› What: “Marvel Absolutely Everything You Need To Know” book signing and trivia contest featuring co-author Adam Bray.
› When: 6-8 p.m. today, Sept. 22.
› Where: McKay’s, 7734 Lee Highway.
› Admission: Free.
› Phone: 423-892-0067.
› Website: mckaybooks.com.
In the 77 years since its foundation, Marvel Comics has stood alongside DC Comics as the twin pillars of the comic-book publishing industry. The panels in the tens of thousands of comics it has produced have birthed more than 8,000 characters, with Spider-Man, Iron Man, The X-Men, The Fantastic Four among the superheroic icons.
Attempting to summarize a universe of content so large is a daunting task, but DK, the publisher of design-forward, illustrated reference books, attempted the feat with the recently released — and ambitiously titled — tome "Marvel Absolutely Everything You Need To Know."
The 240-page, hardcover book, published Aug. 1, features factoids, behind-the-scenes info and unexpected insights about Marvel characters, from well-known heavy hitters to third-string characters such as Spider-Ham, Man-Ape and Throg.
As part of a book tour celebrating the release, Adam Bray, one of the book's four co-authors, will visit McKay's on Lee Highway tonight, Sept. 22, to sign copies and host a family-friendly Marvel trivia event with free posters and other prizes in the offing.
A Covenant College graduate, Bray has worked on numerous DK projects, including Star Wars and Lego projects as well as more than a half-dozen travel guides. He took time while traveling to respond to emailed questions in advance of his visit.
Q: Working on this book sounds like every geek's dream job. How did you land it?
A: I had been asking DK to do a Marvel book for a while. Marvel is experiencing a bit of a renaissance, thanks to Disney's oversight and the popularity of their new movies, so it is a great time to get involved, and there are lots of new Marvel projects to work on.
This book format is relatively new for DK and has a bit of a learning curve to get it just right. Since I had already contributed to a similar Star Wars title, I think DK was anxious to have me involved as sort of a senior member on the writer team.
Q: What was your research process? Where did you get this information?
A: At all times while I worked I was surrounded by stacks of DK Marvel reference books, piles of comics, Marvel's Wikia site on several screens and other electronic and print resources at my fingertips.
The actual work is a fairly simple process. DK asked us what characters, artifacts, locations and events that we each wanted to work on and then divided the book in four. I divided my time by the number of subjects I had to write about and then researched it all, much like a college term paper.
I did my writing after my list of notes was sufficiently long enough. I look at writing kind of like making a sculpture. Often I just throw a bunch of ideas on the page, or the screen, and then rearrange it all and hack away, or add to it, until the ideas formulate. The inspiration comes somewhere along the way.
Q: Marvel is such a huge, wonderful, occasionally confusing, universe. How did you determine what content to include?
A: Because DK's books are so visual — and all the art comes from Marvel — all of the text needed to work well with the overall design for each set of pages and all of the individual visual elements. To select the best text for each context, we gave the editors more than enough text to work with, so they could select the best material. I think at least a third of the textual content was left on the cutting-room floor.
Q: Did working on this project deepen your love for Marvel's universe, or are you feeling burned out on comics?
A: I grew up enjoying Marvel, and the movies since the original Spider-Man trilogy. The process of writing the book definitely rekindled a childhood love — even obsession — with Marvel.
Since college I learned that really anything you take the time to study intensively instills a greater appreciation for the subject, and that has definitely been the case for me. I've been investing even more of my time in all of Marvel's various content outlets since working on the book.
Q: What did you already know going into the project that you were excited to communicate to readers?
A: I see every book as an opportunity to learn myself, so I was excited to research some of my favorite characters, like Spider-Man, Captain America, Black Widow, Daredevil, Ant-Man, Nick Fury and the Avengers, and share what I learned in each of their respective character spreads that I wrote.
In some ways, it was as much a discovery process for me as it will be for the fans who read the book. Whether they are life-long fans or new to Marvel, they will find ample material that is new and fun for them to explore.
Contact Casey Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6205. Follow him on Twitter at @PhillipsCTFP.