manga crazed

I raise my glass to my friend.

16 years ago I went to a convention with a portfolio and a spot at a friends table. I was barely in my twenties and didn’t know how to make comic books, but was sitting at that table, showing my work and feeling like I was a part of something. I was on the “other” side of the table. It felt good. And then someone left a business card at my table while I was away. Someone from Image Comics.

That someone was CB Cebulski.

He was publishing books at Image under his imprint Fanboy Entertainment. He liked my work, left his card and the weekend was over. I gave him enough time to fly back to NY and then I was calling him. This was the days before texts and before people gave you all your good and bad news via email. We called people. I called him.

We talked comics. He wanted to see if I had any ideas to pitch to Image. Over the next year and change, we became friends. Hoping on the phone, tossing ideas around. He was starting to write a few projects at Marvel. He would be out with some the editors, call me from bar at 2am like “hey, they’re looking for a Gambit pitch, let’s pitch Gambit!” or “I got this idea for Boom Boom and Juggernaut, I think Mike would dig it.” I would wake up the next morning and draw up some Boom Boom sketches, Juggernaut sketches. Whatever he threw at me. We were on that grind.

Eventually, the Manga craze took over the comic market and Marvel wanted to get in on some of that. CB wrote and helped put together a Manga-esque line of comics. One day while CB was at Marvel, Mike Marts asked him if he knew any artists that could turn an issue around quickly. They needed a fill-in on an ICEMAN mini series. CB gave my name. I got that job. Iceman #3. That was 2001.

Within months, CB became an editor at Marvel and went from the one shot to a Spider-man mini series, to Human torch, to Venom and on and one.

CB wasn’t an editor for long. He’ll be the first to tell you, he was bad at it. His talent was in finding talent. But I’ve always said his true skill was seeing talent before talent was even there. Looking back, I was NOWHERE near ready to draw comics when CB left his card. But he saw something could/would possibly grow into something one day. Over the years, I’ve seen him find the same quality in others. Theres a handful of artist that CB has shown me years ago that I was like “yeah, they’re ok.” only to have them be some of my favorite artists now. He’s got the eye for that.

CB gave me my shot in this business. He had my back through the years when cartoony was a four letter word. Through the years when i was asked to draw more realistic if I wanted get more jobs. He’s given me countless words of advice and guidance in an industry that I knew NOTHING about when i first entered it.

But most of all, for 16 years, he has been my friend. Through all the ups and downs of this business. Through my little brothers heart transplant. Through my fathers death. Through my two sons being born. And through things on his side that are his to share. We’ve shared many drinks, dinners, stories, victories and loses and I hope to share many more.

We have been by each others side since we stepped in the doors at Marvel some 15 years ago. And now, that era comes to an end. CB will be leaving New York to help shape Marvel over in China. I’m sad to see him leave the states but am so happy for he and his wife and the awesome adventure that lies ahead. And I’m SUPER excited to have a hook up in China! We’ll be visiting… A LOT!

I’m happy for you, my friend and I’m going to miss the hell out of you. I owe you more than i’ll ever be able to repay. Safe travels, and get the reservations ready. We’ll be there soon.