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C.B. Cebulski is now the man in charge of Marvel comics.

Like a fledgling superhero who's worked his way to become a member of the Avengers, C.B. Cebulski has now reached the pinnacle of his passionate profession.

A Marvel fan growing up, the ebullient Cebulski became a comic book writer and editor before embarking on a global talent search for the next Marvel art superstar as one of Marvel's talent coordinator.

Clearly a global soul, he was based in Shanghai as Marvel's vice president for Marvel brand management and development before being named editor in chief of Marvel Comics late last year. The man who hunted down talent for Marvel will now be calling the shots.

A frequent Manila visitor, Cebulski was in town for the second Marvel Creative Day Out and was happy to already have had his Jollibee fix (he's an incorrigible foodie). He talked to Super about his place in the Marvel Universe. Here are excerpts:

What is the unique thing that you bring to the editor in chief position?

One of the things I bring to the job, that isn't going to change with my moving to New York (he was based in Shanghai), is the global perspective. I grew up spending a lot in Europe. I learned to read on European comics. A lot of the Marvel comics I read when I was young was in Swedish or French. I read a lot of international books. I spent a lot of time there. I spent a lot of time in Japan working in manga and anime, and now the time I spent as a talent scout around the globe, from Russia to South America to here in the Philippines, not just the comics internationally, but the talent and the people behind them, the cultural mindset that people put in their comics and how that translates to the Marvel comics. That's something that I'm really going to support. I've always been a proponent of international talent, for bringing authentic voices to Marvel and I want to continue that across the line, not just in developing local content in countries like here but making sure that those voices are actually heard in the Marvel Universe and current continuity.

Marvel Creative Day Out has been held here for several years and we have Filipino artists working for Marvel. What is the Filipino component in the voices you seek to bring to Marvel?

The thing we have here in the Philippines is that the artists speak more with their hands than they do with their keyboard at this point. We have a number of Filipino artists, almost more Filipino artists than we do any other international territory, but it's the artistic voices that they're bringing, the pencillers, the inkers, it's the Leinils (penciller Leinil Francis Yu) and the Gerrys (inker Gerry Alanguilan), the Harveys (artist Harvey Tolibao) and the Stephens (artist Stephen Segovia). We still haven't found that Filipino voice as a writer just yet. It's not for not trying. There are a lot of great comic creators here. I was just at APCC (AsiaPOP Comicon Manila) and met a lot of people in artists' alley, met a lot of creators. It's coming. We will soon have an actual Filipino writer contributing to the Marvel mythos. It's just a matter of taking what they do.

A lot of Filipino comics are local thinking. It's about local myths, local legends, local history. The pitches we've gotten haven't yet translated that kind of smaller storytelling to the larger Marvel universe. There's such a love of Marvel here, and it's a love of Marvel that sometimes holds back some writers. It's because they're too precious with the toys, so to speak. To use the toy analogy, everyone was to play in the Marvel sandbox, get those action figures and play with them. But what we look for in a writer is someone who comes in and breaks the toys.

We have that 79 years of continuity and a lot of stories have been told so when writers come in they want to tell a story of Wolverine in the Danger Room. They tell a story about Peter Parker fighting the Vulture. They tell a story of the Fantastic Four battling Dr. Doom. Those are all great but those stories have been told so many times before. We're looking for more originality. So we're thinking of more bigger-picture thinking from some of the creators here that we just haven't seen.

Allen Au-Yeung, Leinil Yu, Harvey Tolibao, C.B. Cebulski

There will be six movies coming out this year based on Marvel properties. Do you feel there's a risk of Marvel oversaturating the movie market?

Amazing isn't it? I really do believe the more the merrier. We've been hearing about saturation even before the second 'Avengers' movie. Superheroes are what we're telling stories with, but the stories themselves are all different. The characters might be the same, but 'Captain America: Civil War' was kind of a spy thriller, an espionage tale. 'Ant-Man' was the romantic comedy. 'Guardians of the Galaxy' was the sci-fi. With our own movies 'Black Panther,' with 'Avengers: Infinity War' and 'Ant-Man and the Wasp,' three distinctively different films that I think people aren't going to mind to see because there's a different voice in all of them. And if you see the other movies that are coming out: 'The New Mutants' is going to be a horror film. The 'X-Men' movie will be building off the basic continuity. 'Venom' is going to be something we really haven't seen before because everybody loves Venom but we haven't really seen him portrayed the way he really is in the comics just yet. Yes, he was in 'Spider-Man 3' but this is going to be a completely different take. So as long as we continue to push the boundary of storytelling, originality and creativity, I don't think there's going to be much burnout.

You'll be in charge of the comics, the 'source material' for the movies. In this age of big movies, would it be correct to say that the comics have never been more important?

Yes, I think it's true. I think it's circular, though, in the fact that comics have never been more important because there have never been so many movies pulling off the original source material for inspiration, and a lot of the directors, writers and producers working on the films are fans of the material. There's also never been a more fertile time for creativity and originality in the films because the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a place where they're telling such original stories. They're taking us to places we haven't seen in the comics. They always have in some way, shape or form. But moving forward, you're going to see the continuity they've creating taking on a bigger life of its own.

It's amazing for me, not just as editor in chief but the editors at Marvel and the fans of Marvel, to see where we're going to have all these places generate original content. What the games team is doing is the same thing. Some of the stories the animated team is developing are all original. It's great because we can all feed each other. Marvel Comics have always taken inspiration from the films, be it the Grant Morrison X-Men with the black costumes to just recently announced that the Valkyrie from the Taika Waititi 'Thor: Ragnarok'-Tessa Thompson's character is going to be the inspiration for the new Valkyrie in the Marvel Universe. So we're feeding back and forth off each other and it's a great time for Marvel as a whole creative entity.
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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jan 21, 2018
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