“I don’t want this to be a selling panel,” said Marvel Comics editor Tom Brevoort at Sunday’s Marvel: Your Universe panel at Baltimore Comic Con. “I want this to be a talking panel.” Joined by Dan Slott, Brian Bendis, C.B. Cebulski and a crowded room of fans, the editor led an hour-long discussion of Marvel Comics -- what we love, and what we hate.
Brevoort opened with the perennial subject of company-wide events. Are there too many? Is there event fatigue? Several fans said they liked the events, but they follow too soon one after the other. There are too many books to buy. “How about some breathing room?” said one fan.
Bendis said there’s some breathing room after Secret Invasion.
Another fan complained that other books often don’t acknowledge what’s going on in the big events. Brevoort said they try to promote event participation a volunteer basis, in terms of creators. They send out a position statement on what’s going on, and the individual writers can join in to the extent they want. “You don’t want to get in the way of whatever story they’re trying to tell,” Brevoort said.
Another fan said he quit comics in the nineties because of big splash pages and lack of content, but that he’s now loving the big events because of all the story content.
The discussion turned to the reusing of old ideas, with some fans saying it occurs to often in superhero comics. Bendis countered with a story of taking his daughter to see “The Incredible Hulk” movie. “She was blown to the back of the theater!” he said. “For those of us who‘ve been reading comics all our lives, ‘Hulk Smash!’ is a simple concept and we’re all used to it, but the audience is still there that want to see that.”
On the other hand, comics can’t be stagnant. “We have to keep moving.” said Brevoort. “We can‘t just have guys punching each other for twenty pages, and then they have cake!”
“Thanks for blowing the end of ‘New Ways to Die!’” joked Slott.
A fan asked about balancing creative and business decisions, triggering a long discussion. “Well-done stories will sell!” declared Brevoort. “So we just try to find the best people who can tell the best stories and put out the best books we can.
“We’re kind of shielded from the business end,” added Cebulski.
“You can’t chase the sales,” said Bendis. “It’s a very freeing moment for you when you realize you can never make everybody happy. I just write a book I would buy. Beyond that, man, it’s out of my hands!”