SDCC 2010: Marvel & Indie Scene Re-Team for STRANGE TALES II

Marvel Goes Indie for STRANGE TALES II

Last fall, Strange Tales provided Marvel Comics readers with some things they genuinely never thought they’d see. Like Tony Millionaire, he of the joyously obscene Maakies comic strip, writing and illustrating an Iron Man story. Or Usagi Yojimbo creator Stan Sakai placing the Hulk in feudal Japan. Or perpetually filthy cartoonist Johnny Ryan drawing Namor the Sub-Mariner with breast implants. (Really, that happened!) Given all that, who wouldn’t want to give it another go? So that’s exactly what Marvel is doing with the three-issue Strange Tales II, starting in October and announced Thursday afternoon at the publisher's "Mondo Marvel" panel at Comic-Con International: San Diego. Here’s the talent roster announced thus far: Alex Robinson, Dash Shaw, David Heatley, Dean Haspiel, Edu Medeiros, Farel Dalrymple, Frank Santoro, Gene Yang, Gilbert Hernandez, Harvey Pekar, Jaime Hernandez, Jeff Lemire, Jeffrey Brown, Jhonen Vasquez, Jillian Tamaki, Jon Vermilyea, Kate Beaton, Kevin Huizenga, Nick Gurewitch, Paul Hornschemeier, Paul Maybury, Rafael Grampa, Shannon Wheeler, Terry Moore, Tim Hamilton and Tony Millionaire. And nope, that’s not all.

Strange Tales editor Jody LeHeup is the man in charge of the series, and Newsarama talked to him via e-mail for more information on Strange Tales II and learn what it’s like working with that kind of lineup.

Newsarama: As cool as the original Strange Tales was, it didn't seem like such a smash hit that a follow-up would be a given. What was behind the decision to do another one? Was it just too fun not to?

Jody LeHeup: The truth is that the book sold very well for what it was. So thanks to a great book, strong word of mouth and the support of our guys on the website and marketing side, we’re putting out another volume.

Nrama: Format-wise, are we looking at the same concept — essentially two to eight-page stories, and a mix of funny with more poignant/serious segments sprinkled in?

LeHeup: Yes. I think the format works really well and we’ll be continuing to use it for Vol. 2. Short-form stories are a lot of fun and they help us to showcase more creators than we would otherwise be able to.

Nrama: It also appears there's quite a few names — Jeffrey Brown, Jhonen Vasquez, Dash Shaw, Tony Millionaire — that are back for this volume. Were these people you knew you had to bring back for round two? Or were they especially eager to contribute again — or maybe both?

LeHeup: Towards the end of volume 1, I knew we were going to do a volume 2 and these creators had either expressed a strong desire or we had actually discussed what another story from them might be like so I included them in Vol. 2. I think it’s nice to have a few guys make return appearances. But yeah, most of the stories in Vol. 2 will be from creators new to Strange Tales.

Nrama: When going into a project like this, with such a diverse roster of contributors, is there consideration given at all to "this person's take on a Marvel character would be especially unique and interesting to see," or is it more "this person rules, we have to get them to be a part of Strange Tales"?

LeHeup: Oh yeah. Absolutely. Both of those things. They’re the same aren’t they?

Nrama: What can you tell us thus far about especially enticing creator/character match-ups, to start getting readers excited?

LeHeup: Sure! Just to name a few of the top of my head we’ve got Wolverine and Deadpool by Rafael Grampa, Captain America by Shannon Wheeler, Space Phantom by Jaime Hernandez, Spider-Man by Paul Maybury, Thor by Tony Millionaire, Dazzler by Jillian Tamaki, Silver Surfer by Frank Santoro, the Fantastic Four by Alex Robinson, Iron Man by Gilberto Hernandez, the Fabulous Frog Man by Gene Yang … the list goes on and on.

Nrama: One name that's gonna get some attention is Jeff Lemire, in part because of his newly minted status as DC exclusive — obviously this was done before that deal. What can you tell about his Strange Tales piece?

LeHeup: You know, believe it or not I can’t actually talk about Jeff’s story without spoiling it. I can tell you though that it’s wonderful and fans of his work won’t want to miss it.

Nrama: How often does an indie creator on a Strange Tales piece surprise you with just how uniquely suited they are for Marvel characters?

LeHeup: They are all good fits for Marvel characters. We knew out of the gate that the stories were going to be wonderful. I mean, if you give great creators great characters, more often than not you’re going to get a great story. And that’s what’s happened with this series.

Nrama: Any chance of a creator involved with Strange Tales moving on to more work, like possibly a miniseries?

LeHeup: Several of them already have. Becky Cloonan, Michael Kupperman, Paul Pope, Terry Moore, Tim Hamilton, Farel Dalrymple, James Kochalka, Paul Hornschemeier, Jacob Chabot and Corey Lewis have all done work or upcoming work at Marvel outside of Strange Tales. Mostly it’s been in a short form capacity but a few of those creators have worked on mini-series. The styles of the Strange Tales creators are very project specific for the most part so it’s really a matter of finding the right home for them. That said, I and many of my colleagues in editorial are always on the lookout for stories they could be a good fit for.

Nrama: Which creators remain on your wishlist for a possible Strange Tales III?

LeHeup: I have a very long list and plenty of ideas for who would make a great addition to the lineup. There are so many extraordinarily talented creators out there. Hopefully we get a volume 3 so we can do our part to showcase them.

Which creator are you most excited about for STRANGE TALES 2?

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