Tag Archives: Books

Upgrade or Downgrade? Black Orchid Deluxe hardcover

4 Dec

by Mike Hansen

Black Orchid Deluxe HCI hadn’t intended to do another Up-or-Down so soon, but I’ve gotten several requests for more, and since they’re easier to do as I’m organizing my comics and cleaning up my place, why not?

As I’ve mentioned, in the late 1980s-early 1990s DC Comics was on to something truly special. Few publishers at the time were turning out classic after classic (Dark Horse is the only one that comes to mind) and, though I was too young to appreciate it at the time, DC proved beyond a doubt that comics post-Watchmen/Maus/Dark Knight Returns were validated as true literature.

One of DC’s earliest projects to demonstrate this was 1988’s Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, one of their first U.S.-published comics works (along with The Sandman). A strange, short tale about unintended consequences and beauty in a violent world, Black Orchid was the first story to reveal the sophistication of Gaiman’s later self-contained works (his early Sandman stories were strange, cliffhanger- and superhero-populated affairs) and McKean’s sense of story-as-design he later applied to Arkham Asylum and Cages.

Black Orchid TPB 1st printing

The 1993 trade paperback (1st printing). Note the DC logo blotching an otherwise beautiful cover.

THE GOOD: The 2012 oversized Deluxe hardcover edition of Black Orchid is Continue reading

More Links Catch-Up (Walking Dead, Superman, Alan Moore, Joss Whedon, D&D, etc.)

14 Jun

by Mike Hansen

CBLDF

CBLDF (Photo credit: badlyricpolice)

Sorry about the lack of posts yesterday – I’m hammering away on some comics story proposals to pitch to publishers in the coming weeks. I’ll be sharing more info about them in the future. In the meantime, I thought you’d dig these stories:

Awesome story about a kid who asks a comics retailer, “Are you Superman?”

After moving their channel numbers, Dish Network has threatened to stop carrying AMC’s networks next month. That means no more Walking Dead and Comic Book Men (among others) for millions of people. Click here to tell Dish what you think about this.

The CBLDF gives a quick take on the mother who complained about an Alan Moore comic at a library being available for teens. (While I’d call Neonomicon one of Moore’s more “adult-oriented” comics, I’d never suggest that teenagers aren’t mature enough to handle “mature-readers” comics – after all, I happily read Elfquest, Groo, Swamp Thing, Sandman, and Hellblazer as a kid – all of which had nudity, sex, and/or “graphic” violence…)

Now that the Avengers Continue reading

Links: The Oatmeal update, Avengers, New 52, World War Z, etc.

12 Jun

by Mike Hansen

The cover of World War Z

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Matthew Inman at The Oatmeal raised his $20,000 to spite FunnyJunk in only 64 minutes. He’s now at over $117,000.

Warren Ellis explains why he’s cool with Iron Man 3 using his ideas without paying him. (At least modern creators know what they’re getting into – too bad it doesn’t help the original creators that built comics in the 1930s-1970s.)

Liked the Avengers movie? Support the Jack Kirby Museum!

Were cave dwellers the first animators? Could be.

Speaking of animation – this is the greatest comics commercial I’ve EVER SEEN:

Why can’t DC’s New 52 commercials be that good? (And why are the currently running commercials advertising the upcoming collected editions almost exactly the same as the old ones? That’s a good way to get kids to tune out.)

Speaking of the New 52, it looks like Continue reading

Free rare Neil Gaiman comic available from Steve Bissette (offer ends TONIGHT)

9 Jun

by Mike Hansen

Sweeney Todd TABOO PD cvrI’ve ordered mine. If you want it, you should order right now -

Comics legend Steve Bissette (of Tyrant, Taboo, and Swamp Thing fame) has a special offer at his online store: with every purchase (no matter how small!), he will include a free copy of the 1992 Sweeney Todd Penny Dreadful, written by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Michael Zulli, originally included in the now-very rare Taboo #6. I’ve never seen a copy of this myself, though I’ve searched for it for 20 years – so there’s no way I was going to pass this up.

