Neil Gaiman left a big mark on the Marvel Universe with "Marvel 1602," his 2003 limited series with artist Andy Kubert that reimagined the company's heroes and villains for the titular year. However, as Marvel CCO Joe Quesada revealed in a post on his personal Tumblr, that wasn't the first project the publisher approached the acclaimed writer with.
The post, spotted by ComicBook.com, details then-Editor-in-Chief Quesada's initial attempt to bring the author, known in the comic book world for his work on DC's "Sandman," over to the House of Ideas. Quesada wanted to collaborate with Gaiman on an X-Men story, one Gaiman would write and Quesada would draw.
In an attempt to convince the writer to join the project, Quesada illustrated a three-page vignette and had it inked by Danny Miki as well as colored and lettered. While the finished version of this vignette has been lost, Quesada noted, the original pencils and inks still exist and can be seen below, along with the artist's rundown of the script.
Wolverine addresses Neil directly. He points out how blank the panels are and how empty his world is and that Neil needs to stop dawdling and get to work because those panels aren't going to fill themselves. Wolvie continues harassing Neil, goes to light his cigar, realizes it's a nasty habit and that there's no smoking in Marvel Comics and stomps it out. He then holds up a Marvel Comic, makes references to the Editor in Chief being a big loser, unwraps his hands, pops the claws and then says something snarky as he leaves the scene.
Timing didn't work out for the project, but Gaiman did come to Marvel for "1602," creating an alternate take on the MU that is still referenced and used to this day (most recently in the "Secret Wars" series "1602: Witch Hunter Angela").