Great newsletter as usual Tom!

For some reason it reminds me of the 'Mark's remarks' columns by Mark Gruenwald - for a young reader in the 80s he was the voice of Marvel. I loved his musings on the nuts and bolts of the industry as well as how he put his own feelings and insecurities out there in many columns (like how or if his work would be remembered) - very brave.

What were your thoughts on his writing? Columns and comics. I loved his Cap and Quasar runs even though towards the end he may have stayed past the point where he was giving us his best (Cap wolf!).

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"...he wrote and drew this series as though it were happening in the main continuity proper. Which wasn’t a problem per se, as the THE END line itself contextualized its events as being set apart from the mainstream MU. That is, until Jim began to work on his next project, which I believe was the ongoing THANOS series, and he made reference to the events of MARVEL: THE END within its pages. This confused the readers quite a bit and forced me to answer a number of questions over the years reiterating that, no, the events of MARVEL: THE END were not canon for the Marvel Universe proper."

I think the pushback on this from the readership over the years is probably less about confusion, and more about the general preference for stories that "count", which is likely what motivated Jim's choice here. And this of course ties in to the neverending debate over who ultimately decides what is canon; the editorial administration at a given moment in time or the readership at large. See the quixotic quest to rid Marvel of the term "616".

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I'm curious whether digital comics and e-readers have affected how you and/or artists think about page layouts. For example, someone reading Marvel Unlimited on a phone is obviously going to get a view that's much narrower than a printed page, and even the desktop version of MU offers a panel-by-panel option, which seems to nullify conventional page breaks.

For what it's worth, I still love admiring each page in full. The variety in arrangement, size, and number of panels from page to page is just part of what makes a comic book a comic book, in my mind.

And sorry if this has already been covered and I just missed it. Thank you!

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Dear Tom,

Appreciated your thoughts on Starlin's MARVEL: THE END. I think your characterization of his work is on target. Could you follow up, now, by discussing your favorite END stories? Who did a great job, and why do you think so?


Steve Replogle

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Tom, if you're not the person to ask, you'll know who would be: are there any plans to produce an omnibus of Marvel's horror/science fiction comics from the late '60s and early '70s? It would include the new material from Tower of Shadows, Chamber of Darkness, Supernatural Thrillers, Journey into Mystery vol. 2, and so on. These books featured art and story from some of Marvel's greatest, including Kirby, Adams, Steranko, Wood, and Barry Smith. The later books featured some of the first work from the likes of Starlin and Brunner, in addition to veterans like Gil Kane. This omnibus would appeal to the same audience that purchased the recent Kirby and Ditko anthologies. What's your opinion on this?

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Was just enjoying a re-read of “The Mighty Thor” #173 and I notice a Johnny Storm impersonator on the far right of panel 1, page 9! Wouldn’t it be wild if you could get, say, Kurt Busiek and Steve Rude to do a special one shot of how the Human Torch had really been hypnotized by the Ringmaster and just so happened to be there? In fact, mebbe a brand-new “Untold Tales” series of folks other than Spidey would be just what the world needs! I’d love to see more Pat Olliffe doing regular art again too! Swap him and Rude out every story! Brilliant! Sell a zillion copies!

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Mar 14, 2023·edited Mar 17, 2023

I've got a bodacious set of gnarly questions about the 80s. I know that's a skosh before your professional experience, but you're such a knowledgable dude, I'm betting you can drop some knowledge on us regardless.

Browsing the back issues, I noticed how the 80s saw a notable uptick in shaking up the status quo: smart Hulk / Teen Hulk / Gray Hulk; Monica Rambeau Captain Marvel, Jim Rhodes as Iron Man / Silver Centurion, Byrne's Negative Zone FF costumes, Punk rock Storm, ditching Donald Blake, Black costume Spider-Man, Steve Rogers getting replaced as Captain America and introducing the proto-USAgent costume. Is there anything in particular that juiced this trend in the 80s? I would assume DC's Crisis played a hand, but some of these predated Crisis by a year or two.

Why was the "British Invasion" such a one-sided affair? I know Karen Berger did the hard work of mining UK talent, but I would have assumed that once the flood gates had opened, that some talent would jump at the chance to play with some of the Marvel toys as well.

My impression is that the Vertigo and Vertigo-adjacent DC books and talent from this period have endured and garnered acclaim and prestige from the broader "Literati" in a way that Marvel efforts at the time broadly did not. If my impression is reasonably accurate, do you have theories on what kept them away from the House of Ideas? (And do you know if Marvel had any "prestige-envy" back then?)

I would have assumed that the Epic imprint would have been as fertile a ground as Vertigo was, and Archie Goodwin had as good a vision as anyone for prestige-level books. Yet despite a handful of books (that I personally deeply love), it seemed to lack the special sauce Vertigo. Why do you think Epic… wasn't?


Thank you as always for interfacing with the peanut gallery here. I really value that such a highfalutin' muckity-muck who knows their stuff is sharing his time and knowledge with us. And even though you say you're a grumpus in the office, you're so nice and thoughtful with your responses — and on the *Internet* of all places!

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Great to see new stuff from DeFalco & Frenz. Don't have Marvel Unlimited - but if this ever comes out in print I will be all over it! Is there any chance of maybe a new mini-series from them?

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Mortimer Q Forbush's question from last week about comic fandom's misconceptions has me reconsidering one area where I'm excited to learn the wisdom of the industry: regarding the high number of "ads" in Marvel comic books.

I put "ads" in quotes because, for the most part, the non-comic pages are not rented out by advertisers, but instead promoting other Marvel books. I usually count 7-8 ad pages in a standard book... which is somewhere between 1/4 and 1/3 of the pages.

Without true advert revenue coming in from those pages, is there a strong economic incentive to keep such a high number of ads in books? Do you truly see an uptick in the sales of the issues that are advertised? What would it take for Marvel to reconsider the practice of interrupting the stories with pages like this?


P.s. Mighty Joe Castro and the Gravamen is just my kind of sound - thanks for sharing!

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Roger Stern famously never finished his who-is-the-Hobgoblin mystery in Amazing Spider-Man in the 1980s, and got a chance to finish it in the 1990s. The third Summers brother was at long last revealed to be Vulcan. Dan Slott's Reckoning War storyline (begun in She-Hulk well over a decade ago) recently concluded in Fantastic Four. Are there any other dangling storyline threads you'd like to see resolved, given there's a good and compelling story attached to it?

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Tom, I'm not sure if this is the best venue to comment, but I've gotta say that I am loving Avengers: War Across Time. Levitz and Davis are doing a great job channeling classic Silver Age Marvel, and I appreciate all the old-school touches like the thought bubbles, corner box (I miss corner boxes!!) and your footnotes. This is grade-A nostalgia, please pass along my thanks to all involved for a fun read and a job expertly done! I wholeheartedly support more work in this vein!

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Thanks for answering my question last week! Sorry for the late reply. I’ve started Grass of Parnassus on Webtoon and it’s beautiful. Aw, man, I’ve missed Sleepwalker. Looking forward to his return! Thanks for another great newsletter, it’s always such a pleasure to read.

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