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Marvel Office Tour From 1998 With 11-Year-Old Tom Pinchuk

With plenty of pictures!

Most of you have probably been thinking back on 2010 lately. Myself? I’ve been reflecting on 1998, the year an 11-year-old lil’ Tommy P got to tour Marvel Comics’ offices in New York City. Actually, it's been on my mind since October, because NYCC was the first time I’d been back to the Big Apple in the twelve odd years since the trip. While I was home for Christmas, I figured it was time to dig up these pictures from one of my family's old photo albums and share them with all you wonderful Comic Vine maniacs...

 The epic meeting. Faces have been blurred to protect the innocent.

How’d I get to do this? Did I win a contest or something? Nah, I just mailed Marvel a request and received a confirmation letter a month or two later. Simple as that. I did have to wait about a half-year for my tour (and that felt like an eternity for a middle-schooler) but the gray, overcast day that finally came in late February was well worth the wait.  I don’t think I’d ever been more excited for something. == TEASER ==

A lot of times, you go on a tour like this hoping it’s going to be like walking through Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and you end up seeing a place where it's really just business as usual. That definitely wasn't the case, here. Oh no. From the moment my Mom and I stepped out of the elevator, it felt like we were in the Marvel Universe. The waiting room was absolutely carpeted in memorabilia, including life-size, lifelike replicas of legendary treasures like Dr. Doom’s mask, Mjolnir and no less than the Infinity Gauntlet.  

 
And who was our tour guide? Was it an intern? An assistant? No, it was Spider-Man, himself.  Taking a break from his great crime-fighting responsibilities, Spidey brought us all into a meeting room and showed us a slide show (an actual slide show, not a PowerPoint one. This was ’98, remember) about how comics were made. He then brought out original pages to demonstrate the steps of the process, tangibly. Of course, as I recall, only Spidey was allowed to actually touch the pages.

 
Before he took us down to the Bullpen, Spidey stopped to quiz all of us kids on our Marvel trivia. After throwing out some softball questions like "Who're the members of the Fantastic Four?" and "What's the Hulk's real name?" he broke out what was supposed to be the real stumper. 

"How did the Whizzer get his powers?"

Without a missing a beat, I raised my hand and said, “Mongoose blood transfusion.”

I couldn’t see Spidey’s face under the mask, but I’m sure he was double-taking something fierce. He said I was actually the first kid to answer that one correctly. It was a dubious accomplishment, perhaps, but I’ll take some pride in it. Anybody who's enjoyed the trivia challenges I do at conventions will probably appreciate knowing how these games got started...

 Right in the heart of the world famous Bullpen.

The timing of this whole trip is relevant in a number of respects. For one, the offices have moved a number of times since. Secondly, I’ve been told the tours were actually discontinued a year or two afterward because of no-good punks stealing stuff and ruining it for everybody.  Thirdly, this was a year before cable modems really hit America en masse, so what I saw here was publishing on the cusp of the digital revolution. As you can see in one of the photos below, pages were still being colored by hand first to provide guides for the computer colorists to work from later.  

Maybe an even greater sign of the times was Spidey telling us that the production time behind a single issue was about ten months in total. I've brought that up to creators a number of times over the years and it always gets a chuckle, because that period's gotten significantly shorter with the greater expediency of FTPs and upload sites.


Actually, G-Man pointed out that today’s faster tech is probably another reason these tours aren’t done anymore. Again, keep in mind that this was 1998 and the average consumer wasn’t nearly as wired then. I saw a lot of material in the Bullpen that was way ahead of street date. If I wanted to put any of these pictures online then and share the spoilers with fandom, I’d have to get the photos developed first, find a scanner somewhere and then, after scanning each photo, find some way to get them online (which was a lot harder back then.)  Today? It's a simple matter of snapping a pic on the camera phone and instantaneously tweeting it. 

 All the covers for the next month of books.
It's been a long time since I've looked at these photos and seeing them again makes me all feel good inside. This was really one of the best times of my childhood, and the fond memory's still vivid, even more than a decade later. It'd be about eight years before I'd get to go to my first comics convention, so what you're seeing in these pictures is the first time I got to see the real world behind my four color fantasies. 

