The Marvel Comics convention staple usually boasts a veritable cabal of the company's talent, but late Saturday afternoon at the inaugural Long Beach Comic Con, it was just Hulk writer Jeph Loeb and Mark Paniccia, the editor on all of his current projects. Literally, that was almost it—they initially walked into the wrong room next door, and were wondering why only six people showed up to the panel, as Loeb explained to the crowd as they walked in 10 minutes later.
So rather than an expansive look at Marvel as a whole, which neither of them were exactly equipped to provide (Paniccia in particular had to answer several questions about the cosmic side of the Marvel Universe simply by saying he wasn't in that loop), it was more of an informal chat, with talk of Loeb's projects and larger industry-wise issues, such as that purchase of Marvel by Disney you've probably heard a thing or two about.
The first question, unsurprisingly: "Who is the Red Hulk?" Loeb responded by telling the fan "pretty soon you're going to want to know who Red She-Hulk is."
More Red Hulk talk concerned if the character would be around for the long haul, or only until the end of his current storyline.
"I can't tell you that without telling you what happens at the end of , but it certainly caught us by surprise—in a good way—that he sort of took off and became as popular as he is," Loeb said. "All of the storylines that we've been building towards over the last year and a half were all placed there on purpose."
The writer plugged Greg Pak's Incredible Hulk, saying "it's really terrific," and reminded the crowd about the World War Hulks: Alpha and World War Hulks: Gamma one-shots, coming out in December and leading in to .
The final bit of Hulk talk was that Loeb's daughter, Audrey Loeb, will be writing a Blue Hulk and the Pet Avengers story.
Also not surprising—questions on when Captain America: White is coming. Loeb explained, "Tim Sale is an extraordinary illustrator, and we decided that we wanted to have all six issues done before we put out the first one. It takes him a long time to do it." Continuing, "I know this is going to sound like a long time, but it will be out before the movie."
On the possibility of more "color" mini-series after White gets finished, Loeb said, "Once Cap is done, we're talking about doing something else. Current continuity is not Tim's friend. As soon as you get to a place where Gwen is dead, you've lost Tim."
Turning to the Ultimate universe, Loeb discussed the current position of mutants post-Ultimatum. "It's very much what it was to be a Jew in Germany in the 1940s." He briefly mentioned his upcoming New Ultimates with Frank Cho, saying that the relationship between that book and Ultimate Comics Avengers will be very much like the interplay between New Avengers and Dark Avengers. "Mark MIllar's book is darker," Loeb said.
Speaking at length about the Marvel sale, Loeb stated, "Speaking in a completely non-professional way, I think it's been great. From what I understand, it won't affect publishing at all. Pixar is its own little company. Marvel is its own little company. On the other side of it, you are talking about Disney, which is probably the best licensing company in the world. I think ultimately what it'll mean to you guys is that those brands will be in a lot more places.
" is produced by Disney. is probably one of the coolest shows on television. I don't know how anyone thinks it can affect these characters. They bought the library so they could exploit the library, not soften the library."
Loeb also talked about , the upcoming NBC series he's co-executive producing, saying it's an "alien invasion story that's not bug-eyed monsters."
In broader Marvel Universe news, Paniccia answered a fan making the oft-uttered complaint "it seems that everything is epic these days," with "I think that's where you get your best stories, though."
When asked about Nextwave, Loeb said "My understanding is that Joe Quesada and Warren Ellis are talking about that, but Warren's schedule is Warren's schedule."
Paniccia did talk a bit about the cosmic side of the MU, saying that in Realm of Kings readers will see "some characters you thought you'd never see again." "Rom?" Loeb asked. "I didn't say Rom," Paniccia answered. "Micronauts?" "No comment."
Any plans for the Man-Thing? Loeb said the character comes up "every time I talk to Ed McGuinness. He has the most bizarre concept of what the Marvel Universe is. He can look into the corners that you and I won't go into."
Other talk included Loeb's advice to aspiring writers ("write as often as you can, as much as you can; keep your ego in check"), the writer opining on how lucky he is to work with artists such as Arthur Adams, Frank Cho, Ed McGuinness and Ian Churchill and praise for the current Green Lantern work of Loeb's writing studio-mate, Geoff Johns saying, "I don't know if I could tell a better Green Lantern story than Geoff is telling."
The panel concluded with Loeb expressing positivity about the health of the comics industry despite trying economic times, using the convention as a microcosm.
"Tthis is a brand new convention, and it was promoted as well as those guys could do. This show will get bigger."