When you think of February, you likely think of Valentine's Day and the eventual increase in cost of flowers, the extravagant gestures and stress before it all falls into place. It's not the most relaxing way to celebrate love, now is it? This February, Marvel Comics wants to share a little love at only three bucks a pop, with editors Tom Brevoort and Ausdrey Sitterson are helming the "I Heart Marvel" event. Sitterson spoke with CBR News and explained the genesis of the project.
"I wish we could take credit for the conception of 'I (Heart) Marvel),' but to do so would be extremely dishonest as the idea for the event actually sprung, Athena-like, from the forehead of Fabian Nicieza," reveals Sitterson. "As the tale was related to me, Fabe thought of the event after picking up the Marvel Weddings trade paperback, and reminiscing over all the great romance stories that have found their home in Marvel Comics. When Fabe brought the idea to us, it seemed not only like a whole lot of fun, but also sounded like a project that could really stand out on the racks. Marvel used to publish a slew of romance comics each month, so, similar in fashion to the Marvel Monster Month last October, 'I (Heart) Marvel)' aims to pay homage to a (somewhat) forgotten part of mainstream comics, while sparking new interest in the genre."
The creators involved in this project, revealed in the February solicitations, cover a wide breadth of talent and Sitterson says there's no one answer for the creative choices. "The answer to this question is very much a mixed bag. Some of our creators have prior experience with romance comics, and were obvious choices. Tom Beland does a semi-autobiographical romance comic called "True Story: Swear to God," and recently wrote a story in 'Spider-Man Unlimited', and Cory Walker, co-creator of 'Invincible,' recently drew Spidey in issue 14 of "Marvel Team-Up". So teaming up Tom and Cory on a Spidey and MJ story in 'Web Of Romance' was an easy decision. Other creators have a particular link to the characters we asked them to work with, like Daniel Way and Wolverine. Daniel has some great stuff in store for the furry little canucklehead over the course of the next year, both in his regular series as well as 'Wolverine: Origins,' and this story very much sets the stage for a lot of the development you'll see in those series over the course of the next year. Finally, some creators came to us with ideas that were just too good not to use. Fabe, for instance, came to us wanting to explore what a super-villain romance would look like. After hearing about some of the sleazy, gritty stuff he wanted to do, we washed our hands, handed him Jon Proctor of 'What If: Wolverine,' washed our hands again, and let them go nuts!"
With events of this nature, where the comics all ship under the same banner, there's always concern that the issues won't stand on their own, but Sitterson assures readers that isn't the case. "The five books coming out as part of 'I (Heart) Marvel' are not connected to each other in any plot related manner. That doesn't mean you shouldn't buy them all though, because if you don't, you'll be missing out on some awesome comics!
"Now that my shameless shilling is out of the way . . . All the books we are putting out as part of this event are totally different--which I see as one of the great strengths of 'I (Heart) Marvel'. There are silly ones, sad ones, serious ones, and plain out bizarre ones, meaning that there is literally something for everyone to enjoy.
What they all do share, however, is that they are in every way classic Marvel stories, but with the shared backdrop of amorous aspirations. You'd have a tough time convincing me that some of those early Spider-Man issues weren't romances, and just like those, we've tried are damnedest to tell these romance stories in the truly Mighty Marvel Manner."
Each book, from "Masked Intentions" to "My Mutant Heart," tell very stylized stories and some fans wonder if an especially popular response to one of the books could launch an ongoing series. "There is always a chance that something larger could spin out of an event like this. It's no big secret that one of the most useful parts of month-long events like this, or the Marvel Monster Month is to gauge fan reaction and interest. If it looked like fans would eat up a monthly romance comic--whether related to the stories we have cooked up for February or not--you better believe we'd be diving in head first to get it to you," admits Sitterson. "In fact, I'll go on the record saying that this project has been so much fun, I would absolutely LOVE to edit another romance comic. But in order to do that, these books need to, as you said, "prove especially popular". So you know what that means Romance fans: pre-order a dozen copies of each from your retailer and tell all your friends, family, enemies, significant others and paramours to do the same!"
The common thinking is that romance comics don't sell, which makes the "I (Heart) Marvel" event seem even more surprising, and while Sitterson will admit it's a tough sell, she believes in the strength of the product. "Whenever anyone talks about the guaranteed success or failure of a particular genre, that advice only holds true until it proves itself false. Right now, yes, romance comics are a tougher sell than other genres, but time was, that superhero comics were a tough sell too. And that certainly doesn't mean there isn't excellent work being done in the genre. Just on this project we have the aforementioned Tom Beland as well as Tim Fish, the writer/artist behind the excellent 'Cavalcade of Boys.' And there are others too, including Terry Moore of 'Strangers in Paradise' and Los Bros Hernandez of 'Love and Rockets.' Not to mention all of the romance manga out there, of which there is more of than I can shake my proverbial shaking stick at. All of these books have extremely dedicated fan bases, so the key is really trying to find the best way to serve those fan bases while simultaneously building upon them by exposing new readers to new and different genres and types of books. Do romance comics sell as well as straightforward superhero comics? No siree. Could they? You bet your bippee they could."
With less than a month before we see these issues hit the stands, Sitterson hopes that fans check out the books and explains why "Masked Intentions" comes out in March. "First, the simple answer: We have way too much love to fit into this February. In discussing the books we wanted to include in this event, we found that we had so many great ideas to pursue that we couldn't physically cut them down beneath the five we have today. So, in a stunning act of Editorial assertiveness, we've decided to make this February a leap year, meaning that 'Masked Intentions' will be in stores on February 29!
"Now, for the tougher question: Why should you spend your money on these books? You can rest assured that the 'I (Heart) Marvel' event will be giving you both something completely new and different along with something you already love. I know you love the Marvel Universe, you know you love the Marvel Universe, your estranged spouse knows you love the Marvel Universe--so we've got that front covered since all of these stories are in-continuity tales of characters you know better than aforementioned estranged spouse, told with all of the punching and hitting that you've grown to love over the years. But, in addition to that, these are also romance tales--stories about love won, love lost and love never had--it's the return of a great genre, of which you'll want to be on the ground floor. The romance revolution starts here! Lift your boxes of candy to the sky in thanks to the goddess Aphrodite and spread red roses at your feet!
"Oh yeah--if you're still afraid of the big sweaty kid down the street giving you the business for reading love stories, this is a great loophole to avoiding melvins, wet willies, swirlies and wedgies--of the atomic and non-atomic varieties."
And now you can discuss this story on the Marvel Universe forum.