Mark's Remarks

Boy, am I glad we announced our projected title change for this magazine instead of just going ahead and doing it. Not since we gave Wonder Man the infamous red and green suit have we heard such a hue and cry from you card-carrying members of Marveldom Assembled. To say that 95% of you folks were vehemently against changing the name WEST COAST AVENGERS to the NEW AVENGERS would be no exaggeration. Before I finish this column at the bottom of the page, let's hear what you have to say in your own words...

NNNNNNNGGGGGGGGHHHHHH!!!! New Avengers? NEW AVENGERS? YEEEEAAAAAARRRRRGGGG! Hulk Smash! You backstabbing jerks! How dare you consider changing the name of my favorite comic ever!

--Nolan McFadden

Say what? "The New Avengers"? That's insane! If I only bought books that were based in California, all I'd buy would be WCA and that other nifty book by Steve Englehart, GLC. Come on! I've been reading about New York heroes for years, and the West Coast deserves its own team. I mean, a team called "New Avengers" could be based anywhere from South Yemen to New Jersey.

Besides, technically, if any team deserves to be called "New", its the Eakos. Look at the rosters. The Whackos have two charter members, two members who have been around since a year after the birth of the Avengers, two experienced members, and a rookie. The Eakos have no charter members (circa #285), three experienced members, and two relatively new Avengers. Also, if you use the new name, the nickname "Whackos" is out. New-o's? Yuch.

--Scott Tipton

If you did change the title to "New Avengers", would that mean that the East Coast Avengers would then call them the New Avengers instead of the West Coast Avengers, along with the rest of the population including the Whackos themselves? I think of new Avengers as being new members on each team. Does the new title mean that the vetern Avengers would have to come to the East Coast while the new members go to the West Coast?

--Todd Scheever

And suppose, in a couple of years, someone really does manage to push through the suggestion of Midwest Avengers? Do they get the name "New Avengers", giving the name "Avengers" to the West Coast team, and calling the East Coast team "The Old Avengers"? Or would you simply call the midwest team "The Newer Avengers?"

--Rick S. Jones

Methinks you'd have the same problem with you idea (only in reverse) as you think you have now-- namely, readers would start to buy so-called "New Avengers" books rather than the implied "Old Avengers" mag! Why not change both books to AVENGERS EAST and AVENGERS WEST?!?!?!

--Robert Kowalski

The "West Coast" part of the title does not make a difference. I live on the East Coast, and I am not influenced by the title, in fact, the WEST COAST AVENGERS is the only Avengers comic I buy. I buy a title for its story and characters, not what part of the world they live in.

--David Hammer

Don't change the name!

The name The WEST COAST AVENGERS has begun to represent a new generation of great Avengers stories. Even though the name THE NEW AVENGERS is catchy, it doesn't fit. Both Hank and Tony are founding members of the Avengers and definitely not new at all.

If you have to change the name though, how about THE AVENGERS II?

--Chris Ulichney

I ask you; did FANTASTIC FOUR change to FANTASTIC FIVE; Did IRON MAN change to IRON MEN; INCREDIBLE HULK to INCREDIBLE HULKS; X-MEN to X-WOMEN; or better yet, would AVENGERS change to EAST COAST AVENGERS, FIRST AVENGERS or OLD AVENGERS?

--Jim Boarman

I will say this once. If you change the WEST COAST AVENGERS to the NEW AVENGERS, I will be sorry I voted you favorite Editor for 1986. Please do not change the name. Oh, I live in Ohio.

--Bill Climer

Regarding the possibility of changing WEST COAST AVENGERS to NEW AVENGERS...if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

--Terry Williams

Having WEST COAST in the title tells the reader something abou the settings of the stories and the attitudes of the characters; it also provides the ideal nickname for the group, the Whackos! Making them the NEW AVENGERS would take this identity away.

