Marvel Press Conference 12/08/05: Everything Ellis

width="80" height="121" alt="" align="right" border="0">Today, Marvel Comics held another phone conference with comic book press today, which featured a rare appearance by writer Warren Ellis. Also in attendance were John Dokes, Jim McCann and Nick Lowe.

Early comments from Marvel, while waiting for Warren Ellis, included comments against illegal downloading of comic books, something cited as "evil," and some humorous comments from Marvel staff and reporters, as Warren Ellis came in and out of the conference, prompting Marvel staff to joke about Ellis really being an amalgamation of writers (and no, he's not REALLY Brian Bendis). Additionally, it was revealed that "Marvel Zombies" is selling at "Ultimate Fantastic Four" numbers right now, making it another big seller for Marvel.

Marvel will be launching a line of digital comics, aimed at bringing attention to titles the company wishes to promote. The first of these will be "Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1," which will be available at Marvel. Com, "initially" with no cost. This does not mean Marvel is starting a digital line of comics, or launching them online in a way to coincide with the in-store releases.

When Ellis did come on the line, he re-introduced press to "Nextwave" and "Ultimate Extinction," the latter of which he never intended to write, as he revealed it was meant for Mark Millar, but he's now doing it, "for the children." "People get kicked, things explode - this is what they want. What more do you need to know," said Ellis of "Nextwave." He also said he want to keep stories as compact and simple as possible, to entice readers. Look for two-issue arcs.

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"On Sunday I killed someone, and when I left the church, I carved 'Nextwave' into his chest. I hope the papers pick up on that," said Ellis of promotion for the book.

The series will also feature more obscure, silly villains, such as the Mindless Ones, from an old "Dr. Strange" comic, and c-list villains such as Fin Fang Foom. How does he find these characters? Ellis said that an old editor photocopied and sent him an entire run of the "Marvel Universe Handbook." "It's like the Bible had been assembled by five members of the lunatic asylum," said Ellis of some of Marvel's more "colorful" characters. He said the "Nextwave" characters will be in their own sort of universe, but Ellis won't drag in Marvel history, for fear of "ruining" it. There also won't likely be crossovers with other books, as Ellis compared it to DC Comics' Eighties crossovers, where "Sgt Rock and Blue Devil shared a panel together."

In "Ultimate Extinction," Ellis paid his respects to Lee & Kirby, saying he isn't trying to reinvent Galactus or Silver Surfer, as they were a product of their time, and in "UE," Silver Surfer won't even be named as such. Galactus will also be very different from what you've seen, with Ellis calling it "the complete opposite direction."

Ellis compared "Nextwave" to "Authority," in that he's updating lower level characters for a broader audience, making it a fresh read for old and new fans. He recommends the series to fans of "Authority" and "Planetary," and perhaps even fans of the comedy in "Transmetropolitan."

Ellis's new project has a working title of "Newuniversal," and it involves, as you might imagine, the New Universe."I'm going to be doing many terrible things with the old New Universe books - clean stuff, as if the books had never been published before, so I won't be beholden to any of the older work," said Ellis, who will essentially be rebooting the universe. The month before the release of "Newuniversal," Marvel Comics will release five one-shots, "The Untold Tales Of The New Universe," including "Starbrand," "Nightmask," "Justice," "DP7," and the remaining properties, such as "Kickers, Inc," "Merc" and "Spitfire," will be featured in backups in "New Avengers" and "Amazing Fantasy." In "Newuniversal," it will function as a huge ensemble story, with all the characters' stories being told in one series.

The sci-fi nature of the New Universe appealed to Ellis, as does the fact that the universe has been untouched for so long. He'll be using old characters and old names, mixing it with some of his own ideas. To those who are skeptical of the series, Ellis compared the failure of New Universe to that of "Battlestar Galactica," with the potential being there to remake it into something critically and commercially successful.

Expect "Newuniversal" to be launched near the end of next summer, tying in with collections of the old books. The series will likely be rated T+ and not be self contained, as Ellis said it would "roll along."

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