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An Interview with Tom Brevoort, by David "DragynWulf" Wiltfong

ComicBoards Exclusive!

  • Q: You bought your first comics off the comic rack of a 7-11, SUPERMAN # 268 to be exact, now that Marvel has tried to remove comics from comic racks, what are your thoughts on it as both a fan and editor?
  • A: I don't think Marvel has done anything of the sort. I assume you're referring to Marvel dropping the comics code. But Marvel still has more titles available on the newsstand than anybody else, and we're continuing to push to grow in that arena, with deals in Wal-Mart as well as more emphasis in the bookstore market for TPB collections.

  • Q: Who have been some of the main influences in your work?
  • A: Shelly Mayer, Julie Schwartz, Stan Lee, Mark Gruenwald, Bill Gaines, and many others.

  • Q: You didn't start working at Marvel as an editor, but on action figures, trading cards, toys, posters, and other things. What area did you enjoy working on the most?.
  • A: Well, I was still an editor, just one in the special projects department, which did all of the stuff you list and more. And for the most part, I ejoyed working on it all. It gave me a nice varied background in a number of creative processes, not just simply comics.

  • Q: Anything in particular that you're proud of like a certain action figure or trading card?
  • A: There was a great Thing note-holder that was done as a limited item just for licensees, that I thought came out really well (athough the color was a little too brown, making him look more like the Turd.) I've still got one of those.

  • Q: From your work as an Editor to date, what would you choose as the work(s) you are most proud of?
  • A: Probably the most successful end product, in terms of achieving what we were shooting for, was the SPIDER-BOY one-shot during the first Marvel/DC AMALGAM project. But I'm happy with other things as well: AVENGERS and THUNDERBOLTS, the MARVEL MASTERWORKS books I edited, and things like the GOLDEN AGE OF MARVEL TPB, and the stuff I helped put together for the HEROES project, among others.

  • Q: What was the first comic you became editor of?
  • A: The first thing I edited completely was the MARVEL COMICS POSTERBOOK featuring JIM LEE. Jim loaned me most of the original artwork to shoot that, as I recall. The first regular series I edited was the ongoing DEATHLOK series in the early '90s, which I didn't do any favors for.

  • Q: As the editor of various comics, what is it that you do exactly?
  • A: I tell people that it's like being a combination of coach and manager of a ballclub. I don't play in the game, but I get to decide who does. I can switch somebody's position, or take him out of the game, or send in a substitute. I can call for a particular play or change the team uniforms. And it's my responsibility to get the club to the park on time, and in shape to play.

  • Q: With having your hands as full as they are, you still have time to visit various message boards to talk with fans. Do you consider this as part of your "downtime" or part of the job?
  • A: It's part of the downtime, to be sure--but it informs the job.

  • Q: There's an apparent difference between a book like, say, the AVENGERS, which is high on drama and continuity, and a book like CAPTAIN MARVEL, which has a somewhat humorous and slightly less restrictive tone. Partly this may be due to the difference in creative teams, but is there any difference in editing such titles as well?
  • A: Every title is different, and every creative team is different, so the demands on any given project are going to be specific to that one project. I have some general guidelines for what I want out of a comic book--accessibility, good storytelling, a good story, etc.--but beyond that I tend to try to let the creative team and the project dictate what it's going to be.

  • Q: You have an extensive knowledge of Marvel's characters. Did you get that from being a fan, taking your job serious, or a little bit ofboth?
  • A: Mostly from being a fan. When I first got into Marvel, I spent hours pouring over George Olshevsky's Marvel Indexes, and a lot of that information imprinted on me. I've got a pretty good memory for issue numbers. Plus I've always been interested in the history of the medium.

  • Q: Kurt Busiek and yourself had a Create a Villain Contest for the THUNDERBOLTS (Charcoal). Fabian Nicieza, Patrick Zircher, and yourself recently got to complete an agreement that was made 28 years ago when you brought the Humus Sapien character to the storylines of the THUNDERBOLTS. How does that make you feel?
  • A: That was fun. In truth, we may have enjoyed it more than many of the readers, but I think it was still worth doing in any event. Marvel had made a commitment to creator Michael Barreiro, so it only seemed right to honor that commitment, despite the passage of time.

