Across the street at the Distinguished Competition, an entire line of 52 monthly books is being revised and re-imagined to an audience that publishers hope and pray will show up at the comic shop or online, eager to be part of the a new age. At Marvel, the idea seems to be to build on the legacy and history of the past while re-appraising the material for a younger audience. Marvel has a slew of successful films that theoretically could result in movie-goers walking into a comic shop only to find hardcover omnibus collections and three part mini-series that tie into Fear Itself. The solution is to create a new line of original graphic novels called Season One. Modernizing key details while retaining what makes these heroes so appealing, the books should appeal to fans of the iconic Marvel Heroes.
Additionally, there will be a Point One one shot taking the impetus from the point one issues that brought readers up to speed to the monthly books.
… we are doing a one-shot in November literally called “Point One,” and we’ve been describing it internally as “our Rosetta Stone to the future.” Not just in terms of saying, “We have a big event coming next year, and here’s stuff leading up to it,” but instead in teeing several different initiatives up — some short term, some longer term. Some series that are going to be launching and some big storylines that are going to be taking place in major titles.
So it’s your one-stop shopping glimpse into the next year of Marvel. In a way, it’s almost like the big time board we did in “Avengers” #5, but instead of a big chart in Tony Stark’s cave, it’s a big thick comic filled with stories by a number of creators. All the stories in “Point One” are completely new. They’re not excerpts from upcoming issues or little previews of things. They’re completely new stories being done for this one-shot by a bevy of our top creators. I can tell you that one of the stories is Matt and Terry setting up a bridge from “Fear Itself” into “Defenders,” but there are a number of other high level, strong pedigree teams setting up things for the future in this book. There will be a wraparound that contextualizes what all these stories mean for the future.
It will harken back to what I think the Annuals used to be when everybody remembers them as being so great — the big special issue that would come out and blow your mind with all the craziness in it. That’s our goal with “Point One.” It is literally the first point in the next year or 18 months of Marvel publishing. You can start here and experience a lot of stuff that give you a glimpse of what’s coming and will hopefully energize you into following assorted Marvel titles and the Marvel line as a whole moving into 2012 and beyond.
Details surrounding the ‘Battle Scars’ story following Fear Itself are still scant, but the preview images looks quite grim. We’ll just have to wait to find out all the details. One thing is for sure, the new Defenders starring Dr Strange, Iron Fist, Red She Hulk, Namor and the Silver Surfer, by Matt Fraction and Terry Dodson sounds like a knock out… and it had better be.
The book will have a core cast of Doctor Strange, Namor, Red She-Hulk, the Silver Surfer and Fraction’s return to the character of Iron Fist, who he wrote for sixteen issues (plus an annual and two specials) in the Immortal Iron Fist series. The series will feature these leads plus a number of as-yet-unknown helpers attempting to unravel a cosmic conspiracy uncovered while attempting to help the Hulk.
With so much of the planet in chaos and destruction, Tony Stark humbled, the mighty Thor living in exile and Steve Rogers once again in morning over the death of Bucky, things look grim for the immediate future.
Before we being work on the actual book, we know where things are going to end up, and we know what the fallout will be. Some of that sometimes shifts a little bit as you get deeper into your story. But quite often – and I know this has been the case for Joe Q a number of times — we’re more excited about where the event story is leading us and what happens after than we are in the event story proper. Going into “Fear Itself” we knew more or less where we were going with the characters and where they’d all end up, so this is a fairly natural extension. “Fear Itself” is still a story with a beginning, middle and an end – and it does end — but the fallout from that ending will spring you forward into any number of titles. Some of them are the ongoing books. There will be fallout in “Captain America” — there almost can’t not be given that Bucky is dead and Steve is now Cap again. There will be fallout for tons of other characters like the fact that Iron Man has taken a drink of alcohol to appease Odin. That’s not something that can just go away after “Fear Itself.” That has to play out in “Iron Man.” And there are other elements and aspects that can become their own projects and stories set in the Marvel Universe that will be featured in things like “Battle Scars” and “The Fearless” and these other books that tend to spin out like “Defenders” or the Jason Aaron/Marc Silvestri “Hulk.”