Mr. Bissette asked me to spread the word about this offer, which I’m happy to do! As he posted yesterday, this offer is in its final hours – at midnight TONIGHT, unless he runs out of copies before then – so if you want a really cool and rare piece of ’90s comics history, go place an order now! There’s a lot of great stuff available, from Tyrant (one of the most acclaimed self-published series of the ’90s) to Taboo (one of the greatest horror comics series ever, containing the first chapters of From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell) to many other terrific books.

From his announcement (sample page in the link):

This genuinely rare Gaiman & Zulli gem was originally offered in 1992 as a pre-order special with all pre-ordered copies of Taboo 6. It was available only through Direct Market distributor pre-orders of that Taboo volume, shrinkwrapped with Taboo 6 all initial shipments to retailers. That was the one and only time the Penny Dreadful was made available to the market.

Since only a few thousand copies of Taboo 6 were preordered, this exclusive Penny Dreadful is among the rarest of all Neil Gaiman and Michael Zulli‘s 1990s comics/graphic novel creations. Continue reading

Fun Friday Foto: NEW 52 edition

8 Jun

by Mike Hansen

Amethyst redesign by Aaron Lopresti 2

Amethyst redesign by Aaron Lopresti

DC Comics just announced that four of its New 52 titles will be replaced.

One of those titles being cancelled is Justice League International, mostly drawn by my former art teacher Aaron Lopresti. Fortunately, DC has announced four new series to launch in September, including Sword and Sorcery (featuring Amethyst, one of DC’s best 1980s characters) drawn by Lopresti.

He posted his Amethyst character design on his Facebook page today, and since I haven’t seen any comics sites repost it, I will here:

Amethyst redesign by Aaron Lopresti

Aaron posts artwork regularly on his FB page; I highly recommend Liking it.

Reminds me of some of his best work on Wonder Woman. He talks a bit about Amethyst here.

Here’s a few deets from DC’s press release:

Timed to the one year anniversary of the launch of the historic DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 initiative, DC Comics will introduce 0 month.

In September 2012, DC Comics will release 0 issues—and we don’t mean we aren’t publishing any titles—but what we will be doing is numbering every DC COMICS-THE NEW 52 title #0.

… debuting at #0 are four new comic book series:

TALON – Co-Writers: Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV. Artist: Guillem March.

SWORD OF SORCERY – Writer: Christy Marx. Artist: Aaron Lopresti.

THE PHANTOM STRANGER – Writer: Dan DiDio. Artist: Brent Anderson.

TEAM SEVEN – Writer: Justin Jordan. Artist: Jesus Merino.

The four new series will follow with issue #1s in October and other series will resume their numbering.

More details in the link.

Have a great weekend!

ADC Q&A with Marvel’s Jeph York: Part 3 (of 3)!

1 Jun

by Mike Hansen

“Nobody works in the comics industry because they have a plan to retire and buy a yacht.”

English: Logo of Marvel Comics

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s the third part of my interview with Jeph York (Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here). In this final segment, Jeph talks about the challenges of researching over seven decades of Marvel’s “shared universe” and creating new collected editions of older Marvel comics, while offering some behind-the-scenes tidbits about the contents of some recent and upcoming books:

I’ve noticed that occasionally Marvel will make changes to its reprints from the initial publication: Ultimate X-Men reprints have removed the swearing from the early issues, and the recent Avengers Free Comic Book Day reprint recolored Spider-Woman so she’s fully clothed in scenes in which she was previously nude. Do these editorial changes ever complicate your work?

