Meet the Publishers

Axel Alonso, Tom Brevoort, C.B. Cebulski, Nick Lowe and Mark Paniccia interact with the fans at Midtown Comics

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Photos by Ron Gejon
By Ron Cacace & Pierce Lydon

Only the mightiest of Marvel die-hards got a chance to sit down and pick the brains of some of Marvel’s finest editors at the “Meet The Publishers” event at Midtown Comics on April 14. Hosted at their downtown New York City location, Midtown Comics provided a venue for comic book fans to ask the questions that they’ve been dying to know the answers to. The guests at this event were Editor In Chief Axel Alonso, Senior Vice President of Publishing and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort, Senior Vice President of Creative & Creator Development C.B. Cebulski, X-Men Senior Editor Nick Lowe, and Hulk Senior Editor Mark Paniccia.

Tom Brevoort, Nick Lowe, Axel Alonso, Mark Paniccia & C.B. Cebulski

Fans lined up around 5 pm to secure their seats and the room quickly filled up when it came time for the program to start. Midtown Comics’ Marketing and Events Coordinator Thor Parker hosted the question and answer session which covered topics ranging from Fear Itself, to the death of Johnny Storm in FANTASTIC FOUR, the Marvel Point One initiative, and much more.

Parker started off the discussion with a question about the process of the creating a line-wide publishing event like Fear Itself.

“It takes a long time,” said Alonso. “But at the epicenter of it all is Tom [Brevoort].”

Brevoort however refused to take too much credit.

“While we do workshop a lot of this stuff, once it comes down to execution, it’s up to the creators themselves,” he noted.

Soon the floor was opened up to fan questions and one asked about Marvel’s creator retreats and how often they take place.

Brevoort explained that often two large events occur a year with smaller retreats taking place as well. These creator retreats serve as brainstorming sessions and can sometimes involve as many as 10 to 12 creators at a time.

“With Fear Itself, we had a large workshop at first to go over the ideas and find cool things that could be put in,” Brevoort explained. “The actual execution of writing FEAR ITSELF comes down to Matt Fraction, but the writers of other books such as AVENGERS and UNCANNY X-MEN are consulted when their characters are used in the story.”

Other topics brought up included promoting specific comics to coincide with the theatrical releases of “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger.”

Alonso mentioned how after the release of “Iron Man,” Tony Stark’s status in the Marvel Universe rose and he’s become more important than ever.

Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso addresses the crowd

“Iron Man went from a B-List character to an A-List character after the movie came out,” he said. “We look for a blip. But in the long term, we just keep doing what we’re doing.”

One fan asked which books the editors felt weren’t getting enough recognition.

“I don’t usually think of it like that,” Brevoort replied. “I don’t think there are any writers who say, ‘I’ve got enough recognition.’ We always want more people to read the books we’re putting out.”

Cebulski mentioned AVENGERS ACADEMY as a book deserving of more readers:

“Christos Gage is doing some great work in that book and I don’t think the sales are where they should be.”

Lowe pushed GENERATION HOPE as a book to check out, and Alonso praised the work of Jason Aaron on PUNISHERMAX.

After the event concluded, the editors stuck around and continued talking with fans about Marvel, comic books, and everything else.

“It’s great to have these small events and to get the chance to have a one-on-one conversation with fans,” Alonso said.

Parker echoed a similar sentiment, stressing the importance of strengthening the kinds of relationships built on the Internet by enabling people to interact in real life.

Tom Brevoort chats with a fan

“[The event] went great,” he concluded. “My basic goal is to bring the strength of an online community and bring it into the store. Anytime we can facilitate that, it’s great. We want to give back to comics as much as they give to us.”

While these kinds of intimate events might not the norm for a community that thrives on the convention circuit, a close connection to fans has always been something deeply rooted in the history of Marvel.

“Events like these are what makes us Marvel,” Brevoort said. “Going back to Stan [Lee] and his letter pages, Marvel has a history of being close with our fans. Marvel is located in New York City, and it’s great to be able to interact with fans and find out what they like or dislike about our books.”

Check out Midtown Comics'
official web site.

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