MyCup o' Joe is the weekly communiqué from Marvel Comics Editor in Chief Joe Quesada to the legion of Mighty Marvelites Assembled! Every Friday, Joe will sit 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! Joe will be answering YOUR questions NEXT week! To get in on the fun, post your questions at the bottom of this page!
JM: So you went to the Mets opener?
Yeah. The new stadium is beautiful. It's stunning. There's no other way to put it. I definitely appreciate what they did in the architecture, but a win would have been nice. C'mon, it was the Padres!
JM: Well, it's a long season. You'll get your Ws. Thank you for Pet Avengers. My wife is looking more forward to this book than anything. And she LOVES the Flickr photos.
Yeah. It's goofy, it's off the wall and it's right here: http://www.marvel.com/news/comicstories.7514
. It's just the kind of thing that made us giggle in talking about it, and made us laugh when the first cover came in. I don't think it's the kind of thing that'll do Civil War numbers, but it was a nice all-ages idea, and…hey, isn't it time? Isn't it time the pets get their spotlight? We'll see what they can do in their moment in the sun. It's just a fun, divergent idea, and we hope people like it. I think they will.
JM: Okay. Now I need you to turn an artistic eye on this. I emailed you a couple pics of my Springer spaniel, Sugar Daddy, earlier. You've designed many a superhero costume, so…what do you think? Who should we dress him up as?
Well, he kind of has a domino mask already, so I'm thinking team-up: Jim, you should dress up as a portly Captain America, with Sugar Daddy as Bucky. Whaddya think?
JM: Everybody's a comedian, man.
Well, some people think it's silly of us to ask people to dress up their pets, but is it really any sillier than people dressing up themselves in costumes? I don't think so.
JM: Now something like Pet Avengers is obviously just a bit of whimsy, but sometimes, these things can catch fire, as happened with Marvel Zombies. That said, what kind of an expectation do you have for a project like this? Is it just whimsy, or are you looking to maybe catch lightning in a bottle?
Hey, who knows? Maybe we'll wind up doing Pet Avengers Zombies! Or better yet Pet Avengers v. Zombies! [laughs] No, but in all seriousness…you just never know. I think it's just fun, it'll be a fun story for our fans to read, and anything beyond that is gravy. We believe we've got something special here and we just want to make sure everyone takes a look.
JM: There was quite a response to your advice to artists on portfolio-building a couple weeks ago. A lot of readers are asking if there's a nickel's worth of free advice for writers. So, I know it's tougher to qualify, but…is there?
Actually…yeah. It is tougher, but again, last week I was on Twitter and gave a few short pointers for writers looking to break in. And again, same as artists, I always tell writers you gotta keep your pitch simple.
Now let me preface this by saying that at this point, Marvel is not accepting open submissions for writers. The stack we have to get through is seemingly a mile high—I mean, it's complete and total overload. We need to come up with a new system to get through this material, make the process simpler and cleaner, and respond to people in an appropriate manner. But I think this is decent advice for when we do accept open submissions again, or maybe if you want to pitch to DC, Dark Horse, whomever. But again, and I can't stress this enough—keep it simple, keep it brief, and keep it entertaining. So many people hand an editor a 40-page document, and…you're lucky if it ever gets read. Editors have hundreds of other pages of stuff they have to get through as part of their day-to-day job on books that have to get out, that it's hard to find the time to digest 40 more pages. So short and simple.
First thing I suggest is to keep in mind that you have to walk before you run. I get so many people, new writers, cold submission guys, who will say, "I have this great idea for the Silver Surfer that totally revamps the character, totally revises his origin and totally puts him in a new place!" Or, "I have the greatest idea for your next big Marvel crossover event like Secret Invasion!" Well…we need to see if you can write, first.
So my suggestion to those guys is always, "Keep it basic. If your character or preference is the Silver Surfer, then write a Silver Surfer, but keep it basic, the way he is now in his current incarnation. Don't give me the reinvention yet. We'll see what you can do first within the current boundaries that we have, in the current continuity." And I think a lot of people miss the fact that 90% of the stuff our writers are working on today is not reinvention—it's writing the character in the status quo. That's what we do for the bulk of the job, so that's the starting point. And don't worry about a five-issue storyarc at this point. Just a single, done-in-one, 22-page comic.
JM: So in a practical sense, how does one do that?
