A Current Interview With Retro Blogger, Jason Shayer...

Jason Shayer of 'Marvel Comics of the 1980s'

CBNAH- Can you tell us what made you want to do a blog about one of the most important times in Marvel Comics publishing history?
JS- In the late 1990s, I had a website hosted on Geocities which featured a breakdown of comic runs, rating them issue by issue. I kept getting emails from readers that they really found my ratings useful and then I clued in that people were actually reading what I put up! So I went beyond rating and started to explore and cover story arcs in more detail. I felt I needed to set a scope, otherwise it would get out of hand rather quickly. So I went with what I knew best which was the Marvel 1980s. I’m still amazed at how much Marvel 1980s content there still is left to cover.

CBNAH- The blog has been going on for three and a half years now. Did you ever think you’d still be doing this blog in 2012?
JS- In the early days of the blog, I felt like I wasn’t getting a lot of traction and that there was indeed going to be a hard stop at some point. But, then it really caught on and I kept receiving these great emails that encouraged me to keep doing what I’m doing. There’s nothing quite like getting an appreciative email from a reader who has spent their afternoon clicking through my blog and revisiting their youth.

CBNAH- What's one the main challenges for you of doing this blog?
JS- I’m always concerned that I might run out of material, but I always manage to find some, especially if there’s a current comics news item that has some kind of tie back to the Marvel 1980s.
A sensitive and polarizing topic for the blog has been Jim Shooter. Nothing brings out comments like a good post on Marvel’s former Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter, in fact, I’ve had to step in a few times to restore a bit of order to the comment stream.

Amazing Spider-Man



CBNAH- What certain Marvel titles or runs that made you into a Marvel fan?

JS- I grew up enjoying Amazing Spider-Man and Uncanny X-Men and always felt those titles spoke to me. Peter Parker was a great role model and always had something relevant that I could relate to as a teenager. The X-Men became like a family to me, especially the Paul Smith/John Romita Jr. team.

CBNAH- Do have any comic recommendations for new readers during this time period in Marvel's catalog?
JS- Marvel has published a series of hardcovers in their Marvel Premiere line and a majority of them cover some great 1980s material, like Captain America: War and Remembrance, Daredevil: Born Again, and Avengers: Under Siege.  Their omnibus hardcover line in recent years has been impressive as well reprinting a lot of fun 1980s titles, like Squadron Supreme, The Secret Wars, and the X-Men: Dark Phoenix Saga.

CBNAH- Comics historian Peter Sanderson compared Marvel in the 1960s to the comic equivalent of the French New Wave of cinema, in terms of methods of storytelling. How do view Marvel in the 1980s and can you find something equivalent that Marvel was doing in their books?
JS- I like to think of the 1980s as a period where comic readers grew up, following the talent around more than the characters. That decade for me was a time where I followed creators like John Byrne and Frank Miller wherever they went. The early Marvel 1980s had an explosion of talent that grew under the leadership of Jim Shooter. Walt Simonson, John Byrne, Frank Miller, Chris Claremont, Art Adams all became the rock stars of comic books during the time. There was a definite peak though around 1985 and then it was downhill from there, with Shooter losing control of his talent by perhaps squeezing them a bit too tight. The late 1980s fed into the corporate greed of the early 1990s and was a bit of a train wreck directly leading to the implosion of 1993.

CBNAH- Have you got any feedback from past or current Marvel talent about the blog?
JS- I've had folks like Ed Hannigan, J.M. DeMatteis, Mark Evanier, Joe Jusko drop by occasionally to post a comment or to clarify a blog entry.

CBNAH- What are your thoughts on the current Marvel product?
JS- I've been having a difficult time with Marvel Comics in its current state. The Marvel Now! event or soft reboot hasn't really wow’ed me, compared to DC’s total reboot with their New DC 52. The execution of the Marvel Now! is a bit awkward with titles restarting at different times (some already suffering from delays). There doesn't seem to be much of consistent theme or unifying theme throughout the books.

CBNAH- What non Marvel books have you been reading lately?
JS- I’m really enjoying Saga by Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan. It’s an amazing book unlike anything else out there and a book that’s very hard to explain to friends. Scott Snyder’s Batman is usually at the top of my reading list, as is his American Vampire.

Adastra in Africa

CBNAH- How long do you think you'll continue doing your blog?
JS- Good question. I think I’ll keep going it as along as I still enjoy it, which I still really am. The Marvel 1980s has a wealth of information and material that I’ve only scratched the surface of, so I’m looking to keep the blog running for awhile.

CBNAH- Before we go, can tell our visitors where people can contact you or if you have any other sites?
JS- Visitors with any questions about the Marvel 1980s can reach out to me at jshayer@yahoo.com. I’m also a writer of fiction and have a blog for my writing here.
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