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AlphaFlight.net - The Volume 4 Interviews: Mark Paniccia
  • The Volume 4 Interviews: Mark Paniccia (editor)

    Alpha Flight vol4 editor Mark PanicciaAlphaFlight.net - I'd like to welcome Mark Paniccia, Alpha Flight Volume 4 editor. Thanks for joining me Mark!

    Mark Paniccia: My pleasure!

    AF.net - What is your personal history with Alpha Flight? Were you a long time fan, or late in coming into the "fold"?

    MP: I fell in love with the Department H gang way back in X-MEN #120. I was a huge X-Men fan at the time and was totally shocked when Hudson’s team showed up and had the audacity to pick a fight with my favorite mutants.

    Alpha Flight vol4 #3 variant CoverBut I was totally wowed, too! I thought they were really cool and Canada seemed…so “exotic” to me at the time. Everything about Alpha Flight was intriguing. I wanted more and was one of the happiest fans on the planet when Marvel finally announced a regular series years later.

    AF.net - Tell me how you became involved in the creation of this latest release of Alpha Flight.

    MP: This is one of those books I always wanted to work on. On my flight to New York after I took the editorial job way back in 2004, I made a list of dream projects and ALPHA FLIGHT was on it. I hadn’t kept up with everything that had happened to them over the past few years but always thought there was a way to revisit the magic of the original series. Of course, when I sat down at my desk that first day, I discovered that I wasn’t the only one with big ideas. First there was the fact that Marvel had just done a mini-series and then there were all these other AF pitches flying around. I was the most junior Sr. Editor at the time so I had to deal with the reality that it may never happen or take some time.

    Alpha Flight vol4 #3 CoverAnd as they say, good things come to those who wait. The stars lined up just right and there was finally an opportunity bring together the original team. Whew!

    AF.net - With a sorted history, several re-launches, and dozens of characters, what has it been like to balance history and continuity with accessibility for new readers?

    MP: It’s the hardest part of the job. There are so many cool things to touch on but we need to make sure that we’re presenting something that new readers can appreciate. The goal isn’t to put out a book only for those of us that loved the original series but to show the world how great the characters are. We want EVERYONE to fall in love with them.

    AF.net - Do you feel that several "failed" attempts to re-launch Alpha Flight are a mark against the future viability of the title?

    Puck HugMP: I don’t want to call any of them failedJ They all served the purpose of giving life to the property and good stuff came out of them. From a commercial standpoint, any time something doesn’t set the charts on fire it can hurt perception on a publishing and retailer level…and with potential readers. But I’m optimistic about this version. I believe it will do better than most people expect.

    AF.net - So far we've seen most of the original Alpha Flight cast. One glaring omission is of course Puck. We've seen the alternate cover for #2 with him, but will we see him back on the ranks of Alpha Flight?

    MP: Yes, he’s back and it’s a wonderful thing. But his trip to hell has had an effect on him. He’s a little off as you’ll see. But damn, it’s a treat seeing Dale draw him. The little guy’s never looked better.

    AF.net - Can fans hope to see more "blasts from the past" in the book?

    MP: Yeah, there are things in store that will tickle the nostalgia bone but we don’t want people to think they need to have read everything in order to enjoy the book. Greg and Fred know how to capitalize on what makes these characters distinctive and unique. And they are very good atcarefully crafting dynamics that are informative. There are nods to the past but you get the characters right away. You understand their relationships and personalities so this is a good series to recommend to your friends who may have never experienced the “joy of Flight”.

    Marrina AttackedAF.net - Speaking of the past. The Alpha Flight Classics Vol.2 was solicited and then shelved. Should this book prove successful, are there any plans you are aware of to reprint more classic Alpha flight material?

    NorthstarMP: Let’s hope so. That Vol. 1 was a great trade (major props to our collections dept.).

    AF.net - Fans have a dream to see one last Byrne cover. Any chance of reaching out to him for a variant? (again, a fan dream )

    MP: Oh, his covers were great. I have the same kind of dreams as you, Ben.

    AF.net - The creative team seems to be very committed to this title. How have you found working with Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, and Dale Eaglesham?

    MP: I’ve worked with Fred and Greg on a lot of stuff and they are ALWAYS committed to telling the best stories but they are very passionate about this as is Dale. And Dale’s wife, Louise, is another boon to the book. Her enthusiasm helps keep all of us going when we’re perhaps worn down a little from the demanding schedules. There are a lot of creators I love to work with but this team is really perfect on many levels.

    AF.net - What can you tell me about how this creative team was assembled?

