Q&A SESSION: Marvel's Tom Brevoort On Essentials
ACAB: Why is it that DC can issue an Essential style reprint book with crystal clear reproduction on material dating back to the 1950s, yet Marvel issue a reprint book - in this case Essential Spectacular Spider-Man Vol II with three of the worst efforts at reproduction that I've ever seen - and that on material from the '80s. What are DC doing that Marvel isn't?
TOM BREVOORT: It's not a question of what DC might be doing that Marvel isn't per se. In both cases, it's a question of what reproduction materials are available. DC has this problem too--which is why all of the covers in that HOUSE OF MYSTERY volume were shot from the printed books; they don't have good reproduction materials for most of their vintage covers. In the case of the SPECTACULAR SPIDEY volume, the stats for those stories were either in horrible condition, or lost or discarded over the years. I've detailed in the past how maintenance of the reproduction warehouse wasn't anything resembling a priority during the bankruptcy years; stuff like this is the inevitable result years later.
ACAB: Do some Essentials that contain material not reprinted in Masterworks-- have involved newer, or better, stats?
TOM BREVOORT: I wouldn't think so. It may simply be luck of the draw. In the case ofAnt-Man and Human Torch, a good chunk of those books were reprinted from copies I saved in the early 90s, so that may explain why they look a bit better. It may also be a case of us having access to better reproduction technology these days, and so we're getting better results (stats are no longer shot, they're scanned).
ACAB: Are there any plans in place to improve the printing quality of some stories for future editions?
TOM BREVOORT: Yes, if the materials happen to present themselves.
ACAB: You've mentioned that the DC Showcase books use actual comics as source material at times - is that an option for the Essentials, especially in the cases where the printing is just so poor it detracts from the book as a whole?
TOM BREVOORT: We've done this as well, quite a few times, actually. Pretty much the entirety of the Showcase package is derived from what the Essentials have learned first.
ACAB: With the loss of some of the original stats, could Marvel be a bit more active in trying to track down better source material, such as stats or original art, colour guides etc etc that might be in the hands of private collectors?
TOM BREVOORT: We're pretty thorough about this sort of thing, but more for books like the Masterworks than the Essentials. The Essentials are meant to be big, think reading tomes, not archival collections--and their affordable cover price means that there's less money in the budget for extensive restoration work.
Now before anyone attacks me and thinks I'm slagging off the concept of the Essential, rest assured I'm not. When Marvel hit the nail on the head they hammer it right home. The recent Essential Moon Knight is a case in point. Stunning reproduction and a book that has work in it by Doug Moench, Don Perlin, Jim Mooney, Mike Esposito, Bill Sienkiewicz, Gene Colan, Bob McLeod, Klaus Janson, Mike Zeck, Pablo Marcos, Bill Mantlo and more can't be bad if it tried. Indeed, it's brilliant. It's volumes like this one that go a long way to making up for some of the flaws in other volumes. I hope Marvel keep 'em coming!