C.B. Cebulski, Marvel senior VP of creator & content development, headed the "Pint O' C.B." panel at Fan Expo in Toronto today, in his 14th-straight appearance at the event.
Continuing the trend of Joe Quesada's convention-staple Cup O'Joe panels, the Pint was Marvel's way of giving back to the fans and putting their burning questions about all things Marvel at the forefront.
Also at the panel were writers Matt Fraction (Fear Itself, The Mighty Thor), Jonathan Hickman (FF, S.H.I.E.L.D.Wolverine, Incredible Hulk), Fred Van Lente (Alpha Flight, Herc), Marvel director of communications Arune Singh, editor-in-chief Axel Alonso, and senior VP of brand placing Mike Pasciullo.
Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott was scheduled but MIA, unable to reach Toronto due to Hurricane Irene's appearance on the east coast. Cebulski led the crowd in a "Be safe, Dan!" cheer for the video presentation of the panel on Marvel.com.
Destroyers #1 cover.Cebulski started by announcing the project behind the cryptic "Destroy" banner, simply called Destroyers. Written by Fred Van Lente and drawn by The Hood's Kyle Hotz, the five-issue miniseries includes bruisers of the Marvel Universe like Thing, She-Hulk and a very welcome Devil Dinosaur. To Van Lente, the pitch couldn't be simpler: "Giant monsters punching each other in the face." Whatever destroyed the dinosaurs millions of years ago has come back for us, and the team will have to figure out just what happened in the last geologic catastrophe to fend off its new threat.
Cebulski professed a soft spot in his heart for Canada's Alpha Flight, and apologized that he always has bad news about them come Fan Expo, usually to the tune of "sorry, they're still dead." Today, it would seem he had the worst news of all: Alpha Flight: cancelled.
Alpha Flight #6 cover.The entire room went silent. There were no boos or groans, just a long, painful dearth of sound.
Next slide: "That's because it's now and ongoing series!" The crowd erupts. (Canadian comic book fans are apparently an easy bunch to rile up.)
The ongoing will continue under the creative team of Fred Van Lente, Greg Pak and Dale Eaglesham. Cebulski noted that the team can be a hard concept to crack. "They're the Canadian Avengers, but then what?" He credited the current creative team to their recent success.
Cebulski then opened the room to questions. A common theme was the frequent re-numbering and relaunches of comic titles over the years, especially those timed with Marvel's theatrical releases.
"We'll never be able to do multi-million dollar marketing campaigns for our comics; the movies can do that," Pasciullo explained. "They are the greatest advertisement for our comics."
At the same time, Fraction said, "If someone saw the Iron Man movie, and looked at the comics and saw Iron Man #489, that will intimidate them." The process, all agreed, was an organic one where both sides take cues from the other. Fraction notes that many of the plot and character reveals about upcoming films seen online are his first knowledge of them too, and they help turn the creative gears.
Pasciullo continued, offering the long-stated adage that every comic is somebody's first. "Obviously there are plot lines and back stories going on, but if someone is picking this up for the first time, can they figure out what's going on?" As long as a new reader could get into the story, he said, then they'll do what they can to accommodate that.
Destroyers #2 cover."We really don't want you to have a Ph.D in comics to understand what's going on during the events," Alonso said, noting that large events like Fear Itself are common jumping-on point for new or relapsed readers. "We make sure to use each character as an archetype or an easily identified role in the story so people can get it early on."
Singh responded strongly to the topic of piracy: "If you are putting up comics online, you are stealing, and that's part of the problem that comics are too expensive. You're stealing from these people sitting right here, and… you're sort of a dick."
"You're posting comics online, you're contributing to the title getting cancelled," Alonso added. He did comment on the possibilities of digital distribution of comic books, including added-value content like photos and videos you see in some digital magazines.
The panel was asked what their favorite Marvel film was in the past year. Everyone heaped praise on Captain America and Thor, the latter of which Aaron said his six-year-old son absolutely adored. "We got into an hour-long conversation about Thor, and he kept on asking, 'Is he worthy'?"
Fraction said he was "pleasantly surprised" by X-Men: First Class, in particular Michael Fassbender's Magneto. "I could watch Fassbender killing Nazis for hours. I'd watch B-roll, D-roll, L-roll of that. I could watch Fassbender sit down eating a sandwich, really."More Fan Expo coverage:
- Fan Expo News: ALPHA FLIGHT Ongoing, Brian Wood to Marvel
- Fan Expo '11: MARVEL: INCREDIBLE ULTIMATE PANEL
- Fan Expo '11: DC COMICS - THE NEW 52 Panel (JSA Returns!)
- Fan Expo '11: MARVEL: FEAR ITSELF w/ Fraction and Immonen
- Fan Expo '11: DC: FINAL FLASHPOINT FRIDAY