Joe Tea, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning WEEK 14 April 9, 2009
MyCup o' Joe is the weekly communiqué from Marvel Comics Editor in Chief Joe Quesada to the legion of Mighty Marvelites Assembled! Every Friday, Joe will sit down with journalist Jim McLauchlin to answer questions on the pressing issues of the day at Marvel and throughout comics.
Well, except for now. As Joe is catching up on a big ol’ workload and/or goofing off, we hop the pond to the UK, where they enjoy tea more than joe. And thus, it comes to pass that MySpace is left to the tender mercies of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, scribes of Guardians of the Galaxy, War of Kings, Nova
, and more! DnA hold the floor!
And you get to chip in as well! Joe will be answering YOUR questions NEXT week! To get in on the fun, post your questions at the bottom of this page!JM: Thanks for laying in, guys.
Now you’ve been a writing tandem for…how long how?
Dan: Err…by my hazy recollection, it’s been about 21 years now.
Andy: Bloody Hell! Is it that long?
Dan: Yes, It seemed like such a good idea at the time. I was a naïve young assistant editor at Marvel UK…
Andy: And I was a feisty young goat herd called Peter, in the majestic Swiss Alps…
Dan: No, I think you’re muddling that up with another recollection. You were a freelancer working on art chores for Real Ghostbusters
, which was one of the books I edited.
Andy: Ah, it’s all coming back to me now—Endless Friday drinking sessions which we called writing workshops where we’d knock about ideas for stories and the like.
Dan: When we began to realize that some of the ideas we were coming up with were good enough to sell, it seemed only fair to write them together because we’d devised them together. After that, like a bad smell, I couldn’t get rid of him!
Andy: You’re all charm! If I remember rightly, the first thing we sold to Marvel US was the Punisher
story arc called, “Eurohit,” which ran for the summer of 1992. This was an idea we’d originally pitched for a Marvel UK Punisher
reprint magazine as a four-page backup strip to run for six issues, but when that didn’t happen, we showed the idea to Punisher
editor Don Daley who saw the opportunity to run it as his summer ‘double ship’ event.
Dan: It was our first work together for the US and also the first US work for a baby-faced young artist called Dougie Braithwaite, who we’d been working with at Marvel UK. JM: What a wonderful checkered past you have.mean to you guys? It seems all these kind of “partnerships” vary based on the partners. How do you guys work it together?
So what does writing as a team
Dan: We’ve refined this process over the years, but essentially, we get together once a week and spend a day brainstorming and plotting. The end result of a day’s session like that is a detailed beatsheet or breakdown of the next issue due to be written.
Andy: Dan then takes that away and writes a full script (he’s the writing machine of the duo) while I get on with my other job as an inker. Dan then sends me the script to go other and once I’ve signed off on it, it goes off to the editor.
Dan: This way we get to check and double check our ideas and test them to destruction as we’re always coming at a story from two points of view. And stories often go in unexpected directions as one of us may suggest an idea that leads the other off on an unexpected tangent.
Andy: it’s like a glorified game of “What’s next?” Where you each get to say the next part of a story and hand it off to someone else to finish up. And it’s fun. We know of many artists and writers who go stir crazy working in isolation. One day a week spent in the company of a like-minded individual keeps us sane. And we often have a lot of laughs throwing ideas around.
Dan: And acting out our stories: more often than not providing the least appropriate voices for classic comic characters. For instance, the day, a few weeks ago, where the part of Galactus was played by British cocky actor, Bob Hoskins! “Ear, Surfa! Oim ‘ungry!” JM: You ever get a hankering to say, “Screw that other guy.mine”?
Here’s a particular story I feel very personally about, and it’s
Andy: Well. No, I’ve never felt that way.
Dan: Me neither, honest!
Andy: What do you mean?
Andy: It was the way you said it.
Dan: I didn’t say it in any way… JM: Now Andy, you mentioned you’re an inker as well.
Dan, do you do any of the other disciplines?
