Behind The Scenes

ESPN The Magazine and Marvel create ‘LeBron: King of the Rings’

The custom edition was produced in four languages — English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese and Portuguese.

ESPN The Magazine’s NBA Preview on newsstands today features a special insert with some help from sister company Marvel: Two years ago, LeBron James predicted he would win not one, not two, not three. . . but seven NBA titles. What if he was right? In their second collaboration, The Mag and Marvel Comics have united once again to create LeBron: King of the Rings, an epic tale of zombies, clones, holograms, bionics and a star who will stop at nothing to fulfill his promise.

Front Row, in conjunction with, caught up with The Mag’s Deputy Editor Otto Strong and Senior Editor Ty Wenger for the backstory on how such a comic was born. For the full interview, visit Marvel’s site.:

How did the concept of the comic come about?
Ty Wenger: I actually came up with the overall story one night when I was extremely sick and my wife banished me to the guest room because I had a fever of 103. I wrote the outline all on my iPhone over three hours because I had nothing else to do.

Why did you decide to make LeBron the lead of the story?
Otto Strong: It was a story that was particular to LeBron based on the fact that he has a title in the bank, but also that he famously had that press conference back in July 2010. Even though the press conference might have been in the spirit or in the moment of guaranteeing titles, that’s what teams do, and that’s what athletes do and there’s a degree of expectation that you’re an athlete, you’re paid to win games, and so why wouldn’t you go out there and say you’re going to win games?

Fans can actually take part in this as well. Explain that, please.
Ty Wenger: . . . (We) build to the final moment where LeBron has a decision to make, where, with the clock winding down, he has to decide: does he shoot, or does he pass? Of course, (that’s) the eternal question of his career. This creates our cliffhanger that invites readers to go online to vote for their favorite ending.

For additional background on how this comic came to life check out ESPN The Magazine Editor in Chief Chad Millman’s podcast with Editor in Chief of Marvel Comics, Axel Alonso.

For more on ESPN The Magazine’s NBA Preview: visit here.

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