Wednesday, May 30, 2007
I wanted to personally thank the three of you - Sean, Phil, and Mike - this was a lot of fun. As a matter of fact, as a somewhat jaded reader of comics for nearly four decades, this was the most fun I've had with comic books in quite some time.
Sure, it was all play, but it was incredibly interesting to watch things unfold.
Obviously, my situation was slightly different, having been canned halfway through. But as you know, I still trolled here, and continued to weigh in with what I hope were read as the fun posts they were intended to be.
Since Tom outed me, I think it's okay to confess to penning the Big Money moves that took place over on Tom's blog. And I won't deny it - those were a lot of fun to do. They were absolutely meant to try to add some levity to the experience, and I apologize if their contents ended up distracting you from the work you were doing. They were meant to lob some grenades into the mix, but hopefully they didn't detract from your experience.
I told the interviewer for Comic Book Resources that I felt like I was playing the part of the Dark Avenger from Stan Lee's Who Wants to be a Super-Hero. I was thrust into the role of a spoiler that had to be factored into the remainder of the game. Villains have ALWAYS been my favorite characters, not just in the comics, but movies, TV, etc., so this was a role I relished.
As I wrote over on Tom's blog, I was surprised/disappointed to see how much of a role that the exclusive contracts played in the creator shuffles. That's why I included so much name-dropping in the Big Money memos. I can't say I agree with or like the impact exclusivity contracts have had on the industry, but they're not going away any time soon.
Sean, like I said at the time, you made the right move firing me, and it was proven as the simulation played out. As I also said at the time, not being someone too familiar with RPGs, I apologize if I bent the rules on some of the earlier posts.
And one more thing - Phil, you seriously cannot underestimate the value this blog had on the game. Being able to talk things through, and watching everything unfold on a daily basis, for me, made the experience all the more enjoyable.
Once again, thanks to the three of you for making the simulation so much fun, and you each did a great job in your respective areas working on your titles. Hopefully, our paths will cross somewhere else out there in cyberland. Okay, gotta run - Quesada's running behind on his Zomurai: Mother mini-series over at Big Money, and I've got to try to line up a replacement...
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Day 10: The Finale is up and Tom puts our base titles at 460,500. Plus a staggering 170,000 for BoPow #1! Giving us a grand total of 630,500.
That's 10% over the numbers before we started on the base titles and 25% over on our final target! Let me just say, "WOHOO!!!!!"
I will be showing Mr. Quesada the door early next week, and you three are all more than welcome to join me! :)
Monday, May 28, 2007
As a backup, I post the final draft here as well:
1.: I suggest a few books to Sean that Ramon Bachs can work on after Front Line. Among them a new Cloak and Dagger book (under the MAX label), a Hannibal King solo book, Hulk, an X-Book or a Frontline ongoing (if Paul Jenkins is interested in that).Thanks to Tom Brevoort, Molly Lazer, Stephen Wacker, Ben Morse, Rich Johnston and whoever's been behind the scenes. It's been a blast.
2.: I talk to Christina Strain. Sean already gave his approval to an exclusive contract between Christina and Marvel Comics. Her coloring is a very important factor for Uncanny X-Men, and with Adrian already Marvel-exclusive, Christina should go exclusive as well. And with Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane ending, I offer her Balance of Power as well, arguably Marvel's biggest book right now and the perfect opportunity to showcase her talent.
Thanks to Marko Djurdjevic for letting me post his X-Men sketches. I think it really gave this simulation a touch of realism. And let's face it: They are awesome.
Thanks to Sean, Philip and Patrick. Working with you has been an honor.
Thanks to Vallen, Debbie, Fetsur, Huey and all the other readers who have posted their suggestions here and had my back when others started throwing dirt against me last Monday. You were great to have around.
Thanks to my girlfriend Nadine, who has given me strength those last two weeks, especially on Monday when I was already convinced that I'd get sacked.
And last but not least, thanks to my Mom and Dad for letting me use their computer when mine was not available and for letting me sleep on their couch. Without them, I wouldn't have been able to keep my deadlines. Without them, I wouldn't have been able to show you Marko's artwork.
I think there will most likely be an epilogue at Tom's blog (and perhaps somewhere else, we'll see). The Marvel Editorial Simulation blog however, I think that's it.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Phil -- I think you've got some solid thinking on dealing with Finch. Definitely like the start by talking to other editors, and following up with getting the production staff to develop something that could be used as a cover. Rather than going down the ultra-secret QT route, though, I might suggest being more open about doing a graphic to use IN CASE you need to drop something in at the last minute. I think if you go behind Finch's back, and he DOES find out about it, he'll go totally ape-shit. So I'd make another call to Finch and say that you REALLY don't want to go this route, but he needs to understand, as a professional, that we have deadlines to meet. But so long as he can turn the artwork in on time, then we'd much prefer using that.
Also, I'd suggest NOT pointing to an actual graphic of any sort. (Or even verbally defining it that clearly.) We're not supposed to really be doing creative, and I'd be concerned that trying to tie down to a specific design within the sim might work against us.
Good work with Brubaker.
Mike -- I like your thoughts about Christina. I'll do what I can to secure her as an exclusive and, as long as Phil's happy with her on BoPow, then I think we've got a plan.
Last thing I want to throw out there is Ramon Bachs. Any ideas on what to set him on post-BoPow?
Of course, then I have to address rumors of Tom heading to BigMoney and the massive security leaks in BigMoney's email system, but I think I've got that covered. ;)
Friday, May 25, 2007
I contact any editors who’ve worked with Finch before, such as Axel Alonso or Tom Brevoort, and ask them if David has a habit of sequestering himself at his drawing table. If they tell me that David going dark right before a deadline is a normal, though irritating, part of his process, I’ll cool down a little bit, though I’ll still take certain steps regarding the production of a cover for Balance of Power 1.
If, however, David’s former editors have no idea what I’m talking about, and tell me that David is usually extremely available during the entire process, we move from DEFCON 3 to DEFCON 2, and I inform the joint chiefs that they should be prepared to move to DEFCON 1 at a moment’s notice. My immediate concern is no longer getting a cover out of Finch in a timely fashion; it’s about replacing him on the book. We’ll need somebody who’s fast, who can bring the heat, who’ll attract readers, and who can start right away. Good freakin’ luck. Jimenez is too slow. Pulling Deodato off FF throws too many wrenches in the works (I'm wracking my brain; suggestions would be great, though there's clearly plenty of time). Man, this’ll teach JMS to trust my judgment.
Even if I get word that David Finch is more often than not out of touch as he puts the finishing, uh, touches on his work, I will nevertheless go forward with the production of a simple, in-house cover for Balance of Power, not entirely dissimilar from Civil War: The Return, something like this:
Except, you know, based off a drawn image with drawn clouds, but you get the general vibe. If Finch comes through whatever layout is used here could still be employed as the series' cover template, or maybe as the cover for the trade, but what I'm mainly trying to convey is that my solution to not having a cover is to create a minimalist one such as this.
I will direct everyone, since we are at least under DEFCON 3, that all radio call signs used by our forces must change to currently-classified call signs—MEANING, if the fact that we are producing a cover for Balance of Power gets back to David Finch, there will be hell to pay; as much as I’d like to (and quite frankly should have as soon as he started grumbling), I still cannot justify burning any bridges with David. Balance of Power has to ship beginning of January, and the best way to accomplish that is with him aboard.
No rush here. We have plenty of time to get this together.
You know, I started writing up some ideas for you guys to pursue on this, but I don't want to be a Jim Shooter-ish EIC who's dictating stuff all over the place. Gimme your thoughts on your respective problems. I've got ideas I could throw out if you need them, but let's here what you guys want to do first.
Anyway, I'm trying to confirm with Tom now about when our final moves are due, but I'm presuming that it will be Sunday at 8:00 at the earliest. I'd wager thought that he'll give us until Monday at 8:00. Confirmation pending...
Thursday, May 24, 2007
For my part, I would probably describe how, after the momentous conclusion of Balance of Power 5, She-Hulk 27 and Fantastic Four 558, those two titles would have three issue wrap-up decompression arcs in which the characters would adjust to the new shape of the Universe. FF 559-561 would focus on the reconciliation of the original Fantastic Four, not only with one another but also with T'Challa and Storm. She-Hulk 28-30 would serve as an epilogue for the She-Hulk series (unless number had gotten so high that She-Hulk warranted 2 ongoing series... you all know where I'm going with this), an epilogue that would not only tie-up all the loose ends but start unravelling some new threads, threads that would lead directly into:
Fantastic Four: Los Angeles 1, with a roster of She-Hulk, Human Torch, Tigra and Crystal. Sean, I know you still hate the name, but I would have eight months to convince you it was a good idea. The series would be as I originally described it, a light-hearted girl power title with lots of fun action, but would carry extra weight after She-Hulk's pivotal role practically leading the FF through their difficult ordeal during the Balance of Power. She-Hulk will have really earned these good times.