I wouldn’t say they “complicate” things, but I do have to keep them in mind. When I researched the Avengers by Geoff Johns 4-volume HC set, I had to check whether or not we could run the full version of Avengers #71, with the implied sex scene. We chose to run the censored version, to keep the book’s rating consistent with the first three volumes. And for the upcoming Marvel Firsts: the 1970s Vol. 3 TPB, we had to replace some mild cursing with “@#$%^&” symbols, because we didn’t notice them until too late – we’d already solicited the book with a lower rating, and changing it would have caused problems.

On the other hand, I imagine that the collected editions of Avengers #12.1 will keep the naked Spider-Woman, because the book’s rating already takes that kind of content into account – whereas the Free Comic Book Day version needed to be rated for kids.

Peter Palmer

“In general our mandate is to reprint a comic as it originally appeared, warts and all.” It’s ‘Peter Palmer,’ the Spectacular ‘Spiderman’!

Do you have any idea why other problematic lettering – that is, mistakes from the original comics (word balloons pointing to the wrong character, misspellings, etc.) – don’t get changed for the collected editions? (As a professional proofreader, this is one of my biggest pet peeves in comics.)

I’m not sure. My impression is, in general our mandate is to reprint a comic as it originally appeared, warts and all. I know that typos are annoying, but look back at the classic 1960s comics – in some cases, typos are part of the book’s charm! Like how Dr. Octopus called Spider-Man “Super-man” in issue #3, or how Stan Lee kept fouling up the characters’ names – Bruce Banner became Bob Banner; Peter Parker became Peter Palmer. Or, to use a more typo-like example, how Amazing Fantasy #15 didn’t use a hyphen in “Spiderman”‘s name. If we were to correct those, fandom would get annoyed. (And remember: some previous reprints have corrected them. And Cory Sedlmeier went back and reinstated the original typos!)

Then again, we have fixed reprints in some cases. Mostly ’90s books, when a digital production error drops out lettering that should have been there, or something similar. Or when color plates are switched in a 1980s book. So I guess we don’t have a mandate for 100% purity, no matter what.

I think the question boils down to, at what point do we stop doing our job, which is collecting books into TPBs and HCs – and start doing someone else’s job, which is catching and fixing every single error? And I’m not sure there’s one single, definitive answer for that.

Essential Godzilla TPB

“In certain cases we’ve looked into reprinting licensed stuff, and sometimes we succeed.”

The Astonishing X-Men: Northstar HC is coming up. It collects Astonishing X-Men #48, where Northstar is called “Jean-Claude” instead of “Jean-Paul.” Given that this arc is Northstar’s highly-publicized wedding, I’d be very curious to see if that error gets touched up.

A few creators have, in the past, publicly complained about not receiving comp copies of reprints of their work, or not being involved in their production. Have you been involved in dealing with these concerns? If so, what happened?

I haven’t really been involved in addressing either of these things, sorry. I will say that we DO send out comps, and we try to send them to as many creators as we can.

I understand that there been various legal issues that have prevented Marvel from reprinting certain stories or series, like licensing issues with Rom or Micronauts, the Fu Manchu appearances in Master of Kung Fu, and contract issues with the Malibu Ultraverse material – in fact, this was recently addressed by Steve Englehart (see here) and Marvel (see here). Is there anything being done, or can be done, for Marvel to reprint this material?

Again, sorry, but I’m not really involved in this.  I know that in certain cases we’ve looked into reprinting licensed stuff, and sometimes we succeed (Essential Godzilla!) and sometimes we fail. It’s one of the pitfalls of licensed publishing, and it’s disappointing at times. But at least the original issues still exist for anyone who wants to own the material!

That’s true: The good thing about most ’90s comics (especially Marvel) is that most back issues are still dirt-cheap! Marvel is well known within the comics industry and press for letting most of its collected editions go out of print relatively quickly. Do you have any insight into why so many Marvel books (including random volumes of long-running series, for example Ultimate Spider-Man) are unavailable to retailers and not overprinted or reprinted? What do you think about the idea that there some “evergreen” titles that will always sell and deserve to remain in print? Continue reading

Emerald City Comic Con Photos! O’Malley, Rosa, Adventure Time, Green Lantern, and more!

