Mini-MegaCon Marvel Panel: Obscure Characters, Breaking In

Mini-MegaCon Marvel Panel

Marvel had its own presence at the Mini-MegaCon, allowing fans to spend some time with some of Marvel Comics’ creators.  Present were Steve Scott, Brandon Peterson, Mike Perkins, Greg Land, Jeff Parker

Mike Perkins opened the panel by announcing he had “Perkins Packs” to hand out to all of those who asked questions during the panel.  Not to be outdone, Jeff Parker had an Agents of Atlas hardcover trade to hand out to the person with the best question.  Brandon Peterson simply held up the brown bottle from which he was drinking and confirmed that it was indeed IBC Root Beer and not simply beer, as everyone seemed to assume.

The first question from the audience was when the real Captain America was coming back.  Mike Perkins answered by simply saying that it was his belief that Captain America was coming back in the Reborn series shipping now.  However, no one on the panel was really privy to what was coming up, but the story is in the hands of Ed Brubaker, and they all agreed he could be trusted to do a good job with it.  This raised the issue of whether the upcoming movie will prompt Marvel to bring Steve Rogers back as Cap, and Perkins once again replied, saying it wouldn’t surprise him if they did bring back Steve Rogers to make him readily identifiable for the movie.

The panel then discussed their current projects.  Steve Scott is still on X-Men Forever with Chris Claremont, while Perkins is still churning out issues of The Stand.  Despite working on the comic adaptation of the novel, he still doesn’t hang out with Stephen King yet.  Jeff Parker, meanwhile, is still working on Agents of Atlas, for which he is working on some back-up stories and other things before coming out with a third series.  Currently, he is also working on The Hood mini-series with the original artist and is taking over Thunderbolts as of issue 138.  Brandon Peterson continues to do a ton of covers, but he is excited to be co-writing with Jimmy Palmiotti a Wolverine/Black Widow 5-issue mini-series.  Greg Land is still on Uncanny X-men, currently working on issue 516.

A fan then spoke up, telling the panel how much he has been enjoying the recent retro one-shots (i.e. Marvel Comics, USA Comics, etc) and wondered if there was any chance of doing continuing series for any of these characters besides the Torch.  Perkins indicated that some of the editors seem interested in doing that, but it depends on the demand from the readership.  He said he is looking forward to the Human Torch series.  Another fan asked if Marvel was planning to bring back the Invaders.  He was reminded to check out the Marvels Project, which goes back to that age, reintroducing a lot of those characters.  Parker suggested that perhaps even Submariner’s sidekick, Subby, will get his own series.  Laughing, Perkins added that he always thought Toro was a little strange.  The audience laughed even more when Parker questioned the idea of having all those prepubescent boys running around in their underwear.  

The panel was then asked when The Twelve would be finished, or if it even would be.  The reply was simply that the artist is still waiting for the script.

When asked who their favorite obscure Marvel character was, the panelists were pretty quick to respond:  

Mike Perkins – Agents of Atlas

Greg Land – 3-D Man

Brandon Peterson -  U.S. 1

Jeff Parker – God.

Mike Perkins – Deathlok and Longshot

Steve Scott – Paste Pot Pete (adding how much he loves “the hilarity factor”)

A fan in a Spongebob shirt then asked how they got started in the business, and why they were currently with Marvel. “Making paychecks,” the creators joked.  “They asked us to work for them.”  They all agreed that those  in the comics industry have different stories – it’s an industry where it’s not a standard thing. 

Greg Land was into screen-printing, while Brandon Peterson was an inking assistant.  Jeff Parker started out as an artist at Malibu, while Mike Perkins got work from Marvel UK based on a recycled page from his roommate who sent in a script with one of his sketches on the back. 

Getting into the field of comics doesn’t start with a standard interview like most jobs – many people get in thru side-media, from posting stuff online to already having published work out there elsewhere.  Steve Scott said that those on the panel got into the field during the 90’s, when it was easier to get in.  It’s all about results, not about your degree – you can either draw or tell a story or you can’t.  With an artist, it’s easier, because you can show your work, but for writers, it’s a bit more difficult, as editors don’t have the time to stop and read scripts.  It’s always better if you can show them a completed story and hope they look at it.  Sometimes, as a writer, you have to pay someone to draw your story; start off  with something short, don’t do an epic.  Also, it’s important to start off with your own ideas.  If you’re only interested in writing or drawing the big name characters, then it will raise the question as to why you don’t want to tell your own stories.  Additionally, if you are trying to go in as an artist, don’t just show figure drawings, as editors want to see whether you can visually tell a story.  Show some storyboards.  What it all boils down to is that there is no one set way to get into the industry.  Just keep working at it, talking to creators and editors, and get your work out there.

