Collecting the cataclysmic struggle between adorable Skrulls and childlike versions of Marvel's greatest heroes, the second digest of Chris Giarrusso's "Mini Marvels" appeared on the scene earlier this month. Giarrusso's strips, which first appeared in the now-defunct Bullpen Bulletins column and continued as backup features in various Marvel titles, offer a humorous take on characters like the Hulk, Wolverine, Iron Man, and Spider-Man. CBR News caught up with the cartoonist to discuss the latest collection, "Mini Marvels: Secret Invasion."
Unlike the first volume, which was completely written by Giarrusso, this volume has Mini Marvel stories by different writer, including 'Civil Wards' by Marc Sumerak, a Spidey story by Sean McKeever, some Hulk stories by Paul Tobin, as well as the fan favorite Hulk Red Green & Blue strips written by Audrey Loeb. But there's plenty of room left Giarrusso-penned tales, including the third and final installment of the Mini Marvels' "World War Hulk" story, a Skrull story, and the historical first meeting of Hawkeye and Galactus.
Giarrusso enjoyed the opportunity to work with other writers. "It's great! It's different than writing my own stuff because I don't have to stress about coming up with the story," he told CBR. "I can just get right to the drawing."
As to how "Mini Marvels: Secret Invasion" fits into the big picture of Marvel's recent Skrull event, Giarrusso joked, "It has the words 'Secret Invasion' in the title to trick people into buying it."
Howeverm like with most Marvel titles of the last several months, there was in fact a bit of crossover with Secret Invasion. "Actually, I did do a 16-page story featuring the Skrulls, but it's not a parody of the 'real' Secret Invasion. It's more of a Mini Marvels story of the Skrulls' first visit to earth, as well as the origin of the Super Skrull."
Whereas earlier Mini Marvels strips were often limited to a series of panels or a few pages, this volume sees Giarrusso working with stories of varying length, up to 16 pages in the Skrull story. The cartoonist said there are advantages to each type of strip, shorter and longer. "I prefer the longer stories because they are still essentially built around a single idea, the same as a single page. With a longer story, you can get more mileage out of one idea, but with a single page, I often have to abandon the idea before I get a chance to flesh it out, and it feels like wasted potential. But it's certainly a lot faster to draw a single page than it is to draw a longer story."
Given that funny superhero strips are a bit of a rarity, the creation of Mini Marvels itself may be a bit surprising. Giarrusso said getting the cartoons published was completely the luck of being in the right place at the right time. "The editor of the Bullpen column thought a strip would be a good way to 'fill space,' and all of a sudden I had a weekly strip," the cartoonist said. "Eventually that strip was cancelled and I was out of work for a few years. Then Nate Cosby, my current editor, approached me about doing new Mini Marvels back-up material because he thought it was fun stuff, and he saw it as a way to expand the type of material that Marvel published. Now there's actually quite a bit of humor stuff from Marvel, like Chris Eliopoulos's 'Franklin Richards' books and the new 'Super Hero Squad' strips that folks have been enjoying."
Asked what, exactly, is funny about the Marvel Universe, Giarrusso replied, "It's full of absurd characters and situations and is ripe for satirization -- just like real life."
In addition to "Mini Marvels," Giarrusso's "G-Man" will also be making a comeback soon at Image Comics. "With 'Super Hero Squad' now taking the comic strip forefront at Marvel, 'G-Man' is where I'll be focusing all of my attention in the foreseeable future," the cartoonist said. The first volume, collecting the "G-Man" one-shot and backup strips from "Savage Dragon," goes on sale May 20. Giarrusso is also working on a follow-up miniseries titled "G-Man: Cape Crisis," also through Image.
"Mini Marvels: Secret Invasion" is on sale now.