Hands up, everyone who’s ever had a question about the Marvel Universe. Now… imagine if you could get that question answered by some of the people responsible for making Marvel’s comic book output each and every month?
That’s the idea behind Friday afternoon’s Marvel Comics: Marvel Fanfare with C.B. Cebulski panel, in which the aforementioned editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics leads a panel of special guests (whose identities are, as of writing, still being kept under wraps; think of them like the Secret Warriors, but with more back problems) to hold court about all things Marvel. If the audience has questions, they have answers… or so they claim!
Like a Celestial wired up to the internet, Popverse will be live-blogging the panel with a metaphorical thumb ready to share all the news, announcements, spoilers, and secrets spilled across the next hour. If that’s your thing, then bookmark the page and get ready, but if you need some time to prepare, come back in an hour to enjoy the whole thing after the fact.
Throughout all of New York Comic Con 2022, Popverse is going to be keeping up with everything that happens, from panels and breaking news to interviews and the best cosplay on the show floor. We’ll be sharing everything as it happens — including exclusive livestreams from the biggest panels at the show — so let us keep you in the loop all weekend.
If you’ve enjoyed this coverage, please give Popverse a shoutout by tagging us on @PopverseSays on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, or linking to us at www.thepopverse.com.
Our live coverage of this event has finished.
The room is filling up with a lot of comic book fans, ready to hear anything and everything that C.B. Cebulski and friends want to tell them. Welcome to the liveblog of the Marvel Fanfare panel!
Panelists are coming on stage while the screens show a trailer for Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War, and the very dramatic music from that feels like the perfect intro to a Marvel panel!
On stage right now are Marvel editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski, Marvel executive editor Nick Lowe, and Humberto Ramos, who gets a loud round of applause in the room. He's just re-signed as a Marvel exclusive artist.
Humberto Ramos's response to his official photo on the screen: "I'm so old!"
Why does Nick Lowe have a stag head in his official photo? It's a fourth-hand gift that started with Garth Ennis buying it in a flea market.
"We really don't have too much set to talk about," says Cebulski. Instead, expect some questions being answered and some audience participation.
"The greatest content creation company in the world," is how Cebulski just described Marvel. It's not as catchy as "The House of Ideas," but what can you do?
Fans who ask questions will receive some rare variant editions of Amazing Spider-Man #900, the panel tell the crowd. Humberto Ramos also brought a set of special covered comics, and they're very limited editions: Less than 25 in the world!
The house lights go up because Cebulski wants to see the crowd, before he talks about the tragic passing of Kim Jung Gi.
First slide goes up, and it's two covers for Strange Academy: Finals, the end of the first run of the series. "For fans who might not know, this is a book that was conceived by you guys and Skottie Young," Cebulski says while talking to Lowe and Ramos.
At the end of Strange Academy #18, the student body split in two, with a group going into the Dark Dimension -- that's the group that the Finals series is going to follow.
Cebulski points out that this is the first book in awhile at Marvel featuring predominantly new characters, with 12 new characters in the series. Ramos was asked by Skottie what he wanted to do after Spider-Man, and then was pitched this title. "I always wanted to work with Skottie," he says.
Lowe explains that Cebulski announced the series at a Marvel editorial retreat without Skottie Young knowing that it had been approved.
"I grew up with these characters, the Marvel Universe characters, and then someday people ask you to bring characters into the Marvel Universe," Ramos says when talking about how it felt to create all these new character. "I was a little nervous."
Ramos says that he considers Marvel to be filled with "little families," because creative teams and editors are friends. "There's not much effort to make [things] happen."
Cebulski asks what inspires Ramos in terms of design; he says that he thinks of two things - the Punisher, the comic character ("It always felt funny to me that he had these white gloves when he was an assassin," he says), and that somebody would have to draw the character. "I remember back in the '90s, the characters would have all the weapons and the gear... and they would look kind of cool, they would look kind of cool, but then you'd be like, 'wow, I have to draw this guy for 20 pages.'"
Lowe says that Ramos has never rested on his laurels. "You'd think he'd just relax," he says. "I didn't know that I could do that," the artist jokes.
Cebulski asks how long it takes for Ramos to make these pages happen, including working with the colorist. "Usually three or four days," replies Ramos. "Our deadline is pretty tight. It's easy when you know the people you work with. We've been doing this a long time so it just works."
New Humberto Ramos Spider-Man covers are shown onscreen. They're variant covers for the new Dan Slott-written Spider-Man book. The first issue was "a pretty rough intense issue," says Lowe. "It's huge. This arc is going to be huge."
"How many characters are there on there? 40?" asks Lowe. "I don't know, maybe?" says Ramos. Cebulski is asking about the perspective on Ramos' variant spotlighting Spider-Woman, and the artists says that he tries to make the city important in Spider-Man art. "It's nice to have a cool shot of the city." Google is useful reference material, he's saying, replacing books of reference photographs he's used in the past. "It's so amazing," says Lowe of the cover. "Look at the ink work on that building. The texture is just incredible."
"Arthur Adams fans in the house?" asks Lowe. Cebulski is asking the audience, how did they first discover Marvel? By far, the majority of people are saying it was comics, but a lot of them watched the animated shows.
There's a significant portion of fans who came to Marvel from the movies, but someone from the crowd yells up, "Trading cards!" (Ah, the '90s.) "People get exposed to Marvel in so many different ways," says Cebulski.
Nick Lowe says that his first exposure to Marvel was underoos. (People applauded, if you're wondering what kind of crowd this is.) In seventh grade, he broke his arm and while in hospital, his brother brought him two X-Men comics. "The art was beautiful, and it was crazy. I didn't know who these people were, but I wanted to know more," he remembers; he subscribed the very next month.
