CB Cebulski: X-Infernus, Wonderlost, Drain and All the Rest

Catching Up with CB Cebulski

C.B. Cebulski has probably attended more conventions in more countries over the last two years than any other comics creator.

And there he was again in Baltimore, greeting fans of his writing on Marvel titles like Loners and the upcoming X-Infernus series, as well as readers of his Image comics like Wonderlost and Drain. But the creator wears two hats as he finds new talent for the editorial department at Marvel Comics, and his recent Chesterquest search for new artists hasn't really ended as the editor is always keeping his eyes open and viewing portfolios.

Newsarama talked to Cebulski in Baltimore about all his upcoming projects, his talent search, and what he thought of the Bendis-Kirkman debate he moderated during the convention.

Newsarama: C.B., we've talked about how excited Dan Slott seems during this show to be about taking over Mighty Avengers. You said you've been discussing the series with him this weekend?

C.B. Cebulski: Yeah. Every year, Dan Slott, Tom Brevoort and I drive down to the show. And it's just one of those times where it's good to be out of the office, and it's the three of us together just talking about comics. And that's when I found out Dan was taking over Mighty Avengers. I was really psyched to hear it. I hadn't heard anything, really, about it yet. And the more Dan started going through the characters he was using and some of the brief line-up change and some of the stories and villains he's got lined up in his head -- not everything set -- I just got really excited, 'cause I'm an old-school Avengers fan as well. And I thought, "Wow, this is going to be amazing."

I've been loving everything Brian [Bendis] has been doing in his books. But what he's doing in Dark Avengers along with what Dan's doing in Mighty Avengers just expands the universe of the Avengers even more and makes it really exciting for the fans.

NRAMA: Let's talk about your corner of the Marvel Universe. What do you want to tell people about your upcoming four-issue mini-series, X-Infernus?

CBC: It comes out in December, and it's kind of a follow-up to Inferno. It's not as big as Inferno was -- it's not all-encompassing; it's an X-specific event. We're going to be focusing on Illyana, Pixie, Nightcrawler, Wolverine and Colossus for the most part, but all the other X-Men will be involved, as will a lot of the New Mutants and the New X-Men kids that people have been asking about that they haven't been seeing a lot.

And we're going down into Limbo and we're going to deal with what's been left over with Illyana/Magik and her soul and Belasco, and just all kinds of loose ends in the magic universe that people have been asking to be tied up. And hopefully, when we come out, the quote I've been saying is that magic with a "C" and Magik with a "K" will both be back in a big way in Marvel in the beginning of 2009.

NRAMA: Will this lead into something else for you down the road?

CBC: Hopefully. Nothing specific just yet. But Illyana will be coming back in some way, shape or form, and there's going to have to be someone to pick her reins up in the Marvel Universe. So there's been some talk about how that might happen, although nothing's been decided yet. And the ramifications will be felt in the X-books, so hopefully it will lead to some other X-projects for me. Fingers crossed.

NRAMA: Before we talk about the "indie" work you do, you moderated the Bendis-Kirkman thing. How did that happen?

CBC: That came out of nowhere! I was just sitting in the audience, waiting to watch, and Brian said, "Come up here! You've got to moderate." I said, "You don't need a moderator! Just sit there and talk!" But he was like, "No, we need an introduction. Someone to give us context, and interject and ask questions."

But once they started going, I didn't have anything to say. There were a couple things I wanted to bring up, but they were just going at each other! So I just let them go.

NRAMA: You've worked in both arenas, so what did you think of their points?

CBC: I could see where both of them were coming from having worked at both Image and Marvel. They both have valid points. And I just think that the fact that the discussion is out there and that people are talking about doing more creator-owned stuff is the best thing that's going to come out of it.

There's a balance that has to be achieved between creator-owned work and big company work, and I think this is what that's going to lead to. It's not just opening people's eyes to what they can do in creator-owned, but the difference between work-for-hire and creator-owned and how you can do both. And how the companies like Marvel and DC are open to people doing both. People have to support their families, especially with the economy the way it is now. It's a bigger concern than ever. And as long as you can keep money coming in one way and do creator-owned, I think that's the most important thing.

NRAMA: That said, let's talk about your creator-owned work. Are fans of Wonderlost going to see more of the series soon?

CBC: Yeah, we're going to see more. The stories are written. But Wonderlost is going to be changing format. We've done 64-page one-shots up until now, and the first trade collecting those comes out in January. But then early in the spring next year, we're going to be going to a 22-page monthly format. We're going to make it monthly to keep it in front of people more on a regular basis.

NRAMA: Will it be one artist or continue to feature various artists?

CBC: It will continue to be various artists. I've had similar artists on issues #1 and #2, and those people will be coming back to do short stories, but it's going to be a rotating series of artists doing stories that fit their style. And it will still have more than one story in it.

NRAMA: What about your Image series about a female vampire: Drain?

CBC: Drain #6 wrapped and the trade comes out next month. Right now, we're working on an anthology series tentatively titled, "Drain: Dark Times." But Star Wars has Dark Times, so I'm just calling it that in my head. We'll have to come up with something else. It's going to be a mix of writers and artists. There will be three eight-page stories in each issue. I'll do the lead story, and two other artists and writers will do the other two stories. We've got a good line-up for that. I can't announce anything just yet. It's a lot of the Image guys -- a lot of friends of mine. If you look around at who I associate with, you can kind of figure out who's going to be doing it.

My other Image book, Shiki, is finally going to be coming out, hopefully at the end of 2009. It's just a beautiful book. It's by Joao Lemos, who did Avengers: Fairy Tales #1 with me. He's just a meticulous artist, so it takes time. But he's in Issue #3, and we're going to do six issues to start, so hopefully you'll be seeing it before too long.

NRAMA: And you're featured in the latest issue of Creature Feature, right?

CBC: I have a story in Creature Feature called Hooters. It's about owls. [laughs]

NRAMA: Hmmmm.... not the other kind of "hooters?"

CBC: OK, it's about both kinds. [laughs] And I'm going to be doing some other stuff with Th3rd World, the publisher of Creature Feature. I'll have a Space Doubles story coming out soon, and then another story that I don't think they've announced yet. But it will be another more "superhero" type story I'll be doing for them.

NRAMA: And what's the status of your manga-inspired series for Image, Compass ?

CBC: Compass has been struggling with its schedule. But we're on track again and will re-solicit the whole series now. Apologies to the fans for the erratic shipping schedule, but we're getting it back on track.

NRAMA: And what's the latest on Chesterquest?

CBC: Ah, jeez. I'm kind of in the middle of one now. I didn't label it "Chesterquest," but I just got back from Spain, I'm here in Baltimore, I'm going to Italy in October, and then in November I'll be in Dublin, Leeds and London. That's going to be the end of it for quite awhile. It was just so successful that I had these all these little cons lined up, and I said, "OK, I'll do this again." I didn't put it under a banner and call it Chesterquest or anything, but it's kind of a continuation of the tour.

NRAMA: Can artists still send stuff in?

CBC: Oh, I definitely encourage people to send stuff in. You can find me on Facebook or Twitter or Myspace. You can submit that way or you can submit to my email address, which is cbcebulski@marvel.com. Just keep the samples coming because Marvel and DC are putting more titles out every month. We're always looking for more artists, especially as we're trying to get more shipping and working in regular arcs. Artists are working harder than ever before. And we're always looking for talented new folks.

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