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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Will Marvel Ruin Disney? ;-)

Okay, so we all know now that Disney just bought Marvel. I personally don't look at this as necessarily a bad thing. No doom and gloom here. :-)

Disney can perhaps help expand our market and bring more readers into comics, something sorely lacking right now as we continue to shrink in readership. Disney also certainly has avenues into animation, marketing, and product manufacturing which will get more product out there, hopefully good stuff.

The things I don't like tentatively haven't come to pass yet, and may not! They are just fears swirling in my brain. But issues like artist's ownership of original artwork, art being done in house instead of freelance--as it is historically at Disney, being able to get interesting story lines green lighted that may not be PC particularly, artist's rates going up not down, etc. etc. come to mind.

But again, if Disney is hands off, nothing to worry about! They say they will let Marvel continue to do their thing, and perhaps that is true. No reason to think otherwise. As someone pointed out, aren't they hands off with Pixar and Miramax? And hey, one of my friends that works for Disney always compliments their good health insurance--wouldn't it be a dream come true for freelancers to actually get some decent coverage!?

Conversely, in my mind, what I always liked about Marvel, is even though it was a corporation--that nasty word-- it was a relatively small one, and one had the impression that if you had a particularly cool or inventive idea, you could still get someone to bite. There were still just a few folks you had to convince. Now with the monolith that is Disney behind it all, there are more than just a few--again--if they are hands on that could be a fear. But--They may not be.

We don't know what's going to happen right now. But one thing is for sure--the company that Stan and Jack started is gonna change in some ways. We just don't know how yet.

But let's face it-- it's ALWAYS been changing. This is nothing new!

When I first started working at the "House of Ideas," I felt like Marvel was a family. I loved every second!! We had Mark Gruenwald there as our captain of hi jinks and morale boosting, office parties, Assistant Editor's School, field trips to scriptwriting classes, Halloween hoedowns, and lavish Christmas gatherings where we dressed to the nines. It was an atmosphere where you felt we were being creative and having a great deal of fun all at the same time.

I saw it start to change.

After the company was taken over by Pearlman, the corporation began to set in and there were more rules, less fun and certainly MORE angst. A few years later, heads began to role, but I had left by that time to join my friend Jim Salicrup at Topps Comics.

I remember what Mark Gruenwald said when I asked him about if I should make that jump or not. He said, "Renee, things are changing around here. It's not the same place it used to be, and there's nothing I can do about it. I'll miss working with you, but Topps is offering you more money and different opportunties, you should go. I don't know what's going to happen here." A few months later, Mark was heartbroken as he started to fire folks he thought of as friends...I don't think he ever got over that.

So, yeah, things change. Marvel included.

Even though I'm telling you my own experiences above. People that worked for Marvel before me--perhaps in the Jim Shooter years or the Archie Goodwin years or the Roy Thomas years--think it was better THEN, and that the years after them were when things turned to shit! It all depends on your perspective, you see! From what I hear from folks working there now, it's even a new and different animal today.

Now, it will just be one with Mouse ears.

And ultimately, I don't know if it matters. A corporation is a corporation is a corporation. Their first loyalty is to the shareholders. Period. And that colors every decision. I don't know if it matters which corporation is in control.

Here's a question that hasn't been asked on any of the notes I've seen: Will Marvel ruin Disney? :-)

On a personal note, I for one like Chocolate with my peanut butter. But I don't know if I'm going to like Marvel with my Disney. I'll have to see.

I love both companies in some ways and for different things. I don't necessarily want to see Marvel rides at Disney theme parks and vise versa. They have a different focus and a different feel about them--those parks. I kinda like the fantasy feel I get when I go to Disneyland and leave the outside world behind, and at times I also enjoy the testosterone driven feel of the Marvel rides at the Universal park. But they are different! I like 'em that way. Yeah, it's a small world after all, and I'd like to keep it just the way it is. No change for me! LOL Just like it annoys me when they put Jack Sparrow into the Pirates ride, or make Small World PC. If it was already cool, don't f*C#K it up!

Also, I don't really need to see Mickey in a Spidey costume, or Wolvie and Tigger having a iced mocha together. I hope they will keep the entities separate. Of course that's just me. But... now that I'm thinking about it, that Spidey/Mickey thing might be kinda cute.

I'm sure they are already being stuffed and stitched in Hong Kong even as we type.

For those of you with stock...I wouldn't go selling it just yet. We are starting a new chapter, that's all, but it isn't necessarily a bad one. Just what's next.

Geez I wish I had some Marvel stock!

As Mark told me all those many years ago. It's GONNA change. We may not like all of it. But there's nuthin' we can do about it... Except perhaps....keep making comics and being creative....at whatever company allows you to make the kind of work that works for you.

And probably, someday, if Disney ever sells Marvel, somebody is going to be thinking of these next few years as the time when Marvel was "It" for them.



  1. You know, after the recent anniversary of Mark's passing, I read Tom Brevoort's posting of a sampling of Mark's greatest lines (http://marvel.com/blogs/Tom_Brevoort/entry/1579) and it really got me to thinking about what he would think of the state of comics today.
    I loved his entire run on Captain America, especiallyt the Kieron Dwyer era, loved his Hawkeye mini, his Squadron Supreme, and especially the presence he maintained. As you said in this post- Marvel may be a corporation, but it's a small one at that. Gruenwald really helped to give it a personable face.
    I wish the biz had more folks like him today.

    And as far as the crazy news week, what I am most interested in is the ramifications (if any) this may have for Diamond. It may lead to some crippling damage for Steve Geppi, but it may also well lead to a somewhat healthier industry.
    I just wanna see Pixar's Spider-Ham 6.

  2. Ha! Spider-Ham 6! Now there's a thought!

    Yes, Mark was an amazing man and very much missed. I feel particularly lucky to have worked with him. And, yes, I wonder what he'd think.

    My friend, Jim Salicrup,whom I also admire, thinks it is full of possibilities. :-)