Comic Wire

Tue, May 29th, 2001 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Beau Yarbrough, Columnist

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QUESADA TALKS RETURNING SPIDER-MAN TO ROOTS

[Joe Quesada]
Joe Quesada
When Joe Quesada became Marvel Comics' editor-in-chief last year, there were some fears that the very accessible artist-turned-editor would become less so in his new position. Those fears have turned out to be unfounded, to say the least, as Quesada has taken on a Hypemaster General mode in his new job, in the classic Stan Lee vein. In addition to comments in the press, Quesada maintains a high online profile, including his own message board at Marvel's Web site, where this weekend he discussed why exactly it is that he is so enthusiastic about the company:

"Marvel sales are up!" Quesada posted Sunday. "Comic awareness is up whether by Marvel's press blitzes or Bill's wacky statements! I'm talking to retailers who are reporting increased traffic, old customers returning and new ones coming through the door! So basically what I'm saying is that we have so much to be thankful for and we should all be feeling great about the direction of the medium! Even if you're not a Marvel fan, increased patronage at comic shops is a great thing no matter how you slice it. I remember during my self publishing days, we would root for Marvel to keep their sales up, the minute their sales plummeted so did ours. That's why I don't get all the Marvel bashing I hear, especially about us getting so much press these days? Whether it's DC, CrossGen, Image, Dark Horse, Chaos or Marvel, anyone who can increase the traffic and make some noise for the comic industry is okay in my book! I guess the reason we're making so much noise at 'The House' these days is because we have so much to talk about and we're having so much fun doing it! It's like we were hiding for so long and then someone said it was safe to go outside and play and we were just over percolating to the point of explosion! I've had some people ask me if I felt that I had overhyped 'origin' by saying it would be the most controversial story ever, that fandom would be divided on the issue. My answer is simple, my statement was absolutely accurate! Fans are torn as to whether we should tell this story or not, they're also torn with respect to whether my statement was accurate or not, the point is that we have everyone talking about 'origin' in one form or another thus making it the 'controversial' story I said it would be. Another way to look at this is that the press latches onto 'the most controversial story ever' and carries that message to fans, retailers and what have you before the book is every announced. It's my belief that that also bleeds out into the mainstream and reaches outside of the comic shops. Now maybe it wont reel in a new reader per se but that probable reader will some where down the road hear something else we say and maybe something else further down the line and maybe he or she will get curious enough one day to waltz into your favorite shop and once they do…

"… we have them!

"Not just Marvel, but the entire comics medium! All we have to do is get them through that door and I'm starting to hear more and more stories about how it's starting to happen!"

Quesada also answered those who are objecting to Marvel's current trend of returning their Spider-Man franchise to a more neutral, less age-identifiable status quo. One message board poster said that, by way of comparison to Marvel Comics' old and new Spider-Man books ("Amazing Spider-Man"/"Peter Parker, Spider-Man" and "Ultimate Spider-Man," respectively), Bill Watterson could bring back Calvin and Hobbes with an adult Calvin and still tell good stories with the character that the fans of the comic strip would enjoy. Quesada wasn't having any of it.

"Let me ask you, at what point do you start aging him? Why not skip middle age and just do Hobbes and Calvin and make him 80 years old? I'll tell you why this didn't cross your mind, it's because you are not 80 years old and couldn't relate. This is the same trap that Spidey creators fell into. You're aging these characters to be at a comfortable place with you and that is selfish to new readers who want them as they were conceived. ... So how would you feel if I just made Spidey 80 and told only Spider-Girl stories? ... Sorry you feel that way but I have to guard this character for the legion of fans who I feel will enjoy him in the future. By the way how do you fell about the fact that Superman isn't married to an 80 year old woman and that Batman is so spry and young? Those guys are older than the entire Marvel U.

"If Peter would have been changing diapers when I first picked up Spidey as a kid, I wouldn't have ever picked it up again and probably never gotten into comics."

