It’s the last day of this year’s Emerald City Comicon, and “Darth Vader” writer Kieron Gillen, “Princess Leia” artist Terry Dodson, “Silk” artist Stacey Lee, “Spider-Gwen” artist Robbi Rodriguez, Marvel VP of International Business Development C.B. Cebulski and Marvel Executive Editor Mike Marts were all on hand for Marvel’s final panel of the convention, “Marvel: Next Big Thing.”
In lieu of a presentation, the panelists opened things up to audience Q&A from the start. A fan asked about Angela’s relationship with Sera, praising the depiction and asked what Gillen saw in the character to take her in this direction. “Sera is a group effort,” Gillen answered, praising “Angela: Asgard’s Assassin” series collaborators Marguerite Bennett and Phil Jimenez. “Love of any kind is hard for her,” Gillen said of Angela.
Chance for a “Star Wars”/”Guardians of the Galaxy” crossover? “The Marvel Universe and the Star Wars Universe have existed independently for so long and so successfully, the plan for now is to keep them separate,” Marts replied.
Is it limiting at all to tell “Star Wars” stories between Episode IV and V? “No,” Gillen said. “I always write with an end in mind. Even ‘Uncanny X-Men.’ I know these larger structures — what’s the most interesting thing to happen between A and B? It’s less of a limitation and more of an opportunity.”
Dodson agreed. “We know it’s a fairly narrow scope, we’re not trying to fill the whole gap in,” he said of “Princess Leia,” adding that the title character has a lot of potential to explore further. “You never know exactly how much time has passed,” Cebulski said of the gap between “A New Hope” and “Empire Strikes Back,” as opposed to the period between “Empire Strikes Back” and “Return of the Jedi.”
A fan asked about how much of a priority diversity is currently at Marvel, and heading into “Secret Wars” and beyond. Cebulski said that from its earliest days, Marvel was, as has been famously said, meant to reflect the world outside your window. “The diversity in the comics is reflection of the diversity of the creators,” Cebulski said.
The next person up at the microphone asked Rodriguez, Lee and Gillen about fan reactions to their work. Rodriguez said the “Spider-Gwen” experience has been “very surreal.” “I discovered Tumblr based on it,” he said. Lee talked about the reaction to Silk, saying people were at first “very afraid” in hearing about the series, but have since been supportive. “I think people have been very positive. It did end up being very liberating.” Gillen said worrying about what other people think is “self-destructive,” which makes the work worse.
Marts told a fan that Marvel didn’t want the “Gamora” ongoing series to be lost in the “Secret Wars” shuffle, but it’ll be coming after the event wraps.
When speaking of other current work by the panelists, Gillen said he has a “Secret Wars” book that hasn’t been announced yet.
A fan pointed out that Marvel doesn’t really have a “house style” currently for artists, and Cebulski said that’s a deliberate effort. “Axel Alonso is great at encouraging us to look for the best possible talent out there,” Marts said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean the artist is going to fit that traditional superhero style.”
Marts teased something “very big” coming for the relationship between Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde at the end of “Black Vortex.”
Cebulski told the panel that as a kid, “Star Wars” first arc series artist John Cassaday drew a comic with what he guessed might happen after “Star Wars,” pre-“Empire Strikes Back.”
Lee told a “Silk” reader that the title character’s relationship with Peter Parker “is definitely going to change.”
A fan asked why the “Star Wars” comics are under the Marvel banner, not a separate imprint. Cebulski pointed out that the first “Star Wars” comics were published by Marvel, so it was a “natural fit” to do it again. “It really was just a marketing decision that worked well for both [Marvel and Lucasfilm].”
Cebulski said that next month’s Star Wars Celebration event will include announcements of new Marvel Star Wars comics.
Next question asked the artists on the panel about the collaborative process. “[‘Silk’ series writer Robbie Thompson] is pretty collaborative,” Lee said. Even when working from a full script, “Where you go artistically is pretty much up to you.” Rodriguez said that he, “Spider-Gwen” writer Jason Latour and colorist Rico Renzi all work closely together. Dodson said that for “Princess Leia,” it’s a bit different than other projects, due to the involvement of Lucasfilm.
“With artists, generally it’s not the what happens, it’s how it happens,” Gillen said as the panel concluded.
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