  • Q: Are there plans for a Create a Villian/Hero Contest anytime soon?
  • A: Not really. They're really more trouble than their worth, more often than not.

  • Q: Dan Raspler, Kurt Busiek, George Perez, Tom Smith, and yourself are working on the upcoming AVENGERS/JLA and JLA/AVENGERS 4-issue miniseries. What can we expect to see in this most anticipated crossover event?
  • A: You can expect the unexpected as well as the expected--that's about all I want to say about this project right now.

  • Q: How does it feel to be a part of a project like this?
  • A: It's a big deal, certainly. But it actually feels rather natural, since it's the same creative team I worked with for three years on AVENGERS. Dan and Steve Wacker are the only wild cards, and they've fit right in so far.

  • Q: You recently have done some switching on titles that you now edit, any particular reason behind it?
  • A: The powers that be thought that moving some books around would make things fresher, and perhaps improve all of the books involved in one way or another.

  • Q: What titles are you the editor for now?.
  • A: FANTASTIC FOUR, AVENGERS, THUNDERBOLTS, THOR, IRON MAN, SPIDER-GIRL, DEFENDERS, CAPTAIN MARVEL and all sorts of limited series, one-shots and special projects.

  • Q: Marvel seems to not advertise any of the comics you edit much if at all unless there is something major happening. How does this make you feel?
  • A: I think this is a misconception. Marvel puts the advertising muscle where it's most needed at any given time. So sure, we haven't gotten a big push on AVENGERS in a while, but that's balanced out by the push that IRON MAN is getting. There are big plans in the works for promotion for both FANTASTIC FOUR and AVENGERS in the near future, so I don't feel in any way slighted. Every editor and every creator feels that they don't get enough promotion--it's par for the course.

  • Q: I have read that the Flash is your favorite comic character. Is he still your favorite?
  • A: The Flash is my favorite super hero, yes.

  • Q: Which Flash do you like the best, Jay, Barry, or Wally?
  • A: I don't have a strong preference between them, largely because the first 100-Page FLASH issue I bought back in 1973 featured all of them (though Wally was Kid Flash in it.) So I accept them all equally, pretty much.

  • Q: Before you got your start at Marvel, you and Mike Kanterovich worked on a few comic strips of your own. Any particular one you liked better?
  • A: I enjoyed them all. HERO HANGOUT would have had the best art, had it been completed--so probably TIME PARADOX was the best-looking of the finished works. And we've almost got the animated version of THE SECRET ready to upload--that was a fun strip as well.

  • Q: Scattershot, a character from your HERO HANGOUT strip is similar to Hawkeye. Was Hawkeye a favorite of your at the time?
  • A: Not particularly. Scattershot's not really any more similar to Hawkeye than Green Arrow is. Actually, Scattershot wasn't all that good of an archer--he carried a single multi-head arrow that would fire shafts haphazardly in all directions. He was kind of pushed into the business by his family (he was descended from the famous gunfighter of the old west Pistol-Whip Jones.)

  • Q: Given that you've done some writing before, would you like to do any again? And if so, which character(s) would you love to have a crack at?
  • A: I'd do it if the opportunity came along, but I'm just as happy editing. I did kind of have a hankering to take a crack at scripting an issue of WORLD'S GREATEST COMIC MAGAZINE, but the opportunity never presented itself.

  • Q: What advice could you give to someone aspiring to break into the comic business?
  • A: Breaking in takes three things: talent, perseverence, and luck. You need to have an abundance of all three in order to make a go of it. So if you're going to try, be prepared to bang your head against the wall for a while, and don't be easily discouraged.

  • Q: What's the part of the job that you like the most? And the least?
  • A: The best part is getting the final printed book in, particularly if it looks good and reads well. The worst part is when you have to fire somebody, particularly if it's a case where that particular person isn't completely at fault (as in the case when a new penciler is coming onto a series, and the current inker isn't the best match with him.)

  • Q: Last but not least, how do you pronounce the name Brevoort?
  • A: Bree-voort

  • Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview.
  • You're welcome.

  • Place to discuss the interview:
    Marvel Universe Message Board

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