THE MARVEL MIRACLE
Wolverine in the chiaroscuro
of a blue ocean strategy
When we learned about Marvel’s near bankruptcy years ago and about the superhero who had saved it, whose surname was Cuneo, we knew we had to investigate a little more…
Was he of Italian descent? Did his ancestors emigrated to the U.S.A. years ago?
Let’s be clear, the Peter Cuneo we are referring to is this: www.petercuneo.com And even though we couldn’t find any info to confirm or deny it … we would love to think that he has some Italian blood running through his veins.
The surname Cuneo was originated in Italy; there is a city and also a province which carry that name; we also know that this surname came to the Americas at the time of the Conquista with Michele Cuneo, a native of Savona who was a close friend of Cristoforo Colombo and accompanied him on his second trip to the new continent.
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But with or without italian blood, this story amazes us. So we wanted to share it with you.
The Hero’s journey
The powers of superheroes are made of mythical stuff that hooks the heart and soul of their followers.
It allows them to get immersed in an alternate Universe where anything is possible, identifying with the ups and downs of their vicissitudes as they follow the fictional lives of their beloved (or hated) characters.
“Seriality, multiple creators, long-term continuity, a character backlog, contemporary ties to a deep history, and a sense of permanence are elements that characterize comic book universes”Sam Ford and Henry Jenkins, “Managing Multiplicity in Superhero Comics: An Interview with Henry Jenkins,”
The Superhero Universe
Because of this, the superhero’s universe and characters, in their short span of life, have been labeled as inspirational and educative and as delinquency and violence promoters.
In 1939 Marvel Comics was born in Brooklyn (NY) to Martin Goodman. As WWII menace cast its shadow over Europe, Americans were famished for hope and strong hero like characters. So the pages of comics filled up with such characters defeating evil in a triumphant manner.
When the war ended, the comic’s universe took several hard blows and by 1954, the anti-comic uproar found its champion in psychologist Frederic Wertham. Wertham claimed that the contents of superhero comics were harmful for the child’s mind, thus having a very detrimental effect on comic sales.
As time went by, the Marvel Universe stood up again through the success of the Fantastic Four, but their sparkle was fading as creativity and uniqueness blurred into the mists of competition, harming quality.
Peter Cuneo, the Pathfinder
By 1990 Marvel had to file for bankruptcy. Their comics being shunned by fans because of poor quality and lack of consistency, forced the company to find new ways to heal their reputation and regain their loyalty.
So in 1999 Isaac Perlmutter hired Peter Cuneo as CEO of Marvel, hoping for a turnaround that would save them. Cuneo had already performed the miracle of pivoting around enterprises such as Remington and Clairol before. And this time, because no one ever stays dead in comics, during a three year period, he did it again. By expanding their reach to new markets, implementing a blue ocean strategy, Marvel was saved, once more, with its Universe and its characters, and is still thriving and leading business.
Wolverine following the ink to a Tuscan hand
In 2004 Simone Bianchi used to live in New York. Born in Lucca, Italy, in 1972, this multifaceted painter, comic book illustrator and graphic designer’s work was introduced by Mike Bair to Peter Tomasi, from DC Comics. And Bianchi crossed the threshold of the American comic world.
Because of his astounding ink work, full of chiaroscuro, and the convergence of his painter’s skills and his illustrator’s skills, in 2005 he entered the now thriving Marvel Universe by making numerous covers of X-Men Unlimited. Then, after Green Lantern and other works, Bianchi created the stunning ink wash works for Wolverine #50 to 55.
“I have restarted playing the drums and I feel that what I play ends up in what I draw, even if I can’t explain how, and I’m convinced that it will happen more and more in the future.”
Inspired by Claudio Castellini, Frank Frazetta, Alex Ross, Travis Charest, Sergio Toppi , Humberto Ramos and many others, he has developed a very personal and unique signature through his work. For the past 15 years he has had exclusivity with Marvel, and has created Wolverine’s enemy Romulus.
So, from the strong comic’s characters from WWII to the immeasurable strategies of the Blue Ocean, from the probable Italian ancestry of Peter Cuneo to the full “italianity” of Simone Bianchi, Italian Blood runs deep into the comic’s universe.
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