Dan: I’m glad you asked that.
Andy: Oh, here we go…
Dan: Thank you. I’m speaking. When I’m not writing comics with Andy, I write on my own for 2000AD, (strips such as: Sinister Dexter, Kingdom and the VCs) and I write novels for Games Workshop, Dr Who, Torchwood and Primeval etc. I’m just working on my 36th novel, a new Gaunt’s Ghost novel for Games Workshop.
Andy: And I’m inking Spider-Man!
Dan: Yes, we all know that. JM: Now some of your collaborative stuff is rather allegorical and can contain some pointed commentary on real life.
Do you have a particular favorite in that category?
Andy: Dan, what does allegorical mean?
Dan: I’ll field this one. We find that when you are writing comics, or for that matter any genre material that has a high science fiction or fantasy content, one of the most effective things you can do with that is make it seem as credible and real as possible. If we can anchor a story to a real world social or political or cultural event, it lends real solidity to it. This is especially true of “cosmic” comics, which have a propensity to be a little “out there,” and we know this can be off-putting to some readers. So, we like to ground the more SF elements of our stories by using concepts that are real and recognizable from the world around us.
Andy: Wot he said.JM: Well, sometimes this stuff is very apparent to the reader, and sometimes, folks miss the message. Was there ever an example where you’ve looked back at a story and said, “Yep.
Folks just didn’t get that one”?
Dan: Sometimes real world inspirations we use aren’t even supposed to obvious or recognizable. For instance, the Galactus story we did in Nova
. Our starting point there was the idea that Galactus would be portrayed like a force of nature, a natural disaster, like a hurricane. We were reminded of the traumas of Hurricane Katrina. Galactus would be like a storm descending on a world and would speak or interact because he was on an entirely different, non-negotiable scale. So, Nova hunting for the killer, Harrow, as Galactus destroyed the world was a science fiction take on a New Orleans cop hunting for a serial killer as a hurricane rolled in.
Andy: People just didn’t understand that issue #8 of Guardians of the Galaxy
was a subtle allegory which attempted to address the underappreciated roll of Raccoons throughout the Texas Revolution of 1836! JM: Yeah, no one did. I feel for you. Now a lot of your work is very sci-fi based, and less superhero-y. It seems to me that the UK audience really goes for that, and the USA market is more capes-and-tights. You’re from the UK, so…you tell me.
Does that assessment seem “on” to you?
Andy: Yup, we like cosmic superheroes because the UK audience tends to have grown up on a diet of Sci-Fi titles like 2000AD, Dr. Who, Blake’s Seven etc.
Dan: If you put superheroes into a space context, their costumes become more functional: they are protective suits or armor, or uniforms, and their powers are put into the context of extraordinary technologies and alien talents. It might just be us but we think that makes them more believable.
Andy: it certainly gives a different take to traditional US comic stories and superheroes.JM: Can you please freakin’ explain David Beckham to me? ’Cause we just don’t get how he’s any kind of a big deal.
Dan: Over to you Andy, I don’t do sports.
Andy: Well the real genius to Beckham is his deadball expertise. He a fantastic crosser of the ball and a free kick specialist, able to flight a 35 foot kick up and over the wall and into the top corner of the net. He’s also married to a Spice Girl and has a six pack. That help? JM: Not a bit.Nova, Guardians, War of Kings, and so on. Do you ever look at it like that? Like “Hey, this whole chunk of Marvel is ours, man!”?
Now you’ve really got your own “corner” of the Marvel Universe with all the cosmic, spacefaring stuff—
Dan: Yes, but we really appreciate the fact we’ve got these great classic characters to play with and are trying to develop the personalities, situations and places of the Marvel cosmic universe into a consistent domain.
Andy: We are constantly pinching ourselves that we’ve got the creative latitude to do this at the moment as we are long standing fans of the MU cosmic titles from when we were kids. We both grew up on reading Jim Starlin’s Captain Marvel
, Steve Gerber’s Guardians
, Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s Starlord as well as the classic Where Monsters Dwell
type titles. Now we get to tell stories with those characters in and we are only just skimming the surface of the possibilities of Marvel cosmic stories, there’s such a wealth of material there to delve into.
