A capacity crowd at SXSW watched on Friday as Marvel’s top creatives—Editor-In-Chief C.B. Cebulski and Chief Creative Office Joe Quesada—ran down a list of the many (many) adaptations of their comic book IP.
The panel was oriented toward film audiences, which makes a lot of sense given it was a film conference and not a comic con, but there was still some comics miscellany for someone like me. In fact, at one point Christopher Priest got a smattering of applause after Quesada pointed out how the movie Black Panther would have been vastly different without his run on the character. One thing I appreciated throughout was how many comic creators were casually mentioned, from Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning realigning Guardians of the Galaxy, to the roles of Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby in the early Marvel Universe.
Most of the panel was spent talking about Marvel’s roots, really, with a special emphasis on anything that had been adapted. Even the old Japanese Spider-Man TV show got a mention. There wasn’t really any news (and so not all that much to report upon), but this reporter had a good time jotting some of the more interesting quotes and anecdotes.
Here’s what I came back with:
- Cebulski laughingly wondered who tied up Reed Richards on the cover of Fantastic Four #1, given that the team was fighting a giant monster.
- Like Spider-Man and Captain America, Namor once had a theme song.
- There was a pitch for a Daredevil TV show many years ago, in which Daredevil would have had a dog who helped him drive around in a truck with a canon on the back of it, the canon then shooting him out (like an actual circus daredevil) at criminals. “Daredevil and Daredog,” joked Quesada.
- Cebulski noted that the ‘90s X-Men: The Animated Series had strong female characters, and many of Marvel’s female creators now cite that show as a gateway into their own fandom.
- Characters can be wrong for one medium and right for another; Blade, Quesada said, never sold comics but ended up being the property that made Hollywood realize “there’s gold in them hills.”
- Cebulski assured everyone that Kevin Fiege himself (Marvel’s movie boss) really is a huge comics fan, so much so that he’s got the longboxes to prove it.
- Marvel’s animated Super Hero Squad Show was the property that rebranded the Infinity Gems (as they were called in the original comic) as the Infinity Stones, which they’ve been called in all mediums ever since.
- Runaways, one of Marvel’s most successful new ideas in the past 20 years, was an old pitch Quesada found laying unnoticed somewhere when he took over as E-I-C years back.
- Finally, there was a legit great question during the Q&A (seriously!) asking what Marvel editorial can learn from digital sales and if it has improved their understanding of the market. Cebulski said yes, in that they can see what comics are selling better 1-to-1 (and, perhaps more usefully where), but that they haven’t gleaned any reasons for why those comics sell that way yet.