MyCup o' Joe is
usually the weekly communiqué from Marvel Comics Editor in Chief Joe Quesada to the legion of Mighty Marvelites Assembled! Joe sends this shortened communiqué this week:
"It's been a whir of activity at Mighty Marvel, what with the senses-shattering San Diego con, followed immediately by some kickass Marvel creative summits featuring many of our top writers. I'm swimming in a rising sea of deadlines, and gotta take a quick break to catch up, but will leave you to the tender mercies of C.B. Cebulski, one of our ace Marvelites!
"C.B. has been a writer, editor, and talent liaison at Marvel, and even writes some great non-Marvel stuff over at Image Comics as well, so he knows the business from every angle. He's writing a mega-X-Men event for us as well, and after punching the marketing folks in the kidneys, I finally got them to agree to ANNOUNCE the artist in this very column, and show you first peek at the art. So it's likely an even BETTER week without me here!
"Enjoy! And I swear on the soul of Irving Forbush—or at least Squirrel Girl—I'll be back next week!"
And so it comes to pass that this week, Marvel jack-of-all-trades C.B. Cebulski sits down with journalist Jim McLauchlin to answer questions on the pressing issues of the day at Marvel and throughout comics.
And you get to chip in as well! A few reader questions are answered by Joe Quesada this week, with more to come next week! To get in on the fun, post your questions at the bottom of this page!
JM: So…I can't even keep track of you, and I have the proverbial scorecard. What's your function these days? You're actually working at the Marvel offices 2-3 days a week right now, correct?
Sometimes even I don't honestly know what I'm doing on a day-today basis, Jim! But yes, currently I go into the Marvel offices on Tuesdays and Thursdays to attend all sorts of various meetings, from editorial to talent to marketing to international publishing. I keep my irons in all kinds of Marvel fires and need to be up on all the happenings in any number of offices across Marvel's Publishing division. Getting out of bed early and getting my ass up there twice a week is the best way to do that. And my wife is happy to have her freedom on those days.
JM: You seem to be a rambling man. You keep pinballing back-and-forth between being a writer, an editor, a consultant, whatever. What makes you happy? Or is it one of those things that changes week to week?
Rambling man, eh? I like that. Someone else recently called me the Michael Clayton of Marvel, which I couldn't dispute either.
Ultimately, it's simply working in comics that makes me happy. I know that sounds cliché, but it's the absolute truth. I get up and WANT to go to work! I was once well on my way to joining the family business and becoming an electrician, but my dad knew I wasn't happy and pushed me to go out and do something I wanted to be doing. So I went to college, working in a comic shop all four years to help pay for it, and took classes with the ultimate goal of getting into the comic biz, which I eventually did through a convoluted Japan/manga route. So I usually wake up with a smile on my face knowing my workday will somehow involve Spider-Man, the X-Men or the Fantastic Four, and not crawling into a hot attic to rip up insulation to wire a ceiling fan.
These days, I mostly divide my time between writing and working in Talent Management. I love telling stories and could do that for the rest of my life if given the opportunities. But I have so many friends in this business and I enjoy helping them out, guiding their careers and getting them what they want out of comics and Marvel as well. I guess that comes from me wanting to help people the same way my dad helped me put me on my path in life.
JM: How do you manage to fold in so many disparate things in a given day? And what's your sleep cycle like?
I'm a big believer in sleep, actually. I prefer eight hours a day but normally get six or less on weekdays. I tend to stay up late in order to deal with international business, a lot of that in Japan, which means I get to bed around 3 or 4 AM usually depending on the day. I'm usually up around 9 or 10 AM. I check my e-mail, and from that point on, it's all a balancing act depending on what I find in my inbox. I read all my messages across three accounts, try and determine who needs what first and fastest, make a list by priority, take a shower and try to plan my day to make it all happen, then sit down and start working my through the to-do list. I take a few breaks in between to eat and twitter and surf the web and such, but the day is usually a flurry of e-mails, phone calls, script revisions, talent brainstorming and hundreds of other things. My wife and I eat and watch some TV around 9 PM, and it's after dinner when the phone stops ringing and e-mails slow down that I buckle down and write comics. It's so much easier for me to write at night when it's quiet and I'm not distracted by other comic biz concerns. I try to write at least five pages a day, then it's off to bed.
JM: How's it work with Marvel vis-à-vis the work you do at Image? Anyone give you crap? People yell "Benedict Arnold" when you walk down the hall?
