When Marvel Comics released their first set of teaser images last week, the one which asked "Who is Gus Beezer?" generated some curious buzz. The look and feel of this one teaser was dramatically different in tone compared to the other teaser images. The only thing known about the title at the time was that Gail Simone would be writing it and Jason Letchoe would be drawing. Now the truth can be told. CBR News caught up with series writer Gail Simone to find out exactly who this Gus Beezer fellow really is.
"Gus Beezer is part Dennis the Menace and part Stan Lee," series writer Gail Simone told CBR News Wednesday. "He's a hyper-kinetic, hyper-imaginative middle child who reads comics like they were the wisdom of Solomon. He's sort of the living embodiment of the joy of comics, the sheer fun and pleasure that they can bring. This book is for all the people who, in their heart of hearts, think the Marvel Universe would be a pretty cool place to live."
As for who else will be there to keep Gus company, Simone says it's all those people you'd expect.
"All the important people in a kid's life are there; the friends, the teacher, the mother, the sisters, the father who doesn't quite understand his son. Like a lot of us, Gus is misunderstood by most of the people around him."
And for those wondering if this book takes place in current Marvel continuity, Simone says, "Yes!" Gus lives and breathes in the current Marvel Universe and in these books we're seeing that world, and the heroes that inhabit it, through the eyes of a young child. "Even in the Marvel Universe, people are trying to live ordinary lives," says Simone.
As was revealed during the Tuesday Marvel Press Conference, Gus will hit store shelves as three one-shots all released at the same time in March. The three one shots will be "The Marvel Adventures of Gus Beezer starring Spider-Man," "The Marvel Adventures of Gus Beezer starring the Incredible Hulk" and "The Marvel Adventures of Gus Beezer starring the X-Men." Clearly, Gus will be spending quality time with some of the biggest names in the MU. "Gus is sort of like the Zelig of the Marvel Universe," Simone said, comparing him to the Woody Allen character from the 1983 film of the same name.
Simone also explained that when Marvel Universe characters make an appearance in "Gus Beezer" that the most archetypal versions of those characters will be used so as not to date the material. As a result, Marvel believes this creates a longer shelf-life for the series. "It'd make an outstanding point of purchase display item, for one thing," said Simone.
Is writing a book like "Gus Beezer," one that needs to appeal to both 13 and 30 year olds in the audience, a struggle for Simone? "No, not at all. A lot of this material comes straight from kids I've known.
"At my house, I have hundreds of comics I enjoyed, but I know I'm unlikely to read again. Then I have 'Calvin and Hobbes' and 'Peanuts' collections that not only get read by everyone in my family (and RE-read), but also by guests. Hopefully, 'Gus' is a bit like that...just plain fun to read, whether you're a 'fan' or not."
The creation of Gus Beezer came out of Marvel's desire to create an all-ages title.
"One of my favorite editors, Mike Raicht, asked me to come up with some concepts for an all-ages title, which had been a goal of mine for some time. It's actually very cool of Marvel to do this project- a quality all-ages title with great production and fantastic art. It was absolutely a labor of love for all concerned.
"Everyone enjoyed the scripts, but the whole thing came together when Jason Lethcoe agreed to do the project. Jason is the genius behind 'Zoom's Academy for the Super Gifted' and it was a remarkable stroke of luck for him to come aboard and be so enthused. He's done novels, animation and screenplays, and what he brought to the book isn't easily duplicated. It's charming and gorgeous and hilarious to look at.
"At the San Diego Convention, Mike Kunkel, of 'Herobear and the Kid' fame, took the time to find me and tell me how much he was enjoying Gus. That made me feel like we were definitely on the right track. And of course, that night he went right out and won an Eisner, so that seemed to bode well! The response from people reading advance copies has been fantastic- you don't need to be a hardcore fan to enjoy it."
Simone realizes that with the "Gus Beezer" books they're trying something a bit different than Marvel's done in recent memory and her excitement to be involved in this project is quite evident.
"People have complained for years that there are so few comics a family can share and enjoy. We're attempting something a bit 'Calvin and Hobbes,' or 'Peanuts,' or 'Dexter's Lab,' meaning material with a very wide appeal. I'm not just proud of this book, I'm thrilled with it."