Meanwhile, in FF 562, the FF would welcome a new member to their ranks, hopefully someone established, appropriate and unexpected. After so many issues of personal, inter-team squabbling, it would be time for the FF to take to the cosmos for another grand, exploratory adventure. Like She-Hulk, these guys would have earned the opportunity to engage in some whimsy.
Wolverine would continue its awesome epic novel-length noir story through issue 70. Who knows what Brubaker would come up with to follow that. Depending on how strongly people responded to the noir saga, perhaps with another one; or maybe we'd let Wolverine explore some other pulp genre, and we could spend a few years retracing the roots of genre fiction through the eyes of Wolverine.
And after the record-shattering sales and critical success that was Balance of Power, I'd follow up by trying to bring the weekly comic to the offices of Simulated Marvel. Except, rather than focus on a few C and D list characters as DC has done for both of its year long books, I'd try and encourage an already existing, established, popular title to step up production for a year or two (Avengers Weekly? X-Men Weekly? Maybe even Fantastic Four weekly, if Balance really raised their stock among Marvel readers. Avengers Weekly? Are you kidding? How sweet would that be?).
Or all these plans would crash and burn, making way for new plans, new collaborations, ideas we can't even imagine. Sometimes I become so moved by all the possibilities that await us, even when they're only simulated possibilities in a simulated career.
It's certainly better than nothing.
I wanted to run these past you, Mike, before posting them tomorrow, just to make sure I'm in the proper head space (one reason why I may not be is that when someone says noir I think of Hammett and Chandler whereas your mind goes to Bukowski) to solicit issues of your baby.
Written by Ed Brubaker
Pencils by Michael Perkins
“That Restless, Lonely Sleep,” Ed Brubaker’s 12-Issue Wolverine Noir Event, begins! Logan’s seen more than his fair share of death, pain and suffering, so what happens when he decides he simply can’t take it anymore? How far is Logan willing to go to forget all the pain of the world and let his life disappear into a great blur? And is such a selfish retreat really an option for one of the world’s greatest heroes?
32PGS./Parental Advisory…$2.99. On sale December 12
Written by Ed Brubaker
Pencils by Michael Perkins
“That Restless, Lonely Sleep,” Ed Brubaker’s landmark Wolverine Event, continues! The world is broken, his life’s in shambles, and Logan’s face to face with another brutal murder. The desperate plea of a grieving mother with no one else to turn to ignites what may be the last remaining ember of fury in Logan’s cold and jaded heart, but will it be enough to bring a killer to justice?
32PGS./Parental Advisory…$2.99. On sale January 9
Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Pencils by Amanda Conner
BALANCE OF POWER TIE-IN
“Scales of Justice, Scales of Peace” Part 1 (of 5)
When disaster strikes, the desperate and terrified pray that there is someone who can save them. But what happens when the heroes can’t even save themselves? As the employees of Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg and Holliway struggle to stay alive, Jen Walters takes one final look inside herself before coming to a decision that will re-define the She-Hulk forever! Not to be missed!
32PGS./Rated A…$2.99. On sale January 9
Fantastic Four 554
Written by Dan Slott
Pencils by Mike Deodato, Jr.
BALANCE OF POWER TIE-IN
“What Hangs in the Balance” Part 1 (of 5)
Reeling from the rampant destruction seen in Balance of Power 1, Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben must work through their shock and anger in order to save as many lives as possible. But as the Baxter Building stands unscathed amid the rubble, and Reed Richards’ confidence is shaken to the core, does the world even want the help of the Fantastic Four?
32PGS./Rated A…$2.99. On sale January 26
Anyway, Sean, I posted a relatively brief, complaint-specific entry today that I think attempts to resolve what was on my plate.
Is there anything else on my plate? Even vegetables? I don't know, man. I feel like the past few days, since everything's established and sort of on cruise control, it's like we've just been running around putting out little fires, sort of set in our big picture strategy. Which, based on numbers, is apparently leading to something interesting.
This is probably more of my paranoid anxious rambling. Nevertheless, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter. I guess I'm feeling what you were feeling yesterday, Sean, this horrible empty feeling in my stomach that we're about to get devoured by a monster.
Amazing -- Up 3000 from our starting point
SheHulk -- Up 6500
Uncanny -- Up 9000
FF -- Up 31000!!!
Heck, even though Wolverine is down 5000, that was for a FILL-IN! And we've got fan-fave Ed Brubaker coming up right behind that...
Overall, we're up, up, UP!! This is REALLY incredible, guys! Now we only need BoPow and BoPowFL to sell 69000! Which means that if even half of the folks buying FF pick up both new books, we will be above out goal!
Guys, I am REALLY thrilled! You all (definitely including Pat here) have done a phenomenal job, and I think you've got a lot to be proud of!
Things seem to be going swimmingly on your ends. Unfortunately this Finch situation is still unresolved. To be honest, I feel like sim-David has been out of line more than anybody else; at this point, however, I'm not ready to bring somebody else in on the project unless it's absolutely necessary. If you disagree, Sean, please advise ASAP.
I'll try and set things up between JMS and Finch as follows:
Finch, we need your artwork to really sell the atmosphere and emotion of this story. There's probably going to be some sections of this title that will be a little less ACTIONY than what you prefer, but there is no reason these sections will be any less VISUAL And besides, there's plenty of action throughout the title; JMS has been writing comics for too long and too well to think that a crossover event miniseries can be five issues of talking heads. And to that end, get drawing the first of those covers you were so territorial about.
JMS, Finch is a professional; if he commits to this book, he's going to give 100% to every page, even the ones he has less invested in personally. I think that what you each bring to this project will combine and make something both special and different. Finch is putting your story into visual terms that I guarantee you will only add to your story and not distract from it. I understand your doubts, in fact I've shared them, but I've since decided that any friction here at the formative stages demonstrates that you and Finch are both committed to delivering the best final product possible, and I implore you to trust our judgment in selecting Finch; this title is really going to come together.
I think getting Ramon Bachs a raise is my first option. Only if this doesn't play out and he won't work for us on BoPow Frontlines, then will I look into alternatives.
2.: I think using the whole T-Bolts team might not be a bad idea after all, since it reinforces a shared universe (and might boost sales a bit). I ask David Michelinie if that's okay with him. Doesn't have to be a big scene, it's just important that we see a part of the Symbiote left behind by Gargan. Of course, the whole thing has to be closely coordinated with Molly and Team Thunder. If we want to show fans that we care about continuity, every tiny mistake is lethal.
And then I get back to the remaining phone calls.
P.S.: Sean? Can we get an ad for Balance of Power in the New York Times? Big Money's marketing is very aggressive, so we might have to up the ante.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Quesada, who left Marvel on less than amicable terms after a rumoured coup executed by editors that he himself had hired...
Perhaps we should apologize in some form? Not to sabotage BigMoney's plans, but because it's the right thing to do. From the emails he sent me in the last couple of years, he seems like a very nice guy. And I don't want to burn any bridges here.
Oh, and you should tell Steve Wacker that, should BigMoney fall flat after the first couple of months, he's welcome home anytime. Same goes for Patrick.
2.: I call David Michelinie and ask him if the problematic part of the page is vital to the story.
If it is, I ask Paul Pelletier if he would mind drawing a patch. I politely remind him of the rating and of the fact that after Spider-Man 3, we are trying to reach new readers of all ages.
If the part of the page is not important to follow the story, I politely remind Paul of the rating and of the fact that after Spider-Man 3, we are trying to reach new readers of all ages. I then ask him if he would mind if we cover that part of the panel with a strategically placed word balloon, since that is the least bit of work for all involved parties. If that is a problem to him, I ask him to draw the patch.
While I have David Michelinie on the phone, I tell him if he has to work in the Mac Gargan cameo or not.
3.: Add Spectacular Spider-Man #45 and 46 to the list of books tying into Balance of Power. I tell Sean, because he is coordinating the tie-ins now.
4.: If Ramon Bachs is able to draw BALANCE OF POWER: FRONTLINES, I'd love to have him on the book. If he doesn't have the time, I ask Paul Jenkins who he'd consider a fitting alternative.
5.: I take care of the remaining phone calls from yesterday.
I'll take care of JRJr. I cancelled the previous check, so it's definitely my problem at this point. (Not a big one, though, I don't think.)
Mike, I don't see any major problems on your end at the moment. LMK if you need/want any assistance/advice/intervention on anything.
Phil, you've got an angry David Finch to deal with. I'd be happy to talk with him on your behalf if you like. I think he'd do good work on the project and we're running late on time, so I'd rather not pull in somebody else, but this is ultimately your book. Thoughts?