Not at all. My Image deal was in place and my books were coming out from them before I went back over to Marvel exclusively. You see, I was working at Marvel full-time as an editor and talent manager until 2005, when I quit to pursue my writing career. And even though I left staff, the folks at Marvel really remained my extended family. And as family tends to do, they supported me in all my endeavors, one of which was pursuing creator-owned books at Image. They were proud as hell of me when titles such as Drain and Wonderlost started coming out. So when I came back in a more formal and internal position last year, it was always with the understanding that my Image books, current titles and books in development, would stay at Image. There was never any question about it. I honestly don't think it even came up. And while I do focus a little more on my Marvel work these days, the editors up there still inquire about my creator-owned work. There's a great balance I've been able to achieve, and I constantly thank Marvel and Image for their mutual understanding of my situation.
Truth be told, Marvel doesn't discourage any of their talent from doing creator-owned work. They understand the need to be creative and scratch that itch of writing and/or drawing characters of their own creation. But as Icon is not really an option for many Marvel creators, Marvel tries to work with the writers and artists who want to do creator-owned work, either through Image or in Europe, to find a happy medium where they can do their Marvel books and get a steady paycheck while also pursuing their creator-owned endeavors, really giving them the best of both worlds.
JM: Okay, in a practical concern, "X-Infernus" hits in December. What's the super-small nutshell on that?
In a super-small nutshell? Like pistachio sized? Magic and Magik come back to the Marvel Universe in a big way! But if you wanna move up to hazelnut size, as I've explained in a few other places, X-Infernus actually started life as an Uncanny X-Men Annual that David Finch and I were planning on doing, featuring the return of Illyana "Magik" Rasputin, a character we both have loved since childhood, into the Marvel Universe proper. But when David got tagged for Ultimatum with Jeph Loeb, he couldn't say no to a project of that size and scope, so our Annual got put back on the shelf. But given certain events that were happening in the current X-Universe, editor Nick Lowe resurrected the project as he thought the time was right for it. Much to my surprise, he and Marvel Sales guru David Gabriel liked the overall concept so much they felt we were doing it an injustice by limiting it to an Annual, so they came up with the idea to turn it into a four issue mini-series. We got Finch's blessing to proceed without him on pencils and to approach other artists, as long as he was still able to do the covers, which he is!
Craig Kyle, Chris Yost and Skottie Young took the first step and brought the Darkchild back to life in Limbo in their brilliant run in New X-Men: Quest for Magik. I built off what they did and took the next step in my Illyana story in X-Men: Divided We Stand, which just came out in trade paperback last week. This story, X-Infernus, is what it has all been building towards and it comes to a head with repercussions for all the X-Men!
JM: Didn't you get the memo? Nostalgia for the '80s is already over! We're into nostalgia for the '90s, as scary a concept as that might be.
Are you kidding? You're talking to the guy who helped relaunch What If?, regularly fights to bring back Cloak and Dagger, Darkhawk, Slingers and Power Pack, and writes an autobiographical comic about his high school love life. In my mind, the '80s never ended!
JM: Well, all that said, you have an artist to introduce…
Yes, we do! I'm happy to announce that the artist for X-Infernus will be the always amazing Giuseppe "Cammo" Camuncoli! Take a bow, Cammo!
JM: Groovy. And of course, we'll have the first art to show, right?
Cammo's art is just gonna blow people away on this series. Check it out!
JM: Now you're also a "friend to the common man," right? You're helping a number of new artists get a foot in the door via "ChesterQuest." Who, what, or why is a ChesterQuest?
ChesterQuest was the international talent search I recently did for Marvel. It was named ChesterQuest as the 'C' in C.B. stands for Chester and it just so happens most of the Marvel folks refer to me by my real name.
I had this wacky idea to travel around the world and do portfolio reviews in as many countries as I could to find the best and brightest new comic book artists working on the international scene. I was gonna go out there and attempt to do it on my own, but Marvel got behind the idea and helped me finance the endeavor. We decided we were going to set a goal for ourselves and determined we'd hire 12 pencilers and four cover artists when all was said and done. We'd guarantee work to these 16 finalists. I'm happy to report that we've more than met our goal, with at last count, 32 people have now come through the Marvel doors thanks for ChesterQuest. Not all are published yet, with the ChesterQuest anthology Marvel Comics Breakout still on the horizon early next year, but you're already seeing a lot of these new talents pop up in Marvel comics.