31 May

all photos by Orion Tippens

(CLICK to embiggen photos)

Photo Mar 31, 12 35 58 AM

Bryan Lee O’Malley of SCOTT PILGRIM fame

Photo Mar 30, 11 25 30 PM

Legendary Disney duck artist/comics fan Don Rosa

Photo Mar 30, 11 34 45 PM

Don Rosa and Orion Tippens

Photo Mar 30, 11 26 42 PM

Don Rosa’s amazing wall of parody Duck covers!

Photo Mar 31, 5 04 35 AM

Got a light?

Photo Mar 31, 12 45 41 AM

AMBUSH BUG!

Photo Mar 31, 12 59 28 AM

That’s… that’s a big lantern.

Photo May 29, 6 13 49 PM

…Where do I begin…?

Photo May 29, 7 06 52 PM

Finn & Jake battle the Ice King & Gunter

 

More after the break:

 

Continue reading

LOTS o’ Links (May 30 2012)

30 May

by Mike Hansen

Jack Kirby with Avengers cover

Hail to the King, baby.

The best links I’ve come across in the last few days/weeks – bookmark and read at your leisure:

The Bonfire Agency has put its money where its mouth is, and created FanPan, an online consumer focus group for comics readers. Sounds interesting.

The ONLY Avengers film review you need to read.

Possibly the most important comic you can buy and/or download this year: STEAL BACK YOUR VOTE, from one of America’s best investigative journalists (whose work towers over the often-shoddy reporting of U.S. corporate media). Check it out.

Since I’ve been talking about bonus features, here’s something everyone should know about DVD bonus features. Mark Evanier shines a light on something rather messed up about multimillion-dollar movie studios.

On a related note, here’s a horror story of how Warner Bros treats the translators of Harry Potter novels around the world. They’re even not invited to the film premieres, even when their work is used for the films without credit or payment. Classy.

Would WB treat J.K. Rowling the way DC treated Alan Moore? (Or just their translators?)

Did you know that the first appearance of Batman has rarely been reprinted in its original form? Most “reprints” are actually an edited and REDRAWN version of the story – see this post for a dramatic comparison of a few panels. Ugh! (If you want to read the real deal, it seems that the Batman in the Forties trade paperback is the only recent reprint of the actual original.)

Nice interview with Matt Wagner on his final Zorro story arc – Wagner remains one of the best writers (and artists) in comics, and his Zorro work is one of the best things Dynamite’s ever published. I recommend it for, well, pretty much everyone.

Have you seen this adorable story of how Marvel created a deaf superhero to convince a child to wear his hearing aid? Big points to Marvel for this one.

In the wake of the Avengers movie’s success, Image publisher Eric Stephenson republished his essay on Jack Kirby.

Legendary Marvel writer/artist Jim Starlin (whose work was credited in the Avengers film) had to buy his own ticket. And didn’t get any money for the use of his work. Sigh.

A surprising profile/interview with Stan Lee (who, unlike former freelance Marvel writers and artists, gets $1 million a year for life from Marvel) actually got his take on creators’ rights. Here’s another interview with Lee along the same lines.

Here’s Chris Roberson’s full interview with the Comics Journal in the wake of his departure from DC.

Batman in the Forties TPB cover

The only place to read the REAL original Batman story?

The CEOs of Disney (which owns Marvel) and Time Warner (which owns DC) were each paid millions of dollars last year. I wonder how much the creators of the superheroes they own made.

This is old news at this point, but the comments thread of this piece on Before Watchmen at The Beat is well worth reading – lots of comics pros have things to say, including Toby Cypress, Stuart Moore, Ed Brubaker, and Kurt Busiek.

