Saturday, March 26, 2005

Spotlight on Marvel's 'Next' wave devotes a special section to the Marvel Next initiative, talking with editor in chief Joe Quesada and the writers of eight of the books about "the next wave of new Marvel characters and ideas that are going to set the comic book world on its ear."

Quesada, on why readers should give the titles a try: "... Look, has your ol' pal Joey Q ever steered you wrong? We're on one of the greatest creative rolls at Marvel since the early sixties. We've got new projects and characters coming out of the halls of "The House" that you just don't want to miss. Ten years from now, folks will be looking back and kicking themselves because they can't afford to buy these issues from back issue bins, so don't miss out!"

Brian K. Vaughan, on Runaways: "Our original series was a critical success and it has a lot of rabid fans, but individual issues never quite lit up the sales charts -- though it did sell about as well as Y: The Last Man, which is considered a 'hit,' so I guess everything's relative. But the reason we're making a triumphant return is definitely the success of the digests. Obviously, Marvel isn't running a vanity press, and they never would have let me bring back these characters if the digest collections hadn't done so astoundingly well for them. Runaways has an incredibly loyal fanbase of young people -- especially young women, many of whom discovered these collections in bookstores."

Allan Heinberg, on Young Avengers: "Avengers fans are hardcore and that continuity is so complicated. It just came off a long period of Kurt Busiek writing the book and doing an incredible job cleaning up continuity, which was important to everyone involved and reading the book. I want to respect that, but I also want people who have never picked up an Avengers book before to follow the book."

Marc Sumerak, on Machine Teen: "I don't think comics have necessarily neglected teen drama over the years -- there are plenty of great books, even in mainstream comics, that have very skillfully approached important teen issues and relationships. But even so, those themes have always tended to be the B-story running alongside the superhero stuff. Seeing how prevalent teen drama is in today's mainstream media, it's about time that those B-stories started coming to the forefront in comics as well. Drama is drama, whether you're wearing wear a cape or a pair of khakis. As Marvel has proven over the years, a character's personal life can be far more interesting than their superhero one."

Mike Carey, on Spellbinders: "Only once in my career to date have I been told 'there's a promotional budget for this project,' and it wasn't on a comic book.

"... Ironically, promotion tends to flow in the direction where it's least needed - towards high profile projects with top flight creators where word of mouth alone would seem to guarantee success. Sometimes -- just occasionally -- you get the big push behind a small project, making a difference. It doesn't seem to be anything you can influence yourself, though: it's a mysterious and little understood phenomenon, like spontaneous combustion."

(Carey also mentions that he's working on another book with Sonny Liew and Marc Hempel, his collaborators on My Faith in Frankie.)

Adam Warren, on Livewires: "... The problem is, even if Livewires or any other Marvel Next book were to possibly appeal to some minor element of the vast manga readership, it would presumably do so as a trade paperback compilation of a miniseries or story arc, appearing on the bookshelves somewhere near the scads of manga. I just can't see the typical manga reader suddenly bailing over to the comics store to pick up individual issues of any comic ... or 'pamphlets,' as some publishers have begun to refer to individual issues.

"... But even if a Marvel Next (or any other) book were to have success as a TPB compilation, it's all too likely that the title would've been already been choked off by low direct-market sales for its individual issues. So, a book first has to survive with decent issue sales in the direct market before it can have any hope to thrive elsewhere ... which is what I hope Livewires will do. Hey, it ain't like this is a particularly abstruse or hyperspecialized title, chock full o', say, effeminate pretty boy-on-pretty boy action ... not that there's anything wrong with that, shoujo and YAOI fans. It's a high-speed story about high-tech mecha indulging in high-test mayhem and adventure, leavened with heaping helpings o' humor, characterization and spectacle. Not like all that's necessarily out of line with the general preferences of the direct market, though, as I mentioned before, maybe the lack of capes and masks may prove fatal. Oh frickin' well."

Fiona Avery, on Arana: The Heart of the Spider
Fred Van Lente, on Amazing Fantasy
Craig Kyle, on X-23