JM: So there's a few ChesterQuest alums hitting on Marvel books right now?
ANNUAL #2 art
ANNUAL #2 art
Yup! David Lafuente, who I met at the Dublin City Comic Con (but who is from Spain but now living in London), is illustrating Hellcat and the Ultimate Spider-Man Annual. Folks have probably already seen Marco Turini's pencil and ink work on Squadron Supreme. Vincenzo Cucca art graces She-Hulk, with his fellow Italian Marco Castiello penciling Secret Invasion Front Line, both of them inked and colored by the amazing artists that compromise G.G. Studio. And these guys are just the tip of the iceberg!
JM: That seems like a lot of guys from outside the U.S. How's it work out that way?
Just the luck of the draw. Turns out a good number of the final ChesterQuesters happen to be Italian artists. I met a lot of these artists at the incredible convention they have up in Mantova, Italy, but a good number also submitted to me via e-mail and snail mail. But there's a great international mix of people we've hired from all over the world, including a few ringers from right here in the States who will be debuting soon.
And given the success of my first "tour", I'll also be making a few quick jaunts to Europe again this fall to try and find even more new artists. I'll be at the Comic Festival in Aviles, Spain from September 9th-14th, at the Thought Bubble convention
in Leeds, England on November 14th and 15th, and then I'm heading back over to the Dublin City Comic Con again from November 22nd – 23rd. I'll be doing as many portfolios as possible every day at each show.
JM: Now, you've also written Loners, which is…I dunno what to call it. An almost-cult sensation? Some guys wanna play arena shows, and some are content to be the coolest bar band in the world. This seems more bar band. Are you happy with the reception it's received?
Very happy! Loners is a series and a group of characters very near and dear to my heart. Everything I chose to pitch and write at Marvel comes from my love of the characters. And it just so happens that the characters I love and gravitate towards aren't Marvel's big guns. As I mentioned earlier, I'm more of a fan of the Marvel B-listers, like Cloak and Dagger, Power Pack, the New Mutants, the New Warriors. Sure, I love Spidey and the FF and the Hulk, but I don't think I could write those A-listers very well. I feel more of a connection with the smaller characters, the ones I was able to better associate with when I was growing up, and it's those characters I feel most comfortable with. I realize they may not be the best sellers, but getting a book like Loners onto the stands and into the hands of fans means the world to me. I'll always be happier in bars than in arenas. (Unless it's my beloved X-Men. Then I'll settle for a stadium gig, like X-Infernus!)
JM: Your perspective is perhaps unique—you've got one foot firmly planted in Marvel, one out. That said, just as a reader, what's your favorite Marvel book these days?
Answering this question could get me in trouble with a lot of editors, writers and artists, but I'll have to say my favorite Marvel book right now is Ultimate Spider-Man. It was one of the first books I worked on when I joined Marvel, and Bendis continues to impress to this day. I'm a sucker for teen drama and Brian brings it in spades, doing such original things with these characters in ways we've never seen before. And Stuart Immonen is an absolute master of movement and fluidity in the comic book medium. USM is an almost perfect read month after month. Matt Fraction's Invincible Iron Man, Ed Brubaker's Captain America and Daredevil, and also Runaways are all continually amazing as well!
JM: How 'bout outside Marvel? What are you reading and digging on?
Where do I start? Fables, Green Lantern, Invincible, Usagi Yojimbo, B.P.R.D., Bleach, Naoki Urasawa's Monster, Black Summer…there are so many great comics out there right now! And I can't wait for more Scott Pilgrim!!
JM: Last question, I think: You're a good talent scout, and you've always got your eye out for that next ground-level guy who's gonna blow up. Who is that person now?
Trying to get me to reveal some of my secrets are you? Well, I'll indulge you. One guy who people have already seen tearing it up over at Top Cow is Kenneth Rocafort. His work is simply stunning and he's gonna be star soon. Two women who people might not yet know but will soon are Alina Urusov and Sara Pichelli. Both are amazing illustrators with unique styles who I see making big impressions in the coming year. And if and when my next Image comic Shiki comes out, artist Joao Lemos' style will have an undeniable and lasting impact on comic artists here, in my opinion.
JM: Thanks, man. You're out. We have a few reader questions for Slacker Quesada, who will be back in full voice next week.
I think I hear that voice already. I have deadlines to hit, man. Thanks!