    Sasquatch AttackedMP: Fred and I had talked about ALPHA FLIGHT here and there over the years. When we worked together on the All Ages books there were a few stories he did that co-stared our favorite Canadian super heroes (MARVEL ADVENTURES IRON MAN # 11 and WOLVERINE: FIRST CLASS # 5). Those stories showed how effortlessly Fred could write those characters and his genuine love for them. So that was kind of the first piece.

    Over on HERCULES, the acclaimed series that Fred co-writes with Greg, Snowbird was brought in for the SACRED INVASION arc. That kind of tantalized me more but the time just wasn’t right.

    Then we cut to CHAOS WAR (which I have to say is one of the best smaller “big” Marvel stories out there). We were fortunate enough to have Jim McCann and Reilly Brown lend their talents on a one-shot that reunited the original team during the event.

    And thus began musings of a new series. Soon all the elements of the current approach began to fall into place.

    Alpha Flight FightSomewhere along the way, we found out that Dale was a big ALPHA FLIGHT fan. He was working with me and Greg on INCREDIBLE HULKS. He really dug Greg’s scripting so things fell together nicely there.

    AF.net - With past publications of Alpha Flight, Fans have felt that Marvel has not beet fully in support of the book. This time around that seems to be quite the opposite. What can you tell me about Marvel's willingness to support and publicize this volume?

    MP: Sales and Marketing always do their best to support everything that we produce so I don’t know if I can agree that they haven’t supported the property in the past. But I do think they saw the potential in this as we kept them in the loop every step of production and made sure they had the tools they needed to properly promote the series. Jake Thomas (my trusty assistant on the book) and I have worked very hard to have as much art and story as possible available for press releases and interviews.

    AF.net - How does this Alpha Flight publication differ from those that have failed in the past?

    MP: We’ve got the original team and God help them because Fred and Greg are going to put them through the ringer more than anyone else since Byrne!

    Northstar RunningThat’s one of thethings that Fred, Greg and I would talk about all the time, how it seemed like these guys were just never gonna catch a break. It was one struggle after another. That’s the magic I think this version has going for it. You see all these characters as very human. You relate to them, sympathize with them and you like them. Then you see these horrible things happen that tug on your heart strings and that’s when you know you’re reading something special.

    AF.net - With the various incarnations and volumes of Alpha Flight over the years, many fans have given up, or lost interest. Why should they now come back to Alpha Flight?

    Aurora AttackMP: I don’t mind bragging a bit and saying that besides this a well-written project with fantastic and appealing art, we’ve also got amazing color art by Sonia Oback. Inker Andrew Hennessy and calligrapher Simon Bowland are giving this their all as well. Everyone’s doing top notch work here. Those covers by Phil Jimenez are killer. So you’re getting a quality product as far as craftsmanship goes.

    On a dramatic level, a lot of the ingredients that not only made the original series so interesting but also early ALL NEW, ALL DIFFERENT X-MEN compelling and successful are present.

    AF.net - Some mention has been made to the possibility of this series continuing beyond the initial 8.1 issues slated to be printed. Do you see this being a realistic hope for fans? How do you judge the chances of this happening?

    MP: There’s a good chance that can happen. I know everyone involved would love to go beyond what’s planned. Some of the conversations I’ve had with Fred and Greg have me tingling with delight so if there’s great demand there will be supply!

    AF.net - Alpha Flight fans as a whole tend to be ridiculously loyal. What has been you impression of the fan community?

    Aurora AloneMP: It says a lot about the resonance and draw of the characters and all the creators who’ve contributed to their mythos. And, of course, that the fans have excellent taste!

    Sea Babe MarrinaAF.net - What can fans do to show their support for the book?

    MP: Get a hold of any lapsed ALPHA FLIGHT fans you know and tell them about the book and where to get it or how to have it reserved on a pull list. And we need to get the word out to new readers as well as to the people who love the characters.

    And while it’s got awesome super-hero action, there are other great qualities that will appeal to fans of different genres. Romance. Mystery. Suspense. It’s good comics on every level!

    AF.net - Is there anything else you would like to pass on to the fans (past, present and future)?

    MP: Oh, there’s so much more I’d love to say but I just don’t want to spoil the surprises. But it’s important to say thanks to all the loyal and diligent ALPHA FLIGHT fans out there who have kept supporting the series in its many forms. I hope we do you right and make you all proud.
    Comments 36 Comments
    1. Le Messor's Avatar
      Le Messor -
      Quote Originally Posted by Wolfie View Post
      I'm thinking, DUDE, ... come spend some time with your wife already!!!
      I'd say sorry for your loss, but...
    1. bigbloo's Avatar
      bigbloo -
      Quote Originally Posted by Wolfie View Post
      rplass, I keep walking into his office and seeing him draw this stuff... and I'm thinking, DUDE, draw some speed lines and come spend some time with your wife already!!! But nooooooooooooo, gotta draw ALL the multiple figures..... Pfffft.

