Marvel Legacy: Going Retro
Learn about the special features surrounding the new Marvel initiative!
Sometimes when you’re moving forward, it helps to take a look back at where you’ve been. With Marvel, it’s easy when you stand on a rich foundation stone of history, characters, and creators.
The Marvel Legacy event includes not only launches of all-new storylines, but also an infusion of retro atmosphere in the form of Marvel Value Stamps, a new issue of the classic FOOM magazine, and in-house ads flowing with the frenetic feeling of the 1960s and 1970s. To celebrate, we checked in with some of the Marvelites who made it all happen: David Gabriel, Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing; Tom Brevoort, Senior Vice President of Publishing; and artist Mike McKone.
Marvel.com: David, you’re up first—as all these retro projects were being worked on, what was the feeling around the offices? Excitement to be doing something fun like these? Nostalgia?
David Gabriel: There was definitely the feeling that we wanted to craft a fun promotional program around the whole idea of Marvel Legacy. From the initial call out to “Make Mine Marvel,” it seemed a perfect fit to reach back into some of the nostalgic items that helped propel Marvel to the forefront of the comics industry as far back as the 60s and recreate some of those things for a modern day. We knew there would be some fans who remembered some of these items fondly and some who would be discovering them for the first time. But the key behind everything we did was to use the past to entice all readers in the present!
Marvel.com: Tom, what about you?
Tom Brevoort: They’re certainly fun, and tap into that Marvel spirit that Stan [Lee] first established, that sense of fun and excitement and also self-effacement. But it couldn’t just be nostalgia, if for no other reason than many of the elements that we’re mimicking are long-ago enough that the readership has cycled through many times since then—so a modern day fan might have no knowledge of them. So each one had to work and be a fun piece on its own in the here and now as well.
Marvel.com: What was the general decision-making process like, as far as which things to hit for the event?
David Gabriel: We chose many of the things we all had fond memories of. The Marvel Value Stamps were pretty much on everyone’s list, at least everyone who was collecting comics in the 1970s. FOOM was a close second. That was a little less known to a wider audience. But there is a huge fondness for one of the first fandom mags that Marvel put out on a regular basis. The idea for the retro house ads just made sense as well. We all felt we’ve seen our current format for house ads for a while and they needed a boost. Many of us fondly remembered how exciting it was—before Internet—to see what was coming up in Marvel titles through the dynamic, often over the top, house ads that appeared throughout their books. So one of our designers was challenged to update them and she did a terrific job. I think the trade dress with corner boxes had already been bubbling under the surface as the X-office started this a few months earlier, and that received great praise, so we knew the trade dress having a nod to the past would definitely be a must.
Tom Brevoort: We tried to hone in on things that would play for an audience today, but that would have an additional layer of meaning to a long-time reader.
Marvel.com: Tom, for the Value Stamps, what did they mean to you personally? Did you cut yours out of the comics?
Tom Brevoort: I never did, but I certainly wound up buying many, many comics from people who did. They’re the bane of collectors of the comics of that period—something like one in every five copies have the damn stamps cut out from them, and there’s no way to tell from the outside. There’s that horrifying moment when you get your book home and crack open the plastic bag, flip through it and—AAUUGGHH!
David Gabriel: [Laughs] Yes. I think many folks have that story. I have a beautiful copy of INCREDIBLE HULK #181 with a nice square cut out of the last page, ruining the story! Those original stamps were randomly placed in Marvel comics and in order to get the entire set of 100 you really had to search far and wide without any knowledge of what books those stamps would appear in. But, that was the only way to collect them all! While they added no value to the book, they did simply add an extra element of fun. Enough so that many comic fans still remember them nearly 50 years later.
Marvel.com: Okay, for the new Stamps, why was Mike McKone the artist to handle these?
David Gabriel: Talent Management suggested Mike, and we love his work, so it was a great fit. Mike was turning these in four at a time at a terrific rate and with each one that came through, everyone was in love with them. So once we used them to promote the start of Marvel Legacy, we realized we had great images to use for corner boxes, variant covers, pins, and even the new Marvel Value Stamps. It’s really not that different from the 1970s where you would see the same likeness of heroes and villains used for a variety of different things throughout Marvel comics, ads, posters, standees, figurines, corner boxes, stickers and more. Mike did a terrific job!