Former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter has a lot to say about the “shared-universe” concept and a new business model for work-for-hire. Can it be done? I dunno, but it raises some interesting ideas. (This post is also the last of a series reacting to brilliant futurist Cory Doctorow (of BoingBoing, the best must-read website on the planet) and his ideas about using technology to share ideas and work. Obviously, I recommend them, too.)

A just-released German Donald Duck reprint accidentally misused the word “holocaust.” Oops.

An Iranian cartoonist was recently sentenced to 25 lashings for daring to draw a member of Iran’s parliament wearing a soccer jersey. Dear Iran: Go fuck yourselves.

A Swedish manga translator was put on a sex-offenders list and forced to lose his job and “manga expert” title for owning comics that were ruled “child pornography.” This, of course, does not do one damn thing to protect actual children from actual offenders. Good job, Sweden.

Steve Bennett has the most interesting take I’ve seen yet on the “gay people in comics” issue:

Why now?  Because we’ve undoubtedly reached the tipping point where homosexuality has become so ubiquitous in American life if it’s absent in popular culture its noticeable.  And as to why comics?  Because comics are, hopefully, still a part of mainstream American popular culture, and to be that it was to reflect reality… even if there are people who reject it.

This ties in to something that drives me nuts about most movies and TV, which is the continuing near-absence of minorities besides “token” characters with race-based dialogue (“Aw, hell no!”). And, of course, there’s the Bechdel Test

Okay, so WHY am I linking to things that criticize Marvel and DC while interviewing people who work for Marvel? Well, Continue reading

Q&A with Marvel’s Jeph York, Part 2!

30 May

by Mike Hansen

“I feel like a comics archeologist when I dig this stuff up and get it back in circulation.”

Marvel Comics

(Photo credit: Scott Beale)

(In case you missed it, here’s Part 1 of this interview.)

Here, in Part 2 of my 3-part interview with Jeph York of Marvel’s Collected-Editions team, Jeph talks about some of the details and inner workings of his unique job putting together Marvel volumes, and what it’s like to research “bonus materials” for each book:

It might surprise some readers that an “internal” Marvel job like yours isn’t done at the Marvel office, but at your home (like most freelance creators). Have you found any advantages (or disadvantages) to working from home?

Freelance editorial is a bit more common than you’d think, actually; there are at least three other guys I know of who work for Collected Editions from home. Plus the Official Handbook/Index writing staff, who pull double duty as layout proofreaders…

The advantages are obvious: I can work from anywhere with an internet connection! I don’t have to worry about moving to Manhattan to work for Marvel, and I don’t have to worry about commuting. Or, heck, getting dressed! Some mornings I literally roll out of bed and start typing away.

The main disadvantage is that I’m not in the office to solve problems immediately with a conversation, or a quick fact-check in Marvel’s digital files or reference library. All my communication is through email, and if the editor I’m emailing is busy with something more pressing, sometimes my work stops dead for an hour until he writes me back with an answer. But that’s when the advantages of being at home kick in again – I can go do dishes while I wait!

Your story is a great example of a comics fan “living the dream” – getting paid to help make the comics you love. What have been some of your favorite projects so far at Marvel?

Acts of Vengeance Omnibus hardcover

“I have the opportunity to take a complicated, far-reaching storyline and hammer it into an optimal reading order.”

My favorite projects are the ones where I have the opportunity to take a complicated, far-reaching storyline and hammer it into an optimal reading order. Acts of Vengeance. Onslaught. Inferno. Even [Avengers:] The Crossing. I worked on the Age of Apocalypse Omnibus and the Avengers Assemble TPB set, and in both cases I had the chance to reshuffle the issues from their previous collection order. I think both projects read much better now, and I think some fans agree.

