C.B. Cebulski Pours Cup 'O Joe @ Fan Expo Canada

Marvel Comics consultant C.B. Cebulski held court on behalf of the House of Ideas at Fan Expo Canada 2007 in a panel called "Exploring the Marvel Universe." He was joined on stage by Greg Pak ("World War Hulk," "Incredible Hulk"), who had to leave for a special showing of his award-winning film "Robot Stories" before he could speak about the upcoming "Warbound" series that was announced in Toronto on Saturday.

The always-amicable Cebulski, who serves as Talent Liaison/consultant for Marvel, opened with the following disclaimer: "There are three things I don't know. I do not know anything about the Canadian pricing of Marvel Comics. I do not know when "Ultimate Wolverine/Hulk" is coming out next and I do not know what is happening with Spider-Man, Mary Jane and the wedding."

Pak followed-up by saying, "I know all but I can only reveal so much."

The first question from the Canadian audience was, of course, "Are we going to see more 'Omega Flight?'"  

Cebulski said, "The Michael Avon Oeming- Scott Kolins series did very well in sales, much better than expected. It was only a miniseries originally but I know there are plans for some of those more successful minis that came out this year to come back next so hopefully you will see more of Omega Flight.

"And on a personal note, hopefully some more 'Loners,'" Cebulski added, referring to the "Runaways" spin-off he wrote.

In response to a fan's question, Cebulski confirmed there were no immediate plans to expand on the Marvel Mangaverse.

Cebulski loves working with the future stars of Marvel Universe while on his talent search, Chesterquest. He said the 12 finalists, all guaranteed work at Marvel in some capacity, will be announced in February 2008. "It's been interesting. There has been some talent that I have seen already who are ready for books right now," said Cebulski. "Once I finished San Diego [Comic-Con] and [Wizard World] Chicago, I brought the [samples] back to Marvel and people had a chance to look at them and there are people that they would like to hire now. So do we wait or do we hire them right now? I saw some people here in Toronto, as well, who are phenomenal already. It's an evolving process and some people might be working even earlier than what we planned."

Cebulski also hinted there may be a similar outlet coming for writers, as well.

There are no plans for fan-favorite character Ben Reilly to appear in the Spider-Man books right now, according to Cebulski. "There are lots of Ben Reilly fans out there," he said. "To be honest, from the meetings I have been in, he comes up every now and again but at this point there are no concrete plans for Ben Reilly at all, except for in the 'Ultimate Spider-Man' universe."

In response to a question from the floor, Cebulski said Marvel gets most of its pitches for "minor character" stories featuring Doctor Strange and Nick Fury. He said for writers looking to break-in, in terms of "major characters," consider heavyweights like Spider-Man or Wolverine.

"Spider-Man and Wolverine stories are always going to be a viable because they are the most popular characters and they are always a need for new stories for anthologies and specials," Cebulski said.

Cebulski loves that the classic Stan Lee/Jack Kirby creations like the Fantastic Four and Thor have landed top-grade talent like Mark Millar & Bryan Hitch and J. Michael Straczynski & Olivier Coipel, respectively. "I think it's great, as a fan of those characters, and I can see why they want to go back and do those books," said Cebulski. "Everybody has those childhood loves and to have creators of that caliber come on board the books is wonderful.

"Look back two or three years ago and who would have thought you would have JMS and Coipel on 'Thor' or Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch on 'Fantastic Four.' Now we have these bigger writers taking over bigger books and they want to take the bigger artists with them and there are only so many A-List guys to go around. It's a challenge that we love."

Cebulski continued, "Marvel had high expectations for 'Thor' but they never expected-- at least I never expected-- it to hit #1 as the best selling book of the month. Wow, Thor. Who would have thought?"

Cebulski said Marvel has learned from its mistakes and promised both the Millar/Hitch "Fantastic Four" and the Jeph Loeb/Joe Madureira "Ultimates 3" will meet deadlines.

While explaining the intricacies of the infamous Marvel retreats, Cebulski said the group of editors and creators assembled vote on major decisions that affect the universe as a whole.   As examples, he said the Peter Parker reveal in "Civil War" was a "very close" vote and that the decision to push "World War Hulk" back a year to allow "Civil War" to roll out first was also made at one of the retreats.

"There are some things coming up over the next year that were decided literally by one vote," Cebulski said. "It is a very democratic process what Marvel does."

Cebulski said Marvel has a firm timeline for the Universe in place for the next 18 months and as far ahead as four and five years on some bigger projects.

When asked about future plans for Spider-Man, Cebulski said he knew very little because "the Spider-Man offices are in complete lock-down because of 'Brand New Day' and 'One More Day,' so I can't really speak to what's going on there."

He did, however, offer one tidbit that was somewhat "astonishing." Cebulski said, "The only other thing outside of 'Brand New Day' that has been announced is the Jeph Loeb and J. Scott Campbell 'Astonishing Spider-Man' book. They are hard at work on that."

When pressed if the book was, in fact, called "Astonishing Spider-Man," Cebulski responded, "We just jokingly refer to it as 'Astonishing Spider-Man,'" and on to confirm the book is a miniseries, not an arc in one of the "Spider-Man" ongoing titles.

Cebulski said "Loners" will be featured in a 10-page story in "Holiday Special" and he hopes to have a Valentine's Day one-shot featuring Slingers, Power Pack and New Warriors as well.

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