--Jerry Shenguiette

To call the WCA the NEW AVENGERS is wrong. Only two of the current membership, the Mooon Knight and Mockingbird, can be called "New Avengers", since both became Avengers for the first time in this book. But that title does not apply to Hawkeye, Iron Man, Dr. Pym, Wonder Man and Tigra. Therefore, this team is not new, but is not old, either. I disagree with you, Mark, saying that they are "new" Avengers. The WCA is basically a franchise of the East Coast operation.

--Eugene Lee

I've never been to the West Coast, and I don't plan on going, but that certainly wouldn't stop me from reading the book anymore than the East Coast Avengers being in New York or Alpha Flight being in Canada stops me from reading those books.

--Lori Anderson

WEST COAST AVENGERS is the title the book should have. This title does not turn me off, and I live on Long Island. I do not feel THE NEW AVENGERS is the right title because although it fits now, what about five years from now?

--Frank Santoli

Enough already! We got the message! Let me share with you the thinking we did that led to our contemplation of a title change. The genesis of Steve's and my discussions was not lack of sales as some of you inferred. WEST COAST AVENGERS is consistently in the top 10% of our direct comics sales. The problem, to Steve's mind, is lack of respect. To be perfectly honest, those of us who do this title consider it to be a real Avengers book-- equally as legitimate an heir to the Avengers tradition as any other book. But when special projects are discussed, it's always "X-MEN/AVENGERS", not "X-MEN/WEST COAST AVENGERS". Sure, teh Whackos sometimes get to participate under the generic name, but what it boils down to is a perception that AVENGERS is the lead title and WEST COAST AVENGERS is a mere spin-off. We have discussed equalizing the titles by changing the other book to EAST COAST AVENGERS, but the decision we always came up with is that this would only serve to diminish the power of that title. We have discussed AVENGERS WEST and AVENGERS EAST, bu the decision is that WEST and EAST look a lot alike and the readers would get confused. We have discussed calling both books AVENGERS and publishing that title bi-weekly, but the decision is that this would confuse the retailers. And so, Steve and I ended up at NEW AVENGERS-- and your decision was loud and clear on that one. Now hear this: We will not be changing this magazine's title to the NEW AVENGERS. Okay? Okay!

But that just leaves us right where we started: since a lot of people consider the contents of this book to be pretty nifty, how do we get the title to command the same respect? Is there a change we should make-- or will quality eventually win without our doing anything? Steve and I would sure like to hear from all of you on that.

--Mark Gruenwald


I love it when I get great letters, especially ones of "general interest" that I can share with you in this column. I have such a one right here that's far more interesting than anything I have to say this month.

Dear Mark Gruenwald,

The letters page can be a fun, informative, interesting part of a comic book, but rarely is. Instead, predictable letters are printed and responded to. These letters can be broken down into several categories:

A) A letter asking for a No-Prize.

B) Fan letter: "I've been collecting comics for 12 years and have over 5,000 of them, but IRON MAN #217 was the best..." Or, on the other side of the coin, "I HATE YOUR COMIC! I REALLY THINK IT STINKS!"

C) Compliment letter: "Wow! Astounding! I love _________'s (fill in the blank) art! It's the best since...", or the opposite, "Your art sucks eggs! It's really ugly! Get a new artist!"

D) Simple comment letter: "Bring back the Tumbler!"

E) Humorous letter: "Print this letter! Or I'll--I'll--I'll do something!"

F) Historical question letter: "Where did Captain America get his shield?"

G) Current question letter: "How old is Tony Stark?"

H) Intelligent, interesting commentary: (Well thought out letters, such as those discussing whether or not Cap killed anybody during World War II, Tony Stark's alcohol problem, etc.)

Of course, all of the above letters appear in letters pages and all are needed. However, I suggest that when someone writes a letter of type A through E, you simply put their name, address, and type of letter they wrote. You'd save lots of space, and get to print a lot more interesting commentary. Well, I guess that IS a little too radical, I think everybody enjoys reading No-Prize requests and humorous letters, but please keep them to minimum. Your comics have the best letter columns in comics-- keep it that way!

--Jeffrey R. Lacasse

Thanks for writing, Jeffrey. So what do you think, o' rest of my readership? Should this guy be lionized or hung out to dry? Write me in care of this column.

