As you’ve seen, we’ve had a lot of news this past week with Substack’s free comic day plus our own sneak preview of a new ongoing series called THE VALLARS!
Plus(!) our partners at Zoop sent out the emails to our paid monthly and Founding subscribers for our first printed books, signed prints, and other cool stuff.
The plan last week was to feature a special 3Q3A guest in this space since I was also traveling, but with so much happening at 3W3MHQ, we’ve decided to it THIS week instead… featuring Marvel’s own Tom Brevoort … probably best known as the writer of the
dozens-selling Fantastic Force.
Tom has recently launched a Substack newsletter himself, where he shares his musings, insights, and stubborn opinions regularly. It’s definitely worth adding to your feed. Tom’s seen a lot, and few folks are as skilled at smartly and realistically assessing the comics industry as he is. Everyone here but me is a huge fan, but I’m cursed with knowing him too well!
So, enjoy the answers from my old apprentice below, and keep a lookout for some new comics coming your way this week.
Take it away, Tom!
Jon Auerbach bursts into the room with:
When pitching, what is one thing newer writers aren't doing that they should be doing and which writer holds the Marvel record for most charts per pitch?
Well, first off, Marvel doesn’t accept any unsolicited submissions, so if you’re going to pitch for something, you’re going to need to have been invited to do so by some editor on staff first. But assuming those conditions have been met, I would say that the most recurring mistakes include
1) Overcomplicating the idea, and…
2) Writing about other comic books rather than about characters.
It’s possible to sell me on an idea in four or five words if the idea itself is strong enough, so it’s not always beneficial to show off all of the mental efforts you’ve spent on working out the first three years of it ahead of time. If anything, that tends to swamp the editor with more information than they need. If we like an idea, don’t worry, we’ll ask you for more detail on it. And every story that gets pitched primarily gets weighed on how impactful and affecting it is. But too many pitches revolve around other stories that earlier people have told—whether in wanting to build upon that foundation in some minute-focused way or a desire to erase those events from canon. And neither approach is likely to get you a sale.
The record for the most charts per pitch is obviously held by Jonathan Hickman—it’s not even close. I’m sure that he could work you up a data representation of the disparity between his use of charts as compared to the average writer pitching.
You’ve edited more Marvel Comics than anyone at this point. Out of all of them, is there one that stands out as particularly personal to you?
Tough to boil things down quite that granularly. But I have two favorite runs. The first being the Mark Waid/Mike Wieringo/Karl Kesel era on FANTASTIC FOUR. FANTASTIC FOUR was always my favorite Marvel series as a fan, and this represented my first time lining up a creative team for the series. And I just love it. The only other series that exists in the same rarified air is the dan slot/Mike Allred/Laura Allred SILVER SURFER series, which I think was very personal to everybody that worked on it. It was a relationship comic disguised as a cosmic super hero fantasy comic. Both of these runs are available today in massive, crippling Omnibus editions, so I guess they worked out pretty well. Also, maybe the first legitimately “good” single comic book I edited was SPIDER-BOY #1 as a part of the Marvel/DC Amalgam event.
Here’s a "What If?”…. It’s around 1989. Young Tom Brevoort is walking out of the early morning showing of Patrick Swayze’s "Road House," listening to Young MC and chowing down some Swedish Fish on his way back to the Marvel offices where his internship is wrapping up, and for SOME REASON, they don’t hire you onto the staff.
Where do you think your life would have gone?(And, QUICK follow up... could I move to that reality? - Steve)
I got hired by Marvel before I really had to worry about it, but if that hadn’t happened, I would have taken my art degree and started looking for some form of steady work—what that work would have entailed is anybody’s guess. I’m more wired for the steady rhythm of a 9-5 office job than freelance, so I would have been skewing in that direction, I expect. And I would have continued to make comics in my free time—or at least that’s the theory. In practice, who knows if I would have been able to maintain the energy to do so after working all day. But I’m sure I would have continued to poke around at the comics industry from all sides until I found some foothold into it. Maybe that would have been, I don’t know, at Comico, or CrossGen, or whatever.
We lost George Perez this past week, and the man is inarguably one of the most accomplished artists who’s ever worked in comics. I know you worked with him a lot over the years, so if you had to point at 3 of your favorite George images, what would they be?
As usual, it’s these sorts of “pick a favorite” questions that tend to bamboozle me. Despite the fact that there’s nothing on the line, my brain tends to sweat them, not wanting to overlook anything. So trying to shoot a little bit more from the hip here and not worry about that too much, I would have to say:
NEW TEEN TITANS #1.
There are probably stronger images within the run, in “Who Is Donna Troy,” the Terra storyline, that big Trigon story that led off the Baxter book, and so forth. But that first cover signaled immediately what this series was going to do. It was a Marvel cover on a DC title, and that’s really the secret to what Marv and George did there.
NEW TEEN TITANS was a DC book done in the Marvel way—it’s tough to remember just how different a set of styles the two companies had before that—and it was a perfect synthesis of the two, containing the legitimate high stakes and emphasis on characterization and personal development that came from the Marvel end with the mythos of DC. It was a game-changer for that company and really turned their futures around. Definitely a favorite series of mine.
CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #1.
Same sort of thing here. There are plenty of other memorable images scattered throughout it—notably the cover with the Death of Supergirl and the flash running himself into a skeleton. But that first wraparound cover really does encapsulate the whole thing. That was the comic book to be reading for that year, and while it was sloppy in some aspects, it delivered on its promise about as well as an Event book ever had. It certainly didn’t hurt that it was being drawn by George, who cared enough about it to illustrate armies and to make every character seem special, no matter how obscure. I also really liked the combination of George inked by Jerry Ordway, which happened for the back half of that series.
AVENGERS/JLA #4 — with Superman carrying Thor’s hammer and Captain America’s shield.
Man, some people were really pissed off about that cover, but it was an image that we hit upon during that first sit-down conversation to break down the entire project, and it’s about as perfect a summation of it as you can get. (Well, that and the #3 cover that depicted absolutely everybody.)
NOTE FROM STEVE: I was working on the DC side of the Avengers/JLA book, and Tom is entirely correct that fans (well… “Marvel” fans, to be precise) were pissed about that cover (some still are!). Having grown up a DC guy, it never occurred to me that Superman COULDN’T lift that hammer!
It was a pleasure to have Tom drop by 3W3MHQ. Go check out and subscribe to his newsletter. You won’t be sorry. (And his wife will be thrilled you're helping keep him busy!)
In the meantime, more cool stuff is coming to you right here as the week goes on.
Leave your comments and questions below!