As for the varied response to Sean's oversight of Balance of Power... I don't know, man. I thought you were pretty clear that everybody was free to do whatever they wanted under a pretty loose framework, and that they were also free not to take part in the crossover. Tom is stacking the deck seriously against us, and I'm trying to come up with a serious counter-attack to the possibility that Q's going to pull many of the simulated real editors out from under us.
Difficult times lie ahead, Harry. You must now make the choice between what is right and what is easy.
Tell David Finch that this Balance Covers thing is a big misunderstanding between me, the EiC and the VP Ops. I'd floated Finch as a possibility for filling in for Amanda on She-Hulk covers to better tie the series in with Balance, and the VP Ops said something about not wanting him on covers for other books, which we somehow misinterpreted as him not wanting Finch on any covers, so we were floating alternatives around but we were still thinking of them as guys who could possibly do variants. The point is that Finch is, in my opinion, one of the most talented cover artists working for Marvel and that any talk of him not doing the covers is irrelevant. Everyone here definitely wants him 100% on the book.
What's more troubling to me is Finch's concern that JMS's script won't allow him enough latitude, and that it won't be visual enough, and that he's been placed on another project ill-suited to his strengths and preferences. As far as I can tell, this is among the most visual stories imaginable, with a crushed and broken world as the backdrop to tense political drama. Finch's art is richly atmospheric, with an eye for detail that we feel will really sell the story's many moments of deep gravitas and desperation. And while I can speak with JMS about making sure the script isn't too smothering to layouts, visuals etc., I'm still very worried that Finch feels he's ill-suited for this project. I wouldn't have considered someone I felt wasn't a good match, and if he really doesn't want this opportunity to provide art for this year's cornerstone Marvel event, he should let us know immediately so we can seek a replacement.
I can see the goal. Just there up ahead. It's a straight shot and there doesn't look to be anything in the way.
And that worries me.
It's that insurmountable fear of the dark we have as children. The knowledge that some thing lurks in the basement, under the stairs. Waiting to snatch us by our ankles as we try to sneak down the steps. Why does the light switch always have to be at the bottom? I'm ten years old again and scared that I won't turn eleven. Something's down there. Waiting. Something that eats small children whole. There won't even be a sensation of pain. Just the sudden awareness that I've become a snack for something very ugly. And then... nothing. I will simply cease to be. Maybe somone will find my bones in a thousand years, but that won't matter. They will have been eaten by then, too. The monster in the darkness. He's just sitting there. Hungry. Waiting for me to step just a little too close. I'm as good as dead. I just don't know it yet. And yet, I'm so close...
This panic attack brought to you by Fear Of The UnknownTM, scaring the living daylights out of people since the dawn of time.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Also, Sean, I really liked your second post. I hope Tom lets you play moderator with maps outside your office and doesn't have the irritating sim VP-Ops tell you this isn't your job. Cause sim-Marvel office sounds cool, like how FBI offices look on TV shows.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #546
Written by Matt Fraction, art and cover by John Romita jr.
"Spider-Man Turner Overdrive". You saw him in Swing Shift. Now watch Overdrive battle Dr. Octopus... Wait, that can't be right. Isn't he supposed to team up with him and fight Spider-Man? What's going on here?
32 pages, $2.99. in stores on November 7.
SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #43
Written by David Michelinie, art and cover by Paul Pelletier.
"Fall of the Bugle", part 4 of 6. Is the only person that can save the Bugle... Eddie Brock?32 pages, $2.99. in stores on November 21.
UNCANNY X-MEN #492
Written by Robert Weinberg, pencils by Adrian Alphona, cover by Marko Djurdjevic."The Once and Future King", part 1 of 2. The RISE OF THE DEFENDERS starts here. Magneto is back, assembling a new Brotherhood of Mutants. The X-Men face him at Cape Citadel, where it all started years ago. And before this is over, two X-Men will defect to the Brotherhood. Who? And why? Find out here, True Believer!
32 pages, $2.99. in stores on November 28.
5.: I tell Paul Jenkins that "Front Line" it is. Are we still missing an artist? If so, how about Mark Bagley? He's a fan favorite and with the exception of an upcoming issue for Mighty Avengers, there hasn't been any news about his next project. As an alternative, how about Lan Medina or Michael Gaydos?
6.: Once the Front Line creative team is finalized, I refer them to Ben Morse. Philip says that there is still space to fill in the BoPow article, so he might want to know who the Front Line creative team is and what other books will tie in.
Would it make sense to bring the coordination up to the EIC level? Not the editting of actual books, obviously, but someone just saying "Here are the major beats, and when they're going to ship?"
Mike, I know you've put a lot of work into that end of things already, but I don't want you to feel swamped with that and/or lose focus on your own books. Thoughts?
2.: Call Matt Fraction, David Michelinie, John Romita jr. and Paul Pelletier and tell them that I'll try to stay the course Patrick had set. Ask them if they are interested in tying into Balance of Power (at least tonally, I'd like the books to be consistent. If they don't want to be an active part of BoPow, at least ask if they could reflect the events of BoPow in the dialogue).
I tell John Romita jr that I'm looking into the missing check thing.
3.: I look into the missing check thing.
What went wrong? Can we trace the check to the point were it got lost? Did we actually send the check? I do what I can so one of our most talented (and popular) artists can get paid. I contact Patrick, maybe he can help. If the check doesn't show up at all, is there any way we can send John a new one?
4.: I'd love to have IRON MAN, X-MEN, HEROES FOR HIRE, NEW WARRIORS, NEW EXCALIBUR and any other book on bord for BoPow. I do everything to keep everybody
in the loop so the tie-ins are consistent without becoming redundant.
5.: Without making the impression that I'm stepping on Jeff Youngquist's toes, I try to keep him up to date about the different books tying in.
Sean, do you think there's still time to get Cloak and Dagger on the way?
If Ed doesn’t want a co-writer, let him know that the EIC and I agree he should stay on the book no matter what, and that while we understand that Captain America requires a lot of attention, Wolverine’s another high-selling title, and every month it ships late is a lot of lost revenue.
With JMS and Finch locked into Balance, and Dwayne and Dan coordinating on She-Hulk and FF, I’ll let the creators do their thing, making sure they know I’m available if any problems come up. If Amanda does in fact want somebody else to handle She-Hulk covers, I’ll ask Greg Horn or Greg Land and let Finch know we’d like for him to focus on the great Balancing act. VP Ops wanted Finch off the She-Hulk covers, but if he’d prefer Finch focus entirely on interior art, maybe Garney, Churchill or even Quesada (depending on the manner of his departure from Marvel) could do the covers.
(Mike, I have plenty of space here so if there’s general Rise/Balance stuff for Wizard I could throw it in if you’d like).
Phil, obviously, your big two issues are getting things straightened out with Brubaker (see previous posts/comments) and the less problematic issue of covers for BoPow. I don't have any brilliant suggestions offhand. Ian Churchill? Ron Garney? Heh... Joe Quesada might be fun!
Mike, we've got additional BoPow tie-ins. Looks like we'll need a heavier scheduling -- do you want me to take that up?
Get Jenkins started on Balance of Power: Frontline and nail down an artist. (Tom apparently glossed over that bit, but Pat had made some initial calls yesterday.) You'll probably also need to play special nice with Fraction -- he's a key to those sales, I think, and we can't get him on an exclusive. Keep a close eye on Venom, too. Ellis and Micheleine are both using different versions and Fraction was planning on using him down the road.
I can see what's happened to JRJr's check, but I'd like you to actually talk with him (as his new editor) and assue him that a new check is getting cut, and the old one will be cancelled.
OK... so what else do we need to tackle today?
Check out Amazing and FF in particular. Both are up over 80k from a starting point of 55k! That is incredible! I can't speak to Amazing's numbers historically, but aside from the 10 cent issue from a few years ago, the last time FF sales were that high was 1997! Kudos to Phil and Pat!
That means, overall, that if we can get Balance of Power and Balance of Power: Frontline to sell 84k collectively -- and nothing else blows up in our faces -- we will actually hit our goal!
And if we do that... well, I'll just be flabbergasted.
The only real concern I have is Brubaker’s productivity on Wolverine; this is the one thing on my plate that really needs to be addressed. Mike, you reference a Civil War style delay; I wasn’t following the title circa CW and therefore have no idea what you’re talking about. Did they just cease publication of Wolverine during Civil War? Cause that sounds like a bad idea. Or did they hold off on a slow-to-fruition storyline in favor of Civil War tie-ins? That sounds irritating, but would theorhetically maintain decent sales.
Do you have any suggestions as to Brubaker’s possible writing partner? If Rucka weren’t DC exclusive I’d think he’d be perfect, having worked with Brubaker in a not-too-removed-from-noir vibe on Gotham Central. We could also in theory investigate bringing aboard a noir/mystery writer, though I don’t know who’s into comics (well, I know Michael Chabon is desperately into both noir and comics, but I doubt we could get any kind of a commitment out of him). What if we had Claremont write with Brubaker; basically Claremont frames everything along the Patch-era lines that inspired this take in the first place, and then Brubaker brings the edge and grit?
