C.B. Cebulski on “Attack on Avengers” and being a Marvel Zombie
by rick olivares
I sat down with the amiable and quotable C.B. Cebulski, Marvel Comic’s Senior Vice President of Creative and Creator Development during Day Two of the AsiaPop Comicon, and we touched on a topic outside the never-ending search for talent. And this was that huge “Attack on Avengers,” the mash-up of Marvel’s Avengers and Hajime Isayama’s “Attack on Titan” eight-page story that came out during the last Free Comic Book Day.
“The crossover between Avengers and Attack on Titan or "Attack on Avengers" as we call it that was published on Secret Wars #0 on Free Comic Book Day was just something that came out very generically,” related Cebulski, a huge comics and manga/anime fan who himself wrote and edited Marvel Mangaverse stories that came out in 2002 and 2006. "I have a friend who is an editor in Japan and he came to me and said, 'Look, we’re doing this special on Attack on Titan and Isayama sensei is a big Marvel fan.’ So the initial inquiry came from the Japanese side, 'Would you be interested in doing this eight-page story?'”
"We came back and said that if they can open up the rights to Kodansha (the Japanese publisher of Attack on Titan) and Marvel will contribute the Avengers, we do a one-shot and see what it’s like. Sure. We’d love to take that chance. Attack on Titan is big. Guardians of the Galaxy just came out at that time just to give you the time frame. Isayama saw “Guardians of the Galaxy” and he loved it. He wanted his characters and Marvel’s to combine and he had an idea to do it. He submitted the plot and we broke it down from there. Tom Breevort did the dialogue. Gerardo Sandoval did an amazing job illustrating it. We put it out there and expected it to be a hit in Japan because "Attack on Titan" is where it originally came out. But when word came out, it just blew up online everywhere.”
"People to this day are still re-Tweeting my initial Tweet from back then. And you know, it was a great success. Isayama sensei was happy with it. We love it.”
The eight-pager ended on a cliffhanger leaving fans clamoring for more. "We would love to do something more combining the two universes,” admitted Cebulski. “But if we’re going to do it, when we’re going to do it, or what the story could be we haven’t really discussed it yet. He’s been really busy doing his stuff and we’ve been really doing our stuff and you know, the way we built that eight-page story was like a movie trailer. Wouldn’t it be cool if, “In a world where the Titans attacked the Avengers…” Then we ended with that cliffhanger with the Guardians of the Galaxy coming down and hey, go see the movie, go see the rest.” We don’t know if the Avengers are going to his world or the Titans are staying in the Avengers’ world. There’s a way of doing both. There are a million things we could do. It’s a matter of sitting down and talking about it in the future. But Marvel would be completely open to doing something more given the response we got. It would be amazing from a creative and artistic standpoint."
Cebulski has been to Manila before and this time around, he’s a part of the historic AsiaPop Comicon, the first international comics convention in the country, searching for local talent aside from representing Marvel.
Talking about his job, Cebulski paused for effect then said, "I wake up every day with a smile on my face going to work and not a lot of people can say that. I always say this, “I have been working at Marvel for 16 years, since 1999. The truth of the matter is, I have been with Marvel for 40 years. Since I was a kid. I read my first comic book in the 1970s. I remember the first Marvel comic book I read and that was an X-Men comic book, Chris Claremont and John Byrne, and I have been a big fan of Marvel ever since. I’m not just a Marvel Zombie. You cut me, I don’t bleed red, I bleed Marvel red with the logo runs out of me. That is what Marvel means to me. And there are two other things that I loved as a kid — that’s Star Wars and Disney (the latter owns the Marvel and Star Wars franchises). Now, it’s like it’s like I get to work for every company. And that is a dream come true.”
Now hopefully, he can also help a few other Filipinos live and breathe their Marvel dreams.