Beyond just quietly undoing some of the signs of Peter Parker aging, like putting his wife off-stage, Marvel has brought back his elderly Aunt May from the dead. Quesada defended this decision, saying the mistake was killing her off in the first place.

"I wasn't in the chair when the decision to bring her back was made, but in all honesty, I would have brought her back. I may not have done it in the same way, but back she would have been. Sometimes I wish that we could just do a 'Dallas' with Spidey and have peter just come out of the shower and it's all been a horrible dream."

(1980s nighttime soap opera "Dallas" memorably undid a season's worth of continuity after actor Patrick Duffy decided to come back to the show, despite his character dying at the end of the season before. His wife simply woke up one morning to find him in the shower, in possibly the most memorable season cliffhanger of all time.)

And the changes to the status quo mean that nearly all the readers will get what they want, Quesada said.

"We have considered this of course. Now imagine [Peter and Mary Jane] get divorced and you never mention it again. Then imagine if someday she comes back into his life and they start to date and we never ever mention the divorce. Years later they are still dating, we have new readers and we never ever mention divorce.

"Do you see the possibilities?"

BAGLEY PERMANENT 'ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN' ARTIST

BENDIS SHOWS OFF ART PREVIEWS ON SITE

[Brian Bendis]
Brian Bendis
If it's Monday (or it was), it must be time for another Brian Michael Bendis Bendis News Update, at his message board.

In addition to reprinting the Bendis "Alias" Comic Wire interview of a few weeks ago, Bendis dropped the following bits of news:

"ITEM! BAGLEY IS PERMANENT ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN ARTIST.

"I know -- you're saying what I said -- wasn't he always? It ends up that Bags was just signing on for a few issues at a time. He didn't want to do another big Spidey run, but he feels that USM is so different from his ['Amazing Spider-Man'] run that it is worth continuing. I am thrilled and flattered and I hope you'll join me in cheering this decision."

"ITEM! BENDIS/MALEEV RE-TEAM ON DAREDEVIL

"(Told you 'Sam & Twitch' fans I had something fun up my sleeve.)

"According to the new issue of Wizard Magazine (#117, June 2001), writer Brian Bendis will make a return to Daredevil following this summer's six-issue story arc by Bob Gale, this time as the title's permanent writer.

"According to the magazine, he'll be joined by new permanent artist Alex Maleev, who Bendis worked with on the Todd McFarlane Productions title 'Sam & Twitch.' The pair will reportedly take over with issue #26.

"Bendis and Maleev's first story arc is reportedly entitled, The Assassination of Matt Murdock, a story involving the Kingpin where Daredevil's 'lawyer alter ego is targeted for a hit,' with Bendis promising the story will leave Daredevil 'changed for quite a while.'

"MORE DETAILS TO COME!"

Bendis also directed fans to his Web site, for some previews of upcoming covers, including Bill Sienkiewicz's cover to "Ultimate Team-Up" #7 and Greg Horn's cover to "Elektra" #3.

LEA HERNADEZ RETURNS TO RETURN TO DIVALEA URL

[DivaLea.net]As reported in a previous edition of the Comic Wire, Lea Herandez' Web site URL has been snatched up by an outside group and now points to a site that, frankly, doesn't really need to be included in the Comic Wire.

That URL may be gone for good, but Hernandez' site is now accessible at almost the same URL: Both http://www.divalea.org/ and http://www.divalea.net/ now point to her site.

Hernandez requests everyone adjust their bookmarks accordingly.

(And if you're curious about what happened to her old URL, you really shouldn't check from work. Especially if you work for Christina Aguilera.)

THE COMIC BRIEF IN BREAKING TRAINING

Here's what's news and press releases in CBR's Comic Brief:

  • 'Channel Zero' and 'Astronauts in Trouble' get new editions

  • Barry Ween sells out!

  • Fathom artist signs exclusive with Top Cow

And last time in the Comic Wire:

  • Deodato Unlocks the Magic of "Witches"

  • Phil Jimenez on Abolishing Paradise Island's Matriarchy

  • Michael T. Gilbert Brings Back "Mr. Monster"

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