Introducing Marie Javins

Where and when were you born?
Alexandria, Virginia, USA, April 22, 1966. That means I'm 30!

What were the first comics you read?
Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman, and more Wonder Woman. Teen Titans for Wonder Girl, and issues of Fantastic Four (for Invisible Girl) and Supergirl when I could find them. I got into Spider-man in college (especially the MJ issues back when she was Romita-cool and hadn't been McFarlanized into a slobbering bimbo).

What are your all time and current favorite creators?
Warren Ellis, Garth Ennis, Frank Miller, Walt Simonson, Leonardo Manco, Mike Dringenberg, Marie Severin, Larry Hama, John Romita, Sal Buscema, Kevin O'Neill...and that's just off the top of my head.

What are your all time and current favorite comics?
I can tell which comics are my favorite by what I actually purchase instead of passively receiving. I purchase Preacher religiously and I also buy Witchblade. I loved Hellstorm (defunct) and Daredevil: Born Again is one of my all-time favorites.

What are your hobbies outside of the comic field?
My long-term obsessions include writing (not comic writing), adventure travel and my Macintosh. Currently abandoned obsessions include radio and video and the American indie rock scene.

How did you get into the comic bussiness?
Like many other professionals, I began my comic book career as a college intern. I never meant to stay in the field so long, but my college loans had other ideas. Before I knew it, I was in over my head.

How did you 'learn' to color?
Again, that pesky student loan reared its ugly head. My assistant editor salary just wasn't cutting it, so my pal Steve Buccellato (see Uncanny X-Men) offered to show me how to color to earn some freelance cash. Lots of people try this but I was lucky enough to exhibit some talent in it. Years later, the time came when I couldn't handle both my editor job and my coloring career and I had to choose. And the office situation at Marvel ("Marvelution et al") made the choice easy.

Is coloring a fill-time job for you or do you do something else next to it?
Now it's a full time job, but I'm also enrolled in a multimedia certificate program at a local college. Coloring, I'm sorry to say, is not a passion. It is a means to an end--that is, I am paid for my services and am not doing it for the love. I hate to sound coldly mercenary and occasionally I enjoy a job but the fun wore out years ago. It enables me to exist while I am enrolled in school. I am also writing a bit these days, thanks to the e-mail tutelage of Vassar professor and comics writer Franz Henkl.

Why did you have to choose between editing and coloring?
Coloring, I'm sure you know, used to be a very different beast. Up until a few years ago, it was very simple. I could color a book relatively quickly, leaving me plenty of time for my full-time editorial job. ventually, with complex coloring becoming more prominent, this was no longer possible. I had to choose--editor or colorist. I infinitely preferred editing, but changes were happening at Marvel and the cutting edge books I'd been working on had been cancelled and no more were in the works. Marvel had given me superhero books to edit, which I felt were not really in need of my perspective. In other words, there were plenty of editors who could edit superheroes and who probably cared about them. Also, I was concerned that if I remained at Marvel, editing books I didn't really want to edit, I was dooming my life to mediocrity. I don't know *what* exactly I want to do with my life, but I know what I *don't* want to do. So I quit.

How frustrating is it to have projects you really belief in cancelled because not enough people are buying it (like the Druid series by Warren Ellis)?
EXTREMELY frustrating. I don't for a second buy into the "not enough people are buying it" argument. Certainly, they didn't, but they never had a chance. New series need support from the company that is producing them and books like Druid were orphaned because it wasn't even a book that Marvel was sure it wanted to produce. Plus, a series needs time to establish a demand. Orders for comics are placed three months prior to the shipping. In other words, when the fourth Druid issue was being ordered, retailers has just seen issue #1 and there hadn't been enough time for readers to even realize they might want to read it. It's not an X-book, and doesn't have a built-in audience and it's not a Vertigo book so it needs time for its audience to find it. Similarly, a book like Hellstorm had already run its course before we even got started and just as we started to pick up steam and good word-of-mouth, it was cancelled.

How much influence did you have as an editor to get projects started?
I'm going to be wishy-washy and say "that depends." I needed the support of an executive editor (like Carl Potts or Mark Gruenwald) to even be taken seriously and then they would have to convince the editor-in-chief and the sales department that it could make a profit. I could initiate projects until I was blue in the face, but if I couldn't sell Carl or Mark on it, it wouldn't get off my desk. Even then, it was usually a long-shot. Often, if I REALLY REALLY wanted to do something, Carl would put through the paperwork whether he liked the project or not. "Well, Marie, if you REALLY think you like this...."

How much freedom did you have to choose people to work on a title?
Again, it depends. Creator-owned books, obviously, have pre-established teams. X-books have a pool of creators to choose from. On standard Marvel books, I could choose anyone--but usually the deadlines were so bad that it was a challenge finding someone with a hole in their schedule. Also, if a book doesn't earn royalties, it's harder to find a good team.

Is there anything you want to say about the current state at Marvel and the Marvel 'purge'? comment? I don't think I should say anything...well, maybe it's always darkest just before the dawn and I think the corporate stripmining is over. People are starting to smile again and I *hope* the worst has passed. Certainly, the newest president seems really good from what I've read about him.

Can you tell us anything about your future plans?
I've taken this coloring thing about as far as I can. I'm hoping to do more writing, traveling, and multimedia work, which will all be bankrolled by X-Force and Star Trek coloring. And I am on the eternal quest to occupy myself with something I enjoy.