SDCC 2022: A Behind-The-Scenes Look Into The Famed Marvel Retreats With C. B. Cebulski And Skottie Young

by Gary Catig

Marvel Fanfare is C. B. Cebulski’s equivalent of his editor-in-chief predecessor’s Cup of Joe panels at conventions. It’s a time for him and a few invited guests to interact with fans and share fun anecdotes from behind the scenes regarding favorite comics and creators. At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) Cebulski was joined by baby variant cover artist extraordinaire, Skottie Young. The topic of the day was Marvel’s famous three-day retreats that plan two to three years into the future.

The pair are very close because their career paths were closely synchronized. They both started at and returned to Marvel after a break at roughly the same time. It’s the type of relationship where Young can text and call in the middle of the night to pitch a Marvel magic school series. That would eventually become Strange Academy.

When Young returned, one of his first books was Deadpool. He had always wanted to be involved in the character and even used his Rocket Raccoon miniseries as a backdoor since they were both mouthy and filled with attitude. The artist turned writer was responsible for introducing Nic Klein to wider audiences since that was his handpicked artist for Deadpool. He was always a fan and coincidentally, Klein sent an email question for Young’s podcast one day and that’s how they got connected.

Sometimes the ideas at the retreats don’t always lead anywhere. In Cebulski’s notes he mentioned how he wanted to do more with characters such as Vance Astro and the New Warriors or create characters like a female Killraven. Probably one of the worst suggestions was to rebrand the Inhumans as I-Force.

There can be some truly off the wall pitches as well. Donny Cates and Young thought the mash-up Deadbolt would be interesting since Deadpool talks so much but would end up killing everyone if he also had Blackbolt’s powers. There is the occasional odd choice that gets published. Editor Tom Brevoort threw out Howard the Human and Young would eventually write the one-shot with artist Jim Mahfood.

Of course, some successful comics are a result of the retreats. Characters such as Miles Morales and Ms. Marvel are prime examples along with the thought of having Cates do Venom and Jason Aaron’s current Punisher run. Young thought that one of the best retreats he attended involved Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Wars mega event. Together they came up with over 200 different titles. Not all of them were made but a large number were.

There was one new title announced: T.E.S.T. Kitchen. It will be an Infinity comic and will be released in August. It stars Anna Ameyama, who becomes the personal chef to Tony Stark and by association, she prepares meals for other heroes in the Marvel Universe. Paul Eschbach and E.J. Su are the creative team.

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