MANILA -- Marvel Comics’ new editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski is a little under two months into his role as steward of the characters that comprise what is now one of the most recognizable brands in the world, thanks to 17 blockbuster movies and a seemingly unstoppable momentum, with plans that stretch seven years into the future.
Joining Marvel in 2002, Cebulski has worked as a writer and editor, notably on the Brian K. Vaughan/Adrian Alphona series Runaways that served as the basis of the Hulu show (which just got renewed for a second season).
In 2011, he became a talent scout and manager for Marvel, traveling the world looking for new artists wishing to work with the publisher. That travel has been great for Cebulski’s love of food. His Instagram account has more photos of dishes than comics.
Still, he is first and foremost a lifelong comics fan, his enthusiasm for his chosen medium apparent in his eagerness and excitement to talk about what he loves about the industry and the days that await it.
In town for the second Marvel Creative Day Out, an event that brings fans and Marvel artists together, we spoke to Cebulski about his plans.
When you were younger, was editor-in-chief a job you ever thought you’d have?
No. (laughs) I mean, everybody at some point has said: If I was in charge of Marvel, here’s what I would do.
So are any of those plans still on the table now that you are EIC?
The day I accepted the job I took a Moleskine and I started taking notes and the C.B. voice from every generation of my life started coming out and “Here’s the cool stuff that I would do.” And I just wrote it all down, free flow. And now that I’ve been back to New York, I’ve been with my team, I’ve accepted the reality of the situation. A lot of [those ideas] I’ve been crossing out, but there’s still some ideas that I’ve had over the years that I would love to see come to life. I hope sooner than later I’ll be able to start talking about them a little bit more and we’ll be able to someday see them printed.
How much synergy is there with Marvel Studios?
The studio is very gracious in sharing with us. They take a lot of inspiration—from Kevin (Feige, head of Marvel Studios), to the writers, the producers of each individual film, the directors as well—from comics. We have access to the scripts; sometimes they come to some of the different writers or creators for advice, they sit in in some of the writers’ rooms and creative meetings. We sometimes screen the films.
You’ve lived in Japan and China while working for Marvel. How will the lessons you’ve learned there influence your moves as EIC?
I wouldn’t say just my time in Japan and China. I grew up very internationally. My mother’s from Sweden. I spent every summer in Sweden or Finland or Belgium or Greece, where my relatives live. I grew up reading Marvel comics and DC comics in foreign languages and international comics from Smurfs to Lucky Luke to Moebius’ Blueberry, and then the time I’ve spent in Asia from when I was in college through now has given me a more global perspective. So I think what’s helped me greatest while I was the talent scout and talent manager is identifying different styles, knowing what might work in certain countries, knowing what trends are working in certain territories, that we can bring to Marvel or we can learn from. And identifying talent.
I think the same thing is gonna continue now that I’m EIC. The international representation from the Marvel Universe starts at home and expands outward. And what I wanna do is bring more of the actual authentic international voices into the Marvel Universe as a base. Some things we’ve been doing in Japan and China and Korea in developing original Marvel stories are set in actual continuity in those countries.
White Fox was a great example: it’s a webtoon that we did in Korea and White Fox eventually went into the Deadpool book and into Marvel Comics and was very successful so I wanna see more of that, not just from Asia but from other countries as well. We can bring a lot more international voices to the marvel universe.
How have these Creative Day Outs been for you? Have you hired someone?
Not new talent. There were a couple talents that came back that I was reintroduced to that we were able to bring back into the fold but the real value of the first Creative Day Out was the inspiration it gave people because I talked to more people who said, “Hey, I came to the first Creative Day Out and you inspired me to put out my own comic” and I know for a fact that within this calendar year there will be someone from either the first Creative Day Out or this one who will be working at Marvel on a professional level.
The Akira Yoshida story broke as you were assuming your EIC duties [It was revealed around November last year that Cebulski, some time in the 2000s and while creating Japanese characters and narratives, was writing under the Japanese pseudonym, Yoshida. Questions of appropriation and authenticity were raised against Cebulski). In a statement to The Atlantic, you talked about having had “candid and productive conversations about how we can improve the industry and build better stories, while being mindful of the voices behind them.” When will we see some of the results of these conversations?
In that regard we’re looking a little bit past that now toward the future. That will be addressed, it’s just not something I’m gonna be talking about here. I’ve still got to go back to New York and talk to some of the people there; continue to have open conversations with some of the different creators and there’ll be some news about that in the future.
How is Marvel going to pursue growing the audience, especially younger readers?
Marvel has always said that the Marvel Universe is the world outside your window and now that window for so many younger readers especially is the iPad or the iPhone or their digital device, so coming up with new initiatives and making it easier to access and read Marvel content on a digital device is the key to getting more readers hooked and then eventually turning them on to print but it’s listening to what the trends are.
(This is interview was edited for length and clarity.)