The Marvel Universe is home to plenty of heroes, whether it’s the amazing adventures of Spider-Man or the uncanny exploits of the X-Men. And some of its creators were on hand to discuss their creative process at Emerald City Comic Con. I attended the Marvel ECCC panel with writers Jim Zub and David Pepose, alongside artist Humberto Ramos on Saturday. Popverse editor-in-chief Chris Arrant served as the moderator and kicked things off by talking about Marvel’s various futures. Pepose mentioned that he went to the era of 2099 during his Savage Avengers run, while Zub spoke about his experience co-writing Iron Man 2020. “Back then, 2020 was a distant dream of a post-apocalyptic future,” he mused. “And now…”
The Marvel ECCC panel began with a dive into the differences between Marvel’s current crop of comics and the films/stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Zub says that he tries to keep his comic writing separate from what the movies are doing since they’re two different mediums. A key example was Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly’s upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy run, which is more of a weird space western than the space rock opera James Gunn brought to the screens. He also said that Marvel editor Tom Brevoort encourages creators to create stories that they think will last ten to fifteen years into the future. Pepose had a funnier answer: he says that everything he writes is “aggressively unfilmable.”
Talk then turned to how each creator deals with…well, the creative process. Ramos revealed that he’d inserted friends and family into his drawings, with Pepose and Zub adding that they’ve done the same. Zub also discussed his run on Champions and Thunderbolts: he said that the former appealed to him because he could build out their history, and described the latter as “The Avengers by way of Ted Lasso.” He also revealed his surprising response to the creation of the Indigenous hero Snowguard in Champions. Her first appearances led to second printings, and a Snowguard cosplayer approached Zub at a con and told him how much the character meant to her.
Another major creative reveal during the Marvel ECCC panel concerned the genesis of the Avengers: No Surrender and Avengers: No Road Home mega events released in 2018 and 2019. Zub, who co-wrote the storyline with Mark Waid and Al Ewing, said that much of the discussion took place over dinner — as they got to know each other, the creative process was easier to deal with. He also said that at one of those dinners, Ewing laid out the genesis of The Immortal Hulk, and when it came time to pitch No Surrender, Waid put Ewing on the spot. Simultaneously, Zub came up with the “House of Ideas” concept for No Road Home, which supposedly led Waid to exclaim: “Are there any awesomely apocalyptic ideas anyone else is sitting on?”
All three men also had a great deal of love for their jobs and the Marvel universe. Zub said that he was a fan of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and was in awe that he got to add things that would be part of that. Pepose, the newest writer, said he was still getting used to being part of the Marvel stable but enjoyed working on team books. And Ramos said that he had “the greatest job in the world.” He even took the time to congratulate a young fan in the audience who was wearing a version of Spider-Man’s suit that he had designed.
When the floor opened for fan questions on the Marvel ECCC panel, I asked them which characters they wanted to work on. “None of them!” Ramos said, adding that he’d drawn most of the Marvel Universe. Pepose said that Doctor Strange was a dream character and that there’s a storyline involving the Sorcerer Supreme that he’s been itching to do. And Zub said he also wants to do a fantasy-inclined story, pointing out that he’d love to work on Spider-Man. Given how much I’ve enjoyed the work these three have done for the Marvel Universe, I can only hope these projects come to fruition sooner or later.
Champions, Avengers: No Surrender, Avengers: No Road Home, Savage Avengers, and Strange Academy are available wherever comics are sold.
Born and raised in Texas, Collier “CJ” Jennings was introduced to geekdom at an early age by his father, who showed him Ultraman and Star Trek: The Next Generation. On his thirteenth birthday, he received a copy of Giant Size X-Men #1 and dove head first into the realm of pop culture, never looking back. His hobbies include: writing screenplays and essays, watching movies and television, card games/RPG’s, and cooking. He currently resides in Seattle.