MARK GRUENWALD: A LIFE OF MARVELS

Remembering one of the most beloved and influential figures in Marvel history. He touched the lives of countless comic book creators in positive ways. Ask anyone who ever worked with […]

Remembering one of the most beloved and influential figures in Marvel history.

He touched the lives of countless comic book creators in positive ways. Ask anyone who ever worked with him and they’ll tell you that they’ll never forget editor, writer, and artist Mark Gruenwald and feel he still watches over them to this day. In fact, after his passing he became Marvel Comics’ official Patron Saint of Marveldom.

A native of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Mark Gruenwald found his path into the professional world of comics in the same way as many of his generation: as a fan. With his own fanzine creation Omniverse and work on DC Comics’ in-house fanzine under his belt in the 1970’s, the young man approached Marvel seeking employment and won a spot as an assistant editor in 1978.

Gruenwald entered the hallowed halls of Marvel at a time of flux. Legendary creator Jack Kirby produced his final work in his second tenure at the company in 1978, but Jim Shooter, the new Editor-in-Chief that same year, looked to the future and saw something in Gruenwald and his abilities. Over the next four years the assistant editor learned the ropes and, under the mentorship of editor-writer Denny O’Neil, flourished. In 1982, Shooter promoted him to full editor and granted him stewardship of some of Marvel’s biggest titles.

During this time, Gruenwald never stopped writing, though he remained busy editing. He shepherded CAPTAIN AMERICA through an incredible 10-year run which produced not only new villains for Cap that would go on to be fan-favorites, but also enriched the book’s supporting cast. In QUASAR he fleshed out an existing character into an exciting cosmic hero in his own right, and with the OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE, he poured his love of continuity and details into setting down the particulars of the Marvel Universe’s characters for the first time. Beyond these works lies Gruenwald’s personal treasure, the SQUADRON SUPREME 12-issue limited series, which told the tale of an alternate universe’s super team and their drive to run an entire planet.

His future looked bright when in 1987 he stepped up to the executive editor spot at Marvel and took possession of the keys to the company’s continuity, rewarding him for the passion he exhibited over the characters and their fictional lives. Much of these details he held in his mind, not on paper, and creators sought him out to straighten out matters of history and continuity in their books. Gruenwald also became a character himself when creators Rick Parker and Barry Dutter placed him in a humorous cartoon called “The Bull’s Eye” on Marvel’s Bullpen Text pages in the later 1980’s.

Incredibly, he also somehow found time to satisfy an interest in art by penciling some comics, too, pinch-hitting for editors on such titles as WHAT IF?, INCREDIBLE HULK, and HAWKEYE.

Gruenwald’s career at Marvel continued to grow and elevate. In 1994 he participated in something new at that time for the company: editor-in-chief positions over groups of titles. Gruenwald watched over the Avengers and cosmic books during this time, and moved on to a senior editor post in 1995 until he passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from a heart condition in 1996.

So strong stood his ties to his life-long love for comics that the beloved editor became part of them. Following a stipulation in his will, his ashes went into ink used to print the first edition of the trade paperbacks of his SQUADRON SUPREME series. Everyone around Mark Gruenwald saw that he and comics existed as one in life; after his passing it finally came true.

Celebrate the life and accomplishments of Mark Gruenwald at a 20th anniversary tribute hosted by his widow, Catherine Schuller. The event takes place at 6:00 PM on Tuesday, June 14 and will be held at Space Ibiza New York. For more information, visit the event’s official Eventbrite, Facebook, and Instagram pages. Tickets now available, you must be 21 years of age to attend.

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