Strange days indeed! At today's Mondo Marvel panel at the San Diego Comic-Con, Marvel officially announced the October launch Strange Tales II. Like the original Strange Tales anthology, the sequel will be three giant-sized issues' worth of alternative, underground, indie, and web cartoonists putting their stamp on Marvel's characters. The line-up this time around includes Alex Robinson, Dash Shaw, David Heatley, Dean Haspiel, Edu Medeiros, Farel Dalrymple, Frank Santoro, Gene Yang, Gilbert Hernandez, Harvey Pekar, Jaime Hernandez, Jeff Lemire, Jeffrey Brown, Jhonen Vasquez, Jillian Tamaki, Jon Vermilyea, Kate Beaton, Nick Gurewitch, Paul Hornschemeier, Paul Maybury, Rafael Grampa (that's his cover above), Shannon Wheeler, Terry Moore, Tim Hamilton, Tony Millionaire, and the proverbial "and more."
UPDATE: Just added to the roster: Benjamin Marra, Sheldon Vella, and Ty Templeton. Dang!
The project has been rumored pretty much since the first issue of Strange Tales I hit stands, with many of its contributors enthusiastically leaking news of its creation and posting images on their websites. Heck, Santoro even scanned his Spider-Man-branded paycheck for his Silver Surfer contribution.
Over at Marvel.com I interviewed editor Jody LeHeup about the project. [UPDATE: Link added. Thanks, Ben Morse!] LeHeup gives the scoop on a few of the first volume's more controversial pieces from Jim Rugg, Brian Maruca, Max Cannon, and Peter Bagge, and in my favorite part of the interview he talks about the book's impact on traditional Marvel readers:
Actually I’ve read several responses from fans of Marvel comics who weren’t necessarily fans of “indie” comics that really got a lot out of the book. So much so that some wonder why we don’t have more stories like this as backups in our more traditional issues. And many have expressed a desire to check out more works by the creators in question. So while I doubt we were successful in broadening the horizons of every Marvel fan, the answer is a definite yes, and in my mind, that makes this book a win.
Please put me on the record as a vote for altcomix backups in mainstream Marvel books. "Avengers, by Brian Michael Bendis, John Romita Jr., and Gilbert Hernandez"? Sure, I'll eat it!