 Tom Pinchuk’s the writer of  HYBRID BASTARDS!  &  UNIMAGINABLE . Order them on Amazon   here  &   here .  Follow him on Twitter:  @tompinchuk

56 Comments
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Posted by PowerHerc

Looks like fun.
Posted by spider-man 2996

That must have been so cool
Posted by Catastrophic

I wish I can go to Marvel's office and have a tour there too. :( Then again, what are the chances a Malaysian is able to get that chance. (Wait, Tang Eng Huat is a Malaysian, hahahaah) :D

Posted by Mercy_

So you've always been freakishly tall? :P 
 
@spider-man 2996 said:

" That must have been so cool "
Agreed.
Moderator
Posted by Omega Ray Jay
Posted by G-Man

Those other kids look so freaky.

Staff
Posted by Mercy_
@G-Man said:
" Those other kids look so freaky. "
The ones with no faces? :P
Moderator
Posted by Michiel76

God you were 11 in 1998? Damn it i was 22 in 1998!! Now i feel old, thank you very much Tom (punk)
 
Btw, Spidey actually looks buff. No gut what so ever.

Posted by Bruce Vain

Honestly, for me those were the best years for comic books. I don't know why really , but I just felt like it was. 
 
It's a shame I never did the tour. Since, we were the same age and I lived in NY. Just didn't think about it I guess. But now I WISH I did.
Posted by G-Man
@The Dark Huntress: It reminds me of Jacob's Ladder. 
  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXXbIOc9h4g (no embed available)
Creepy scene. What I'm talking about is at 3:14. 
 
@Michiel76: I wonder if that Spidey was just an intern or someone that is still around today.
Staff
Posted by Mercy_
@G-Man I'm on the mobile site and the movies not loading in YouTube. V_V
Moderator
Edited by Michiel76
@G-Man said:

" @Michiel76: I wonder if that Spidey was just an intern or someone that is still around today. "

 
He sure is, didn't you know he just made Editor-in-Chief?
His name is Axel Alonso!!
Sure he got bald and grew a beard, but he's still that friendly neighborhood Spider-Man!!
 
 
He just got me thinking, maybe i should ask for a tour around the Comic-vine offices!!
I'm in San Fransisco on the 3th of februari!!
Maybe somebody could show me around, maybe Sara hehehe
Or do you have your local Superhero that does tours?
Please dont let Ryan or Jeff (from giantbomb) wear spandex though!!
Posted by InnerVenom123

I had a tour there last spring break. I'm applying for an internship if (well, when, really) I move to NYC. :P

Posted by Fantasgasmic

My 11 year old self is SO jealous of your 11 year old self.

Posted by FireFlare153

What I wouldn't have done to go there...

Posted by Jake Fury

The kids' faces are blurred? I thought Vic Sage had knocked up a bunch of interns at Marvel.
Posted by Doctor!!!!!

I WANT TO MEET SPIDER-MAN!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH 

Posted by .Mistress Redhead.

SPIDERMAN WORKS AT THE MARVEL OFFICES???? 
 
My world is blown!

Posted by CameraGuyKurt

That is fantastic.

Posted by Theodore

wow I was 11 in 1998 too!

Posted by ForbushBug

1998? Too bad you couldn't tell Spidey that some guy named Joe in the Marvel Knights sections would take his supermodel wife away from him in the future.

Posted by Mr.Hulk_Smashin'!
@The Dark Huntress said:
" @G-Man said:
" Those other kids look so freaky. "
The ones with no faces? :P "
They're the offspring of Ralph, from Scary Movie 3
Posted by deadpool2099

Wish i could go back to 98.

Posted by RYU/BATMAN

Tom your only 24 years old today? I thought you were older than that. Thanks for showing your awesome tour of Marvel's offices.

Posted by Lovingdamnation
Posted by No_name_here
@Michiel76 said:
" @G-Man said:

" @Michiel76: I wonder if that Spidey was just an intern or someone that is still around today. "

We were pretty sure he was an actor and this was his day job. He'd shot "Fun!" any time things ever got slow or quiet.
He just got me thinking, maybe i should ask for a tour around the Comic-vine offices!! I'm in San Fransisco on the 3th of februari!! Maybe somebody could show me around, maybe Sara hehehe Or do you have your local Superhero that does tours?   
Ethan should totally give tours in his full Red L.A.M.P. attire.
Posted by darksoul7th

Those were the days!

