His creative contemporaries and successors remember legend Len Wein!

Additional reporting by TJ Dietsch

“If you really want to tangle with someone—why not try your luck against—the Wolverine!”

Imagine: It’s the summer of 1974. You’ve just read to the end of INCREDIBLE HULK #180—the newest issue—and a brand-new character nearly leaps out of the art at you with claws extended. You’re just not sure how you’ll be able to stand the wait until the next installment to see what’s up with this new mystery man, and then you turn to the book’s credit page and wonder how this Len Wein guy keeps coming up with all this cool stuff…

“The Wolverine” moved on past his throwdown with The Hulk and Wendigo to become one of the most popular comic book characters ever when he hooked up with a certain band of merry mutants a few months later in GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1—also written by that Len Wein guy. Today, the long line of legacy from the writer through his creation to modern scribes and artists stands as a testament to the impact Wolverine’s made on the comics industry and its fans.

“In that seminal issue, Len established Wolverine’s blunt, pugnacious, take-no-prisoners voice as a character,” posits X-MEN: GOLD writer Marc Guggenheim. “Sure, Wolverine would become less verbose and chatty in future incarnations, but his blunt attitude was established in that first appearance in INCREDIBLE HULK.”

“It’s incredible how Len Wein, along with artist Herb Trimpe, shaped Wolverine perfectly from the very start,” says ULTIMATE WOLVERINE VS. HULK artist Leinil Francis Yu. “That [debut] is 40-years-old and it still reads like the Wolverine we have today, complete with the attitude and richness we all love about him.”

Mike Deodato, himself a veteran X-Men illustrator and current artist on OLD MAN LOGAN, agrees: “He is a rebel; he is rock n’ roll. He doesn’t care for anything or anybody, but at the same time he will give his life for them. He is savage, unpredictable, and that is what makes him so attractive.”

“It’s the physicality—short, hairy, like a gnarled old tree—and the indomitable spirit, I think,” ponders DEATH OF WOLVERINE writer Charles Soule when considering Wein’s mutant scrapper. “Wolverine never stops, no matter what gets thrown in his way. Because of his healing factor, it’s almost like he can’t stop. He’s very fun to write, but more importantly, very fun to read.”

Wolverine’s Canadian heritage made him something of a rarity at that time among super heroes, as well as his direct approach to problems in his path.

“In many ways, Wolverine was so unlike any character readers were really familiar with,” one-time WOLVERINE writer Cullen Bunn insists. “He was violent and vicious, but a hero, too. The mystery element was heavily ingrained in the character, which made him all the more interesting. He was working for the government, but beyond that, we didn’t know much about him. Maybe more than any character created before or since, he represented the potential for amazing stories ahead. Other creators capitalized on that potential, making Wolverine the household character he is today.”

“I think Wein created the ultimate outcast,” says Juann Cabal, the artist behind ALL-NEW WOLVERINE. “To me, Logan is the outcast among outcasts. To Wein’s credit, [he] gave him the appeal of being different, wild and mysterious without falling strictly into the antihero cliché. He might have his inner demons, but his moral compass is always pointing the right direction. In my opinion, this is what has made the character stay relevant all this time.”

Perhaps Cabal’s partner on ALL-NEW WOLVERINE, writer Tom Taylor, sums it up best when he notes that “there was something perfectly realized about that first appearance of Wolverine.”

“It was all there on the page. The attitude was there, the brash bravery. But Wolverine was also not infallible. He had a savagery, and wasn’t a perfect, untouchable hero. It was a character everyone wanted to see more of. And, clearly, the rest of the world did too. There have been so many great Wolverine stories. None would exist without Len.”

By summer of ’74, Wein’s comic career stood as relatively new, though he’d racked up a sizable number of scripts for a variety of titles. He’d taken over INCREDIBLE HULK only an issue before “the big one” but his introduction—along with artist Herb Trimpe and costume designer John Romita—of Wolverine to fight the jade giant forever cemented him into the firmament of comic book superstars.

He also, by all accounts, kept his feet firmly panted on solid ground.

“I got to meet Len a number of times in 2014 while I was writing the DEATH OF WOLVERINE story, as well as working on a long run featuring one of his other signature creations, Swamp Thing, over at DC,” says Soule. “I found him to be gracious and kind, and generous with his conversation and time. He dreamed up enormous swaths of the super hero landscape that will last for generations—a legacy most could only dream of.”

