|"Marvel Super Hero Squad: Hero Up!" one-shot on sale in January|
Saving the world isn't always serious business. Readers of the “Marvel Super Hero Squad” comic strips by Paul Tobin and artists Marcelo Dichiara and Chris Sotomayor, which run daily at Marvel.com, know the life of a hero often leads to hilarious predicaments. CBR News spoke with editor Nate Cosby and Marvel.com Editor of Content John Cerilli about the popular strips.
Fans with younger children know the characters in “Marvel Super Hero Squad,” with their large heads and tiny bodies, are inspired by a popular toy line of the same name. The toys started off small and featured bigger names and movie versions of the classic Marvel characters, but as the Super Hero Squad grew in popularity, characters like Deadpool, the Sentry, and even the Winter Soldier started to appear. As such, the creators of the “Marvel Superhero Squad” comic strip have a large cast to draw from.
However, “we've tried to keep the cast as small as possible,” Nate Cosby told CBR News. “So the only regulars you're going to see are Captain America, Thor, Silver Surfer, Falcon, Wolverine, Hulk, Iron Man, Juggernaut, Absorbing Man, Enchantress, M.O.D.O.K., Mole Man, Abomination, Dr. Doom, Dormammu, Foolkiller, Punisher, Typeface, Ultimate Cable, Aladdin, The Rocketeer, Dizzy Gilispie, Tom Cruise, A Fire Hydrant, and a man that refuses to answer to anything other than Sparkles.”
Small-as-possible cast, right?
With its toy line origins and the exaggerated look of the characters, some readers may incorrectly dismiss the “Marvel Super Hero Squad” strips as being strictly kids’ stuff. “We've specifically and painstakingly designed this series to appeal to everyone,” Cosby explained. “Not one person on this planet is going to be able to look at the strips and say 'Huh. Well, this was obviously created without me in mind.' Because that would not be true. I want to take this moment to send a special shout-out to the United States Census Bureau, who took the time to work with us in developing all new Asking Technologies ('Asknowledgy') so that every person could be questioned against their will and forced to comment on what they like. And I think you can see that in the end product.”
The first few strips of the daily “Marvel Super Hero Squad” have been humorous one-offs, but that doesn't mean readers won't see a story with gags that continue from one day to next. Or something else entirely. “There's no structure at all,” Cosby said. “It's weird, we tried to put stories in square panel boxes, but they were too powerful, and broke out of that. So then we tried dodecahedrons, which are (obviously) stronger than squares, but they busted through there too. So annoying when your stories are too powerful to be contained. Such is the inherent problem when working with such strong material.”
As our inability to get anything even resembling a straight response out of Cosby indicates the one constant element of “Marvel Superhero Squad” will be humor. “I, as well as the rest of the 'amazing' creative team, am influenced primarily by the ancient art of Kabuki, which (as everyone knows) is a form of traditional Japanese theater,” Cosby remarked. “In the same way that Kabuki is known for the stylization of its drama and for the elaborate make-up worn by its kanji characters, we want to be known for Wolverine giving haircuts with his claws.”
“Marvel Super Hero Squad” is currently exclusive to Marvel.com, but those who prefer their four-color stories in print form will get a chance to enjoy some of the strips when the one-shot comic “Marvel Super Hero Squad: Hero Up!” hits stores in January. “All of the strips start out as exclusive to Marvel.com and MarvelKids.com,” John Cerilli stated. “However, in addition to the one-shot you speak of, you'll also see Marvel Super Hero Squad strips appearing in the backs of various Marvel comics coming to comic stores everywhere.”
Comic books were of course born out of the tradition of the daily newspaper strip, and all those involved with the daily “Marvel Super Hero Squad” feature are happy to bring things full circle with a work that honors those origins. In fact, Cerilli hopes to have the chance to bring readers more daily doses of four-color fun. “'Marvel Super Hero Squad' is humorous stuff and classic newspaper style gags seemed to make the most sense for these,” Cerilli said. “'The Marvel Super Hero Squad' strips expand upon our already numerous offerings of Digital Comics Unlimited.
“In addition to Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, our subscription service featuring an ever-expanding treasure trove of over 5,000 comics and weekly releases of exclusive Digital Comics, there are tons of free Digital Comics available to read on both MarvelKids.com and Marvel.com. As for a whole section of daily comic strips on Marvel.com? Now there's an idea! I wouldn't rule it out of our future thinking at all.”