As editor-in-chief, he’s been the man at the center of the Marvel Universe for almost the last five years, and now C.B. Cebulski has arrived at San Diego Comic-Con with all the answers to the questions on every single fan of the House of Ideas… and maybe some surprises, as well.
Cebulski will be holding court in this Friday afternoon panel, responding to fans’ queries with some facts, some teases, and what’s being teased as a “special guest,” to boot. Just who is going to show up, and what are they going to be working on…? We have been told it's Skottie Young, but we're not putting it past Marvel to have other plans as well.
Popverse is going to be liveblogging everything from Cebulski’s entrance onstage to his exit, including whatever unexpected goodies might be coming our way in the process. Bookmark the page to keep up to date with news and gossip as it breaks, or come back after the fact to read everything as it happened.
We're just minutes away from the Marvel Fanfare with C.B. Cebulski panel, which teases both special guests and answers to burning questions. What lies in store? We're all about to find out.
Even as people are still coming into the room, C.B. Cebulski is talking about his love for cosplayers. He's joined by Skottie Young.
"This panel is a bit of a freeform thing," Cebulski says, likening it to Joe Quesada's old Cup O' Joe panel, where fans get to ask questions and everyone gets to talk about their shared love of comics.
"We're all here for one reason, and that's to share that love. Whether you're here for movies, cartoons, whatever, the heart of Marvel is comics," says Cebulski.
Young and Cebulski have been doing variations of this panel since 2018; they're talking about how to keep the format fresh, and Cebulski is showing off a notebook filled with notes on every single editorial summit since Cebulski became editor-in-chief in 2017. The panel will be the two talking about secrets behind these summits, he promises.
Cebulski is explaining what an editorial retreat is - or used to be, as they're all Zoom meetings now, he says. It used to be a number of creators and editors "throwing out ideas, different characters, things we thought needed revamping, a lot of things we wanted to do. We were just throwing notes back and forth." The summits/retreats were "a think tank" of writers sharing ideas, he says.
"When Jason Aaron starts to talk, you want to give notes, but it's just perfect," Young says.
The first line written in Cebulski's notebook, as Young reads it, is "I love my job." The audience actually said "awwwww" as one.
Cebulski is skipping over certain details, including a list of artists he wanted to bring to Marvel. He also reads a note that says, "Kill all the children, need more dark moments," although he says he didn't know what that referred to. There's also a list of characters to boost and do more with, from 2018: Vance Astro, the New Warriors, "create a female Killraven," and "can we do something new with Doctor Strange?" "I think someone decided to create a school of magic," Young jokes, referring to his Strange Academy series.
Young says that, prior to Strange Academy, he worked on Deadpool because he loves "madcap characters" like Tank Girl. He wanted to work on the character when he was finishing the Oz adaptations, but Daniel Way was still writing the character; instead, he launched Rocket Raccoon and Groot as a "backdoor Deadpool book, because he had a similar attitude." He finally got offered the Deadpool book when Cebulski became editor-in-chief.
Cebulski credits Young with bringing Nic Klein to Marvel, via Deadpool. Young found Klein when he was known for independent work and digital painting; the two got in contact when Klein emailed Young after listening to his podcast. "Who does not love Nic Klein in this room, right?" says Young.
Another 2018 note in Cebulski's notebook: "Check with Donny Cates, what about a new Venom #1?" Also mention of a pitch from Jason Aaron that everyone needed to hear, which he and Young believe was the first time that Aaron had pitched the Punisher series that's currently being published.
Young says that series get started by "nerds in rooms nerding out and texting their friends," and then they become proper pitches. He's talking about his experience with Strange Academy, which quickly went from an off-hand text to a pitch to Disney executives. "That's how things happen. It's a bunch of people throwing stuff at the wall," he says.
"There's something here that says, 'Phoenix War?' I don't think we went anywhere with that," Cebulski says. There's also a 2018 note for what became Jason Aaron's Heroes Reborn storyline. Also a note that didn't go anywhere was mention of something called "S.H.A.D.O.W."
Young is talking about a retreat around Jonathan Hickman's Secret Wars, where across three days, the creators listed 200 potential new series across 10 different white boards. "Over the course of that weekend, it was the most pure version of grown-ups playing pretend."
Another similarly creative summit was where the Infinity Warps mash-up characters were invented, says Young. "It never made it, but the best one that Donny and I came up with was Deadbolt, which was Black Bolt and Deadpool. A guy who won't shut the F up, and a guy who, if he doesn't shut the F up, will kill everybody."
