Marvel and DC Webcomics? Top Webcomic Creators Tell Us Their Superhero Pitches

A few weeks ago, Chris Sims wrote an excellent piece on ComicsAlliance arguing that Marvel and DC should experiment with publishing webcomics. Sims notes that free webcomics could expose a whole new audience of comic readers to the DC and Marvel universes. He also points out that some of the most widely read superhero comics come from the webcomics world, notably PvP creator Scott Kurtz’s much passed-around Batman story “My Parents Are Dead.”

Creators already working in comics seem perfectly poised to take on such an experiment.  Many of these creators grew up reading superhero comics, have a strong sense of what works online and what doesn’t and are masters of attracting a diverse audience that is willing to buy their wares.

There is certainly some overlap between the Big Two and the webcomics world. Marvel has tapped popular webcomickers like Kate Beaton, Faith Erin Hicks, Shaenon Garrity, and Lucy Knisley to contribute short pieces to their print comics. Dr. McNinja creator Chris Hastings is writing a Deadpool miniseries for Marvel’s Fear Itself event. Misery Loves Sherman creator Chris Eliopoulos developed the humor series Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius. Many DC and Marvel creators have also turned to the web to publish their own independent comics: Karl Kerschl with The Abominable Charles Christopher, Cameron Stewart with Sin Titulo, Jeff Parker with Bucko, and, most recently, Greg Rucka with Lady Sabre & the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether.

We thought it would be especially interesting to talk to webcomic creators – especially those who have written about superheroes – and ask for their thoughts on Marvel and DC webcomics – and what they would pitch if offered the chance.

Brad Guigar, who publishes the corporate supervillain webcomic Evil Inc., recommends that daily webcomics be the focal point of Marvel and DC’s websites. After all, webcartoonists have a proven track record of updating their sites with regular content and attracting a large, consistent audience. And the webcomics could be paired with digital downloads, giving readers the opportunity to buy comics as they stop in for their daily dose of free fun.

Guigar also has a vision for tying such a webcomic to the existing titles to create a real demand for those titles:

Some people remember the Marvel humor mag, “What Th–”. It was a monthly parody of current Marvel storylines. I would combine that concept (along with a pinch of “Brave and the Bold”) with the one character in the DC Universe tailor-made for the job, Plastic Man. Plastic Man is re-imagined as an outcast from mainstream super-heroics, a wanderer who walks the earth, stumbling into and out of current storylines from DC’s titles. One week, he walks in on a Secret Six caper and the next week he runs into the Titans. The dailies are standalone gags that fit into an overarching story (like Evil Inc.) so you don’t need to have read the individual comic titles (or even yesterday’s webcomic) to appreciate them. And moreover, the experience serves to highlight the stories being pursued by the individual titles.

I’ll even pitch Marvel on a project that I have no vested interest in. You have Chris Eliopoulos sitting right there under your nose. You saw what he could do with Franklin Richards and you’re probably aware of his ability to create charming, funny, beautifully drawn strips from his work on Misery Loves Sherman. I would anchor with a daily Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius comic strip done by Chris. Give him the same free reign to wander the Marvel Universe’s realtime storylines, and you’ll have a reason to hit every day.

Curt Franklin, one half of the Let’s Be Friends Again team, also believes that free webcomics would be a boon to DC and Marvel, but suspects that they’ll be reluctant to make the leap. He predicts when one of the publishers takes the plunge into webcomics, it will be for property they don’t particularly care about – and that the webcomic will prove an instant hit. And if he and Chris Haley were at the reins?

I’d want it to be something that takes advantage of the medium. I always thought those old Spider-Man newspaper strips were terrible because it would 95% of the time be Spider-Man reacting the previous strips conclusion for three panels and then, in the fourth panel, he’d turn and say to the reader “Oh no, there is another bad guy behind me now! It is maybe Electro this time, I guess!” and then next time he’d fight Electro for three panels and Venom would show up in the fourth panel and blah blah blah. So, if we did something in that traditional newspaper format, it’d need to be something funny, maybe a Howard the Duck, even though I would be terrified of stepping on Steve Gerber’s business because he’s one of my idols, or an Impossible Man, or, hell, you could even do Lobo in four panel doses I bet.

In Franklin’s mind, one of the key advantages of working for Marvel or DC is their resources. With the benefit of the publishers’ inkers, letterers, and colorists, he and Haley could more easily work on full-sized comic pages that could eventually collected into a trade paperback – something he suspect might make webcomics an easier sell to the higher-ups at the Big Two.

And there are plenty of creators who would love to take a crack at a neglected character. Justin Pierce, who does the hilariously mean-spirited superhero comic The Non-Adventures of Wonderella, would like to see a webcomic that covers less familiar ground:

I tend to favor the black sheep in superhero pantheons, so I’m more likely to pluck some little-known hero from obscurity rather than padding Batman or Wolverine’s resumé. Though I’ve always been a fan of the Golden Age Green Lantern, before that whole universe became a cosmic jumble. Alan Scott could do these amazing things, even some stuff the modern Green Lanterns can’t — yet his weakness is so mundane, you could smack him down with a Louisville Slugger. That sort of character has a lot of potential from a modern mindset.

