After a rather lengthy lead time, MARVELS: EYE OF THE CAMERA sees release this week. The solicitation copy reads thusly:
The long-awaited sequel to the award-winning publishing sensation that made Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross into stars begins here! News photographer Phil Sheldon’s back, with the man-on-the-street’s perspective on the big events of the Marvel Universe, from the Avengers, the all-new X-Men and the Secret Wars to Dracula and the Werewolf By Night. But this time, Phil’s world is going to be rocked not just by superheroes and super-villains — but by something far more personal, as well. Featuring the Marvel debut of artist Jay Anacleto, whose gorgeous, photorealistic pencil renderings give a new look at the Marvel Universe, and what it would be like to actually be there.
We went back to the Archives for the original interview that Newsarama conducted with Kurt Busiek about this project on July 31, 2003. And for the record, we can make that “10 year wait” into “15″.
7-31-2003: BUSIEK ON MARVELS: EYE OF THE CAMERA
As Newsarama reported Tuesday, Kurt Busiek and Jay Anacleto will join forces for Marvels: Eye of the Camera early next year, a continuation of the original Marvels which came out in 1994 by Busiek and Alex Ross. Newsarama caught up with the writer for a chat about the project.
Newsarama: First off, and this is pretty obvious, but – 10 years. Why so long?
Kurt Busiek: Actually, I should mention that I don’t think of this project as Marvels II, but as the Marvels 10th Anniversary project, which is what it started out as, or as Marvels: Eye Of The Camera, which is what we’ve been calling it so far. Marvels II was a different project.
But as you know, we were going to do a sequel, the story I think of as Marvels II, back in 1994, and it fell apart over creative differences — and let me point out that that’s not a euphemism, not a codeword; it was truly creative differences. So I went off and did Astro City instead, which has worked out okay, and it wasn’t until the 10th anniversary of Marvels was approaching that Tom Brevoort asked me about doing something to mark the occasion.
We’d talked about doing a new story for a 10th anniversary collection, but only if Alex could do the art. Or a standalone special or mini-series or something, and the more we talked it over, the more it evolved, until it became the project we’re doing.
But that’s why 10 years — it was the anniversary that got us talking about it.
NRAMA: Okay then – where does this pick up in relation to the original Marvels? Following with the theme you mentioned, is it “ten years later?”
KB: Actually it picks up between Marvels #1 and #2, hitting the period we didn’t really get to explore the first time through — the birth of the Marvel Age, beginning with the debut of the Fantastic Four. It didn’t make sense to do that last time through, since the first issue was all about the dawn of superheroes, so why follow that with another “beginning of an age” story? But it makes sense here, as a good place to start a new story.
By the end of #1, however, we’re past the events of Marvels and into stuff that happened thereafter.
NRAMA: Okay – so if the bulk of the story is set after Marvels, is Phil Sheldon [the Daily Bugle photographer] still the point of view character and narrator, or is that torch being passed?
KB: Our original plan, when we were doing a sequel way back when, was to pass the mantle to another set of eyes. But the seed of this story was a story about Phil, and some of the stuff that happened to him afterward, so as we fleshed it out we stayed with Phil.
This is very much his story — more so than the first, in which he was the observer through whose eyes we saw the changing world of the Marvels. This time, the story involves Phil and what’s going on with him and his family and his life, and his observation of the marvels and the larger world plays into that and reflects on it. So it’ll still feature Phil’s perspective on the Marvel universe, but it’s more personal, too, more particular to Phil.
NRAMA: Going back to an earlier comment – when you spoke with us about Astro City: The Dark Age, you said that is an adaptation of what was to be Marvels II. So in that regard, is Eye of the Camera a wholly new story, distinct from your original stab at it?
KB: Correct – the story that was going to be Marvels II will still be Astro City: The Dark Age — although it’s changed quite a bit as it traveled to another universe. But this story dates back to those days as well — I came up with a story idea back then that Alex and I talked about every now and then as a special we could do, a self-contained story that’d be our farewell to Phil as a character and a kind of epilogue to Marvels.
In talking that story idea over with Tom, we expanded it, planting the roots of it back in the early Marvel days and adding a lot to the development of it. So the original one-shot idea has become the meat of issues #5 and #6, but we’ve got a lot more stuff building up to it, exploring the Marvel Universe of the Seventies and Eighties, and exploring Phil and what he’s experiencing in those years. The original story idea became the climax of the larger story we’re doing.
So some of it’s brand-new, but the core idea is one I’ve had in mind for a while.