Posted by Lore on Aug 12, 2008 5:24 AM
1) Thanks to "Brand New Day," I'm saving $9 a month on Spider-Man books. I used to buy every single issue that had Spider-Man in it, but seeing as how Peter's become so unlikable and unrelatable ever since BND started, I no longer want any issue with that version of Spider-Man in my house. I just read it through in the shop. Which is saving me a lot of money. Thanks for that.
2) Ever since I first heard the spoilers about "One More Day" and what it was going to be, about a year ago, I've successfully lost 42 kilos (92.59 pounds), all from being pissed off about the ruination of my favorite character. I'd say that's about the only positive thing I can say about it. So thanks for giving me something to focus my energies on.
And a question: Is the Spider-Man in BND a Skrull, a Dire Wraith, the Chameleon in disguise or some other kind of imposter? It's about the only way I could possibly see the character fitting in. I mean, he doesn't have Peter Parker's personality, he lacks Peter's heart, his soul, his intelligence, his kindness, his selflessness, his heroism. He doesn't know how to make Peter's webbing, seeing as how he's somehow paying 200 times as much for the webbing's ingredients than Peter did. And seriously, the "running out of webbing" gag was tired the first time they did it. By now even the mention of the web shooters is sickening to the extreme.
The Spider-Man in BND also behaves like an incompetent rookie and a totally worthless loser. And he doesn't even seem to notice that Harry hasn't mentioned his son even once. The lack of noticing that his best friend has turned into a deadbeat dad should be enough to show he isn't really Peter Parker.
Lore, how are you?
1) Hmmm. I don't really see how Peter is any different than the same ol' Spidey we've always known. Sorry you don't dig it, but I'm glad you're still reading it the store—there must be something you like if you're doing that.
2) 92 pounds since "One More Day" started? That's over 10 pounds a month! Maybe it's not the comic?
And nope, Spidey is none of those things you suggest. Really? He doesn't have Peter's personality of the loveable loser? With respect to the web formula and his being able to afford it, there are a lot of things that people can't afford today that they could merely a year ago. This is the world we live in. Peter had organic web shooters for quite some time before BND, the cost of living goes up. I bet Peter in BND is pretty surprised at what he's paying for gas today as well. As for the Harry question, patience, all will be answered in time.
Regardless, I appreciate you sticking with us and reading Spidey, but for the life of me since you are reading it…I don't understand what you're so upset about?
Posted by Stephen of Troy on Aug 12, 2008 5:24 AM
You're a hell of a mensch for allowing Speedball to return.
Two questions, though: Will he be moving on to a new team, and is there a new costume in his future?
Stephen, are you sure you want to thank me ahead of time?
Posted by Jason on Aug 12, 2008 5:26 AM
1) I'm a fan of the original Infinity Gauntlet series. Is there a chance for a remake?
2) Can we expect X-Men: Evolution season 4 and the '90s Spider-Man cartoon on DVD?
3) Will Havok, Marvel Girl and all the other heroes captured by Vulcan be returning to an X-Man series?
4) Is Astonishing X-Men a part of regular X-Men continuity now?
5) Can we get more Kitty Pryde? She has been M.I.A. since "Endangered Species" in the regular continuity, and of course, Joss Whedon put her in limbo in Giant-Sized Astonishing X-Men. Will she make it back to the X-Men?
Thanks for your time and keep up the AWESOME work! And of course, MAKE MINE MARVEL!
Jason, thanks for the kind words, some good questions here.
1) Perhaps some day, but no plans currently.
2) As I mentioned earlier, I have nothing to do with the business of our animation division. So beats me.
3) Sooner than you think! Keep an ear to the ground.
4) Repeat after me, ASTONISHING X-MEN WAS ALWAYS A PART OF CONTINUITY! Kitty is gone! Cyclops is bad-ass! Hisako is an X-Woman! It's just like X-Force is a part of X-Men continuity. These events aren't happening all at the exact same time, but they all come together when you take a step back.
5) You're going to have to keep waiting for her to join the Uncanny X-Men. She's still in that bullet flying through space.
Posted by boomvavavoom on Aug 12, 2008 4:43 PM
I totally missed Squadron Supreme vol. 2, and I hate hardcovers! I prefer paperbacks. Any news of a trade paperback collection?
Boom, why all the hate, bro?
Expect news on a TPB collection next year.
Before I go, I've got a special surprise—a look inside X-Men: World's Apart, hitting stores in October!
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