Chad Sell, whose comic Manta-Man focuses on not terribly heroic twenty-somethings with superpowers, would also go for the more obscure hero route, with a snarky twist:

I’d suggest something that focuses on D-list heroes, showcasing their behind-the-scenes gossip, trivial difficulties, and rivalries. Something based on quirky dialogue, petty conflicts, and the occasional sleazy hook-up. So, basically everything I’m already doing with Manta-Man, but with different characters and (if necessary) less swearing.

Bill Walko, who pokes fun at the comic book industry in The Hero Business, would like to do something tonally similar to Cartoon Network’s lineup, and he sees no shortage of characters to explore:

For Marvel, I’d love to develop something around the D-list adventures of the Great Lake Avengers, offering a mix of comedy and drama. With the Avengers movie coming up, it’s a way to tie to that property and even use some of those popular characters, but also build a distinct, unique property with Marvel’s D-list heroes. I’d also propose a series focusing on Dazzler’s teen years, with a sort of Archie Comics approach. It could be a lot of fun for long-time X-Men fans, but also provide something for female readers (and even appeal to the Glee and Hannah Montana set).

For DC, there’s a lot of good, unused teen characters I’d like to polish off and relaunch. I think Amethyst could really, really work as a fantasy-magic quest series. I’ve even written a pitch for that one, blending some sensibilities of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Harry Potter. I believe Amethyst could have dual-gender appeal similar to Avatar: The Last Airbender. I’d also love to do modern versions of The Wonder Twins, having light adventures of the fringes of the DCU. I think the Dial H for Hero team of Chris King and Vicki Grant could also work as a great adventure-mystery series. And lastly, I’d love to do an Archie-style comic of the Teen Titans, with the focus on their dating circles and personal struggles. And I’d love to set it at Gabriel’s Horn, their 70s era nightclub-slash-headquarters.


Lucy Knisley, creator of the webcomic essay series Stop Paying Attention, did a piece for Marvel featuring the Young Avenger Stature. She found the idea of an angsty teenager who changes size according to her mood to be fertile story ground, and says she’d love the opportunity to do a Young Avengers webcomic.

Denver Brubaker, who pays homage to pulp mystery men with Tales of a Checkered Man, would love to see seven webcomics each from Marvel and DC – one for each day of the week. For Marvel, he also nominates Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius for one of the slots. As for his top pitches, he offers one for each publisher:

SUPERBUDDIES (DC Comics): Follow Blue Beetle, Booster Gold and friends (Captain Atom, Elongated Man, Fire, Mary Marvel, and L-Ron the robot) as they tackle time-bending villains, horrible monsters, ruthless criminals and, of course, working with one another! Think the fun adventure and biting, outrageous humor of Futurama and you can begin to see what I envision for the Superbuddies! You can see a quick doodle of the cast here in my deviantArt gallery or a fun Beetle and Booster gag as well.

THE ADVENTURES OF MOON BOY AND DEVIL DINOSAUR (Marvel Comics): Follow the heroic exploits of the Devil Dinosaur and his lil’ pal Moon Boy as they defend Dinosaur World from all manner of strange and mysterious creatures. Imagine a Hanna-Barbara action/adventure cartoon in webcomic form and you should begin to get the idea… Watch as Devil and Moon Boy inexplicably face several classic Marvel monsters such as the Brute That Walks, Gargantus, Googam, Moomba, and Zzutak and many more!

Shaenon Garrity, who wrote the supervillain comedy Narbonic and has co-authored many a Marvel Holiday Special, has long wanted to write a sitcom set at AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics – creators of MODOK) headquarters. Her dream DC webcomic project? Scribbly and the Red Tornado.

Ryan Estrada (of the recently completed Aki Alliance among other webcomic projects) actually pitched a MODOK webcomic, which was close to becoming a reality when a shift in Marvel’s editorial direction killed the series. He’s since posted it online as Chillin’ Like Villains.  Estrada had very funny plans for the continuing series:

As he eventually got closer and closer to being the MODOK we know, getting a new headquarters, henchmen, nemeses, etc. but in the most unimpressive and mundane ways possible.

Estrada also pointed us to fellow webcartoonist Dean Trippe’s (Butterfly) pitch for a Lois Lane, Girl Reporter series of illustrated young adult novels, which DC never picked up. If you haven’t seen it already, go to Trippe’s Tumblr and read the whole pitch. It will break your heart.

So there you have it, DC and Marvel: talented cartoonists, smart pitches, and an audience ready to devour webcomics. The ball is in your court.