Graphic Novels New Graphic Novel1881“Great” might not be exactly the word some would use, but Marvel editor Tom Brevoort’s look back at some under-appreciated comics he worked on is a nice look back at some of the quirkier superhero-esque books of recent years.

I put out a lot of comic books every month–especially when you factor in the books I’m not directly editing myself, but am overseeing (which is just about all of the mainstream Marvel Universe output.) And as with almost everything, there’s a hit-to-miss ratio. Especially when it comes to projects featuring new characters, less mainstream genres or experimental approaches, it’s very easy for some of the very best stuff you do to be overlooked–consigned to the back issue bins of history despite whatever smattering of critical acclaim they might receive. Every editor has at least a couple of these, books they really loved and thought were unique but which for whatever reason failed to catch on with a broad audience. These are the Unknown greats, and here’s a series on a couple of mine.

He talks about The Hood by Brian K Vaughan and Kyle Hotz, Blaze of Glory by John Ostrander and Leonardo Manco, and Deadline by Bill Rosemann and Guy Davis. As always with Brevoort, there’s lot of interesting behind the scenes of stuff that was need-to-know only at the time. His comments on the Eisner-Winning Unstable Molecules by James Sturm and Guy Davis (again) will be the most interesting perhaps, as the history of the very brief period when Marvel was last hiring indie tooners like Bob Sikoryak and Michel Vrana is charted:

I remember the covers being a cause of some consternation at one point. This was during a period when there was a concentrated effort being made to have all of the covers basically be pin-up shots of a single character. In that environment, the UNSTABLE MOLECULES covers, with their emphasis on the design and typography, the unconventional Craig Thompson illustrations, and the drop-in Jack Kirby art, were about as far from this model as one could get. I can remember one or two heated discussions before those in power threw up their hands, decided that this was going to be what it was going to be, and let it go. (There was a bit moer drama after the series was completed, when Sturm’s design for the trade paperback collection was changed around at the last minute. Fortunately, after the book won the Eisner, a new edition was released, and this allowed Sturm to make adjustments to the design.)


  1. “I can recall one early exchange when, trying to find ways to make the series more palatable to a mainstream super hero audience, I suggested adding two more issues on, and picking the characters up again right after they’d received their powers. Sturm wisely didn’t listen to me–he had a concrete vision for what he was trying to accomplish.”

    This part made my jaw drop. It explains a lot, certainly.

  2. Say what you will about the Jemas/early-Quesada years at Marvel — but they at least seemed like they were willing to try new things and/or bring in new voices. I miss that sense of experimentation that came from the books listed here, and others (Ultimate Marvel Team-Up comes to mind).

  3. As for other forgotten gems from that period, I thought Darko McCan and Igor Kordey’s run Soldier X was wonderful. Bonkers writing, Igor Kordey doing his best work for Marvel when he was being rushed from book to book filling in for other artists who dropped the ball, a Cable story I actually cared about… You can find the whole run in dollar bins and it’s quite worth tracking them down.

  4. Does anyone know whats happening with the indie creators anthology of Marvel characters? I always hear some little thing or about people working on it but never when it will actually come out.

  5. Yeah, I kept looking for the future miniseries that Sturm had talked about, but *sniff* they never came. And I really did love Deadline too. It was just so… weird. Plus Guy Davis is the stuff.