Posted by Aetheldod
@Tom Pinchuk  And here I thought I was younger than you :( I feel old
Posted by mimschkin

OH MY GOD, a real life slide projector! I have never seen one of those. Then again I went to a "priviledged" school, and they had PowerPoint there since the mid-90s. For some reason I got the impression Pinchuk was a lot older =/
And Spidey's looking a bit out of shape but Wee Pinchuk is super cute.
I wish I had cool memories.

Posted by InnerVenom123
@kurtbrownridge said:
" That is fantastic. "
Pun intended, lol.
Posted by shiro11

I also did the tour back in the 90's for a friend's birthday party, all these photos bring back memories of stuff long forgotten.

Posted by Dr. Detfink

Always a pleasure to read a piece by "The Natural" Tom Pinchuk who styles and profiles like no other. 
 
My visit to the Marvel office 20 years ago was less inviting. I was a 16 year old bike messenger in NYC. I had to deliver some packages to the Marvel offices. I fought for the HONOR of visiting the offices as I envisioned GOLDEN gates of the Marvel offices and a Willy Wonka Santa factory of artists working around the clock...
 
Naw, man...instead I got to the an average looking office dropped off the packages and out comes an obese man looking like a white Fat Albert...it was CHRIS CLAREMONT stuffing his face going, "Thanks kid...lay it there..." 
 
and that was it. 
 
20 years later, I know already that Marvel offices are sealed off from the public but luckily I do know a couple of the editors at DC who allowed my 7 year old daughter to be awed by the toys on their desks. 
 
Oh how the times have changed. :)

Posted by Baron_Emo

Hehe. That's pretty boss. 

Posted by xerox_kitty

I remember the world of internet fandom back in 1998.  Crippling slow dial-ups meant that there was a lot of text telnet games and e-mailing lists that brought the world a little closer together.  Things are a lot better now. 
 
Still, back then I had no idea you could tour a publisher's offices!  And such a simple way to get there too... write a letter! :D  Simple genius :)

Moderator
Posted by Lovenuggets

LOLOLOL!

Posted by ArtisticNeedham

Wow, thats awesome.  Wish they had a tour from today too.  1996 and Generation X seem like just yesterday.  I love seeing the production schedules, I will make my own based on those.
Here is a tour of DC Comics from Facebook:
 http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=253471&id=11648563484

Posted by Om1kron

Reading this article I have come to the conclusion comic viners are more fascinated with  
 
I was 11 in 1998 > I went to marvel comics 
 
LOL!!! 

Posted by robokungfu

I was a wee lad back then, too.  I would have KILLED to have gone on this tour even though I was all about the Image titles back then.  Thank you for sharing these pics!

Posted by Quintus_Knightfall

 G-Man?
Moderator
Posted by .o0Johnny0o.
@G-Man said:
" Those other kids look so freaky. "
Am I the only person who's thinking of The Manic Street Preachers' video with the people with no faces?
 
It's cool of you to share all this.  Although as a kid, I instantly had zero trust for anyone who dressed up.. it was just too weird for me. 
Posted by JDevil
@Michiel76: He may have grown a beard, but he was just as bald then. :)
Posted by Jordanstine

Speaking of contests... a good one would be...  
 
NAME all the comics in this photo! 
 
 
 
     
 
I see... 
 
X-Factor # 107... nah who am I kidding.

Posted by LiquidSwords

Thanks for sharing!

Posted by novakidx

thanks,now I know why I coulden't get my tour while I was visiting NYC
oh well..midtown comics was awesome enough

Posted by EGoD

That is so cool, being in Marvel, dude!!!!  Thanks for reminding some of us how old we are when we think back to 98 an realize we were working at a full time job.  :P

Posted by sora_thekey


Moderator
Edited by jakob187

Tom, I am so ridiculously jelly right now! 
 
Also, HOLY CRAP, YOU'RE YOUNGER THAN ME?!  I feel so old now...

Posted by Mr. Dead Pool

You lucky basterd!!!

Posted by DH69

OH MY GOD!!!! SOMEONE HAS STOLLEN THOSE CHILDRENS FACES!!!

Posted by Grendel
@.Mistress Redhead. said:
" SPIDERMAN WORKS AT THE MARVEL OFFICES????  My world is blown! "
Explains why he's in so many comics. I bet Wolverine and Deadpool have their own offices as well.
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