--Mark Gruenwald


It seems to me that I've tackled this topic before, but since I continue to get letters asking me about it, I'll address the subject again, trying to hit it from a different angle. This issue's topic: How do you get to be a writer for Marvel Comics?

There are only three ways to break in as a writer for Marvel. The easiest way is to become renowned, much sought-after writer for other companies, call up the editor-in-chief (hi, Tom) and say you're available, and when the e-i-c gets the word out, editors will call you. The second way (the way I did it, actually) is to acquire an entry-level staff position with Marvel, keep your ears open for writing opportunities, and submit material to colleague editors at every available opportunity. I'm proof this system can work, but being a staffer is no guarantee that you'll sell a single story. (There are no guarantees anywhere in life.)

The third way (and the way most people take) is blind submission through the mail. It is important to remember that Marvel technically does not hire writers. What we do is buy stories. What about books (like X-MEN) where the same writer (Chris Claremont) has been writing the same book for ten years, you ask? Wasn't he hired as the writer of the book? Not really. Chris does not have a contract that says he and only he can write the X-MEN, and Marvel will buy every single X-MEN story he writes. What he has is an unwritten agreement that, provided he turns in acceptable work on time, Marvel will continue to buy it. So what does this mean to aspiring comics writers? It means gear your efforts to selling stories, not selling your ability as a writer. Your ability as a writer will be amply demonstrated when an editor buys one of your stories. When you submit work to a book that rarely if ever uses inventory material, you may as well attach a note to it saying, "Don't buy this story please." If you are not trying to sell a story, you are not thinking like a writer. If you send us a proposal for a new series (whether using your creations or ours), you may as well attach a note to it saying, "Don't take this proposal seriously, please". Why? Because no one sells a new series as his first published comics work. You must pitch your story at the titles that exist, not expect a title to be created just for you. That's the cold reality of comics publishing.

Now let's say you sold your first story to Marvel. Then what? Well, you've got to pitch another, and make another sale. Then another, then another. Eventually an editor (or two) will think of you as someone who can do professional-level work, and when a book opens up, maybe the editor will think of you as his/her (no contract, no commitment) regular writer. And that's how this crazy business works.

--Mark Gruenwald


One of the things I told writers submitting stories to SOLO AVENGERS is that I wanted to see new villains. After all, most of the individual Avengers who have never carried their own feature don't have a lot of foes they can call their own and here would be a good place to give them some. Now I know that creating new super-villains is no mean feat (this from the man who gave the Marvel Universe Armadillo and the Slug), and one of the hardest parts is coming up with a good name. That's what I want to talk about this outing.

During my recent move to another office, I unearthed a document written circa 1978 by Marvel writer Peter Gillis and his brother Robert. What it is is a handy-dandy guide to creating thousands of valid villain (and hero) names by combining two simple words to make a compound word. Herewith, for your edification, and by kind permission of the Brothers Gillis is...

THE PATENTED GILLIS SUPERDUDE NAME MAKER

(Pick one from Column A and one from Column B-- and presto! you have a character name.)

COLUMN ACOLUMN B
DarkLord
FireMaster
ShadowSword
BlackDragon
MoonRider
SpiderSlayer
IronWitch
NightHawk
StarStealer
RingDestroyer
PowerThief
RubyForce
ScarletFlame
SilverWizard
MindLight
SunWarrior
HellArrow
SeaShark
AirDemon
DoomQueen
GreenKing
RedWing
SkyStorm
TimeDancer
EarthMask
GreyKnight
WingGuardian
PhantomAxe
BloodStalker
HawkEagle
CrimsonMane
WinterStar
PlagueFire
WindSerpent
DragonFlower
WhiteShadow
DeathPhantom
DreamSkull
ThunderWolf
DawnTiger
WindSinger
WereSpear
MadEye
Bird
Fox

See how simple it is? Hey, readers, how many names of established characters can you find by putting together a word from Column A and Column B?

--Mark Gruenwald

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