Well, I like to see someone propose the high concept. And by that I mean, present what the story is about in one sentence, maybe two. And it's much harder than it sounds! But chances are if you can do that, and make it interesting and make it compelling in a sentence, then you've got something to build on there. I always think of Brian Vaughan and Runaways: "A group of kids discover they are the children supervillains, run away from home. Discovering that they have powers they set out to thwart therir parents evil deeds." Brilliant. And linear. Chances are if you can't express your story in 1-2 sentences, you need to go back and come up with something less complicated to start.
JM: O-tay. So what's step two?
Well, I'd say you present that high concept as an opener. Next thing, take your high concept and break it down into the three acts of your story, and give us a paragraph or two on each act. So you're still only at a few paragraphs, and we can absorb it easily, and you can check it yourself to make sure you're coherent, linear, and not veering off into 12 different directions.
Then…please don't give us a script for the full 22 pages of comic book at that point. Just a scene or two, maybe three to five pages of actual comic book, and give us that script, showing us what you can do and how your dialogue works. And once you complete those three simple steps, you've got a pretty nice little sample package of what you can do: High concept, one-page outline or breakdown, and maybe five pages of sample script.
Now if you want to replicate that idea in the same way that I gave the portfolio advice, that's cool. Maybe one single-character pitch like a Spider-Man, and a team like an X-Men. Even with a couple different pitches, it's digestible enough where you could catch an editor with some downtime, and get it read.
JM: So here's the proof question: Does it work?
Yeah, it does. And here's another idea: Maybe just a sheet of high concepts. We had a writer who gave us a sheet with 20 high concepts, literally 20 ideas of one sentence each on a page. And there was some great variety: A Spider-Man idea, three Thor ideas, five Avengers ideas. And he got hired! Some of those ideas were just wonderful!
JM: Who's the guy?
Ah…I don't want to mention his name without asking him first. Maybe next week. But he's done a lot of work for us. And what he showed, from our point of view, us was not so much practical and in-the-moment relevance—because we're often plotting one year ahead of where we are today in the books—but that this guy could come up with ideas, and ideas for anything. He's very, very creative, and great at coming up with high concept stuff on the fly.
JM: So following this kind of plan, how tough is it still to get picked up on a cold submission?
Well, it's still tough. I think it's way tougher for a writer to break in than an artist. But of course, if you do get work as a writer, the bright side is that you can do very well in this business in making an income with wider opportunities. That's just the speed of typing versus the speed of having to sit down and draw it with a pencil on paper.
JM: Now, Marvel is not taking open submissions currently, but I assume you are always looking for new writers. Where are you looking? Is it, say, from Image Comics or other smaller publishers?
We look everywhere. Literally. There is no corner unsearched, no stone unturned. We look everywhere, and the editors are always looking and getting second opinions, passing stuff back and forth and saying, "Hey, read this comic. Hey, read this novel." Time permitting, we do the best we can to search, and if we find someone we like, we do our best to bring 'em in.
JM: So howzabout Marvel's 70th anniversary. We've seen a few variant covers and one-shots. Are there any other big hoo-hah plans?
I'm sure you've seen the Wolverine "art appreciation" covers, right? Those were a bit of fun. We're doing another set of theme covers that internally, we're calling "decades covers." We're taking all the decades that Marvel has been in existence, and not necessarily mimicking the style of the art in those covers, but some of the trappings. So if we're doing, say, a '60s decade cover, you might see the characters dress in '60s-style clothing, with the haircuts and so on of the period as well. Again, it's something we think is a bit of fun, and also challenges the artists to really use their imaginations as well. It's a lighthearted thing that will hopefully bring some smiles to the readers' faces when they see them. Just like with the Wolverine art appreciation covers, we thought it could be a neat idea, and then when we saw the covers come in and put them all together, we really liked it. We hope this can be just as successful.
JM: I'm out. You're on reader questions.
The April Fool says:
Hello, Joe. I'm really excited to hear that Songbird is soon to throw down against the current Thunderbolts. Is their any chance that she could assemble a team to go up against Norman's?
Songbird watched as Norman Osborn systematically destroyed everything she tried to build in the Thunderbolts. Once they were a team that offered a chance at redemption for villains, now they're a collection of bloodthirsty black-ops killers. So, April Fool, would Songbird dare reach out to other superhumans, knowing that Norman now watches all? Maybe…maybe not. But something tells us that Songbird will draw upon all of the devious tricks she employed in her past criminal life to fight fire with fire.
You need to get Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning to cover for Joe more often! With DnA doing a whole bunch of cosmic stuff, is there any way to create a Cosmic Braintrust like you guys have with Spider-Man? As much as I love what they're doing with the cosmic stuff, I'd like to see some other writers get the chance to play in space.