The next question certainly put the panelists on their toes – who is better to work for, DC or Marvel?  Scott started off by saying that fundamentally, there isn’t much difference.  DC’s contract is bit different from Marvel’s, but editorially, they are pretty much the same.  Marvel and DC both have good editors.  They are all professional and good to work with. 

Perkins agreed, and Peterson said there is a bit of different in the cultural aspects.  With DC, Peterson said when it comes to big decisions, there are checks and balances as it goes up through the chain of command, but at Marvel, responses can come back faster.  Perkins added that at Marvel, the work comes out very quickly, while at DC, they will stock pile, having the creators work on stuff well before it comes out.  At Marvel, the creators are working on books closer to the deadline of it hitting the shelves. 

Now, there is so much interplay, with editors from DC now working at Marvel, and editors from Marvel now at DC, that differences, if any, are minor.  Land said he’s been fortunate in his work with both companies, as he has had really great editors to work with.  Any question, you just drop them an e-mail and get a pretty quick response. 

Parker chimed in, telling the fans that his favorite editors are the ones who keep everyone in the loop when they e-mail out, so everyone is kept informed of everything.  Peterson said that some editors don’t do that because they don’t want people to make decisions without their approval.  

The creators then were asked what was their favorite project that they have worked on at Marvel.  Land said he really enjoyed doing the Ultimate Fantastic Four, particularly the story that introduced the Marvel Zombies.  For Peterson, it was his work on Spawn/Witchblade, as well as Chimera at Crossgen.  Parker said he loved doing Mysterius: The Unfathomable at Wildstorm, which was a bizarre little mini-series.   Perkins told fans that he got a kick out of working with Butch Guice and Rick Leonardi.  He loved his work on Union Jack, as it was closer to him.  Parker asked him if he would like to draw Marvel Man, and Perkins promptly replied, “YES!”  Perkins added that if sales had been higher on Union Jack, he could have gone on and on with that title. Lastly, Scott said that his favorite would be his work on Marvel Adventures Hulk, because of the meat and potatoes quality it had of the old-time layouts – one-issue stories that were fun without worrying about continuity.  He also enjoyed doing the Batman: Dark Knight adaptation, as drawing Health Ledger as the Joker was fun for him.

After a discussion about male versus female creators, which the panel generally agreed was no contest, as both genders are prevalent in the field these days, a fan asked what characters would each of the panelists like to work on that they have not yet had the opportunity to do.

Land stated he had the opportunity to do a short story of Werewolf by Night, but he would love to do an actual mini-series.

Peterson said his favorite characters are not superheroes, but he would love to do Iron Man; however, he knows that character is tied up for some time to come, so he can’t even get near him!

Parker simply said, “Dr. Strange.”

Perkins would love to take a good long crack at Wolverine.

Scott said his choice would be the Micronauts…or maybe even Paste Pot Pete.

The creators wrapped up the panel with a discussion concerning the idea of the shared universe and whether it made comics accessible to new readers who did not want to have to pick up twenty books just to understand what was happening in one title.  They said Marvel is bringing up the word “accessibility” more and more.  The creators all agreed that it is much easier to work on titles that are able to stand on their own.  Land said he had to e-mail an editor recently to ask when Professor X started walking.  Each of them admitted it becomes frustrating because solicits are done three months in advance and it’s hard to predict what is going to happen.  Covers often end up changing, and Scott said it gets very tight sometimes because he doesn’t get a script until AFTER the solicits come out.  This also explains why fans will see “posed” covers, as it makes it easier than trying to come up with an “action” cover when you don’t know what the action is going to be inside the book!

Land told the fans he did a cover recently for Uncanny X-Men with characters that he was told to use on the cover.  Marvel came back to him later and told him to take out a character, because they didn’t want to use him.  Then, just a few weeks ago, they changed it again, because the scene doesn’t occur in the book, and he only had two days to complete it!  Peterson said he had nearly the same thing happen to him right before coming to the show.  With a “shared universe,” things happen so fast, inevitably, changes have to be made based on what is happening in other books.  Therefore, the “posed” covers become necessary and useful, as they can be used for trades, for licensing, etc.

Parker added that he has even based stories on cover concepts.  He said that when creators are under exclusive contracts, Marvel has to keep them busy.  Parker said he will be asked what is going to happen two story arcs down so that covers can be created, but he’s not sure.  So he has received some cover ideas upon which he has come up with stories based on those covers!

Fans were disappointed when the panel came to a close, but with all of the creators out on the convention floor, they still had the opportunity to ask any unanswered questions before the day was over!

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