Coober Skeber #2, the “Marvel Benefit Issue,” has been talked up online of late, notably here. So I figured I’d add my tiny pittance of anecdote to the pile.
[For those who never saw it: Coober Skeber #2 was a completely unauthorized anthology of stories featuring Marvel characters, written and drawn by alternative/indy creators, and handed out free at the San Diego Con in 1997. A precursor to books like World’s Funnest, Bizarro Comics and the recent Strange Tales, it was anarchic, irreverent and fun, a delightful breath of fresh air, as creators who wouldn’t remotely be connected to mainstream superheroes (at least not then) ran riot with childhood favorite. Some of the contributors included Seth, James Kochalka, Ron Rege, Pete Cardin, Tom Devlin and more. Click the link and/or do a web-search to find out more.]
Anyway, I was handed a copy at the San Diego Con, and I loved it. I showed it to a ton of people, marveled at the audacity of these guys practically daring Marvel to sue them (though in the end, both Marvel and DC imitated them), and got a huge kick out of the book, particularly the Seth cover, a group portrait of the original X-Men and their villains, and a short Hulk story by James Kochalka where the Hulk fights the rain.
I liked the Hulk story so much that when I got home, I photocopied the story and faxed it to Tom Brevoort at Marvel (this was in those halcyon days before scanners were common), and urged him to get someone to buy it from Kochalka and have it colored and run it as a backup somewhere. It was too cool not to show to Hulk fans everywhere.
Tom wasn’t editing Hulk at the time, but he took over the book a little later, and eventually did try to buy the story. Kochalka wanted to re-do it, so Tom hired him to re-do the story, in color, and it ran in Hulk 2001, that year’s Annual. And as Kochalka has pointed out, sequences like that story cropped up in both Hulk movies. Did they get it from that story? Who knows?
Anyway, that’s my story of my behind-the-scenes role in getting James Kochalka published at Marvel.
My other connection to Coober Skeber #2 is that I liked the cover so much I contacted Seth and asked if he’d sell me the original. He told me he didn’t sell his finished artwork, but he’d done the pencils on a separate sheet of paper and inked them on an overlay, and he’d be willing to sell me the pencils.
And I bought ’em, and that’s a piece of them you see above. Click on the image to see the whole thing.