If the Lapham issue is for emergencies, is there an emergency I didn't hear about? Would it be okay for me to see if 58 can start the multi-parter? Cause if Lapham's is just a stand-alone fill-in, that's the sort of thing that can stay on the shelf indefinitely. Like in theory even until after Brubaker's first arc is done.
Not that there will be any reason to continue publishing this title after Brubaker's first arc is done. Cause in the last issue Wolverine gets killed by a humpback whale. But then we get the following five part limited series by Jeph Loeb and a series of fill-in artists, based on an idea by JMS:
THE DEATH OF WOLVERINE
PART ONE: "YOU'RE KIDDING, RIGHT?" STARRING SPIDER-MAN
PART TWO: "THAT'S DISGUSTING!" STARRING THE ASTONISHING X-MEN
PART THREE: "OH, THAT POOR WHALE!" STARRING PETA
PART FOUR: "I THOUGHT HE SMELLED BAD BEFORE!" STARRING THE NEW AVENGERS
PART FIVE: "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! AWESOME!" STARRING DEADPOOL
I think it'd be generally a bad move to make any significant course-corrections on those books at least until you've established a good repore with your new creators, and gotten their feedback on the types of things they'd like to do.
As I said, this is probably something you've already thought of, but I figured it couldn't hurt to verbalize it.
Monday, May 21, 2007
It has been an honor. And one hell of a hoot.
The passion that the three of you bring to this simulation has been staggering, to say the least.
I will miss logging in at ungodly hours of the day to find the latest back and forths. I will miss hearing more whale references than you get in your local aquarium. I will NOT miss not knowing what the hell I'm missing when I write something that I didn't even realize I wasn't supposed to be writing. Or something like that.
This comes as no surprise, and again, not surprisingly, Sean made the right call. That's why he makes the big bucks as EIC.
Should, in the near future, I see comic books on a DVD rack at Best Buy, in my son's dentist office, or hell, even in my local movie theatre, I will smile with a certain degree of pomposity.
So that's it for this webslinging fool. I'm off to make some big money......
See you in the funny pages!
PS: "Hey, Ed Brubaker?"
EB: "Uh... no?"
PS: "Hey, Ed, this is Philip Schaeffer. I'm the new editor on Wolverine."
EB: "Oh, right. I'd heard about that; tough break for--"
PS: "Yeah yeah yeah, whatever. Hey, listen, Eddie... Can I call you Eddie?"
PS: "Yeah, listen Eddie, I'll get to the point. You're a busy guy. I just wanted to bounce a few ideas off you for the book."
EB: "Well, I'm pretty happy with how things--"
PS: "Eschrichtius robustus."
EB: "Bless you."
PS: "Thanks. It's a baleen."
EB: "Excuse me?"
PS: "Oh, were you interested in a toothed? I didn't think they had the right look--"
EB: "I'm not following this--"
PS: "--although Cuvier's Beakeds do have a certain charm."
EB: "--conversation at all."
PS: "That's okay. Me, I'm bad at following directions. Just ask my Editor in Chief!"
EB: "I think I'm going to hang up."
PS: "But we've got to figure out what kind of whale you're going to use."
EB: "Excuse me?"
PS: "What kind of whale you're going to use, you know. When you drop it on Wolverine. To kill him?"
EB: "Ohhhh, rightrightrightrightright. Duh. I don't know what I was worried about."
PS: "Oh, good!"
EB: "I was thinking of using a Humpback. Megaptera novaeangliae."
PS: "Great! Go really big. Giant splash page."
PS: "I'm so glad Sean gave me this book."
EB: "Me too. Now let me get my hands on Spidey!"
Uncanny X-Men, Editor
Amazing Spider-Man, Editor
Spectacular Spider-Man, Editor
Rise of the Defenders/Balance of Power, Coordinating Editor
Fantastic Four, Editor
Balance of Power, Editor
Balance of Power: Frontscales, Editor
Hmm... I feel really bad about taking custody of Mike's baby. I don't quite follow what you're saying in your post, Sean, but it seems that you're indicating that of all the non-Spidey books, Wolverine is in the best shape, so its transition will therefore be the smoothest. I get that. But what if we laid things out like this?
Uncanny X-Men, Editor
Amazing Spider-Man, Editor
Spectacular Spider-Man, Editor
Balance of Power: Frontscales, Editor
Fantastic Four, Editor
Balance of Power, Editor
Rise/Balance, Coordinating Editor
Keep in mind that, from a perfectly professional standpoint, I could not be happier with the way Sean has divvied things up. I offer the above alteration only as a suggestion of how we might divide power and allow Mike to keep Wolverine. A disadvantage to this is that a heckuva lot of Rise/Balance stuff is riding on my office.
Mike, what are your thoughts?
Written by Ed Brubaker, art by Michael Perkins, cover by Dave Johnson.
"Ex-Factor". You know those days when your ex-wife calls? In this standalone tale, Logan has one of those days. But his ex-wife is Madam Hydra, the woman formerly known as Viper! What does she want? And why is it in Logan’s interest to help her?
32 pages, $2.99. in stores on October 10.
UNCANNY X-MEN #491
Written by Robert Weinberg, pencils by Adrian Alphona, cover by Marko Djurdjevic.
"Status Quo Vadis", part 2 of 2. With Cannonball in the hands of the enigmatic Dark Sisterhood, can the X-Men help him before he is tortured to death? If you think the answer is yes, you might be in for a surprise…32 pages, $2.99, in stores on October 24.
So without further ado, going to fire off some quick moves, to be followed by a couple of other posts. As of right now, this is what I'm moving to post, but admittedly, I still need to plow through what every one else has up.
Am I missing anything people needed help with?
Proposed post text:
Sean, I've placed a call to Molly Lazer over at Thunderbolts regarding the coordination of Venom and Eddie Brock getting suited up again. Obviously, I don't want to upset any of the plans they've got going there. Apparently, Molly is away, but expected back soon, so I look forward to talking with her. I certainly dont' intend to distrupt anything Ellis has on tap, he's been doing a terrific job with that revamp, and I want to make sure the Venom storyline that David moves forward in conjunction with that, just like we did with Matt over on Amazing. I've got a conference call planned with David and Matt to let them know the skinny as soon as I hear back from Molly.
I've placed another call to Paul Jenkins for the four issue series to run concurrent with Balance of Power. I like the suggestion to rework the name, though. How about Balance of Power: The Scales of Justice? While we're waiting to hear confirmation from Paul, I've been thinking Kirkman would be a good backup. As I think I mentioned elsewhere, I think fans would be jazzed to see him paired with his Invincible partner, Ryan Ottley. I haven't had any interaction with Steve Lieber before, but if you think he's worth pursuing, I may need some help brokering that first meet.
I've backed off on the fill-in issue, will await the green light on this one.
On Amazing, Matt and JR Jr are turning in Amazing stuff! We're going to be looking for a significant on-line marketing campaign to coincide with the 45th anniversary issue. Also, what do you think about a sketch version of JR Sr.'s cover to be used as a sales incentive for the direct market?
Also, Sean, over in Spectacular, David is looking to come out of his first arc with a revamped Daily Bugle. I know the Pulse was being pushed for a period of time as a super-hero supplement to the Bugle, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside of late. Can we take a look at possibly giving the Daily Bugle link on Marvel.com a bigger publicity boost on conjunction with the new focus in Spectacular? I'd like to see that link be a site where people turn to more and more for their Marvel news, and would be happy to help coordinate the maintenance of that link. Lemme know....
1.: Ask marketing if we can schedule the Turner cover as a variant for WOLVERINE #59, the start of Ed Brubaker's first multi-part storyline. I think a variant makes sense because a) between the Dave Johnson covers and the Jock covers, we have enough covers to use and b) #58 will be the Lapham/Gaydos issue. A fill-in issue almost always gets lower orders than usual. And I don't want readers to drop the book. If anything, I want new readers to come in with #59, a great jumping-on point with a killer cliffhanger.
2.: With BLACK PANTHER already on board, I'm rushing through the bullpen, talking with the editors of the following books: IRON MAN, the AVENGERS books and the adjectiveless X-MEN. January will have the start of BALANCE OF POWER. I'm coordinating the tie-ins. Which books will be connected to the crossover? When will they ship? How do we avoid seven tie-ins in one week, with none for the next two weeks? Ideally, at least two tie-ins should ship in any week for the duration of this event.
3.: Once the creative team for Balance of Power is settled, the plot is finalized and we know which ongoings by other editors tie into this, I contact the Marvel Handbook editors about the BALANCE OF POWER TRAVEL GUIDE.
