now suddenly Mysterio is right up there with Spider-Man. So yeah, I really enjoy writing the villains because they're less explored, and I can take things naturally wherever I want.
Marvel.com: In the first issue, we had the Doom rolling in on the Sinister Six, wrecking shop and sequestering them to do as he wished. It looks like as we move along, Doom will be taking bits and pieces from different villains around the Marvel U as he wants them. Is that a pretty fair outlook on how the series will go, with Doom recruiting while advancing the larger story?
That's true. The second issue deals with the Masters of Evil and the Circus of Crime. The third issue is going to be the Masters of Evil alone. The fourth issue has got Doom and Magneto, and there [are] some Sentinels as well. So I'm
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moving through some villain groups. The format of MASTERS OF EVIL is interesting because we did want to keep with each issue being a separate story that people could pick up and get as a story alone. So there [are] a lot of intricacies on exactly how Doom is moving things along and what he's doing. I needed to make four separate pieces that fit into a cohesive whole. That's one of the reasons why he has a different group of people in each issue rather than a continuous story line. The story line does come together in the fourth issue, believe me.
Marvel.com: Looking forward, you get to play with Doctor Strange in MARVEL ADVENTURES SUPER HEROES #4. Have you been wanting to work with a few of the non-marquee characters?
I'm actually going to be doing a lot of work coming up on MARVEL SUPER HEROES, and one of the things I'm getting told I can do is play with whatever characters I want. Whatever characters I want to bring in, I can bring in to a certain degree. If I want to bring in "Obscure Character X" then I might have to team him up with Spider-Man, but I can do pretty much whatever I want with whatever characters I want. That's going to be a lot of fun for me. I think a lot of people have noticed that I have a lot of love for a lot of the more obscure Marvel characters. So you can look forward to some characters with not a lot of appearances on their resume. That's going to be a lot of fun for me and for fans too. That said, if I bring out my appearance of the Kangaroo, or I like a lot of Golden Age characters so you might see Destroyer or Sungirl, but they'll probably be teaming up with Hulk or Spider-Man. Those characters are a lot of fun to write.
Marvel.com: And a lot of characters out there once carried their own series and have a following, but these days they're off in the background. I'm sure people appreciate seeing their favorite getting some love.
It's kind of amazing frankly that I can draw on my old reading experience and my current reading experience and come up with some completely obscure character that I think nobody's going to ever remember. Then I'll use him and get all these people saying, "Wow! Thanks for having them appear. I haven't seen them in so long." There's support for these characters that seem to be forgotten or little used, and I enjoy that as well. I grew up reading comics, and I always loved when "my" obscure characters appeared.
Marvel.com: Lastly, you've got MODELS, INC. coming up later in the year, and it's a case where I don't think most people know what the standard models comic story is about like they know super hero clichés. Do you have a long story line planned there, or are you similarly taking these characters from the past and dusting them off and remixing them for the modern day.?
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by Roger Cruz
It's one long story line, one that has to deal with a murder mystery. It's not the light-hearted fun stuff. There's going to be some humor in there, because I think a book should always have some humor—even the dark, grim stories. People should lighten up now and then, I think. So I won't say this is a grim story, but Millie the Model is the prime suspect in a murder, so it's not like the Millie and Chili comics of old. That said, I have an immense amount of respect for the old Stan Goldberg comics, and I'm not going to poo on the characters. Like how earlier I said I've always loved to see obscure characters from my reading reappear, I've always hated to see that reappearance be "Hey...that obscure character used to be a nurse, but now we're going to have her be an international assassin with blood on her hands." That's not my character. So in a way, I'm updating the models, but they're still going to be the characters they were just in a modern story with more serious repercussions.
Check out more work by Paul Tobin on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.
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