      Wolfie, the husbandless artist's wife...
      Really appreciate the sacrifices you are making! I am love love loving the artwork! These previews are in danger of making my head explode with speculation...
    1. Wolfie's Avatar
      Wolfie -
      Yeah, I figured I wouldn't get much sympathy around here... :b
    1. Phil's Avatar
      Phil -
      It'll all be worth it when he sells on the original artwork for a higher price!
    1. rplass's Avatar
      rplass -
      Quote Originally Posted by Phil View Post
      It'll all be worth it when he sells on the original artwork for a higher price!
      Ah, I smell a bidding war... I call dibs on anything with Marrina!
    1. Ahab's Avatar
      Ahab -
      Of course anything can be interpreted too much, but isn't it interesting that the Box that we're seeing has the original coloration circa Jaxon-controlled Box, as opposed to Bochs' new color redesign. Hmmm.....
    1. Mokole's Avatar
      Mokole -
      We get someone doing Box, conflicts in spades, and the team being a team in a sense that they always have been. Will Puck now be more violent, as he was before he joined AF?
    1. DIGGER's Avatar
      DIGGER -
      Quote Originally Posted by rplass View Post
      Ah, I smell a bidding war... I call dibs on anything with Marrina!
      Oh yeah... well I call dibs on Guardian... even if he turns out to be the traitor! Now how is that for being a fan!

    1. Phil's Avatar
      Phil -
      Well, I've seen from Dale's website that pages of his are sold here including his recent FF and Hulks work so I'd imagine (and Dale/Wolfie can correct me if I'm wrong) that some pages may end up there.
    1. Wolfie's Avatar
      Wolfie -
      Yes, all of Dale's stuff gets listed on Spencer's site! He won't reserve pages ahead of time, though, so you have to keep a regular eye out for the pages being posted. I usually get notified as soon as they're put up, and in turn I announce it on our site.

      We also bring pages to conventions and people can buy them directly from us there. However, Dale being so busy (and such a recluse!), we only usually do the Toronto and Montreal shows every year... :-/
    1. Phil's Avatar
      Phil -
      After reading #1 (& finally being able to talk about it) I have a theory as to that spoiler panel above:






      After getting captured by the Government & Boxbots AF are brainwashed, but they only get Aurora's Aurora personality, so when she 'snaps' her new personality isn't under their control so she has to fight against her team-mates to bring them out of their state. Or y'know, the other way round.

      Or y'know, nothing like that at all cos I'm rubbish at stuff like this
    1. Garry/Al-Fan's Avatar
      Garry/Al-Fan -
      Will there be a trade paperback or hard-cover collecting all 8 issues of this maxi-series?

      The lemmings all said,
      "It's better than baked bread!"
      They knew the book was weak,
      but money's all they really seek.
      Even though the "story" stank,
      Smirking weasles laughed to the bank.
    1. DelBubs's Avatar
      DelBubs -
      Hi Garry, probably missing the obvious here, but what are the issues you have with AF#1? Not trying to be confrontational, just trying to understand.

      Chances are that Marvel will release it as a TPB at some point. Probably including the Chaos War and .1 issue. Nothing official though.
    1. Garry/Al-Fan's Avatar
      Garry/Al-Fan -
      If Ben can PM the unpublished review to you (I unfortunately don't know how), it will give an idea of the issues I have with AF volume 4, # 1. Briefly, it isn't a story (with a beginning, middle, and end) and the plot-points seem forced after page 11.

      This book has had about 4 months to be put together, since February. The creative chores aren't the responsibility of just one person doing the writing, drawing, and inking. But the first (and second) volume's # 1 managed to tell a story that had a resolution to it, and the possibility of another story. This book didn't.

      It is good that the property "Alpha Flight" is being used again. Let's hope that's not a pejorative.

      Do you really know what you'll get once the book is published?
    1. Flightpath07's Avatar
      Flightpath07 -
      double posted - d'oh!
    1. Flightpath07's Avatar
      Flightpath07 -
      I loved reading this article.

      Having kept myself absent from this site for a while, what a treat it was to see comments posted by Wolfie! Love it! This has to be an alphaflight.net first, right - an artist's spouse posting here?