"These meetings continue afterwards, informally, at dinner and at the bar," says Cebulski, saying that those ideas can come back into the official room the day afterwards. Young credits the after-hour conversations with breaking down creator nervousness after facing down veterans across a table. "Are you going to give Jonathan Hickman a note?" he asks.
Two things created at summits, says Cebulski, were Miles Morales and Kamala Khan, both of whom were created in editorial retreats. Kamala came from Sana Amanat, who wanted to see a female Muslim hero in Marvel comics; it was at a summit when Stephen Wacker made the decision to transform Carol Danvers into Captain Marvel, which made the Ms. Marvel name available for Kamala, says Cebulski.
"The worst idea ever, and I didn't write down who said it," Cebulski says, "is, 'Should we change the name of the Inhumans to I-Force?'" Young was going to name his version of the worst idea ever, but Cebulski says he shouldn't say it because it did actually happen.
Another notebook question: "Who should be the new Ronin? Should it be an existing hero, or a new character? Or maybe a villain?" Puts it to the audience, and someone suggests the Punisher. "He has a new role, wait until you see what happens to him," Cebulski says.
Another notebook question: "What should we do with Dazzler?" Somewhere, Kieron Gillen has raised his hand.
A fan question: Will there be more exclusive merchandise for conventions, especially featuring Skottie Young art? "A lot of supply chain issues," says Young. "Let's see how this first year back goes."
Q: Is there a particularly difficult stage in the creative process? "I think the hardest thing is, once you've had this idea and everybody's weighing in," says Young. The more people talk, the more that means they're excited, he says. "I know that when we first did Strange Academy, I was overwhelmed by people [offering suggestions]. It's all a matter of focusing in on what your original intent was." Cebulski says that he focuses on how ideas exist inside the larger Marvel universe. "What are the pieces that tie into past continuity? Where is this character going in the larger Marvel universe?"
Q: A fan asks about the Miles Morales Thor mash-up. "Things got missed," Cebulski says. "It was an unfortunate situation."
Q: Do Cebulski and Young prefer San Diego Comic-Con or D23 more? Young says he prefers Comic-Con. Cebulski turns the question back on the young kid who asked, and promised to give him something special if he attends D23.
Q: Was there a reason "thwip" stopped being used? "I always wanted to do a series called Marvel SFX," says Cebulski. "My favorite Marvel sound effect was 'bamf,'" says Young.
Cebulski is talking about a new Infinity Comics series called Test Kitchen, in which a chef becomes Tony Stark's chef after a mishap. What do you cook for superheroes? Drawn by E.J. Su. It'll be out August 8 on Marvel Unlimited, and it's very family friendly, Cebulski says.
Q: Do Cebulski and Young have a favorite part of the Marvel mythology? Cebulski says that it's X-Men for him; his first Marvel comic was Claremont and Byrne's X-Men, and his favorite team is the New Mutants. Young agrees that he's an X-Men kid as well.
Q: Did either Cebulski or Young get to brainstorm with Stan Lee? "I've had the pleasure and the honor of meeting with Stan throughout the years," Cebulski says, calling him an icon in his life, but they didn't get a chance to brainstorm.
Q: Would Cebulski support comics labor unions? "It's a difficult question," says Cebulski, calling it "too deep to answer here," and saying that it's not his department. "I'm not trying to avoid the question, it's just not something I can answer here."
Q: Given how Ms. Marvel ended on Disney+, have there been discussions about turning the comic Kamala into a mutant? "Not yet," says Cebulski.
Q: How do you decide when to change continuity? "Continuity is a tricky thing, and there's a difference between consistency and continuity," Cebulski says. "Ultimately, what our job is, is to make sure the legacy of the character continues." He's a big believer that there are no bad characters, just characters that haven't been written well yet. "We treat everything with the uptmost respect, and I think that's something that gets thrown aside [by fans]," Cebulski says.
Q: Has anybody thought of reviving humor titles at Marvel, like Not Brand Ecch or Crazy? Cebulski says that's been a topic of discussion recently, "not to give anything away." There's been talk about doing more Howard the Duck very recently, he says. He also talks about Infinity Comics like It's Jeff and Marvel Meow.
That was, to the surprise of everyone, the last question of the panel! Thanks to everyone who followed along.