4.: I ask Joe Straczynski, Paul Jenkins and one or two writers of the most important tie-ins if they are interested in writing a couple of lines for Wizard about the characters in BALANCE OF POWER. Alternatively, if they would like to do one big roundtable interview with Ben Morse.5.: With stores only getting one promo sheet at once, we offer Wizard printing all four in their books (though not exclusively, as we plan to offer wallpaper versions of those posters on Marvel.com), along with commentary by series editor Philip Schaeffer, Marvel EiC Sean Kleefeld and the writers that agreed to do this. Why were those characters chosen for the promotion? What's behind those taglines? What role will they play in Balance of Power? Rounding things up with character sketches and perhaps the cover of #1 (once that's done and approved)? What does the Marketing department say about that? If they give their okay, I call Ben.
Can you think of any classic stories that might be appropriate? First encounter with Namor? You're the resident expert, let me know your thoughts:
Tell Dan he's not going anywhere; I was merely giving him an opportunity to get a head start on things if rush-writing the non-softball alternative had left him feeling swamped. Especially with She-Hulk joining the team, Dan is extremely important to the future of FF. I'll then request a conference call between Dwayne and Dan making sure everybody's happy with story direction, etc. And, if it hasn't happened yet, I'd still like to set up the Rise/Balance team meeting/conference call.
Out of my own pocket, send JMS a thank-you gift basket of smoked fish, with a card reading "Serve Namor up however you'd like."
Offer Balance to Finch (alt. Jimenez, Epting, Olivetti, McNiven, McGuinness) and tell him we need a commitment. We’d like for the interior artist to provide covers with variants from Michael Turner. Ask Amanda if she’d needs breathing room by taking off the covers for the Rise of the Defenders She-Hulks; if so, ask Finch (or whoever can do Balance) if they’d like to draw those two covers.
Ask again about extra pages for Fantastic Four 550; if I can have them, I’d like to include a 22 page full length story from Slott and Deodato, perhaps a reprinting of a classic FF tale and a brief comedic summary of Rise of the Defenders by Chris Giarusso.
McDuffie and Conner
Cover by Finch
RISE OF THE DEFENDERS!
Guest-Starring the Fantastic Four and Doctor Doom! Jen just wants some time to relax with her old teammates—too bad Doctor Doom’s about to make his triumphant, and very public, return to the lives of America’s premiere super family!
McDuffie and Conner
Cover by Finch
RISE OF THE DEFENDERS!
Guest-Starring the Human Torch, Dr. Doom and Namor! As Namor and Doom weigh the prospects of joining forces, Jen, Ben and Johnny weigh the prospects of breaking the law to help Reed prove Doom’s still up to his old tricks.
Fantastic Four 549
Slott and Deodato
Cover by McGuinness
RISE OF THE DEFENDERS!
Guest-Starring She-Hulk, Black Panther and Storm! The FF investigate Doom’s most recent scientific breakthrough… and it’s a doozy! An unforgettable conversation between Reed Richards and King T’Challa sets the stage for things to come.
(pending certain approvals)
Fantastic Four 550
Slott and Deodato (and additional contributors, if any)
Cover by McGuinness
RISE OF THE DEFENDERS!
Special over-sized issue! The Fantastic Four are at a crossroads in this landmark issue that leads directly into the upcoming BALANCE OF POWER! Featuring a classic story from FF?, an original Mini-Marvels story and the very first appearance of THE DEFENDERS!
Why were those characters chosen for the promotion? What's behind those taglines? What role will they play in Balance of Power? Rounding things up with character sketches and perhaps the cover of #1 (once that's done and approved)?
I think that could give readers a chance to see the other posters (and download them as desktop wallpapers through Wizardworld.com and/or Marvel.com), it would give the article a nice structure, and you could tease about upcoming plot twists in the interview without giving too much away.
As you requested, here's what you need to address today/tonight...
1) Coordination with Thunderbolts office. Ellis has first dibs on Venom regarding changes. Any significant changes in the status quo should be reflected in your books, and you need to make sure that Brock does not get back into the suit before Ellis is done with him. Should not be a huge issue, but one that needs to be coordinated. Which further means that your communications with Thunderbolts office, whatever the outcome, needs to be reported back to both Fraction and Micheline. Possibly JRJr and Pelletier as well if Ellis' work impacts how the character looks.
2) Follow up with Paul Jenkins on Balance of Power: Frontline. See if you can get a definitive answer from him, so he can start working on the books. Did we (all four of us) discuss the length of this series? BoPow is only going to be 5 issues, so Frontline shouldn't go on too long, I expect. Maybe let Jenkins determine how many issues he can/wants to do?
If Jenkins ultimately declines, we need a backup writer (and prefably a backup for your backup) for you to contact. Since Larocca isn't interested, we also need an artist for the book. Didn't Steve Lieber do some Civil War: Frontline? Might be someone to contact, but he's got some movie stuff going on, too, so we'd DEFINITELY want a backup for him.
Also, to everyone, I'm having doubts about the "Frontline" name. It makes for an easy shorthand so we all know the general premise of the book, but the term "frontline" is generally associated with war and/or attacks. While I like the series concept, I would like to tone back the aggressive war notion in our books collectively, so what about something like Balance of Power: Beyond the Headlines? Same premise, just a different title.
3) Don't know how closely you read Tom's blog, but the fill-in thing I asked you to start investigating is a no-go. Do NOT pursue this any further.
4) Finally, just do some general follow-up with your creative teams to make sure that they have everything they need, and that their work is moving apace smoothly.
2.: I'm rushing through the bullpen, talking with the editors of the following books: BLACK PANTHER, IRON MAN, the AVENGERS books and the adjectiveless X-MEN. January will have the start of BALANCE OF POWER. I'm trying to convince as many of the editors as possible that they should have BoPow tie-ins in their titles. Black Panther is the most interesting book of them, since that title could profit from a "Rise of the Defenders" tagline as well in the two months before BALANCE OF POWER starts.
3.: With Sean's permission and the publisher's approval, I'd like to call Eddie Berganza over at the Distinguished Competition to propose a two-part UNCANNY X-MEN/Justice League crossover, one issue published by us, one by them. If he's interested, we'll have to think about this: Will we have two different creative teams? If not, who appoints the writer, who the artist, colorist, letterer etc.? When should we schedule this so it doesn't collide with Marvel's BALANCE OF POWER or DC's MEGACRISIS OF 52 EARTHS?
OK, first off, I am NOT going to make this decision quickly and/or lightly. I've got excellent reasons for NOT getting rid of anybody! But I guess I need to make a decision on things regardless.
Here's what's going to happen today: I want all three of you to keep working with your respective issues/problems. According to Tom's post, I was told of the need to let someone go in Buckley's office, which means that you all, as editors, would NOT know of that conversation. Realistically, you wouldn't know that I need to downsize the staff at all, so there's no reason you wouldn't continue working as if nothing were different. As far as you're concerned, nothing is different today than it was yesterday.
So, come up with your respective game plans for today/tonight as normal. We'll go through the same type of review process we've done since last week and once I sign off on your plans, feel free to post those on Tom's blog.
I'll be posting various other moves unrelated to this throughout the day, but my final decision will probably be a little before 8:00 tonight. I'll e-mail whoever it is first, and post my decision on Tom's blog shortly afterwards.
Tell Dan he's not going anywhere; I was merely giving him an opportunity to get a head start on things if rush-writing the non-softball alternative had left him behind. Especially with She-Hulk joining the team, Dan is extremely important to the future of FF. I'll then request a conference call between Dwayne and Dan making sure everybody's happy with story direction, etc. And, if it hasn't happened yet, I'd still like to set up the Rise/Balance team meeting/conference call.
Out of my own pocket, send JMS a thank-you gift basket of smoked fish, with a card reading "Serve Namor up however you'd like."
I'm still in favor of bringing Deodato to Balance, Sean, but if you'd rather keep him where he is I'm totally behind Finch or Jimenez. I put those in as alternates in case Cheung defected; I wish Tom had just gone ahead and assigned somebody.
I'll then post solicitations for the Rise of the Defenders issues of She-Hulk and Fantastic Four.
SIMULATION II Day 5
DISCLAIMER: All individuals, sales figures, situations and occurrences involved in this editorial simulation are completely fabricated as part of the game, and do not in any way reflect the actual real-world opinions, viewpoints or situations involving any of the creators or titles named. THIS IS A WORK OF FICTION!
Back after the weekend, so let's see where our intrepid young editorial team is, on this, sure to be one of the most difficult days in this simulation.
Matt Fraction isn't going to take an exclusive contract with Marvel. He is writing a book for BigMoney, but he's also committed to doing his Marvel work as well.
Mike Deodato will sign an exclusive deal with Marvel.
BACK ISSUE is happy to run your piece on Steve Gerber's DEFENDERS. They're not sure what to do with your nominal payment for it, though.
The Marvel.com folks will put resources towards having the BALANCE OF POWER DVD-commentary digital comic ready. The Sales Department, however, isn't crazy about this move. They feel the retailers are going to be very upset about ordering and trying to sell a book that's simultaneously available for free (and with more content) online.