“First and foremost, Len’s creation of the ‘All-New, All-Different’ X-Men was seismic and industry-changing,” notes Guggenheim. “Without Len, there’s an excellent argument to be made that there wouldn’t be any X-Men today, and certainly not the X-Men that we’ve come to know, love, and cherish. I had the good fortune to meet Len a few years ago at San Diego Comic-Con and he truly couldn’t have been a nicer guy.  He clearly loved comics, both the industry and the medium.”

“As a creator, I think the truly incredible thing you discover writing [his] characters is just how different they are, and how human,” offers Taylor. “They have flaws. They’re complex. They struggle. Len’s characters breathe.”

Bunn takes it one step further: “Len’s work was a huge influence on me. Like many of my absolute favorite creators, he wore his imagination on his sleeve, and he didn’t let anything hold him back from putting that on the page.

“Since I owe my whole career to Wolverine, Len and Herb’s creation means a ton to me,” says Yu. “We may be divided by a few decades, but I am proud to inherit and to continue to breathe life into Wolverine and the X-Men.”

“As a fan, Len created some of my absolute favorite heroes,” concludes Taylor. “Some of these characters are the reason I’m a comics fan.

“The world would have been a far less heroic place without Len Wein.”

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Looking back on the life and career of a legendary creator.

Marvel pauses to reflect upon the passing of writer-editor Len Wein, a giant of the industry whose creative career stands out as one of the most prolific and significant of all.

A native New Yorker, Wein set out to be a comic book illustrator, and though he eventually gravitated to and settled upon writing as his calling, his eye for visuals made him and his scripts a favorite of many artists. One of the first fans to make the important leap into the ranks of comics professionals at the dawn of the 1970s, he wasted no time in learning the business and making his mark.

After cutting his teeth at DC Comics where he co-created Swamp Thing, Wein tried out at Marvel and following a smattering of stories for Westerns and horror books, he quickly showed his promise as a force to be reckoned with on super hero titles. In 1973, MARVEL TEAM-UP provided one of his first steady gigs as writer at Marvel, opening the door for him to prove his mettle in nearly every corner of the still-growing Marvel Universe. By 1975, he’d contributed to such titles as AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, DEFENDERS, FANTASTIC FOUR, INCREDIBLE HULK, POWER MAN, STRANGE TALES, and WEREWOLF BY NIGHT.

The creation of Wolverine and the All-New X-Men rank as stand-out achievements for the writer during this period. With artist Herb Trimpe, Wein introduced Wolverine as a scrappy Canadian agent sent to engage The Hulk in INCREDIBLE HULK #181-182, and one year later utilized the mutant hero as part of his and artist Dave Cockrum’s effort to revive the Children of the Atom in 1975’s GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1. Among their new creations for the seminal book stood Colossus, Storm, and Nightcrawler.

Other Marvel characters co-created by Wein include Brother Voodoo, The Golem, Jigsaw, Jamie Madrox, Stegron, Thunderbird, and the Wrecking Crew.

Amazingly, Wein also operated for over a year as Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief at the same time he worked as a writer, eventually stepping down from the office to be replaced by his close friend and fellow scribe Marv Wolfman. Wein continued to script for Marvel throughout the decade until heading back to DC to write and edit throughout the 1980s.

In the 1990s, he forged a new career apart from comics as a writer for several animated TV series. Though he dabbled in the industry which gave him his start, he only returned to comics writing in full after the turn of the century.

Len Wein will be remembered for the bold heart with which he infused his stories and characters, as well as his drive to seek out new horizons in his writing. It’s no stretch to say that a comic fan of the 1970s would be hard-pressed to gaze at selection of comics on the rack in that era and not see Wein’s unique championing on their favorite characters—as well as brand-new heroes and villains from his incredible imagination.

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The House of Ideas says goodbye to a legendary creator.

Statement from Marvel:

“We are deeply saddened to hear of Len Wein’s passing, and send our deepest condolences to his friends and family. Len’s contributions to the Marvel Universe as writer, editor, and member of the Marvel family will never be forgotten. He will be missed.”

