Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski was joined Saturday at Comic-Con International in San Diego by Rob Liefeld and Skottie Young for a no-holds-barred Q&A session on all things Marvel.
"We started this panel last year because we wanted to reflect the fact that, sometimes the line between fans and creators gets blurred," Cebulski said. "We want to take the time to celebrate comics, to celebrate Marvel, to celebrate what we love so, so much." He then introduced Liefeld and Young, praising their respective bodies of work.
Cebulski then asked his co-panelists about what got them into comics.
"For me, it was MAD Magazine," Young said. "I didn't really know what comics were back then, but I absolutely fell in love with the sequential art form. Next, it was Archie. I devoured those."
"My parents had given me Richie Rich and Casper, but in 1974, I went to the barbershop and Fred the barber had a stack of comics," Liefeld shared, highlighting an issue of Fantastic Four featuring Namor the Submariner. "I was so excited by the visuals. I was a Marvel comic book fan for the rest of my life.
"I started my fandom pretty early," Cebulski said about his own fandom. "The first Marvel Comic I read was the introduction of Alpha Flight."
Young also recalled seeing Liefeld's Youngblood #1 on the shelf as a child and being excited about the chance to start reading a story from the first issue versus the middle of an arc. Meanwhile, Liefeld recalled the early days of Image Comics.
"We kind of scaled the mountain at Marvel," Liefeld said. "That regime was really tired of us. Were a handful."
Cebulski then shared photos of the comic book posters on the walls of his childhood bedroom and his hold superhero t-shirts. He also shared a photo of Liefeld drawing a page from Hawk and Dove at the age of 19, which prompted Rob to recount how he transitioned from working for DC to working for Marvel.
Cebulski then asked when Liefeld and Young realized they weren't just comic fans but that they wanted to make comics for a living.
"I just loved drawing," Young said. "It wasn't until high school until I realized, 'I'm probably gonna need a real job.'" He also explained how he took an aptitude test and the results said he should be an illustrator.
"We were broke," Liefeld shared. "I had to get a job and I wasn't gonna be a lawyer or a doctor. I could not get out of high school fast enough to get a job and get into comics. I graduated in 1985, I was 17 years old. I would come to these shows and stand next to people that were having portfolio reviews." He recalled receiving a portfolio review of his own in 1986.
Next, Cebulski asked about meeting Stan Lee for the first time.
"For me, it was at MEGACON," Young said. "I grew up watching Stan talk to [Rob] on videos."
"The first time I met Stan, I recognized him only by his voice," Cebulski said, recalling hearing him order food. "I tried to find a picture of that day but I have a picture of my buddy with Stan."
"Some of our best memories, we agreed to host these Stan Lee How to Draw videos," Liefeld said. "Those videos are shot in 48 hours. We basically shot those nonstop for 48 hours." He then told a story of a video with Stan Lee and Bob Kane in which Kane bragged about creating Batman.
Cebulski brought up legacy next.
"My oldest son loves reading books but he's great at making movies," Young shared. "Our oldest was never really into action figures but Milo is Iron Man at least twice a week."
Liefeld then recalled meeting Jack Kirby. "He really loved my work," he said. "He is the most talented guy to ever come through comics, in my opinion. Literally, the sweetest little man with more talent than you could imagine."
To close things out, Cebulski told a story about attending Boston Comic Con. "I literally spent every dime I had, forgetting there's a toll on the way back. I had no money." However, the toll booth worker noticed a copy of X-Force #1 on Cebulski's front seat and took that as payment instead since his local comic book store was sold out.