The Sales Department also tells you that any material change in creative team from what was solicited will likely make that particular issue returnable. That includes soliciting with Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch, for example, and then just having Mark and Bryan do a 5-page framing sequence around a 17-page story by other creators. The solicited creators must do more than half the book in order for the issue to remain non-returnable.
The design department will begin to get to work on logos and treatments for RISE OF THE DEFENDERS and BALANCE OF POWER.
The marketing department will get to work putting together your house ads. And assuming you don't mind the 25/split posters being a quarter of the size of a typical poster, they should be able to get one randomly sent to each comic shop.
Turner's WOLVERINE cover, while it may be used by Wizard in their article, was commissioned by you and paid for by Marvel. So it wouldn't be used on the cover of Wizard--they commission their own pieces. So you'll want to apply that Turner cover to a WOLVERINE issue.
The Publisher has gotten wind of your intention of offering Robert Weinberg the option of another editor on UNCANNY X-MEN. He tells Sean to let you know that no creator gets to dictate the internal set-up of Marvel editorial, and any decisions involving the reassignment of titles will be made by the EIC and the Publisher. In other words, you can't simply hand your work over to somebody else to do.
Dan Slott doesn't want to take the crossover issues of FANTASTIC FOUR off--he only just got the book, and now between the crossed signals on the softball sequence (for which he appreciates getting paid) and now this seeming desire to dump him off the crossover, he's starting to get a little bit paranoid about his job security.
Paul Ryan will do the next SHE-HULK cover.
With Jim Cheung going over to BigMoney, you'll need to finalize an artist for BALANCE OF POWER.
JMS is very interested in writing the BALANCE OF POWER crossover, having wrapped his head around it, assuming that you intend to go ahead with the plan he's heard about through the grapevine of killing Namor. As he envisions it, Namor's death is the perfect punctuation on the close of the story, giving it a tragic ending, and some real consequence for the Marvel Universe going forward. He's very excited by this idea.
Matt Fraction is fine with moving his Venom storyline back a few months to accommodate SPECTACULAR.
Marvel.com would love to have Matt do a blog about working on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. The VP of Operations cautions you to keep an eye on how much time it's taking up; the most important thing for Matt to do for Marvel is to write comics.
A key point of coordination: Warren Ellis has been writing the Mac Gargan Venom over in THUNDERBOLTS, and he doesn't want to have to try to change the character all around right in the middle of his run. He feels that all of the character set-up he's been doing will be lost if he has to suddenly bring in a different individual in the Venom costume, and that his pay-off will be compromised by this. He also reminds you that he was promised Venom cleanly for at least a year.
The concept of putting comic racks into Best Buy or similar outlets is an enormous negotiation, and one best carried out by the Sales and Marketing team. Likewise, the concept of putting the FCBD Spidey book into dentists' offices.
Paul Jenkins would like to do a BALANCE OF POWER FRONT LINE series, assuming he can fit it in around his film and video game commitments. But this all depends on the project being approved by the EIC in the first place. Salva Larroca isn't all that wild about drawing this, however.
Jim Cheung signs an exclusive contract with BigMoney.
BigMoney's initial wave of titles begins to ship, accompanied by an aggressive marketing campaign.
As your assistant editor, Molly Lazer has this to report:
I will be out of the office on Friday, May 18th and the morning of Monday May 21st. For urgent matters or if you are turning something in, please contact Tom Brevoort email@example.com.
The Publisher pulls Sean into his office this morning to let him know about a situation. As was rumored last week, there was a snafu with Marvel's deal with Sony over the profit-sharing on SPIDER-MAN 3, and because Marvel didn't publish a comic book adaptation of the film, several million dollars that was supposed to come our way isn't happening. Consequently, we've got to tighten our belts a bit--which means that the publisher needs you, Sean, to trim your editorial staff down by one member, and reallocate the books to the remaining staff. Put more simply, you've got to fire one of your editors.
So this is the big twist Tom's been waiting for? Cutting one of us out of the game Survivor style is going to SERIOUSLY SCREW EVERYTHING UP. Tom Brevoort, you're the meanest man I never met.
So my first step is a call for Marvel's exclusive, as well as freelance writers to pitch their ideas for Balance of Power. The only plot point they have to include is the setup: Dr. Doom, Magneto, Black Panther, Namor and perhaps Ikaris, Black Bolt, Mole Man or others band together for a kind of Anti-Illuminati: The Defenders. When the Initiative fails to protect the East Coast from a natural disaster, the new Defenders pitch in, and the classic roles of heroes and villains get reversed.
They can springboard from that. If they have better ideas about the "lineup", if they want to bring in a third party behind the disaster, I'm all ears. In the end, the four of us should pick the best pitch based on how good it is, independently of how close it is to our original idea.
While the writers start submitting their pitches, I go looking for an artist. Philip had a few in mind, so I'll ask them first. If none of them can or wants to commit to this, I'll ask Mike Wieringo or John Romita jr (providing that he doesn't mind doing another crossover so shortly after World War Hulk and providing that he is still able to keep his schedule on Amazing Spider-Man).
With a creative team and a finalized plot in place, I can finally approach the Marvel Handbook editors about the Balance of Power Travel Guide.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
What's the matter with inventing replies like "Paul Jenkins was really receptive of the idea"? That's cheating. And not in a ha-ha-funny way. While you're at it, why don't you write that you spoke to Stephen King and he found a gap in his schedule so he can actually write Spider-Man after all? Oh, hey, Alan Moore called. He wants to write Balance of Power! And Jack Kirby, who I just found out returned from the dead has agreed to offer the artwork. For free!
Not. Cool. And I can't imagine that Sean approved this.
Couldn't you come up with possible replacements or what led to this? Be prepared to have Tom rip you a new one tomorrow.
The least you could have done is you could have told us of this idea.
Sean/Michael/Philip, some of the things I'll be touching on in my post:
1) The Balance of Power: Frontline series - four issues, each issue focusing on a tale told from the point of view of one of the supporting characters from the series impacted - for example, Two-Gun Kid for She Hulk.
2) I've also got an inventory piece featuring Wolverine, She-Hulk, Spider-Man, the Thing, Captain America, Quasar, and Goliath. This piece is a "flashback" to simpler times, and I've got Joe Casey writing, coming off his flashback tales of Avengers and Iron Man. The art on the piece is going to be handled by Tom Scioli, Casey's Kirby-esque partner on Godland. This piece will be ready to go pretty soon, and can be dropped into wherever Sean sees fit should we run into a scheduling problem.
3) Sean, can you tell me where things stand on Byrne? Kinda confused and suspicious about several things here, mostly prompted by the LITG comments. Is he salvagable for Marvel, or is he heading to Big Money? He indicated he's interested in returning to Spidey, and that the $$$ from Big Money isn't an automatic lock for him. I just want this one put to bed if we can.
4) I'm not all that revved up about the DC crossover potential, but Sean, obviously if you're looking to use Spidey in the mix, I'm game, provided it's the right creators and pitch.
Apologize to Dan about the re-write; the EIC gave me the go-ahead to pay him for the new material (but I'll hang onto the softball stuff for possible use at a later date so it's not money burned). Ask Dan if he'd like to take off the Rise of the Defenders FF issues for breathing room; if so, offer them to Reggie. Inform Reggie that T'Challa is an integral part of Defenders/Balance, and that his input is equally integral. Ask Paul Ryan if he'd do a retro She-Hulk cover to fill-in for Amanda, and see if anybody else thinks they’ll need a fill-in or breather in the coming months.
Put together Defenders/Balance meeting (conference call depending on schedules) with Reggie, Dan, Dwayne, Robert and JMS (after we've put the ideas to the room and they’ve tossed them around, maybe he’ll take the job, but let him politely know we need an answer).
If Cheung jumps for BigMoney, I'm still inclined to move Deodato over from FF (replaced by Jimenez, Pelletier or McGuinness), so Balance is a natural extension of Rise of the Defenders, alternately ask Finch or Jimenez.
A few thoughts to bounce around with the writers (which, for the record, is all I ever intended to do with suggested story-points anyway):
1. Doom and Reed both observed seismic data indicating the massive tectonic shift was imminent--Reed misinterpreted it but Doom didn’t and planned accordingly.
2. She-Hulk officially joins the FF midway through Balance and its tie-ins, replacing Sue. Work closely with Dan and Dwayne to make sure that they have freedom to tell whatever Balance stories with whatever characters they want, as long as everything fits into the big picture.
3. Sue feels Reed is no longer the man she married, too emotionally distant and certain of his abilities, and that their undying love is not enough. She’s worried about Reed as a role model for the kids and their safety in perilous NYC, so she accepts Namor's invitation and re-locates with the kids to Atlantis. Namor’s recent conduct leads Sue to consider marrying him (though she doesn’t love him), believing her children will have a better life out of NYC, and that she can do the most good as a Defender.
