In Conversation with Adam Bray

Next week, DK Canada unleashes Marvel Studios: Visual Dictionary, filled with a plethora of pictures, a cornucopia of content and tons of trivia, their latest offering takes us deep into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 

Written by Adam Bray, who has turned in a number of standout reference books for DK Books the Visual Dictionary is fun, informative, and filled with valuable information for both the casual and the die hard fan.

In celebration of the book’s release we got the chance to interview Adam about his involvement with DK, Marvel and Star Wars.

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TMR: Through your books, you’be had a chance to explore both the MCU and the Star Wars Universe – is there one you prefer? Were you a fan from childhood? And how have they influenced you?

 AB: I’m a lifelong Star Wars fan with artistic interest in writing, drawing and music, so Star Wars has undoubtedly had a strong influence on my aesthetics and how I go about creating my own fictional universes. Marvel played a smaller role when I was younger, though I did like the Incredible Hulk TV series and Spider-Man cartoons. Marvel is more of a recent interest as an adult. I go back and forth between Star Wars and Marvel. It’s great because when I spend a lot of time with one, I can sort of “palate cleanse” with the other and come back later with a fresh take. I love them booth, but I’ve been working on more Marvel than Star Wars the last two years. I expect the pendulum will go back and forth though. Marvel is definitely good at putting out a very large volume of movies and content while still keeping it all fresh, distinct, and managing one blockbuster after another!

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 TMR: Is there anything you came across putting together the Marvel Studios Visual Dictionary that you weren’t aware of before? And what was the coolest thing you did discover?

 AB: Loads! I like to use every new book as a learning experience. For this book it wasn’t so much about learning about plotlines (though I did bring in official backstories from outside the movies, where it was permissible), but rather background details and minute things about props and costumes. I enjoyed learning about all the parts of medieval armor and weapons, WWII uniforms, film locations in Doctor Strange, the parts of rifles and tanks, the Norse names and mythology behind everything in Asgard—like what you call the palace, throne, observatory and a bunch of the animals in Odin’s domain. I would go off on tangents searching and reading about things for hours. I tried to make my notes on costumes very cosplayer friendly too. Where it made sense, I would incorporate details about the actual costume, like the material, or how many separate pieces it was composed of, or the names of various components. Of course it also had to work in-universe, so there is a mix of fantasy and reality in there.

 TMR: If you could have just one item from the MCU – what would it be?

 AB: A Baby Groot for sure!

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 TMR: How does researching for a book like this come together and what is involved?

 AB: The research is a lot of fun and also very challenging. I’m a freelancer, so I’m working from outside Marvel. Though the same is essentially true when I write about Star Wars, Lucasfilm has a “Story Group” and great grass-roots PR machine, so there’s well-trodden avenues to get inside information on certain levels. When I do Marvel research I’m working with the “Art of the Movie” books, official tie-in comics (often called “Preludes”), official movie guides (Marvel puts these out in comic book form), and anything I can find online. I’ll reference online materials pertaining to costumes and props exhibits, interviews with directors, costume designers and set decorators, etc. Anytime something from the real world is brought into a movie I’ll try my best to track that down—whether it is a filming location, some modern fashion, or product placement. But it’s all up to me to figure that out. I really enjoyed expanding information too, so I researched a lot about WWII uniforms and hardware, Norse mythology, African artifacts, ant biology… so there’s a lot of real-world stuff that I’ve included to round things out.

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 TMR: Your books definitely have a sense of humor running through them – did you have to convince anyone to let you keep the humor in, and is there anything that got left out you wish you’d been able to keep?

 AB: Thank you! I think humor is important in both Star Wars and Marvel—especially so in films like Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man and Ragnarok, of course. Marvel Studios 101 was designed from the outset to have a light and humorous tone. I try to work a little bit of humor and irreverence in books wherever it makes sense and I don’t think I’ve ever had any real push-back. One mustn’t take things too seriously, since this is all entertainment of course—so it needs to be fun—and Marvel comics are at times quite funny themselves. Humor opens up a whole new avenue of creativity too. In my own travels around the world I find real life can be quite bizarre and even grim at times. I think finding the wisdom and beauty in such situations requires a view from another angle—a sense of humor.

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 TMR: Is Thanos right?

 AB: Great question! People (and by “people,” I guess we can later extrapolate to alien races of the MCU) do have a tendency to fight over resources, go to war with each other, pollute their environment and do other pleasantries in this fallen world. But when it comes to actual overpopulation problems, in my own experience living in third world countries, I found the cause is often exaggerated or misattributed. I’ve spent a long time in Southeast Asia, which is often designated as “overpopulated.” I found however that food, land and various resources were actually abundant. They were just poorly (or at times disastrously) mismanaged. I think much of these problems can be handled well when better ideas and technology are put into practice.

DK Canada’s Marvel Studios: Visual Dictionary hits shelves next week!! Make sure you don’t miss out on this fascinating look at the MCU!

Adam Bray can be found on Twitter ( @AuthorAdamBray ) and Facebook ( @AuthorAdamBray ), or on his website – www.AdamBray.com

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