How did you get the job of editing the
2099 books (FF 2099, Spider-Man 2099 and then 2099: World of
Why did Marvel choose to combine the
2099 books into one series as opposed to ending it all with the
final issue of each individual series? Did the video game
being produced around this time have any impact on the World of
Tomorrow series being made?
Let me preface this with two caveats:
1) This was a long time ago. My memory of it might be wrong!
2) I came into it very sideways. 2099 was always Joey's
vision. He and his creators did something very specific and
special. When I came into the picture, the curtains were
coming down and the nature of it had changed quite a bit.
Those years at Marvel we were victims of impossible
expectations. The corporate folks wanted the comic books to
make large amounts of money even though the sales were
shrinking and their expectations were rising in direct
proportion to the drop: sales are down? Put out more
titles to make more money!
My memory of it was that Joey had been forced to expand the
line further and faster than he wanted. They had him expand,
he had editors under him to edit the titles. Then they made
him fire those editors. Then they got rid of Joey and
decided they were canceling the line. It was all sales
based. It certainly was not Joey's fault - those books, when
he was left alone to craft them, did what they did and did
it well. The audience for them might not have been an
X-Men-sized readership, but the readership that liked that
type of universe liked 2099.
I knew nothing about the video game and as far as I know it
had no impact on the cancelations. The line got "uncanceled"
because Mark Powers and I had an idea on how to wrap up the
line in a big, satisfying way, and the bosses liked it
enough that they decided to keep the line going. We were
quite surprised at this, and a little daunted.
When they had decided to shut down the line they gave the
remaining books to Associate Editors (these were not full
editors and were given heavy workload and little
assistance). We were told to end it however we wanted. Lots
of books were going away, things were contracting - this
wasn't like people anticipating the last episode of Breaking
Bad. It was: you have X number of issues left, get 'em
done by this date and move on.
Mark and I were sitting around after we got the assignment,
I think, or maybe we didn't have any of the books (I
honestly can't remember) and we thought the idea of ending a
universe - being allowed to end-end it - was sort of
exciting. You didn't get to do too much of that back then.
We were discussing that, and we remembered as kids how cool
it seemed in Beneath the Planet of the Apes (SPOILERS) that
they just blow up the planet. We thought, it might be neat
to have a big apocalypse and show the characters doing big,
noble things - real end-of-the-world melodrama - folks
sacrificing out of love, knowing there would be no tomorrow.
We mentioned it to, I think, Suzanne and Jay Gardner (?),
who were doing the other books. And they dug it. Then we
mentioned it to the editor in chief and he liked it. So we
thought, great, we'll give the whole thing a big send off
for the readers.
I don't know who it was, but once they got wind that we
actually thought we had a good story, the order came down:
great, we love it. End the world, but don't end it. We're
going to do an Unlimited that this will launch. Those were
big books. Lots of pages, almost no time to produce them.
Maybe the Mindscape thing informed that. It was never
mentioned to me. If they had, I would have just called up
the video game company and tried to work out a continuity
with them. Would have been an interesting experiment.
What do you recall about working with
the writers of the series: Joe Kelley and Ben Raab?
Anyway, lots of page, no time. We were scrambling. Joe I had
started teaching in the Stanhattan Project (I still teach in
the Dramatic Writing Department at Tisch/NYU - typing this
email after my Friday class), so I pulled him in. Figured it
was a good place for him to cut his teeth. Ben was a friend,
and had really hit it off with Joe, so it seemed like a good
team to handle the workload. This was the type of
assignment, where it wasn't a plum, the deadlines were
horrific, and we needed to communicate a lot with the story
team. So to have two in-house writers made it all doable.
Why was the series cancelled? Do you
know if the writers had plans for the series beyond the Phalanx
I have no memory of the further plans for stories. Again, it
was very much of its time: I remember them asking for the
Unlimited...and then it getting canceled pretty quick when
the numbers weren't through the roof. That being said, it
was fun, even if the hours were nuts. Joe, Ben, Mark. I seem
to remember Pasqual Ferry worked on some bits of the art -
it always made me happy to have his work on my desk.
Of the many characters in the series,
did you have a favorite?
I have almost no memory of the characters, other than the
fact that I loved working with the FF team.
As far as 2099 during its main run, I liked the Peter
David/Rick Leonardi run. Every issue of that was like
champagne and caviar as far as I was concerned. I got the
opportunity to work with Rick years later. Unbelievable
draftsman. I still have a pin-up of Daredevil playing the
bagpipes (that's another story) framed on my wall.
I also liked Ravage in a kitschy way. I do like reading Stan
stuff. Joey thought I was making fun of him initially
because I had a Ravage t-shirt I wore around the office. I
really did like reading it. I had bought that t-shirt at St.
Mark's comics on my own dime.