3. Black Panther as Defenders’ voice of reason and source of credibility, but he’s busy battling the exposed-to-still-be-a-bad-guy Magneto later in the series, when things reach a crisis.
4. Final act: a Defenders aid patrol to Cuba enters American waters and is destroyed by an Initiative hero. Doom convinces Namor Reed’s to blame; Namor invades America to kill Reed, but he is stopped by Sue, who realizes that her love for Reed actually is all that matters. Namor, heartbroken, disappears into the rubble of Manhattan, and Doom and T'Challa move into a dual leadership position of the now not-quite-so beloved Defenders.
August 07 (Friday, May 18):
SHE-HULK #18, August 8.
WOLVERINE #55, August 15. The Diggle/Sudzuka issue.
SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #40 , August 22.
Note: Spectacular Spider-Man continues Sensational's numbering.
FANTASTIC FOUR #549 , August 22.
UNCANNY X-MEN #489, August 29.
September 07 (Monday, May 21)
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #544 , September 5.
SHE-HULK #19, September 5.
WOLVERINE #56, September 12. Brubaker's first issue.
SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #41, September 19.
FANTASTIC FOUR #550, September 19.
UNCANNY X-MEN #490, September 26.
October 07 (Tuesday, May 22)
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #545, October 3
SHE-HULK #20, October 3
WOLVERINE #57, October 10
SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #42, October 17
FANTASTIC FOUR #551, October 17
UNCANNY X-MEN #491, October 24
NOTE: We have a fifth week in October. Patrick, do you want to slot in a second issue of Amazing Spider-Man this month? Philip, I don't think She-Hulk should ship twice in October. Or should we come up with a fifth week event? Could we come up with a fifth week event? Perhaps with a Halloween theme, since the books would ship on October 31?
November 07 (Wednesday, May 23)
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #546, November 7
SHE-HULK #21, November 7
WOLVERINE #58, November 14. Most likely the Lapham/Gaydos issue. Which won't tie in with Rise of the Defenders.
SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #43, November 21
FANTASTIC FOUR #552, November 21
UNCANNY X-MEN #492, November 28
December 07 (Thursday, May 24)
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #547, December 5
SHE-HULK #22, December 5
WOLVERINE #59, December 12. The start of Brubaker's first multi-parter.
SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #44, December 19
FANTASTIC FOUR #553, December 19
UNCANNY X-MEN #493, December 27
January 08 (Friday, May 25)
The last day of our simulation, the start of the new year and the kickoff for Balance of Power.
BALANCE OF POWER #1, January 2
Note to Sean: We should really have tie-ins to this throughout Marvel's line of books this month and the next couple of months, especially in Black Panther, Iron Man, the Avengers books and adjectiveless X-Men. Other books can mention the events of BofPow in the background to show the strong continuity of Marvel's books.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #548 (Patrick, would you or your creative teams mind making this issue or this month's Spectacular Spidey issue a BofPow tie-in?), January 2
SHE-HULK #23, January 9 (Phil, I guess this ties in as well? And I bumped this back a week to spread the Balance of Power books better across this month's weeks)
WOLVERINE #60, January 9. Part two of Brubaker's around the world multi-parter. This might be Japan or Madripoor. While this won't be a real BofPow tie-in, the ramifications of the event will be felt in the background.
SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #45, January 16.
FANTASTIC FOUR #554, January 16
UNCANNY X-MEN #494, January 23
And another fifth week. Since Tom mentioned that this is the close of a fiscal quarter. Any late books must have shipped by now. And we can decide to schedule Balance of Power #2 and a couple of tie-ins (Amazing Spidey? She-Hulk?) for this week as well?
Anything I have missed?
Saturday, May 19, 2007
"There must be, not a balance of power, but a community of power; not organized rivalries, but an organized peace."
-- Woodrow T. Wilson
"In almost every country there are elements of opinion which would welcome such a conclusion because they wish to return to the politics of the balance of power, unrestricted and unregulated armaments, international anarchy, and preparation for war."
-- Arthur Henderson
"If this phrase of the 'balance of power' is to be always an argument for war, the pretext for war will never be wanting, and peace can never be secure."
-- John Bright
"Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah to 'undo the heavy burdens...(and) let the oppressed go free.' And if a beachhead of co-operation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved."
-- John F. Kennedy
"I don't believe, in the 21st century, in the balance of power system. This is a European idea of the 19th and 20th centuries."
-- Joschka Fischer
"From what I have seen of our Russian friends and Allies during the war, I am convinced that there is nothing they admire so much as strength, and there is nothing for which they have less respect than for weakness, especially military weakness. For that reason the old doctrine of a balance of power is unsound. We cannot afford, if we can help it, to work on narrow margins, offering temptations to a trial of strength."
-- Winston Churchill
"The stakes for America's democracy are far higher than has been generally recognized. These claims must be rejected and a healthy balance of power restored to our Republic. Otherwise, the fundamental nature of our democracy may well undergo a radical transformation."
-- Al Gore
"The balance of power in a society accompanies the balance of property in land."
-- John Adams
"The balance of power is the scale of peace. The same balance would be preserved were all the world not destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside ... Horrid mischief would ensue were one half the world deprived of the use of them ... the weak will become prey to the strong."
-- Thomas Paine
"Their political interests are entirely distinct from ours. Their mutual jealousies, their balance of power, their complicated alliances, their forms and principles of government, are all foreign to us. They are nations of eternal war. All their energies are expended in the destruction of the labor, property and lives of their people."
-- Thomas Jefferson
Wanted to give you a few updates from my end, on where we're going over in this tangled web.
Obviously, I've read LITG, as well as the communciations we've all been firing back and forth here in our brain trust corner of the internet.
Sean, I specifically wanted to pull you into what we've got on the horizon. I'd also like to accomodate some of your other requests/wishes as we're webslinging forward.
As I mentioned in another thread's response, I'm planning to honor Fraction's request to use Venom in his run, but only after Michelinie restores some of the status quo over there. As you know, the first six issues that Michelinie has committed to has been called the Fall of the Bugle. Basically, we're showing what's gone on at the Daily Bugle ever since some of the Marvel Universe-changing events of late. A supporting character in this series is going to be Eddie Brock, who by the sixth issue of Michelinie and Pelletier's run will have reclaimed his symbiote. As soon as that arc has ended, Venom is back up for grabs for whoever wants him, and that includes his continued use over in T-Bolts. Michelinie's second arc is being called Back in Brock, and will be taking a closer look at the symbiote's relationship not only with Brock, but with all those he has "partnered" with over the years, particularly Peter Parker. I'm not going into great detail here, but essentially, the symbiote's having his own separation anxieties which would be akin to our version of cancer, and unless he reunites with each of his previous hosts, he's heading for the Marvel Book of the Dead. Speaking of which, I'm trying to help Michelinie research everyone's who bonded with the symbiote during the time David's been away from the title. Anyone who has any feedback there, it's appreciated.
For Fraction and Romita, Matt had said he wanted to do what appeared to be a series of "Done in One" stories. Actually, as folks are going to realize, there's a pair of underlying stories there, though each issue can be read initially as a standalone. There's a countdown -insert apologies to the Distinguished Competition here - taking place that will reunite Fraction's version of the new Sinister Six. This will give Romita Jr. a chance to go to town with some of fandom's favorite Spider-baddies. Playing out behind the scenes, though, is the discovery of a letter written by Peter's deceased dad, former SHIELD agent Richard Parker. The reveal on that one doesn't some until later in the arc, so we're trying to keep a tight lid on that now.
But what I'm going to most need for support for help from above is this summer's 45th anniversary of Spider-Man. As all of us know, he made his debut in August, 1962, so I'm going to be using Jazzy John Romita Sr.'s variant cover for a special 45th anniversary issue that Matt is already furiously penning.
I'm hoping for some serious in-house ads to help bump this one, as well as some comic shops promos.
Fraction has indicated he's itching to get out there and do some interviews, and I'm willing to let him run. He's really pumped about our offer of exclusivity, as well as the generous offer to allow him to continue his already-established indy titles. But he's also looking to hit the interview circuit, and I'm all game for that. Sean, you want me to run that process through you or just take it and run with it?
For everything else, I'll post in the appropriate entries elsewhere.
WHAT IF TOM CHECKS THE DAY 4 PAGE AND DOESN'T SEE THAT WE POSTED ANYTHING IN TIME AGAIN AND THEN WE MISS SEVERAL MORE BOOKS AND WE DON'T SELL ANYWHERE NEAR THE RIGHT NUMBER OF TITLES AND THE WHOLE THING GOES STRAIGHT TO HELL???????
