The weekend of New York Comic Con was a packed one for Marvel Comics' own editorial duo known here on CBR as T&A.
While thousands of attendees headed to Marvel's home in NYC, Vice President Executive Editors Tom Brevoort and Axel Alonso took meetings on the next big phase of the Ultimate Universe along with other creative rendezvous and prepared for their first ever T&A live panel. But in between the other duties of a packed convention weekend, Tom and Axel stopped by the CBR News stomping grounds of our infamous Tiki Room to catch up for their first team video chat. Below, check out the Editorial Execs as they delve into the pricing debate sparked by DC Comics' announcement of an all-$2.99, all-20-page lineup of comics, talk about the surprise announcements they held for the show including the NBA-themed issue of "ESPN The Magazine" and shared what characters they could never answer questions about again. And scroll further for transcribed highlights from the chat!
On the ongoing pricing debate, from an editorial point of view alone "I don't think we do anything different with a $3.99 book than we do with a $2.99 book in the abstract." Brevoort explained. "Which is to say, every time we go out and put out a title – a comic – we go out to play the best game we possibly can play. It's not like we save our A-Game for the $3.99 books and we just kind of phone in books that are cheaper...and if there's a $4.99 special, we give it extra love and care. We really do try to put our best foot forward on every single thing that we put out. There's not a great difference other than maybe a page count issue between one price structure versus the next.
"It obviously has a lot of impact on the wallets of the readership, and they're more attuned to it than that. But if you took all of our $3.99 books tomorrow and made them $2.99 and took our $2.99 books and made them $3.99, the amount of effort that went into them wouldn't change dramatically I don't think."
Alonso stressed the impact a DC comic with two less pages per issue will have on both retailers and creators, saying, "I'm sure that's something that'll be debated in the coming weeks. I think that for us, for starters, we'll start with 22 pages at least, and I think there've been some interesting announcements recently about some of our price points launching at $2.99 such that we're able to provide a nice, easy access point for new readers. But I think it's a really interesting announcement from DC, and the debate will be really, really spirited in the coming weeks."
"It's not an issue that we're unsensitive to," Brevoort added in conclusion, mentioning Marvel's announcement to roll back on the amounts of tie-in comics for upcoming movies like "Thor" and "Captain America." "There are times and periods where particularly when we're gearing up to a major motion picture where we'll have multiple titles of the same character in slightly different derivations, and the feedback we're hearing from retailers is that that starts to become confusing after a while."
One area the publisher will also soon be cutting back on is the amount of product starring a certain Merc' With A Mouth. Alonso said, "We knew at some point the Deadpool bubble would pop, and what we've found is essentially, at this point, we have published too much Deadpool. And we're going to scale back on that. That doesn't mean we won't have 'Deadpool' monthly and 'DeadpoolMAX.' We think that those are decidedly different flavors for the reader, but at the end of the day, we realize at one point this really helped the retailers. They were really able to move these units, but now there's evidence that they can't."
Marvel made a number of surprise announcements at the show, and the T&A pair admitted keeping the secrets under wraps even from fellow Marvel staffers was not easy. "We're just bastards about it." Brevoort joked. "Honestly, everybody involved understands the importance of what we're doing – releasing the information in a way that allows it to strike at the proper time and in the proper manner to make these projects successful."
One such shocker of an announcement was an upcoming special issue of Disney corporate sibling's "ESPN The Magazine" that would feature basketball stars in an image-by-image tales built by Marvel's biggest artists. "There's more than 30 illustrations – they're by a Who's Who of artists," Alonso, who spearheaded the project, said. "There's not a dud in the bunch. There's an amazing story being told through these images, including a cover by Joe Quesada. It's amazing to see how NBA icons, sports icons, can be married to superheroes in a pop culture triumph. What you've got here is an issue of 'ESPN' where any comic fan could pull out two, three, four, five pages out and put them on their wall next to their favorite comic book covers. I don't want to say too much, but this was in many ways a dream project for me."
Other projects the pair earmarked as exciting news for NYCC included "Astonishing Captain America." "I've wanted Andy Diggle to do more stuff within the mainstream Marvel Universe pretty much since he started writing regularly for us," Brevoort said calling the book "a definitive story" that artist Adi Granov would hopefully make "a story for the ages."
"I was real happy to hear the response to 'Astonishing X-Men' by Daniel Way and Jason Pearson," Alonso said. "I'm super excited. I think the story we're concocting involving big monsters in Tokyo and on Monster Island – all the Kirby monsters in all their glory – as scripted by Daniel in good sophomoric style and as drawn by Jason is going to be amazing. It's really going to leap off the page."
For more, watch the full video above, and be sure to check back with CBR next week for our next Q&A installment of Marvel T&A.
In the meantime…have some questions for Marvel T&A? Please visit the CUP O' Q&A thread in CBR's Marvel Universe forum. It's now the dedicated thread for all connections between Board Members and the Marvel staff that CBR will pull questions for next week's installment of our weekly fan-generated question-and-answer column! Do it to it!