Statement from Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso:

“Len Wein’s legacy is wide and far-reaching–among other things, he co-created Wolverine and Swamp Thing, edited Watchmen, and chaperoned the British Invasion that would change comics–but he was also one of the most open and friendly men you could ever meet.  No matter your rank in this industry, Len treated you the same way–like you were a fellow traveler, like he was just another fan. He will be missed.”

Statement from Marvel Senior Vice President, Executive Editor Tom Brevoort

“Len was one of the first fans to go pro, but he never lost the sensibility of a fan in all of his years in the industry. There was more calling to Len’s work than job—you could tell that he was just having the best time coming up with all of this crazy nonsense. He was also a sweetheart as a person, among the best-regarded creators of his time. His many creations—in particular but not limited to the All-New, All-Different X-Men—go without saying. I’d hazard a guess that no other creator of his era had originated or co-originated more characters and concepts that would later be turned into media projects. Heck, even the Human Target has had two (Two!) TV series!”

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Celebrating the contributions of a key member of the original Marvel bullpen!

Marvel Comics salutes “Fabulous” Florence “Flo” Steinberg, one of the first two full-time employees of Marvel in the 1960s and an all-important figure in building the vast fan community the House of Ideas has enjoyed since its beginnings.

Born near Boston, Steinberg grew up with a mother and father who made sure she attended college, graduating from UMass Amherst in 1960. After some time with New England Telephone and Ted Kennedy’s first Senatorial campaign, she pulled up stakes and moved to New York City where she would quickly take her place in the history of Marvel Comics.

As Stan Lee’s secretary, Flo assumed the task of taking care of the ever increasing piles of fan mail and Marvel Merry Marching Society memberships. Although the company began to grow with some speed, she remained in charge of this for five years, crafting Marvel’s unique connection to its fans and—to hear freelancers tell it—creating a welcome atmosphere for all who came through the offices in person.

After five years, Fabulous Flo found herself ready to move on. While initially taking a brief detour to work in fossil fuels, Steinberg quickly re-entered the comics industry, working with Warren Publishing before coming back to New York City in 1975 to publish one of the cornerstones in the history of independent comics: Big Apple Comix.

Finally, in the 90s, Steinberg returned to where it all began—albeit at a different address. Gone were the days of the two-person office; Marvel had expanded exponentially in the years since she helped spark the revolution that made it one of the largest comic publishers in the United States. As a proofreader, “Fabulous Flo” remained with the company for the rest of her life, helping not only with what unfolded on the pages of Marvel Comics but, once again, brightening the days of those around her. She established a unique and profound connection with every member of the Marvel staff fortunate enough to encounter her, in particular the growing ranks of women working in the industry.

While the likes of Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and more may have been responsible for the unique sensibilities on display within the pages of the House of Ideas’ books, Steinberg helped solidify the community that those comics inspired in its readers. With San Diego Comic-Con unfolding at this moment, it takes little imagination to draw a straight line from her attitude and commitment in those early days to the vast network of comic book fans that gather at conventions and online to talk about their love of the characters and stories of Marvel Comics.

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The House of Ideas says goodbye to one of its most beloved members.

Statement from Marvel:

“We are incredibly saddened to hear of Flo Steinberg’s passing and send our deepest condolences to her friends and family. Flo has always been the heart of Marvel and a legend in her own right. She will be forever missed and always loved by all of us here at Marvel.”

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Discover the rich history behind a key figure in British comics!

Though known by various names throughout his creative career, including Edmund Perryman, Edmund Kitsune, E.C. Perriman, and Edmund Bagwell, the late British artist perhaps known best as simply Bagwell stood as an important figure in the U.K. comics scene and Marvel recognizes and celebrates his stature and passion for his craft on the event of his recent passing.

Many details of Bagwell’s early life remain obscure, save for his love of comics and in particular the work of the legendary Jack Kirby. Some of his earliest work in the 1970s centered on the famous British comic series 2000 AD, a book he contributed to for much of his career. Writer Rob Williams’ first encounter with the man came through their connection with the series.

“I was writing the third series of ‘The Ten-Seconders’ for 2000 AD [in 2012] and was heading into some big cosmic Kirby territory and I knew Edmund was a huge Kirby fan,” he remembers. “[He] showed his capacity for epic widescreen gods and monsters [on a previous story]. The work he turned in on ‘Ten-Seconders’ was just wonderful. He handled the down-to-earth human moments so well as a contrast to giant warring space aliens, etc, and his storytelling was terrific; it’s amazing to me he wasn’t a bigger star in the industry.”

