Following on the heels of Monday's telephone press conference, Marvel held their second of three conferences this week on Tuesday, answering one of the questions posed by their teaser images released earlier this month, as well as briefly going over their plans for the X-books in anticipation of the release of "X-Men" movie sequel.
"Who is Gus Beezer?" asked an image Marvel released two Fridays before the press conference, and while the "leaky sieve" school of buzz generation ensured that comic fans found out almost immediately that it was a book by CBR alumna Gail Simone and "Zoom's Academy" artist Jason Lethcoe, it fell to editor-in-chief Joe Quesada to flesh out the details on Tuesday.
"'Gus Beezer' is one of our all-ages style books that we want to unleash on the market," Quesada told the telephonically assembled press corps from a Manhattan conference room. "Gus is a young kid who lives in the Marvel Universe. He's very immersed, like our readers, in the Marvel Universe. He knows who the heroes are ... and like many of us, imagines himself interacting with them. And every once in a while, he comes in contact with one of them."
Gus will initially be hitting the shelves in three one shots all released at once, one week in March (although the book will be rush-solicited in the next issue of Previews). As suggested by the composite teaser image, the three one shots will be "The Marvel Adventures of Gus Beezer starring Spider-Man," "The Marvel Adventures of Gus Beezer starring the Incredible Hulk" and "The Marvel Adventures of Gus Beezer starring the X-Men."
Quesada boiled the concept for the title down to its high concept form: "Imagine Calvin and Hobbes meets the Marvel Universe."
Quesada said he expects the book to do well -- calling Simone "brilliant" -- but wouldn't commit to future plans for the character at this time.
"It really depends on the market reaction to it. I don't just mean the comic book shops, but primarily the bookstores. We haven't done anything like this in a very long time," he said. "If the first few issues of Gus sell well, we will be back to press with a compilation volume within weeks."
The February Previews will also include a rush solicitation for Mini-Marvels specials set to come out in March, as well as books slated to take advantage of the May release of the second X-Men movie.
"Unfortunately, years ago, when X-Men 1 came out, we really dropped the ball," Quesada said, referring to what the film fans found when they swung by the local comic book shop to pick up X-Men comics. "What they got in the comics was something that was completely different from what was on the screen. We wanted to make sure that this time we didn't make the same mistake."
In addition to the 48 page movie adaptation by Chuck Austen and Patrick Zircher, look for photo covers on Nightcrawler and Wolverine tie-in books that serve as prequels to the film.
But beyond the movie tie-ins, the regular X-book line up will be very new-to-comics friendly when fans find their way into stores the first week of May. Both "Uncanny X-Men" and "New X-Men" will ship two issues each in April, and begin new story arcs in those issues. "Uncanny" #421-422 will feature the time versus Canadian (mostly) mutant superheroes Alpha Flight and "New X-Men" #139-140 begins a "Murder at the Mansion" mystery story. "Ultimate X-Men" will also be shipping two issues in April, with the second one marking the beginning of Brian Michael Bendis' six issue run with David Finch on art. (Who comes after Bendis? Quesada's not telling: "We know, but you'll have to find out later. It's a little too early to announce right now.")
And for sharp-eyed X-fans who noted the last name of the new film's antagonist is also the last name of the ominous fundamentalist anti-mutant preacher in the classic graphic novel, "God Loves, Man Kills" (which will be available again by the time the film hits screens), original writer Chris Claremont is intending to do a sequel to that story in the pages of "X-Treme X-Men" in May.
As for Free Comic Day, which hits a day after the film is released, Marvel will be contributing copies of "Ultimate X-Men" #1 as their new-reader-friendly X-book choice.
And finally, last year's "Marvel Encyclopedia" was a big hit last year, according to company president Bill Jemas, and this summer, fans should look for an X-Men-specific edition. And if those same fans were to look at the Marvel movie schedule for the next few years, the editor-in-chief suggested they'd also be getting a good idea of what future editions of the encyclopedia the company would be releasing.
A third press conference is scheduled for Wednesday.