NRAMA: With Marvels, you began at the early Golden Age and ended with Craig Shutt’s “end” of the Silver Age, that is, the death of Gwen Stacy. Will this story cover the same sized expanse of time?
KB: “Craig Shutt’s ‘end’ of the Silver Age?” I say ha! Ha, I say! Actually, I think Craig’s endpoint for the Silver Age is Kirby going to DC, or something like that.
KB: The idea that Gwen Stacy’s death marks the end of things was Alex’s and my idea — that it was a story moment that made an appropriate coda to all the many changes that comics had been undergoing. But that was, what? 1939-1973? 34 years?
Eye of the Camera runs from before the birth of the Fantastic Four to some time after the “Fall of the Mutants” crossover in, what, 1989? So we only got 28 years this time, give or take.
NRAMA: What will be some of the milestones along the way that you’re going to look at from Phil’s point of view?
KB: I’m not so sure that it’s about “big moments” this time, so much as it’s about characters and changes. So we’ll see a lot of Marvel moments, but it’s not as if I’ve got a list of milestones to hit. I’m more concerned with making sure we see things like the rise of the Punisher and Wolverine and the new X-Men, the darkening of Daredevil, Bullseye and Elektra, Phoenix, the Avengers at some of their various peaks trough that period, and so on. There’s a couple of Secret Wars, plenty to do with Spider-Man, the FF in the news … but it’ll be the events that resonate with Phil’s life more than a laundry list of the big stuff.
We got mileage out of some pretty odd stories last time, from Count Nefaria taking over Washington in X-Men #22 to the Black Widow being tried for murder in Daredevil #83 to SHIELD fighting goofy-ass egg-craft in Strange Tales #145. So we’ll mix it up some — hit some of the stuff people remember fondly – or hate with a passion, and a bunch of surprises along the way.
NRAMA: With Marvels, at least from Phil’s point of view, things kind of had an organic flow to them, with one “age” of comics flowing into another, stitching together some fairly disparate stories with a common thread. In Eye of the Camera Are you going to at least give a logical explanation as to why things in the ’70s moved from where they were to angst-ridden and grim and gritty?
KB: It’ll come up, at least. Whether there’s a logical explanation for it, or whether it just happened, well, it’ll have a major effect on Phil, and we’ll see what he thinks of it all.
NRAMA: Something that has people talking as much as the fact that you’re coming back to write a new Marvels chapter is that Jay Anacleto is handling the art this time out. Not to disparage something that hasn’t seen the light of day yet by any means, but in many people’s eyes, the success of Marvels was as much about you as it was Alex. Did you discuss coming back to the project with Alex, or is he just too busy?
KB: Even back in ’94, Alex said he wasn’t opposed to a sequel, but wasn’t all that interested in exploring that era himself, so he gave me his blessing to go on with a different artist. This time, when we started up again, I was pretty sure he’d be way too busy, but I wouldn’t have wanted to just assume that and have him say, “Dude, what’s wrong with you? I’d have done it!”
So I called him as soon as Tom and I had started talking seriously about it, and sure enough, way too busy. But we’d have been idiots not to at least check in and see.
NRAMA: When he was writing Kingdom Come, Mark Waid often described the experience as being in a fishbowl, given that he felt everyone was watching and had expectations as to the story. Do you feel that way with Eye of the Camera at all?
KB: Well, not ’til now…!
No, seriously, there’s been some looking-over-my-shoulder by higher-ups at Marvel, since they clearly think this is a pretty major project. But I don’t think the readers out there know where we’re going with it or what we’re going to do, and I don’t think they have expectations that we’re going to do a remake of the first series or anything.
I’m sure that once the news breaks we’ll hear from lots of people with ideas on which bits they want to see most, and if they’re good bits we hadn’t considered, maybe we’ll get ‘em in there as we go along. But overall, I feel like this is a story I want to tell, and I’ve got a pretty strong sense of how it should go, so I’m solid on it enough not to be panicked by other people’s expectations. I think they’ll like the end result, and that’s what really matters.
Besides, if I was the kind of guy that got stage fright from doing a project that came with a lot of expectations attached, I’d have fallen apart while doing JLA/Avengers. If I can get through that, I figure I can take whatever comes on Eye of the Camera.
NRAMA: Any scenes, characters or events that you’re most looking forward to revisiting and exploring from Phil’s point of view?
KB: I’d really rather let people read it for themselves. If I tell you the cool scenes ahead of time, they won’t be as cool when the series actually comes out.
So I’ll stick with “Wait and see…”
You may also find a related interview with Tom Brevoort here.