David Gabriel, Fantastic Four Fan

By | Friday, April 30, 2021 Leave a Comment
Yesterday, Marvel and Penguin Random House hosted a brief session online to address comic shop retailer questions and concerns about PRH becoming Marvel's distributer. I don't think there was anything wildly earth-shattering or surprising, mostly just a few clarifications and the underling basic idea that PRH is going to be as good a partner as they can be. I haven't looked but I expect the regular comic news outlets have covered the substance of the meeting sufficiently well.

But there's an interesting (and wholly inconsequential) detail I happened to catch that I suspect most everybody else will miss. Here's a shot of Marvel's publishing Vice President, David Gabriel...
David Gabriel
Pretty typical Zoom-style shot these days, right? Clearly a home office/living area with the appropriate accoutrements: bookshelf, couch, TV, reflections of the window in his glasses... A lot of people look at these types of shots these days and make something of a game of figuring out the specific titles on the bookcases. I can't make any out, but I expect many of them are Marvel titles.

However, there are two items I can make out pretty clearly that I'd like to draw your attention to. In the upper right of the screen , there are two framed posters on the wall. The lighting make them a bit hard to decipher if you're not already familiar with the images but, as it happens, I know both posters quite well. One of them I had on my own bedroom wall for years when I was growing up and another was one that I spent many years in my childhood on the hunt for. Here are two clearer images of them...
John Byrne Fantastic Four poster Coca-Cola Fantastic Four poster
Both are posters of the Fantastic Four, drawn by John Byrne. The first image was made during the middle of Byrne's run on the title and highlights effectively every character that debuted in the first 100 or so issues. The second image is part of a short promotional series put out by Coca-Cola a few years earlier. Byrne had also drawn written/drawn two full issues as part of the same promotion, but Coca-Cola rejected them as being too violent and they ended up getting published as Fantastic Four #220-221. Byrne would take full control of the title about a year later.

It's hardly surprising that Marvel's VP of publishing would be a fan of some of the characters. Or would at least want to present the appearance of being a fan if you're feeling cynical. But those aren't just any two Marvel posters. He either got them new 35-40 years ago and has held on to them since, or he more recently spent some time and money tracking down still-decent copies. I haven't seen that Coca-Cola one sell for less than $50 in decades, and that's for a poor condition copy. Decent copies easily get into the hundreds of dollars range. Which I'm sure Garbiel could easily afford, but if you just want to have a cool FF poster in your room, that's not going to be the approach you're going to take.

No, I'm pretty sure this identifies Gabriel as not only a fan of the Fantastic Four, but one who grew up on Byrne's version back in the '80s. Not that anyone was necessaily looking for it, but those posters are some pretty solid geek cred if you asked me.
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