Here's something interesting fo you. Nobody who works on this book smokes. Not Steve Englehart, writer, not Al Milgrom, penciler, not Joe Sinnott, inker, not Tom Orzechowski, letterer, not Ken Feduniewicz, colorist, and not Howard Mackie or myself. Not only that, on Marvel's current editorial staff (namely, myself and Howard, Mike Carlin and Bobbi Chase, Larry Hama and Pat Redding, Ralph Macchio and Craig Anderson, Carl Potts and Rosemary McCormick-Lowy, Ann Nocenti and Terry Kavanagh, Sid Jacobson and Nancy Brown, Jim Owsley and Adam Biaustein, Eliot Brown and John MOrelli, Bob Harras and Don Daley, plus Michael Higgins, Tom DeFalco, and Jim Shooter)-- only five out of twenty-three are regular users of tobacco products. (They know who they are.) What's the significance of this? Whatever you want it to be.

Personally, I don't allow smoking in my office because it clouds up my contact lenses, it makes my throat raw, and it makes my clothes smell like a chimney sweep's (no offense to you chimney sweeps). Besides, New York air is toxic enough-- I don't need to aggravate my lungs any further.

I'm not one to give unasked for advice, but if I did, you can guess what it would be. (If you can't, write Mark's Remarks in care of this magazine, I'll let you know in writing.)

--Mark Gruenwald

Say, have you ever noticed trends in comics? I'm not talking about new books about a simliar topic that suddenly all come out around the same time. (Remember Marvel's monster-hero craze of the early 70's?) I'm talking about when suddenly the same theme crops up in a slew of already-running titles.

For example, 1983 was the year of marriages here at Marvel. In that year, Ka-Zar married Shanna, Hawkeye married Mockingbird, Cyclops married Madelyne Pryor, and Patsy Walker married Daimon Hellstrom. Wow! Considering how few Marvel marriages had taken place in the twenty-two years before that (Reed Richards and Sue Storm, Yellowjacket and the Wasp, Vision and Scarlet Witch), it was an amazing year. This past year has been the Year of Death. Mostly due to a little creation of mine called Scourge, a lot of Marvel's, shall we say, less successful super-villains have been dropping like flies on a pile of toxic waste. Hey, I created Scourge, but don't blame me for all of the mayhem he's caused-- just some of it, okay? And it's not like he's the only culprit. The Executioner, Jean DeWolff, the Sphinx, MODOK, and the witches of New Salem have all found the bliss of oblivion lately and it's not Scourge's fault.

So what's going to be the next trend? New uniforms? Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wonder Man, Mockingbird, and Iron Fist have recently been sporting new threads. Maybe births? The Scarlet Witch just had twins and Shanna and Medusa are both expecting. What do you think?

The funny thing is that it's all coincidence. We're talking about a lot of different creative teams on different books, and ever once in a while folks hit upon variations of the same idea. Or...could it be that there's a big conspiracy people haven't let me in on?!

--Mark Gruenwald

I don't know how it is for you, but when I started reading comics at age six or seven, I had a lot of friends who also read them. With each passing year, however, more and more friends gave them up for other interests until in the sixth grade I was the only guy I knew who spent most of his weekly allowance on comics. Finally, it was suggested to me by no lesser authority than my mother that since I was about to go into junioer high school (middle schools hadn't been invented yet) maybe I should show my maturity by getting rid of my comic collection.

Well, that sounded reasonable to me at the time, so that summer I borrowed the card table my sister used for her kool-aid stand and printed up a sign that said "Comics 2 for 5." Within a few days most of my 300 or so early-'60s comics were no longer mine.

I still couldn't resist checking the comic rack every time I was at the local drugstore, but for almost a year I did resist the temptation to actually purchase a comic. Then one day in the seventh grade, I succumbed. There was this cover that I was really wild about. I had to own that comic! And one purchase led to another. And another. Soon I was buying several a week like I'd never stopped. I felt guilty at first. I thought my renewed interest meant a backslide into immaturity, even though as I grew more sophisticated, so did the stories in the comics.

Throughout junior high and high school I thought I was alone in my interest in comics-- at least I didn't know anyone my age who read them. But I said to myself who cares if none of my friends read them-- if they're a harmless eccentricity, no better or worse than stamp collecting, model building, or birdwatching. By the time I got to college, I met a few enlightened souls who were also comic readers, and were not afraid to talk about it. When I finally journeyed to New York for the grand old July comics convention, I met hundreds of comics fans my age who tastes were quite similiar to my own. I felt vindicated seeing so many people of all different ages and backgrounds who had one thing in common-- a love for the comics.

The point of all this? 1. If you like comics, there's nothing wrong or immature about it, especially these days with such a broad range of comics to choose from. If people tell you otherwise, they probably haven't actually read a comic in a long time. 2. If you're the only person in your neighbourhood who likes comics, don't worry. There are ways to meet others who like them, too-- especially if your town has a comics specialty shop. And if you can't find anyone who reads them that lives near you, well, at least you'll have the fun I had of knowing you're unique. And hey, look where my interest got me-- a great job at the world's best comics company!

--Mark Gruenwald


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