The now standard "What's your next big storyline about?" approach to interviewing wasn't created by the comics Internet. But before news sites existed, those conversations did take longer to reach the public. This weekend, one arrived after a 26-year delay.
Flying Color Comics retailer and Free Comic Book Day founder Joe Field wrote in with a curious discovery from his archives: a video interview conducted with Marvel writer and executive editor Mark Gruenwald at the 1988 Wonderful World of Comics Convention in Oakland, California, a precursor to today's WonderCon.
"Back before Flying Colors Comics opened, when I was still working for KJOY-AM Radio and doing publicity/advertising work for the convention that would become WonderCon, I did some video interviews for a local cable access TV show," Field explained. "I think we completed two episodes and didn't use any of the footage we shot in 1988 at The Wonderful World of Comics Convention."
1988 was a transition year for the House of Ideas. The company was taking a drubbing from DC after top talent like John Byrne, Marv Wolfman and George Perez jumped ship to help relaunch the distinguished competition's line. And the previous summer, Marvel had dropped controversial Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter but was still a few years off from its speculator-infused '90s rebound.
Gruenwald, of course, was the legendary writer behind classics like Squadron Supreme and a lengthy run on Captain America, as well as a longstanding editor at Marvel with a reputation for his encyclopedic knowledge of the Marvel Universe. He passed in 1996.
In the video, the writer talks about the then-recent changes to Marvel's "New Universe" line of books that had shaken things up after Shooter's removal by blowing up his home town of Pittsburgh. "They still haven't forgiven us," he joked before describing the line as "a world going strange month by month."
"I've now written the modern Captain America book longer than anyone than Stan Lee," Gruenwald said before teasing the upcoming Issue 350. "It will have been 18 issues since Steve Rogers was dismissed from being Captain America ... and it's not going to resolve in a way that anyone expects."
As we said, the playbook for comics interviews was firmly in place back then, but revisiting this example now makes for some fascinating viewing.