I also love finding rare or little-seen material to run as bonuses. The Captain Britain HCs and Omnibus include never-before-collected backup stories and pinups only ever seen before in England. The X-Men by Claremont & Lee Omnibus sets include every single piece of Jim Lee X-Men artwork I could get my hands on. The Wolverine Omnibus includes two obscure short stories from a Marvel Age Annual and a hardcover sold only in the Sears 1987 holiday catalog, of all things. I feel like a comics archeologist when I dig this stuff up and get it back in circulation. [Note to readers: the 1987 Sears Wolverine story was also reprinted in the excellent Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World’s Greatest Comics, still available cheap online!]

I also adored putting together the Marvel Firsts books. They were so very complicated, but it was insanely gratifying to see how well fans responded to them!

Marvel has built up a massive library of collected editions in a bunch of formats (Trade Paperback, Marvel Premiere Hardcover, Oversized Hardcover, Omnibus Hardcover, Masterworks, the smaller “GN-TPB” and Digest TPB, etc.). I remember back in the 1980s and ’90s that Marvel had very few collected editions, and what got reprinted (or didn’t) seemed pretty random. These days, it seems like 99% of the comics Marvel publishes get reprinted in collected editions. In your view, how did Marvel get from there to here?

The collected-edition explosion Continue reading

Q&A with Marvel’s Jeph York, Part 1!

29 May

by Mike Hansen

I’ve had the opportunity to pitch, research, and build several amazing collections that I could only have dreamed about as a fan.”

Jeph YorkThe folks who write and draw comics get a lot of (deserved) attention for their efforts, but there are a lot of people who work behind the scenes in comics to make them the best they can be when they get in our hands. From editing to design to proofreading, there are a LOT of steps in the production process of every issue and collected edition.

Lifelong Marvel fan Jeph York is one crucial piece of the production puzzle for many Marvel projects. From his home in Boston, Jeph has had a major hand in many of Marvel’s best and most interesting reprint and archival releases for the last few years (including one of my all-time favorite Marvel volumes, the Captain Britain Omnibus by Alan Moore and Alan Davis).

I’ve known Jeph online since I first started posting in comics message boards a few years ago. Not only is he incredibly knowledgeable about Marvel’s vast publishing history, but he’s a really nice guy,  and – though I’m not sure if it comes through in this particular interview – can be wickedly funny.

I emailed Jeph over the last few weeks to ask him about his work at Marvel. In Part 1 of this wide-ranging interview, Jeph explains how a fan like him got to turn pro, and managed to make for himself one of the coolest jobs in comics:

You once told me that you got hired by Marvel because of your posts on the Marvel Masterworks Fan Site boards – could you elaborate?

Sure!  I started posting on Rhett [John Rhett Thomas, a.k.a. Gormuu]‘s Marvel Masterworks boards back in 2004 – the Masterworks HCs had just relaunched, and Rhett had developed a friendly relationship with Marvel’s Collected Editions Department. In 2006, they hired him to produce the Marvel Spotlight interview magazine, and after a few months he decided that he needed a staff.  He got in touch with a few board members, including me, who had impressed him with their writing skill and their passion/knowledge of Marvel books – and he offered us contracts to interview creators, write short articles, and so on. I’ve been a Marvel fan since I was 8, so I jumped at it.

Onslaught the Complete Epic Book 1 TPB cover

“The Onslaught books were my first taste of trade-paperback building.”

My first job was transcribing audiotapes of Rhett’s interviews. He’d mail me cassettes, I’d type them up for hours on end and mail them back. (I’m sure Rhett would like me to point out here that I was horrible at meeting deadlines!) I went on to write several articles and interviews, but my real passion was Marvel’s collected editions – I was bursting with ideas on how to reprint certain titles, story arcs, or crossovers.

Then a few things happened in rapid succession. Marvel solicited a 4-volume collection of the Onslaught crossover, and I noticed that the issues were being collected in the wrong order. I wrote an (embarrassingly long) email to the editors, and to my surprise they emailed back and asked what I recommended they do instead. Granted, I was already a contracted freelancer for their department – that’s probably the only reason they asked for my input – but I sent back a revised pitch, and they went with it! The Onslaught books were my first taste of trade-paperback building.

