C.B. Cebulski & Marvel Creativity
C.B. Cebulski gave a short, but concise, refresher on the history of Marvel during the Creative Day Out.
Marvel was always proud that Spider-man and company were characters before they were superheroes, all 8000 of them in their roster. Marvel was a storyteller first. Good stories would lead to good fans that would lead to good money.
Although originally US-centric, Marvel now has a global character universe, that spans multiple genres. Before it was Marvel, they were Timely Comics with Ka-Zar, The Human, Torch, and the Sub-Mariner surviving until this day and World War II gave birth to Captain America.
After a short decline in comic books, the swinging’ Sixties introduced the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and more. After the ‘90s exponential boom and bust, Marvel picked Joe Quesada as Editor-In-Chief to steer back the ship on its course of great storytelling via Project Rebirth.
The House of Ideas rebuilt itself during the 2000s, centering on the big C’s – Content, Connection, and Characters.
Marvel strove to make their characters human again with ground-breaking stories like Wolverine Origin, Marvel Knights, Astonishing X-Men, and Ultimate Spider-Man. Connected storylines and shared universes were encouraged amongst creators.
Marvel wanted to build a connection not just within their own fictional universe, but with the real one as well. Moving beyond the traditional letters pages and comic bulletins, they fully utilized the World Wide Web. They launched regular editorials like Cup O’ Joe and Marvel T&A and germinated a strong social media following on Twitter and Facebook.
Lastly, their characters must be real people with real lives. They pushed the boundaries with many minority characters and were not afraid for their universe to reflect real life events from the Vietnam War to 9/11. “Escapism doesn’t have to be fantasy.”
For Marvel, creativity was always the name of the game and Marvel Tsum Tsum was a great featured example. While overly cutesy for some, it conveyed two important lessons:
First, the entire video had no dialogue, only music. In the same sense, comic art must be able to tell stories without dialogue, word balloons, or sound effects. Artists must learn how to utilize “quiet” in their comics, accentuating the importance of things like facial expression and body language.
Secondly, the Marvel Tsum Tsum was born in a most inconspicuous place. An ordinary stock girl at a Marvel Japan store simply wanted an easier way to stock merchandise on the shelves. She made a few designs, submitted it to her superiors, and the rest is history, with toys and a mobile game to boot.
The lesson here was that creativity can come from anywhere and anyone.
Fitting the Marvel Creative Day Out moniker, C.B. gave a short rundown on the creative process at Marvel.
He projected on screen some of the back and forth between artists and editors. Most creators utilize both digital and traditional methods, either using traditional pencils and digital inking or vice versa. This was done to allow the artists to be able to sell their art to collectors and fans in order to complement their regular salary while still using technology to churn out work faster. 99% of coloring and all lettering were done digitally, especially since the latter must be translated into several different languages. C.B. emphasized the importance of using the grid in comic making.
Although somewhat strict and traditional, this was done because most people aren’t used to reading comics. Complex paneling beyond left to right and up to down can confuse new readers. Covers were as important as ever. They should be able to tell a story that teases and draws readers to pick up the book and find out more.
C.B. also gave a parting piece of advice regarding fan-art. Although he’s not a legal expert, it’s completely fine to draw Marvel characters for both practice and a little pocket-money. It’s when people made too much money that Marvel started to take notice. After all, when artists launch their own creator-owned work, like Kirkman’s Walking Dead, it would be terrible if other people made mega-bucks off your own blood, sweat, and tears.