Ramos says that his parents used to buy him comic books. "This will take care of my kid," he jokes as if that was their thinking at the time. "I don't know the issue here, because in Mexico we had translated editions," he says, but he remembers a Spider-Man story drawn by John Romita Snr. where students at Empire State University were rioting. "I knew Spider-Man, I loved him already, but I wanted to know what happened next," he remembers. "That was the first time I remember going back to the newsstand."
Cebulski talks about the fact that, once upon a time, Mexican reprints of Spider-Man caught up with the source material and they started creating their own stories. "It would never happen in this day and age."
Ramos remembers that, in those original stories, Mexican editors didn't want to kill off Gwen Stacy, so they married her and Peter instead. "Gwen Stacy is Peter's true love, so that makes sense to me," says Cebulski.
Cebulski is remembering the realization that there weren't just comics, but comic creators, citing Stan Lee as an early example. "One of the biggest was Jim Lee, out of the gate," says Lowe. "When I was growing up, [trade paperbacks] didn't exist." One of the few available was the X-Men: Extinction Agenda collection, which blew his mind. "Some of my favorite artists, when I first saw their work, I didn't love it," he admits.
"I grew up reading the classic Spider-Man artists, and I love them all," says Ramos. But there was a Fantastic Four book that he remembers in particular... "It was called the New Fantastic Four. I was like, who is this guy?" The art was more detailed and more cartoony. (It was Art Adams, for those who don't remember.) This was the book that made Ramos want to make comics for a living. "It's a great story for me."
Cebulski is sharing that Art Adams drew the New Fantastic Four with four pages on the same art board, because the deadlines were so tight. "That letterer must have been furious," says Lowe.
"You're one of the few artists who don't work digitally," says Cebulski to Ramos. "I'm trying to learn," Ramos responds. "It should be easy, but it's not."
The first creator that Cebulski followed was George Lucas, because he saw Lucas on a television interview. "That's the first time it clicked for me, people create this stuff. That's something you can for a job."
"Marvel's never had a house style," Cebulski says, saying that he took particular notice of Bill Sienkiewicz on New Mutants. "It was such a shock at first, but I had a subscription."
Cebulski is taking the opportunity to hype up the Marvel Unlimited app for fans who are wanting to read back issues, pointing out the Infinity Comics which come out almost every day. It's Jeff has been namechecked, as it should be. (People cheered, as they should.)
"Folks are fans of the D+ series Loki," Cebulski says, pointing out that Alligator Loki idea was something that Marvel Comics wanted to use. "It's a big synergistic company," Cebulski says about Marvel as it stands today.
"We had some very serious content" says Cebulski talking about the publisher's comic book history. "But even with the weight of some of the stories we tell, the key to Marvel stories [...] is the humor, is the fun." Without humor, Marvel stories don't work as escapism, he suggests, going back to Stan Lee's days. Lowe says that Marvel still works in the spirit of Lee today. "They did do some crazy stuff... that is the story we try to keep [alive]."
"Music has always been a big part of what Marvel does," Cebulski says, somewhat unexpectedly. Back in the day, Joe Quesada used to write an annual Marvel song that other staffers would get roped into taking part in... and Lowe is keeping the spirit alive with an official theme song for Spinstress from Edge of Spider-Verse #4. The writer of the story, David Hein and his wife Irene Sankoff, wrote the Broadway play Come From Away, and they've written and recorded a song for the character. "Will you sing the song?" Ramos asks Lowe, but the answer is sadly no... but only because he can't remember the song. "I'm not afraid to sing."
Fan question time, but even as Ramos answers a question about putting his Mexican heritage into his work ("I want that to be part of the Marvel Universe," he says), a new slide briefly appears on the screen teasing an unnamed Jonathan Hickman/Valero Schiti project. It's quickly taken back down.
A kid asks for advice becoming a Marvel creator. "Draw every single day," Nick Lowe suggests. "Not just superheroes." Ramos adds, "Draw for fun. Draw because you like it, draw because you love it, don't draw because you have to become a comic book artist." All professional artists started drawing for fun, he says. "That's how it starts. What I recommend is, enjoy it."
Someone asks Cebulski about his philosophy about serving new and old creators and classic creations at the same time. "It's all about, for me, telling stories for fans by fans," he says. "We can't move forward to the future by forgetting the past." He talks about traveling the world to find creators, and that being reflected in the comics, creating a more diverse Marvel Universe. "Especially more now with more female creators."
Disney+'s She-Hulk gets a shout-out from the stage, and gets maybe the loudest applause from the crowd so far.
Another question: is there pressure to bring in more ideas and stories from the MCU instead of creating the source material for the MCU? Lowe says that Marvel's comic line tries to be ten years ahead of the MCU. "Movies and comics are two different things... What makes a good comic wouldn't make a good movie, and vice versa." Marvel Studios "loves" when Marvel Comics tries to push ahead. Cebulski says that Marvel is a body, but Marvel Comics is the heart.
They've just put up the Hickman/Schiti slide again: "What happens when the powers that be meet the natural order of things?" it asks; there are other "accidental" slides that Cebulski has pointed out that appear to show new designs for Mister Sinister, of all people. What is coming up in 2023...?
One final question: What story do panelists wish they were part of? Cebulski says Secret Wars (the original). "It blew my mind as I read it," he says. X-Cutioner's Song says Lowe. Spider-Verse, says Humberto Ramos. "I would have loved to have been part of that."
And that's it! The panel is over. Thanks for reading, everyone. And we'll keep you up to date with any further developments about those mysterious Hickman/Schiti and Mister Sinister slides here on Popverse as we find out more.