Cancelled pitches and projects are a normal part of doing business as a freelance creative. Occasionally they will be revived at a later date or the freelancer might recycle the ideas into something similar (like I did with Marci Malone: Intern of Cobra) but usually they are simply abandoned on our hard drives as we move on to our next gig or opportunity and can't be shared with the public (even for free) because of contracts or corporate ownership. But I re-discovered 2 finished Marvel Comics scripts that I can totally share with you!
The History of Marvel Comics and How A Comic Book Gets Made are two non-fiction comic book scripts that Marvel Comics editorial solicited from me circa 2010 in the all-too brief time when I was in their freelance writing stable. The context (as I recall) was that these would be “edutainment” promo material for the company and would be serialized on their website and their own digital comics platform (years before it was absorbed by comiXology) and also printed as a 20 page one-shot. I wrote each “page” as a 3 widescreen panels to allow for maximum web/print flexibility. I wanted to draw them both too but they were looking for someone else to draw the “History” segment (Ron Lim was mentioned at least once) and I was only going to draw the “How” part. They were very much in the same vein of The Comic Book History of Comics except it was a corporate-produced comic so it could *only* be about the Marvel Comics company and its characters and it was understood that I had to minimize as much of Marvel's, um, unpleasantness as possible.
With the “History” script I was doing my best Fred Van Lente impersonation. (I’m not sure why they didn’t just ask Fred to write them as he already was well established at Marvel - I’ve never asked him actually, maybe a scheduling conflict? Oh well, I was glad for the opportunity.) For the “How It’s Made” script I just 100% ripped off the Troy McClure educational film structure, with Spidey stepping in for Phil Hartman (RIP).
The editorial team seemed to liked them (only one revision!), but then the script got held up in the legal department. I never heard the full story as to why the project didn't move forward but MY BEST GUESS (*cough*BleedingCoolIsClickbaitGarbage*cough*) is that it was because many comic creators are featured prominently throughout the text including Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Steve Ditko and about a dozen others. Marvel was neck-deep in the Kirby legal battle at the time and they probably thought it was a bad idea to acknowledge ANY singular creative contributions (especially Kirby’s) in an official Marvel publication. Looking over it now I can see I wrote it more as a piece of history rather than a piece of corporate advertising, and that it also references all sorts of comic book creators including all Image Comics founders and tons of licensed properties that Marvel published through the years: Gozilla, Conan, Star Wars, GI Joe, Transformers etc., which probably didn’t help its chances of getting the lawyers' approval.
Corporate fears aside (real or imagined) - as a life-long Marvel fan they were an absolute BLAST to write. Looking back on them now I’m proud that I framed Marvel more as a comic book publisher than as a media brand but oh my how times have changed since. 10 years ago Stan Lee was still kicking, the MCU was just gathering steam and Disney has JUST bought Marvel. (Also…INKERS? Really?!) A decade later the chances of these scripts ever being published anywhere else in any form without a total re-write are pretty much zero.
I ended up never getting paid (my own fault - No one at Marvel ever asked me for a full script but I did anyways because I was too eager/dumb to just write a pitch outline). There also was no written contract and since these are historical events, rather than fictional ones I own the copyright on these scripts and am free to do what I want with them. I think.
So, um, here they are!
Some of the info and hyperlinks are definitely out-dated (I can't be bothered to check, let alone update them) but there's some solid jokes and interesting bits of history that we didn't include in The Comic Book History of Comics so I hope you like reading them at least a little bit. Feel free to link to this page but please don't reproduce them without asking me first.
On to the next assignment!