Marvel.com: How were the characters chosen? And will the Value Stamps have any trade-in value going forward?
Tom Brevoort: The modern-day Value Stamps pretty well align to the books in Marvel Legacy. That was our checklist, so to speak.
David Gabriel: There is talk now of crafting a Marvel Insider program for the Value Stamps which would indeed reward those fans who collected them all. It’s a good time to mention that we are creating a free Marvel Value Stamp collectors album that we’re giving retailers as a promotional item for November. This will be a simple foldout to make collecting the stamps easier. We’ll announce how these would be redeemed soon.
We also worked out a cool digital component to the Marvel Value Stamp program. Every time you download the digital code from a print comic, you can also download a digital Marvel 1970s Remastered Value Stamp, and collect them all in a special digital collectors album. You just need to download the Quidd App, and you can get started.
Marvel.com: Mike, let’s bring you in at this point—what did you think when the project was offered to you?
Mike McKone: I was offered the project by George Beliard at Marvel. I think initially it was for 20 headshots and I didn’t know what they were going to be used for. I grew up reading Marvel books that had the headshots in the top corner box of the covers so I thought it was a great idea to revisit that type of imagery.
Marvel.com: How long did each piece take you to illustrate on average?
Mike McKone: Not too long. Maybe a couple of hours for a simple one, and four hours for a more complex one such as Medusa.
Marvel.com: Were there characters that didn;t make the cut that you would have liked to have done?
Mike McKone: I would have happily and contentedly drawn every Marvel character, but I do wish Colossus and Nightcrawler could have been included.
Marvel.com: What is your favorite of the images of the ones you did?
Mike McKone: Fin Fang Foom! One of the [most fun] characters and trickiest to draw, at least for me.
Marvel.com: Back to David and Tom now for the rest of the Marvel Legacy cool stuff—what was the tone you were going for with the retro ads?
David Gabriel: The tone was definitely meant to bring back some of that nostalgic over-the-top marketing text that is so associated with things that Stan Lee and others from Marvel’s past would use when promoting the books. Most of the text was written by Jason Pearl who works in the Sales and Marketing group, but of course, it was all run by editorial and got a few tweaks here and there. What we ended up with are some of the most notable house ads that have been put forth in years. It’s odd that we’re even discussing them here, but others have brought these up, and I think it’s a testament to the strength of the nostalgia for Marvel that we’ve tapped in to.
Tom Brevoort: I love the retro ads. To me, they’re so much more engaging and provocative than many of the ads we’ve done in recent years. So while they’re deliberately mimicking the style of the ads of a particular era, I hope we keep them around, or adopt some of that style moving forward. They really do make me want to check out the different titles we have coming out.
Marvel.com: David, you said FOOM was very high on the bucket list; what was the attraction for you to produce a new issue?
David Gabriel: FOOM was a great way to start creating a fan club for Marvel in the 70s. It was a magazine that gave you all the insights into what was going on at Marvel at the time. You could subscribe to it and get it sent directly to you. Seemed like a fun idea to bring that back to the current day and keep the tone and the stories close to what they used to be. The crew of writers working with us and the Trades department did a terrific job of the material and the design and format. They hired a group of writers to interview folks, research stories, and craft a fantastic magazine. I’ve heard retailers and fans say “when is the next issue?” which is always a great sign.
Marvel.com: How was it decided what kinds of articles it would have?
David Gabriel: In coming up with the stories, it was a little of everything. We looked at the original stories and tried to recapture some of that flavor to give folks an inside look or an historical look at the workings of our publishing group. We naturally wanted a feature about Marvel Legacy and some of the other upcoming major titles coming up like AVENGERS: NO SURRENDER and MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE. We also talked to folks in editorial, and we were all saddened but proud to be able to pay tribute to a beloved co-worker, the one and only Flo Steinberg! I think there’s something for everyone in here. Best part too was that we were able to send these to retailers free for their customers.
To keep up on all things Marvel Legacy, be sure to visit our official hub page!
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