Dan: Working on the cosmic books has required us to go back and reread all of that material, and remind ourselves of how good it all was and how much fun it was from a reader’s POV. I suppose that’s what we’re really trying to do with our stories: to produce tales that are good, old-fashion fun and entertainment.JM: Excellent, guys. Good to hear it’s not all about raccoons. That said, you’re off the hook, and Quesada fields reader questions.
Hi Joe!....one thing that has been bugging me lately is the darn barcode on the front of all of the marvel and dc books. i was wondering if there is any action you could take to move the barcode to the back cover of the book or even to the inside cover on all of the books you publish.
JQ- Jeff, while I appreciate the sentiment, any comic that is going onto the newsstand has to have the barcode on the front cover. From time to time you may see us place a barcode on a back cover and that will happen with books that are direct market only but with approval from the advertiser on the back cover.
Hope that helps.Ted and Lisa
What's going on with female Marvel characters? Jean Grey's been dead for several years now, Shadowcat's basically dead, Ms. Marvel & Wasp are dead, Scarlet Witch and Songbird have been written out, She-Hulk's been replaced, Storm's usage is limited... any comments? Just trying out some fresh faces?
JQ: We’ve got a lot of strong female characters in all our books right now. The X-books always have a lot of strong female characters. Domino, Wolfsbane, X-23, Siryn, Monet, Layla Miller, Mirage, Karma, Magick, Magma, Rogue, Armor, Emma Frost, Pixie, and maybe somebody else coming back into the mix…not all of those characters are household names, but honestly neither are some of the ones you mentioned. Storm’s only really sidelined if you don’t read ASTONISHING or BLACK PANTHER (who’s also female these days…), which you should!
Also, Elektra is female and she’s got her own limited series! Namora and Venus are right up front in Agents of Atlas
, while Mockingbird is kicking butt and taking names in New Avengers: The Reunion
. Then over in Guardians of the Galaxy we’ve Gamora, Martyr and Mantis; Medusa and Crystal going to war in War of Kings; and in the pages of Thunderbolts #133, Songbird will be battling it out with Black Widow II. And if that’s not enough for ya, over in War Machine, we have Cybermancer and Bethany Cabe keeping James Rhodes flying, while the magical Jennifer Kale is a star in Marvel Zombies 4.
So I’d say that the ladies of the Marvel Universe are doing pretty good!
And let’s not forget Sue Storm, Valkyrie, Zarda, Carol Danvers, Kitty Pryde & the newly minted She-Hulk (among others!) tearing it up over in the Ultimate Universe.
This also seems like the perfect time to announce our Marvel Divas
limited series, beginning in July, from Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Tonci Zonjic, featuring some of the Marvel Universe’s greatest female heroes in a way you haven’t seem them before. I’ll let Roberto explain:
“The idea behind the series was to have some sudsy fun and lift the curtain a bit and take a peep at some of our most fabulous super heroines. In the series, they're an unlikely foursome of friends--Black Cat, Hell Cat, Firestar, and Photon--with TWO things in common: They're all leading double-lives and they're all having romantic trouble. The pitch started as "Sex and the City" in the Marvel Universe, and there's definitely that "naughty" element to it, but I also think the series is doing to a deeper place, asking question about what it means...truly means...to be a woman in an industry dominated by testosterone and guns. (And I mean both the super hero industry and the comic book industry.) But mostly it's just a lot of hot fun. ” Walkin-X
Hi Joe........I would definately like to see advice for upcoming writers, the same kind as advice artists in Cup o Joe vol 13. Especially with the recession on, I am on a website of comic creators, retailers, publishers etc and they all think it's going to get harder not easier and the big companies are a big part of that.