YaGottaFewSecs, don't you know that DnA are a giant brain that hovers in the halls of Marvel? You try and make one change to their script and—ZAPPOW!—they'll zap you with a mindray!
Tommy Fixx asks:
With Loki "fooling" the heroes in Mighty Avengers, will Thor make a guest appearance? Looking forward to having you on more covers and interiors as well, too, Joe!
With Loki pulling strings behind the scenes, Tommy, it seems likely that there'll be some manner of meeting between Thor and the Mighty Avengers before too long.
And I'm glad you've been enjoying some of my covers on our recent books! Here's a sneak peek at my cover for Amazing Spider-Man #594…oh, wait—I haven't drawn that one yet!
Katy Heroine asks:
A Marvel Divas book and there's no Dazzler? No She-Hulk? No Black Widow? They've got TONS of drama! I mean look, the Black Widow is having all sorts of man trouble with Bucky. I'm sure Sue Storm would have advice for her.
Katy, no book can be all things to all people. But Dazzler's been popping up around the X-titles recently/ She's even in this awesome preview of Uncanny X-Men #509.
She-Hulk is featured along with her new Savage counterpart in Savage She-Hulk, and the Black Widow's been getting play in Captain America as you note (with her blond opposite number tearing things up in Thunderbolts.)
Timo McShade asks:
Where did you find writer Jeff Parker? The guy can write a book! His Sentry mini- was awesome, Agents of Atlas is going well so far, and his Exiles has an entertaining "old school" feel to it which is a joy to read.
And could the Red Hulk be a mutant? He was in San Francisco before.
Timo, glad you're diggin' Jeff's writing. He is indeed awesome and we hope you're enjoying his run on Agents of Atlas, Dark Reign: The Hood, as well the new Exiles series. Jeff actually started in the biz as an artist who worked with Editor Mark Paniccia before coming to Marvel. We're extremely happy to have him hitting the keyboard and producing some of the coolest buzz-worthy books here at the House of Ideas. Check his twitter to find out more about what he's working on for us at http://twitter.com/parkerspace
As to Red Hulk's identity, inquiring minds will want to check out Incredible Hulk #600 for more clues!
Au Bon Plain asks:
Hey Joe! So with the Hood showing up in Marvel Zombies 4 and in New Avengers recently, he's got me interested. I don't think I've ever seen the Hood so bad-ass! I mean, he's got the power of Dormammu behind him! I cant wait for the Hood/Punisher showdown! What are the plans for him?
#2 INTERIOR ART
#2 INTERIOR ART
Not only is Parker Robbins hunting the undead in Marvel Zombies 4 (brought to you by the acclaimed Marvel Zombies 3 creative team of Fred Van Lente and Kev Walker) but he's also trying to juggle his crazy work life with his even crazier private life in Dark Reign: The Hood (cooked up by Jeff Parker and original Hood artist Kyle Hotz). And don't miss a short and definitely not sweet appearance of The Hood in Dark Reign: The Cabal (by Rick Remender and Max Fiumara). I've got a preview of Parker's book right here:
THE HOOD #1
THE HOOD #1
THE HOOD #1
THE HOOD #1
The Hood also plays a huge role in the first year of Punisher. He's the one who's got the most to lose from Frank Castle's campaign against the underworld, and he's got some sick tricks up his sleeves to take the fight to the Punisher on both a physical and psychological level.
Steven Ghost asks:
Will the New Avengers have a role in the Utopia crossover, since Wolverine is a member of that team as well?
They'll be watching it from afar on television.
Cinema Scream asks:
Joe! So I've noticed that all the covers for Secret Warriors line up and make one awesome stretchlike poster that's reminiscent of the Jim Steranko covers of days past. Is the cover treatment for this book going to stay like that, or is it going to change? Any chance of a Steranko homage variant as well? Thanks!
The cover treatment of Secret Warriors is going to remain in place, but we won't continue to link all of the coves after issue #6. And I think for the moment we're going to shy away from doing homages to Steranko or any of the other great Nick Fury artists of the past, and instead continue to chart our own course.
USB Poort says:
Joe, lets talk about X-Men Legacy for a little bit. So the Professor Xavier show was cool for a while, but now it seems to be lingering a bit. I love seeing Gambit and Rogue back, but I'd love to see them mingle with the San Franciscans. Do we think they'll show up during the upcoming Uncanny crossover?
You're in luck, USB Poort. As you'll see in the July solicits, Rogue, Gambit and Danger are headed to San Fran and joining in on the Utopia action. That will lead into the new direction that Legacy is taking starting right after the crossover!
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