In this Special Edition of No-Prize Podcast, Bud Young, joined by TDC and The Capes member Johnny “The Machine” Hughes, talk to Catherine Schuller Gruenwald, the widow of the amazingly talented and lost far too soon creator, Mark Gruenwald.
Catherine Schuller is hosting a 20th year tribute in NYC on Space Ibiza New York – 637 West 50th Street, New York, NY 10019 To get tickets go HERE
Mark E. Gruenwald
June 18, 1953 – August 12, 1996
Gruenwald got his start in comics fandom, publishing his own fanzine, Omniverse, which explored the concept of continuity. Before being hired by Marvel, he wrote text articles for DC Comics official fanzine, Amazing World of DC Comics. Articles by Gruenwald include “The Martian Chronicles” (a history of the Martian Manhunter) in issue #13 and several articles on the history of the Justice League in issue #14.
In 1978 he was hired by Marvel Comics, where he remained for the rest of his career. Hired initially as an assistant editor in January 1978, Gruenwald was promoted to full editorship by Marvel editor-in-chief Jim Shooter in 1982, putting Gruenwald in charge of The Avengers, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Spider Woman, and What If. During this period, he shared an office with writer/editor Denny O’Neil, whom Gruenwald considered a mentor.
During the years 1982–1984, Gruenwald did fill-in pencil work for a handful of Marvel comics, most notably the 1983 Hawkeye limited series, but also issues of What If?, Marvel Team-Up Annual, The Incredible Hulk, and Questprobe.
The artwork of Merlyn the Archer in Who’s Who: the Definitive Directory of the DC Universe Volume XV is the only artwork by Gruenwald for a comics company besides Marvel.
In 1982, Gruenwald, Steven Grant, and Bill Mantlo co-wrote Marvel Super Hero Contest of Champions, the first limited series published by Marvel Comics. As a writer, Gruenwald is best known for creating the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe and his ten-year stint as the writer of Captain America (from 1985 to 1995) – during which he contributed several notable characters such as Crossbones, Diamondback and U.S. Agent. He made a deliberate effort to create villains who would be specific to Captain America, as opposed to generic foes who could as easily have been introduced in another comic. At one point Gruenwald owned a replica of Captain America’s shield – the same shield now owned by Stephen Colbert.
His 60-issue run on Quasar (1989–1994) realized Gruenwald’s ambition to write his own kind of superhero. However, he considered his magnum opus to be the mid-1980s 12-issue miniseries Squadron Supreme, which told the story of an alternate universe where a group of well-intended superheroes decide that they would be best suited to run the planet. Gruenwald was highly loyal to each series he wrote. In addition to his lengthy stint on Captain America, he wrote the entire runs of both Quasar (save for one issue) and D.P.7, and Jim Salicrup recalled that when Gruenwald was taken off of Spider-Woman after only 12 issues, he “was crushed.”
On September 1, 1987, Gruenwald became Marvel’s executive editor, with a particular remit as the keeper of continuity. Gruenwald was famous for a perfect recollection of even the most trivial details.
In the pages of Thor, writer Walt Simonson created the Time Variance Authority, a cosmic bureaucracy that regulates the Marvel Multiverse. Simonson paid homage to Gruenwald by having the TVA’s staff all be clones of Gruenwald; no one could keep track of everything but him.
Gruenwald (or “Gru” or “Grueny” as he was often referred to) was a recurring character with Tom DeFalco in the single-panel comic The Bull’s Eye that ran in Marvel comics in the late 1980s–early 1990s, created by Rick Parker and Barry Dutter. These strips, which ran on the Bullpen Bulletins page during the majority of DeFalco’s run as editor-in-chief, featured Gruenwald depicted as a caricature and foil for DeFalco’s antics.
In 1996, Gruenwald succumbed to a heart attack, the result of an unsuspected congenital heart defect. Gruenwald was a well-known practical joker, and due to his young age, many of his friends and co-workers initially believed the reports of his death to be just another joke. Just days prior, he had done one of his trademark cartwheels down the halls of the Bullpen. A longtime lover of comics, Gruenwald made it known amongst his friends and families that his one desire was to have his ashes used in part of a comic. In accordance with his request, he was cremated, and his ashes were mixed with the ink used to print the first printing of the trade paperback compilation of Squadron Supreme.