By the 1990s, Bagwell’s projects included art for the Marvel UK line of books. Soon after a stint with the infamous Motormouth character in 1992, he joined with writer Simon Jowett on BLACK AXE, the story of a uniquely immortal warrior that crossed over with Marvel hero The Black Panther.

“When I started writing BLACK AXE, I was still pretty green as a comics writer,” says Jowett. “I’m not sure how much work Ed had done as part of a team, working from someone else’s full script, and I suspect this arrangement chafed a little, but he was far too sweet a guy to say anything and far too professional to let it affect his work. We kind of felt our way into a working relationship and his pages were really strong, right from our first issue.

“Personally, I think we hit our stride as a team with our second story arc, set in an African state bordering Wakanda, torn apart by civil war and preyed upon by unscrupulous arms dealers. Black Panther featured prominently, but Ed had designed a new character, Afrikaa, who quickly became a favorite of mine to write and one I’d have loved to return to—with Ed providing the art, of course.

“Ed’s biggest strength was, I believe, that he couldn’t draw like anyone but himself. ‘Unique’ is a horribly overused term, but no one laid out a page or framed a panel like Ed. His design sense, from characters up, was distinctly his own. He never hid his influences—Kirby especially—and his love for them shone through.”

The artist also threw in his lot with the Marvel UK imprint known as Marvel Frontier. Michael Wiessmuller, Frontier editor and originator, calls Bagwell a “crazy genius,” a term he uses lovingly.

“I first came across Ed in London in the early 1990s, introduced by a mutual friend, Nick Abadzis,” he notes. “Nick had written a strip for Ed, which found its way into Crisis magazine, the mature readers pendant to 2000AD, where I was the editor. Ed’s winning personality coupled with his crazy, genius Kirbyesque art and his capacity for Lager made him an instant regular at the London comics’ creative community hangouts, aka the pub. In time, we became fast friends, sharing a house together and as I became editor at Marvel UK, I introduced him to the bullpen there, where to the surprise of absolutely no one, he quickly moved in and became friends with everyone there; Liam Sharp, Andy Lanning, Bryan Hitch, to name but a few.

“Before long he was co-creator and penciler on the monthly comic BLACK AXE and a regular go-to guy for designing crazy characters. One of these characters was for DANCES WITH DEMONS, recently collected in MARVEL FRONTIER COMICS, and illustrated by Charlie Adlard.

“His art was not fan-favorite in the heyday of Jim Lee’s X-Men, but instead he was an artist’s artist. Everyone I spoke to or showed his art to afterwards had this strange, happy look in their eyes. I never quite understood what that look was, until now. Looking back over Ed’s art, the books he created and remembering those days of sheer youthful enthusiasm and unbridled creativity, I realize that it simply was love.”

Perhaps friend Nick Abadzis provides the clearest picture and perception of his companion after years of both working and laughing with him. Bagwell’s artistry remains virtually unknown in America, but he touched the lives of many regardless, and on a deep level.

“Edmund was a phenomenal artist whose creativity was inspired by, but not bound to, the comics page or the comics industry per se,” says Abadzis. “I think he’d be slightly bemused by all the attention he’s getting, now that it’s too late. As an industry, and as a society, we need to look after all our artists in this game, not just the A-list stars, but the more obscure ones too, who exist more at the margins, who push the envelope and who extend the language of comics with their imaginative experiments somewhere out of the spotlight.

“Ed was one of these guys. He was very private, not a self-promoter in any way, because that just wasn’t in his nature. Apart from his dedication to his wife Hae Sook and her family, his whole being was devoted to making comics and art, and he did so no matter what, no matter where he found himself in the world. Working with him could be crazy, but it was always fun and the results were always unexpected and often mind-blowing. He observed the world through a most unusual lens, and translated it into lines on paper for us to see. On a personal level, he was a gentle, extremely kind and generous man with a sharp, very wry sense of humor, whose manner belied his passion and dedication to the language of comics.

“I will miss him very much.”

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Recalling the life and career of a remarkable artist.