Shortly after that, I was contacted by the writers of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe – another freelance group handled by the CE Department – and offered a job on their staff. They knew about my love of Marvel minutiae from my years posting at the Marvel Chronology Project website – and again, being under contract already helped quite a bit. I wrote a few test entries for them (Hellion and Icarus of the New X-Men, I believe) and they took me on. This was late 2007 or early 2008.

Skrulls! cover

“I’d write some text on a Saturday, then see it being proofed in the office the next Monday – it was kind of surreal.”

At that time, I was working on a graduate degree in publishing at the Harvard Extension School, and one of the requirements was an internship. I had a brainstorm, and emailed the Collected Editions Department to ask if I could intern there. The email conversation was hilarious: “Wait, we pay you to work for us, and you want to come do more work for free? You’re hired.” So in the summer of 2008 I interned there, and got some valuable face time with the staff.

The arrangement was fun.  Three days a week, I’d go in and work as an intern, proofing and fact-checking and filing and the like – then the other four days I’d go back to my rented room and produce paying work. By then, Rhett had branched out from Spotlight and started producing one-shots that tied into Marvel’s big events. He was doing a Secret Invasion tie-in called “Skrulls!”, and since I had Handbook-style experience, he pulled me in to help write profiles on all the major Marvel Universe Skrulls. I’d write some text on a Saturday, then see it being proofed in the office the next Monday – it was kind of surreal. I even got to kibbitz on the layout a little bit.

One day as I was filing, I overheard a conversation about reprinting the Captain Britain by Alan Moore & Alan Davis TPB. I poked my head in and suggested that they should also include Alan Davis’ pre-Moore material this time around (the original TPB began with Moore’s first issue, which was midway through a Davis-drawn storyline). They asked me to explain, and that conversation rolled into a request for an official pitch. I came back the next day with spreadsheets and ideas, and the book eventually became the Captain Britain Omnibus HC.

Captain Britain Omnibus cover

The Captain Britain Omnibus hardcover.

I did the same thing with the X-Men: Inferno TPB: I overheard a reprint being discussed, suggested that they reorder the issues and add some tie-ins, and the eventual result was the massive X-Men: Inferno 2-volume hardcover set. Not bad for a nosy intern!

So I guess I was the right guy at the right time, because senior editor Jeff Youngquist took my love of collected-edition creation, plus my ties to the Handbook staff, plus the fact that I was physically there in the office, and he put me to work coordinating the 2009 trade-paperback research.

Basically, every year the department draws up a list of what they plan/hope/intend to publish in the coming year, and then they employ the Handbook staff to figure out the fine details of each book. Exactly what issues should be included, if there are any relevant bonus features, how many pages each book will end up being, etc., etc. I became the liaison between Marvel and the Handbook staff: I handed out the research assignments, answered (or forwarded) the Handbook folks’ questions, tweaked and fine-tuned the contents as we went along, collected and fact-checked all the research spreadsheets, and finally presented them all to Marvel.

I guess they liked how that system worked, because I’ve been in charge of the research every year since. (We’re working on the 2013 books right now, in fact!) In addition to managing the group, I research a lot of books myself. I take a lot of pride, and put a lot of thought, into trying to make each book the best it can be. Trying to make books work not only as an individual standalone volume, but as part of a larger series. Casting a wide net for interesting bonus features. Pitching sequel/prequel/tie-in/companion volumes. I still consider myself a lucky fan, not a hardened pro – so in everything I do, I try my best to combine Marvel’s needs, and the framework they give me to work within, with what I think other fans will want from the product.

I’ve seen you credited variously as Research or Layout on some Marvel collected editions, and Writer on some Marvel projects (like the Official Marvel Index); you’ve submitted project proposals to Marvel; and I think you’ve mentioned that you write some solicitation copy. So what exactly do all of your credits mean? And how did you Continue reading

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