JQ: We’re pretty pumped up to have Jason Aaron on the Fat Cobra special, and can tell you that these five one-shots are going to be brimming with kung-fu goodness. You’ll also see plenty of the main Marvel U. – like that previously unseen Fat Cobra / Nick Fury team-up – as well as glimpses into K’un-Lun and the Capital Cities of Heaven. The six-page backup stories will also prominently feature the Immortal Iron Fist in the Marvel U.Timbalaaaaaand
Joe, I love Oz and like the fact that you’re adapting Jane Austen stuff. What’s next for the Illustrated line? Alice in Wonderland maybe? Will you be adapting anything current or sticking with the public domain stuff?
JQ: What we’ve got in the works now are an adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the great Sherlock Holmes adventure Hound of the Baskervilles—down the pike a bit, and a five issue series called The Trojan War that is culled from various ancient Greek sources and gives the full story of what events led up to the Trojan War and what happened to many of the participants afterward. It’s a fine complement to both our adaptations of The Iliad and The Odyssey. And don’t forget to look for all our adaptations in both hard and softcover in a comic store or bookstore near you.LongHorn USA
Alright Joe, spill the beans on the “Dark X-Men” who are they? Is Angel leaving x-force? Also, it’s AWESOME to see Namor in a x-suit but it seems a bit out of character for the Prince of Atlantis to throw on a different costume. Also, im going to say its safe to assume that the “Wolverine” in the picture is actually Daken…right?
JQ: I can’t say much right now, but last weekend at Emerald City Comic Con we revealed that it’s a cover to an upcoming issue of Uncanny X-Men. So who’s on the team and why? You’ll just have to keep reading. But if you missed the Uncanny X-Men Annual
from earlier this year, it’s definitely one to check out for hints on how Dark Reign is going to affect the X-Men.Stephen
It's good to see Dr. Strange back in comics. Do you believe there is a possibility that a mini-series or ongoing series could be in the works to showcase what Strange has been up to or to elaborate on the increase of all the magic in the Marvel universe, such as Dr. Doom, Morgana La Fey, Dormammu, and all the magical creatures from Captain Britain and MI13? I'd love to see Strange fight Dracula again.
The current “Search for the Sorcerer Supreme” storyline running in NEW AVENGERS should answer most of your questions, Stephen, as well as setting up a new status quo for magic in the Marvel Universe. And saying anything beyond that would be telling!The Misadventures of Jeremy N.
With Ms.Marvel dead on issue 37 how will this affect her role in New Avengers. Will it be addressed by Bendis?
It’s going to be like Weekend at Bernie’s, but with a Quinjet. Hilarity will ensue.Spidey 616
Hey Joe, here's something that's been asked quite a few times and perhaps you can answer it now, but what does H.A.M.M.E.R.
stand for? Does it actually stand for something or is this a running gag that nobody knows?
So far, nobody seems to know the solution to this most mysterious of acronyms—and anybody who’s even come close to guessing has been spirited away in the dead of night by truncheon-wielding field operatives. So forgive us if we don’t explore the answer in too great a detail.Gonzo
if i'm not mistaken, weren't the remains of the original human torch used by ultron to build the vision?..if this is so how do you explain the current story line in Cap?
The history of the Vision and the Human Torch has been a convoluted one over the years, Gonzo. Originally, the Vision was believed to have been constructed from the remains of the Original Torch. Then, years later, it was revealed that the original Torch was still alive, which put the lie to that earlier belief. Finally, though, in AVENGERS FOREVER (being reprinted shortly in a spiffy hardcover edition) we learned that Immortus had divided the original Torch temporally, with one of these two androids eventually becoming the Vision, and the other remaining as the Torch! Whew—see what you miss if you’re not paying close attention?Learn more about The Hero Initiative, the only federally chartered charitable organization dedicated to helping comic veterans in medical or financial need at www.HeroInitiative.org. It's a chance for you to give back to the creators who gave you your dreams. And you can become friends with the Hero Initiative and Marvel Comics right here on MySpace!