Photo by Luigi Novi

Marvel Comics recognizes the passing of artist Rich Buckler with sincere appreciation for not only his creative talents, but for his steadfast work ethic over many years of projects. He’d touched nearly every single major character in the Marvel Universe since his first work for the House of Ideas, and left a lasting impact on his multitude of fans.

Buckler’s early years growing up in Detroit, Michigan fed into his love of comics and his involvement with some of the first comic conventions in the nation. Before long he’d scored comic work of his own, and by 1972 he could claim projects at both major companies, Marvel and DC.

In 1974, the artist found himself on a dream of a series, FANTASTIC FOUR. For more than two years he worked on stories and covers that included such characters as Annihilus, Darkoth, Doctor Doom, Namor, the Inhumans, and of course, the famous foursome of heroes themselves. That same year, he collaborated with writer Don McGregor on the legendary Black Panther story-arc in JUNGLE ACTION, as well as creating the infamous future cyborg Deathlok along with writer Doug Moench in the pages of ASTONISHING TALES. Deathlok proved to be a point of fascination with readers for many years to come, leading to multiple interpretations of the character and his eventual appearance on film in the “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” TV series.

By the end of the 1970s, Buckler had worked on an incredible host of Marvel heroes and villains, including the Avengers, Daredevil, Black Goliath, the Inhumans, the Champions, Thor, Power Man, and the Defenders. In addition, he also started a young George Perez on a path to greatness by hiring the rookie artist to be his assistant at his studio.

Buckler gravitated back to DC and in 1977 worked almost exclusively for Marvel’s Distinguished Competition until he returned for the most part to the House of Ideas for grand second Marvel era in the 1980s. He began a collaboration with writer Peter David on SPECTATCULAR SPIDER-MAN in 1985, and together they produced one of the web-slinger’s most acclaimed storylines, “The Death of Jean Dewolff,” over a memorable four issues later that year.

From the dawn of the 1990s and into the new millennium, Buckler worked for several companies, most prominently among them Archie Comics, Continuity, and Dynamite. He’ll be remembered for his innate sense of design, his way with a cover, and his strong belief in insuring the next generation of comic creators would be made up of a diverse range of backgrounds and personalities.

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A look back at the life and career of a quintessential artist.

The passing of artist Bernie Wrightson marks the end of an era in comics history, and Marvel Comics today makes note of his individualistic style and overall impact on the industry and his fans.

After a steady diet of the infamous EC company’s horror comics and his own first forays into fan art and newspaper illustration, Wrightson became part of the historically important influx of fans into the comics business in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. The Maryland native impressed influential editor Dick Giordano at DC Comics and received his first professional assignment on, what else, a horror story.

While at DC, Wrightson joined with writer Len Wein in 1971 to co-create one of his signature characters, Swamp Thing. His lush illustrative style stood out from other artists at the time, and through the encouragement of those professionals around him and by readers who began to notice his work, he swiftly became known for top run horror stories. As a freelancer, he also picked up work around this same time with Marvel, producing covers for their horror anthologies, as well as providing illustration for sword and sorcery characters like Conan and King Kull.

While he continued to work at Marvel in the 1970’s, Wrightson also dived into scary tales for Warren Publishing’s black-and-white magazines. This put him into contact with other young artists of a similar mind-set, and together in 1975 they founded The Studio, which not only provided them with a physical space for making art, but also an atmosphere conducive to creativity.

The 1980’s brought more Marvel work to Wrightson, including projects involving Doctor Strange, Dreadstar, a Hulk and Thing team-up, Spider-Man, and several stories for EPIC ILLUSTRATED. He also leapt into a personal project that grew into one of his best-received and well-loved works: an adaptation of Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein” novel. He also joined with writer Stephen King to illustrate comic adaptations of the famous horror scribe’s prose work, and the legendary Jim Starlin for a “jam” famine relief book called Heroes for Hope.

In all, as the decades progressed and the century wore on, Wrightson never cared to rest on his laurels or be chained to any one type or way to express himself artistically. He dabbled in covers, posters, prints, card games, and even film design, all the while moving the comics industry forward into something beyond the more traditional pencils and inks of his heroes.

Bernie Wrightson (photo by 5of7)

Wrightson’s numerous awards include the Shazam, the Inkpot, the H.P. Lovecraft, the Inkwell, and one for the National Cartoonists Society.

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