There’s also the idea that, because it’s such a complicated narrative, I find it very interesting that you actually can’t hold that narrative in your brain. At a certain point, it blows the circuits, and there aren’t a lot of examples of that that I know of. I mean, to understand the Marvel Universe, imagine 80 seasons of Lost, but each character has their own spin-off show, and each spin-off show lasts 80 years, airing weekly, and all the different shows are interconnected and they pop up guest stars every week.
Right —and then once a year you have to buy a 2 Broke Girls episode because it ties in to the main Lost narrative.
When I look back on my own participation in comics, I feel like I checked out by the early ’90s, and reading your book, I realized it had a lot to do with the overload of tie-ins that took over Marvel at that point. Now, we’re all used to serialized fiction, especially in television; but back then it was such an overwhelming thing to keep up with. It must have been successful for them to have done it and escalated it; was it?
Yeah! But the thing is that it was also appealing. I mean, if at that time, someone said, “Do you want to write a couple issues of Avengers?,” the first thing you’d think of is: “What kind of cool things can I bring back from the rest of this world?” It’s something that has a lot of creative appeal, because there’s so many connections to make. So it wasn’t just the crossover continuity and whether they were a good commercial return —it was staffed by all these people who had grown up on Marvel Comics, and that’s what they wanted to do anyway.
Right — solve something with time travel and a character that no one had seen or thought about for 20 years, and it would be more effective than, say, Bobby Ewing waking up from a dream in Dallas.
Right. If Marvel asked me to write a comic now, I would be like, “Great! We’re going to bring back Angar The Screamer, we’re going to find out how he became disillusioned by the hippie dream!”
In your book, you were talking about the X-Men, and how, in the comics, it was a big reveal that Magneto had been a Holocaust survivor. In the movies, it wasn’t as big a deal, of course; it’s remarkable the way that comics could do things like that, have a character exist for decades and then all of the sudden show you something you didn’t know about them. They didn’t reboot the titles, they just handed them over to different people who focused on different facets of the characters and their stories.
Yeah, and I think that that is something that I think 15 years ago started breaking down. I think it was seamless, and then I think around the time of Heroes Reborn and titles like that, I thought “I don’t remember who these characters are anymore.” And for people for our generation, I don’t know if we’ve ever really recovered from that. If you go to a comic book store and pick up something, it seems like there’s a lot of catching up that would need to happen now. You know, Norman Osborn having been President of the United States, I think? Storylines like that.