Christina Strain on Her Favorite Marvel Comics of the 2000s
Find out how this 'Runaways' alumna thrived during one of Marvel’s greatest creative periods!
Each week, the Best of the Decade column honors 80 years of comic book excellence by spotlighting a series from the House of Ideas beloved by the best in the business!
Christina Strain—who you might know today from her work on TV’s The Magicians or writing books like GENERATION X (2017)—treasures the time she spent at Marvel starting about midway through the 2000s.
“It was the best,” she remarks of the atmosphere of an era that bred timeless classics like ASTONISHING X-MEN (2004), NEW AVENGERS (2004), and her own beloved original volume of RUNAWAYS (2003), among others. “I still look back fondly on those days, and miss them.”
We went in-depth with Christina on her journey from fan to professional, how she landed at Marvel as the new millennium took off, and how the House of Ideas got a major upgrade!
What did you appreciate about Marvel as a kid?
X-Men. Now and forever, I love the X-Men. Outsider/found family stories are my favorite stories to read and now write, and I think a lot of that comes from the fact that I was able to identify with them.
How did your fandom change as you grew up?
I spent less money on fandom stuff/merchandise and more on supplies to create my own art. I went from wanting to live within the fan spaces I was comfortable in to needing to participate in the creation of it.
When did you decide you wanted to work in comics?
I think I always knew, but it took meeting [artist] Amanda Conner to realize that it was actually something I could allow myself to want. After that, it was just a matter of working my ass off to make it happen.
How did you break in to comics?
Crazy long story short, I was the last art staff hired at CrossGen, as a colorist, and when they started laying people off, I was one of the first to go. After that, I sent my portfolio to Erik Ko at UDON, and Erik was the one who got me my job coloring RUNAWAYS. And that was the beginning of a 10-year-ish coloring career at Marvel. The early 2000s was a great time for colorists, and Erik was my sherpa.
What was Marvel like as a place to work? Who were the other creators that influenced you?
There was just an exciting energy and people were taking risks with story, and there was just this awesome sense that everyone, from talent to editorial, was in it together. I just loved everyone I worked with. As for creators who influenced me, I've always said that as a colorist I was an amalgamation of Peter Steigerwald, Laura Martin, and Justin Ponsor, because they taught me so much about coloring.
What did you think of RUNAWAYS when you first got the gig?
I loved it. Immediately. I actually grew up reading manga, so RUNAWAYS was more in line with what I like reading than most Super Hero books.
Where did the appeal of RUNAWAYS come from and why do you think it remains such a massive success—even 15 years later?
The brilliance of RUNAWAYS is that it's a teen drama disguised as a Super Hero book. So it appeals to a different audience than most of Marvel's classic Super Hero books. Like, the Runaways fans were so different than WORLD WAR HULK (2007) fans. For WWH, I'd mostly sign books for older male fans while Runaways fans were younger and pretty evenly split between male and female. And our fans were rabid. Because we were the alternative book at Marvel to read back then, so our fans did everything they could to support the book and save us from cancellation multiple times.
What other books and stories from that period do you remember as being top notch?
SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE (2005), DAUGHTERS OF THE DRAGON (2006), and the Marvel Fairytale books. Those were all really fun and crazy books that inspired me to be as creative as possible, and I'll always love them for that.
What was it about Marvel in the 2000s that fostered such creativity and success?
Back in the 2000s, Marvel was still its own independent company. While DC was already part of WB, at this point in time, the Marvel Cinematic Universe didn't exist and Disney hadn't bought Marvel, so Marvel's survival felt like it was dependent on what the comics were able to produce. To some extent, Marvel was kinda the underdogs back then. So editors and creators were taking bigger risks trying to figure out what "the next big thing" was... And it was awesome.
Read these comics on Marvel Unlimited to see Christina’s colors on RUNAWAYS, WORLD WAR HULK, and much more! Then visit Marvel.com's 80th anniversary hub page for more!
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