Since it was announced at Wizard World Philadelphia, fans have been eagerly anticipating news of the writers and artists that would be delivering “Amazing Spider-Man” to stores three times a month.
Saturday afternoon at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Marvel announced that it is bringing in some of its top talent to ensure this new “Amazing” initiative is a winner. The writing team for this book will consist of Dan Slott, Zeb Wells, Marc Guggenheim, and Bob Gale. Artwork will be done by Phil Jimenez, Steve McNiven, Salvador LaRoca and Chris Bachalo.
Overseeing these individuals, and the book itself, is Editor Stephen Wacker. Despite his extremely busy schedule, CBR News was able to catch up with Wacker to get the details on how these creators became involved in this project, how a thrice-monthly book is possible, and a few hints about the first story arc.
Steve, the line-up that’s been announced is fantastic – it’s like an all-star team of creators! Any tales on how this line-up was chosen? Was there any concern about putting Marvel’s most talented eggs all in the same basket?
Most of it was done in the back alley, deal-making room in the rear of Marvel HQ. Aside from Slott and Phil, I had not worked with any of these creators before, so I went into it not even knowing who would be available and who would be completely off the table.
On the writer side, we brainstormed a long time on who we thought would work well together, and who could deliver scripts at such a rapid pace. We found four guys who have been terrific about sharing ideas and keeping focused on making every issue feel thick with story.
On the art side, I knew right from the beginning I wanted McNiven to kick things off, if possible. Obviously his profile was high coming out of “Civil War,” but I also just think this cat can flat out draw.
Phil was also coming off of some high profile assignments at DC, so he was a good catch on that angle, but he also brings so much humanity to the characters and story he draws, which I think is an essential ingredient of great Spidey stories. It has to smell like New York City on the page, and Phil is an ace at that (that’s not to say that he smells like New York – his stench is more Hoboken).
Salvador is a long time X-artist and I was thrilled that that office was willing to share him. He is an artist who is constantly looking to reinvent himself and try different styles, and he has floored me with his enthusiasm and energy. He’s fearless on the page and will surprise a lot of people with the new techniques he is showing up with.
Chris was the last person to sign up and might be the person I’m personally most intimidated by because I hold him up on the pedestal of “artists I’ve admired from afar.” He has inspired a lot of modern comic book storytelling techniques with his intricately designed pages and lush character work. Chris is the kind of artist who I think can get taken for granted by fans when they’re seeing his work every month, and I think fans are going to be surprised to see him on Spidey, a character where his style is really at home.
Were any of the writers or artists hesitant due to having to coordinate their stories with others?
If they were, they wisely kept their mouths shut. This kind of writing situation isn’t for everyone, and it’s still a somewhat rare idea in comics to have a room full of talented people giving away ideas that someone else may cash in. I guess it’s more of the way things are done on television. You definitely need to check any ego at the door and remember that, as Tom Brevoort often says, the only thing that matters is the comic.
Mr. Brevoort is a wise man. What will the schedule be like with the writers and artists? Are they each switching every issue or every arc?
What we did is lay out over a year of a basic story map so that we have a direction for every issue and know where we need to go. This gave us a strong spine where we can hang a lot of stories. Each team comes in for an entire story arc (however long that may be) moving the subplots along as well as telling their entire tale. The arcs will rotate between both writers and artists with a lot of mix and matching. We start with Slott/McNiven, but Slott is working with another artist on his second story arc.
Do you have a sense yet of the strengths and weaknesses of each “team” member yet, or are you all still feeling one another out?
There’s still some feeling out. Every member of the team works very differently, and you want to be sensitive to that while trying to convince some to stretch and try new things if it’ll help the story. For example, a lot of artists only like working with a full script, but not every writer likes working that way, so you experiment and find maybe an expanded plot style that reads more like a script, but with room to maneuver in dialogue. It’s different every day, so flexibility is a must.
That makes sense. Of the artists you’ve selected, well, let’s just say some have had issues in the past with publishing deadlines. Was there concern about assigning these artists to a monthly book?
I’m not sure exactly what you’re referring to, but we’ve planned far enough ahead that with some luck this won’t be a problem (plus there are more artist announcements to come as we get closer too). I do know that each of the team has been working like mad and no one has disappeared or anything like that. For the record, Salvador was the first one done with an entire issue. He’s all man!
As the editor of “52,” you’ve proven yourself more than capable of running a weekly book. Do you see the challenges of editing “Amazing” to be similar to “52,” or is it a completely different ballgame? What is the biggest challenge for you of a book like this?
For the record, I published a little over half of a weekly book, so my strength may be just in planning one. Everything about this is different, from the chemistry of the people involved to the way things get handled internally at Marvel. I suppose I bring the perspective that there are some things you have to sacrifice when you want a book to come out every week, and that there are some fights that are worth having and some that aren’t. I know that there’s nothing scarier than an issue of “Previews” coming out and you realize that you just ate through a third of the books you have done … and now you need to make three more in four weeks!
While you have a cool job, I don’t envy you. So how do you see the coordination of the stories taking place between all the writers and the artists? Lots of e-mails, conference calls, or telepathic mind-melds; or are you the overlord and all communication runs through you?
A nice stew of everything you’ve said. We have our conference calls, we have our e-mails, we have situations where one of the creators isn’t comfortable mentioning a problem to another creator and the editorial team has to step in to mediate. It can get dramatic, but that’s because people care about every line on that page and I’d rather they care too much than too little.
Agreed. How did you get Bob Gale to come back to comics? I loved his “Daredevil” arc and I’ve been eagerly awaiting more comic book work from him. Did you approach him, or did he come to you? And will we be seeing any other Marvel work from him in the future?
Quesada invited Gale since they go back to the “Daredevil” days. Originally, Bob was just invited to the retreat as a sounding board – someone to bounce ideas off of at the retreat. At some point, Bob became engaged with what we were cooking up and offered to write a few issues. It was that simple.
As for more Marvel work, I hope not – I need as many Spidey scripts as I can get.
With so many folks “waiting for the trade” nowadays, how do you feel these issues of “Amazing” will read in trade format considering the writer/artist team swaps? And do you have any idea what the trade schedule will be? With six issues of “Amazing” coming out every two months, you technically could have a bimonthly trade.
I tend not to worry about the collections too much when planning this stuff out, though I know a lot of people around me do. I like planning a story and pulling it apart, so if we have to start making story decisions based on the math of collection page counts, I think you’d see a real loss of surprise and excitement. Marvel has a crew of very smart people in their collections department starting with Jeff Youngquist and Jennifer Grunwald, so they can work out the hard stuff. My job is to make sure they have storied that are worth collecting; they can figure out the rest.
Dan Slott and Phil Jimenez previously worked together on the FCBD (Free Comic Book Day) Spider-Man story. In light of the fact that they are now part of Spidey’s ongoing creative team, should fans look at the FCBD story as “in continuity”? Was it taking place post-“One More Day”?
How can that story take place post-“One More Day” if Aunt May was in it?
Any hints on what the first arc will be about?
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