So, where are we at as of right now and how do we get to our endgame? Our numbers our down a bit on individual titles. But "The Rise of the Defenders" has gotten some backing from external editorial offices, which says to me that it's good storyline overall and we should play that up, if possible. It also says to me that it'll be something of a rising tide as those X-fans who want the whole story give a boost to FF and SheHulk. That further means we can carry some of that momentum to Balance of Power and kick that series off with more of a bang.
"Rise of the Defenders" crossover -- We're fortunate at the moment that all the crossover titles have pretty stable creative teams, so we just need to make sure that everyone's on the same page about which overarching story beats hit when. Mike, you're coordinating this, right? I'm thinking you need to establish and distribute a chart (not for real; this would be one of your "moves") that shows when all the books are expected to ship, who's working on them, and what the significant story beats are. That needs to go to not only the editors, but all the creators involved. Everyone needs to know where everyone else is on the map.
That said, though, we also don't want to trap ourselves by trying to OVER-schedule this. We saw what happened when one of the "Civil War" books shipped late, so let's avoid the domino problem by trying to make the individual titles A) self-contained enough that they're not entirely dependent on each other and B) not so mutually exclusive that they seem entirely tangental to the overall story. (Yeah, I know. Easier said than done.) This should actually be relatively easy given the outline. We focus each title on Namor and the respective Defenders recuit and simply don't make reference to what the specific status is of what Namor is doing with the other recruits. That gives us a more flexible schedule AND can allow for folks like Reg Hudlin to write his BP issues however he wants.
So, Mike, you coordinate that and handle any specific issues on Uncanny. Phil, you've obviously got FF and SheHulk.
The other thing we need to do is promote this. I'm happy to get inhouse ads going with whatever artwork we've got in for this. Obviously, it'll reference all the books this runs through. (Simply checklist, I suppose, underneath the fabulously cool artwork.) I hinted yesterday at a tag line to try to tie this with Balance of Power. I'm open to catchy suggestions.
I'd also like to see some marketing... something that we can distribute to comic shops. I remember the old "Acts of Vengeance" story had the Taskmaster's business cards as a promo -- looked like a business card/ad for Taskmaster's school of villainy (or whatever it was called) and the back was a checklist of all the crossover books. Heroes Reborn: The Return had foam boomerangs, but those didn't listed titles or issues. I think something gimmicky that has a fairly high degree of relevance to the storyline would be fun, but in lieu of that, we could simply go with promo posters or something. Phil, you know the storyline better than the rest of us -- what might make sense? (Keep in mind, too, that cheaper and faster is better here.)
See if you guys can arrange interviews with the standard outlets. Mike, I know you've already had some dealings with Wizard. Let's see if we can tap some podcasts and venues other than print mags and web sites. One of my EIC Moves this morning was to write a historical piece on the old Defenders for Mike Eury's Back Issue to put the name out in the public conscious, as it were. So don't limit yourselves to "Hey, we've got this cool crossover coming up" things alone.
Balance of Power -- We need to make sure this book gets out before the sim ends. Otherwise, I don't see us hitting that 504,000 mark. The two concerns on the table at the moment are 1) we don't have a writer (JMS is still pending) and 2) concerns about Cheung's speed.
I'm inclined to ignore the speed thing with Cheung. We're not going to get through the whole series within the timeframe of the sim, so I'm tempted to just look at the short term prospect on that. Maybe as a compromise, Phil, you can get covers done by someone else?
We obviously need to nail down a writer. I'd suggest calling JMS in your next move and saying (politely) that we need a decision now. If he can't do it, no hard feelings. But we move on to someone else. You originally had Slott then McDuffie slated on your want list -- unless you're absolutely married to that, I would switch those with the news that Slott's being eyeballed by BigMoney. Personally, I like Slott's work a little more, but I don't want to gamble on a limited series any more than I need to.
I'd also like to throw one more book into the mix. This should be fairly easy, though. The Balanace of Power Atlas. Or 'guidebook' or whatever. Basically, though, a modern Handbook style piece that touches on the main players/locations in the story. I'm thinking most of this is going to be stuff that's already been written for existing Handbooks: bios of the main players; maps of Wakanda, Latveria, etc; maybe a summary/review of the old Super-Villain Team-Up books; that kind of thing? But most of it should be existing material to speed up the process. You'll need to coordinate with the Handbook editor on this.
The sooner we can get this nailed down, the sooner we can get marketing materials together. This is an outgrowth of "Rise of the Defenders", so we could use art from that, but I'd prefer, honestly, working a little backwards here and using Balance of Power art to promote "Rise of the Defenders." Don't know if we can do that, though, given the timeframe.
We'll also need to nail down a schedule/timeline/roadmap for BoPo and the associated titles the same as what I asked Mike to do for "RotD." It won't have a big impact on our sim, but I think it should be out there as one less thing Tom can throw at us at the last minute.
Spider-Man - No, I'm not ignoring you, Pat. :) It looks like Amazing is in decent shape at the moment, and I'm hoping that with Fraction and JRJr, we can get a bump in sales there. Since we're a little behind the game on Spectacular, creative-wise, you'll need to keep some close tabs on Pelletier at least initially until he gets in full swing.
Fraction's asked about Venom. I think we should keep him happy since he's one of our "could leave for BigMoney" folks, so I'd be inclined to say using Venom is okay. Obviously, though, you'll want to establish that A) Venom comes out effectively unchanged so his story won't contradict Michelinie's and B) that Venom isn't getting over-exposed between the two stories. As I recall your Spectacular outline, Venom is more of an undercurrent to the story until the last half? Maybe if Fraction's Venom story is short enough, then it won't be a significant issue. You might want to call him to discuss how extensive his plans are.
I might also suggest that Venom does NOT appear on every cover -- although splitting Venom's cover appearances between both titles might suggest that there's a crossover happening and result in bumped sales. Not a solution I'd be keen on for the long term, but we know we done have a long term! :)
Back-Up -- Yeah, I know. I've been harping you guys to have back-ups for everything. I have an idea that might solve for that, though, and I'd like Pat to tackle this since Mike and Phil are already booked with crossover material.
What I'd like to have is a 18-19 page story featuring Spidey, Wolverine, Thing and She-Hulk. It should be set sometime in the past and feature the four characters relatively equally. Either no villain or someone who's not really tied to any of the above characters. Maybe it could focus on or springboard out of Thing's poker games, to at least give them a reason to all be together.
The basic idea I'm shooting for here is to have a story done and ready to go that can drop into ANY of your books if things are running late. We add a page or two on either end from the current creative team and set up the story as a flashback so as not to interrupt continuity, but we still get a book shipped on time.
My one concern here is that this would theoretically be a change from the original solicitation and therefore become returnable. I'm going to talk to marketing and legal to see how we might weasel through this since A) the originally solicited creators would still be contributing to the issue and B) if we could have that portion reference the solicited story, would that also qualify in circumventing the change?
So, Pat, can you line up some talent on something like this? Obviously, we don't want to worry about big names, so I suggest looking at the small press folks who've never really worked at Marvel or DC before.
X-Men -- Mike, I thinkUncanny is in pretty good shape. Maybe deserves a call to Weinberg for warm fuzzies and making sure he's writing the stories he wants to. We covered that already. Other outstanding questions here -- I would suggest following marketing's suggestion on the 50/50 Sudyam variant cover; as for Turner's, can we line that up with the release BoPo #1? Or is that when #500 is set to ship?
On Wolverine, you've also got a little room for Brubaker with the Lanpham/Gaydos issue, right? Does he know you've given some leeway with that already? Again, given the sim, I'd be inclined to put Wolverine as a priority over Captain America but I'm sure Tom'll find a way to have that bite us in the tookus. If we need another Lanpham/Gaydos issue, I'm not opposed to it, but I hate to put off Brubaker's debut here. At the same time, I don't want to piss him off or force him to do inferior work. Talk to Brubaker and see how much time he needs. In your post to Tom, I suggest putting a lot of if/thens in place to cover your bases depending on Brubaker's response.
Fantastic Four -- Phil, I think giving "RotD" scheduling to Mike should help with scheduling issues on your end. Follow his lead to coordinate those titles accordingly. This is going to be tricky since we're looking at FF tying in with multiple stories towards the end of the sim. The softball issue, I'd bet, is going to come close to the wire, so make an extra effort to keep Deodato on schedule and make sure he gets Slott's revisions ASAP.
I'll back you up on paying Slott for the rewrites. I that was sort of a one-off problem, and Dan's got other irons in the fire. In paying him, I'd suggest being extra nice, "won't happen again", etc. Obviously, we want to keep him around.
Regarding the She-Hulk cover, I suggest seeing if you can get Paul Ryan to do it. Hopefully, not a huge deal for his schedule and will tie into the book's interior.
end notes -- Whew! That took longer than I expected. Sorry for that.
I think I hit everything that needs to be hit. I want us to do well collectively, and so my suggestions here are all based on what I think is going to work best, but I'm not omniscient, so if I've not considered something or you think I haven't thought threw certain aspects of things, let me know.