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On Writing: Marvel's FAN EXPO Boston Next Big Thing panel breaks down process with Nick Spencer, Donny Cates, Matthew Rosenberg, and Jim Zub

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On Writing: Marvel’s FAN EXPO Boston Next Big Thing panel breaks down process with Nick Spencer, Donny Cates, Matthew Rosenberg, and Jim Zub

We report details from Nick Spencer, Matthew Rosenberg, Donny Cates, and Jim Zub from the FAN EXPO Boston 2018 Marvel Comics: Next Big Thing panel.

The weekend at started off with a bang as Marvel Comics revealed the creative team behind Uncanny X-Men. Surely this reveal was dropped because even bigger news was on the way Saturday at the big Marvel panel, Next Big Thing. Marvel Comics editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski hosted the panel and Nick Spencer (Amazing Spider-Man), Donny Cates (Cosmic Ghost Rider), Matthew Rosenberg (Astonishing X-Men), and Jim Zub (Champions) were all on hand to talk shop.

Each writer gave an introduction running down the books they are writing and have written. Spencer joked fans loved that he turned Cap into a Hydra agent, Rosenberg mentioned a comic he wrote for the Wu-Tang clan, Zub remarked he’s Canadian and trying to pass off his maple syrup agenda into his books, and Cates joked about stealing Spencer’s wallet (and he did, waving it at the audience).

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Before kicking things off about what’s to come, Zub shared a story of going to see Avengers: Infinity War with Cates who was excited about Thanos winning in the end. The crowd laughed hard at that one.

On Writing: Marvel's FAN EXPO Boston Next Big Thing panel breaks down process with Nick Spencer, Donny Cates, Matthew Rosenberg, and Jim Zub

Cates went on to discus his writing process, sharing he has different soundtracks he plays while he writes. He also needs to turn in a script every three days. “As long as I have a roadmap in front of me the writing goes really quick,” Cates said.

Spencer said his day starts with an editor emailing him asking for a script back as soon as possible. “I think most writers in comics are overnighters,” Spencer said, relating with Cates who also writes into the night. In fact, he’ll write until 6 a.m. most days. “Process-wise, I tend to write a very weird kind of script,” which is, “a mix of traditional scripting and more what we call Marvel style which is plot style.” Getting the script into the writer’s hands as fast as possible is key, Spencer said. Spencer added outlining is 90% of the process so that you can get get the artist working.

Next up was Rosenberg, who said he starts his day early, making coffee for his girlfriend and then starting around 10 a.m. “Writing five or six books is an interesting thing nobody thinks they can do until they do it,” Rosenberg said. Writing concurrent X-Men titles is tricky, Rosenberg said, because there are over 100 X-Men. His day of writing moves on till 5 a.m. with an hour of talking with Cates at 2 a.m.

Finally was Zub, who explained he’s a tenured professor in Canada so he has to hold down a day job on top of writing comics. His writing process starts at 7 p.m. and runs until 1 a.m., allowing him to be “A responsible adult for a while, and a child into the evening.” Cebulski asked if his students know he’s writing comics and Zub said for a long while they didn’t until Avengers: No Surrender came out. The school picked up on it and shared the news with everyone.

Later, Cebulski then opened the room up for questions. A discussion of working with artists came up and Cebulski explained it’s generally one page per day as far as expectations to meet deadlines is concerned.

Was it controversial to put Mary Jane and Peter Parker back together again? Spencer deadpanned, “Nope.” He explained he had dinner with Joe Quesada and they discussed “One More Day” and how that made people think Quesada didn’t want them together. That wasn’t the case. It was the first moment Spencer realized they could get them back together.

When asked about dream characters they’d like to write. Cates said Batman, as a joke, and then hinted it’s actually Spider-Man. Spencer’s dream character is Spider-Man and it’s one of the biggest moments of his career so he’s already writing it. After X-Men, Rosenberg said his dream projects are Daredevil and Star Wars. Zub said he’s going to make every book a magic book until they give him Doctor Strange and he’d also love to write a Blade book. The audience reacted positively that one, which ended the panel on a positive note.

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