Kiel Phegley: Tom, there’s a lot of news that hit from Marvel over the week of San Diego, but the thing that really stands out as a new kind of project is the Season One line of graphic novels. In the past, I’d spoken to Joe Q about OGNs at Marvel, and he was pretty adamant that doing projects like this didn’t make sense on financial grounds alone. The argument there was that it wasn’t cost effective to release anything that wasn’t serialized as single issues first. What’s changed between now and then that makes these graphic novels a viable storytelling format at Marvel?
Tom Brevoort:Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to give you the full picture of this because some of the information is still proprietary. But the long and the short of it is that we’ve got ancillary revenue streams for the Season One projects, and that’s what makes it work in this case. We haven’t announced everything we’re going to do with these yet, and these ancillary uses don’t necessarily have anything to do with the direct market, but it’s a particular set of circumstances that allows us in this case to print these books first as OGNs and not start with a serialized format. And if they do well, there may be more things like this. We live in an evolving world where suddenly new opportunities open to us – whether those opportunities are in the digital landscape or things that being a part of Disney opens up to us, or what have you.
The landscape is constantly changing, and what might have been a hard and fast rule a year ago, five years ago, ten years ago doesn’t necessarily stay that way forever. Certainly 15 or 20 years ago, people would have called you crazy if you said, “One day, 90 to 100% of your publishing line will be collected in hardcovers and trade paperbacks and sold in bookstores” or “Your books will routinely be sold on computers directly to people who can read comics on their phones.” They’d say, “That’s crazy! This is madness! There’s no model for that” — until there is. Now the technology has evolved so that a particular set of opportunities has opened up.
With the Season Ones, we see an opportunity to go outside of our normal sphere of dedicated, hardcore readers and hopefully connect with some people who are not regular readers of what we do. But if we do our jobs well, maybe they’ll become regular readers. Or maybe they’ll be irregular readers who just pick up a trade paperback now and then. Every little bit helps. But our expectation is that they will be useful and valuable for an audience who’s not as steeped in what we do. And promoting them off of Marvel’s 50th anniversary is a way to either invite people back to some characters they once knew and were involved with or characters they’ve vaguely heard of but don’t know where to start.
That’s actually one of the issues I’ve seen a number of times – most recently and particularly at my FormSpring page. The week after “Captain America” hit, I got a bunch of questions from people saying, “I liked ‘Thor.’ I liked ‘Captain America’ and ‘X-Men: First Class.’ I’m thinking about reading comics…where should I start?” And on some level, I think, “What a crazy question. You should be able to start wherever you want. Just pick up a book and go.” But for somebody on the outside looking in, seeing the sheer number of titles we publish and all the versions of the characters, all the stuff going on – not being familiar with any of it can make it intimidating and daunting. They just don’t know where to put their first footstep. And that confusion paralyzes them. It keeps them from making a leap into trying something they might really like. So that’s what Season One is about too — giving readers new and old a nice, easy entry point into our world and our characters, whether they’ve read about them before or not. It’s not our sole motivation, but the timing is great right now with “Cap” in the media spotlight because people are showing up and asking, “Where do I begin?”
The stories are updated and contemporized in a way that doesn’t lose the core of them. That is to say, it’s tough to do a story set in 2011 in which people don’t have cell phones, which is sort of a ridiculous thing to say. But to point to a completely different genre, in suspense fiction if people have cell phones, the game changes completely — it’s tough to be stranded at a secluded cabin if everybody can text or call. So you need to be aware of that. So these needed to be updated to a world of 2011 rather than of 1962.
But most of all, the thing we wanted these to be like were the Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale color books: “Daredevil: Yellow” and “Spider-Man: Blue” and “Hulk: Gray” — all of which fit this model.
I hope that the Season One graphic novel series takes off for Marvel and proves more productive than the Earth One series premiered by DC Comics where readers are immersed in an entirely new universe featuring newly imagined versions of their favorite characters.