In the recent Dear Watchers comic book podcast, hosted by Guido Sanchez and Rob Ribar and dedicated to exploring the multiverse in comics and other media, Catherine Schuller Gruenwald, the widow and legacy advocate of comics writer and editor Mark Gruenwald, talked about how her new project literally puts Mark into his work – for the second time.
"He didn't have a career, he didn't have a job, he had a calling," says Schuller Gruenwald of her late husband's obsession with the art of comics andrecalls Mark insisting "I don't write because I want to, I'm compelled". Mark's writing work included co-creating Marvel's first limited series Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions, a twelve-issue miniseries of The Squadron Supreme that anticipated post-modeern superheroism, and a ten-year run on Captain America co-creating characters Crossbones, Diamondback and John Walker, U.S. Agent. Gruenwald also served as editor on The Avengers, The Incredible Hulk, The Mighty Thor and What If, eventually promoted to Marvel Comics Executive Editor and Editor In Chief. Gruenwald also co-created The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe in 1982 an was the visual reference for the Time Variance Agency agents in the Marvel comics, and also for Mobius, played by Owen Wilson in Loki.
Mark Gruenwald died of a heart attack at the age of 43, but following his death, a portion of Gruenwald's ashes were mixed into the original trade paperback printing of his Squadron Supreme series. Now, Schuller Gruenwald is continuing the tradition with a new edition of Contest of Champions featuring a cover "ashograph", a resin replica of her late husband's signature containing his ashes, calling it "creepy, cool, collectable and controversial". Limited to only 100 copies, this rare item will be available at select comic book shops and cons, with more details to be announced soon, including plans for a 2023 event in New York City.
A sixty-minute abbreviated version of the Dear Watchers interview with Catherine Schuller Gruenwald, along with a capsule biography of Mark Gruenwald, is available now on all podcast platforms or at Dearwatchers.com. The full, unedited version of the interview, coupled with an exploration of Mark Gruenwald's most significant work in comics, adds over 45 minutes of extra content and is available for Dear Watchers subscribers on the creator platform Ko-Fi, starting at $3. Fans can subscribe at dearwatchers.com to get access to the full episode plus other bonus content,