Lying In The Gutters

Fri, October 10th, 2003 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Rich Johnston, Columnist

LYING IN THE GUTTERS UPDATE

"President Allen Lipson - previously he'd only been credited as CEO and General Counsel, President being reserved for Bill Jemas. This has been taken by some as confirmation that Jemas' public role as the face of Marvel has been curtailed. I hear that Avi Arad has proved successful in creating more President roles at Marvel (a total of three), and a sharing of responsibilities from Jemas to others." - LITG 4/8/03

"With Bill Jemas' position now being redefined, Isaac Perlmutter selling one hundred million dollars worth of Marvel shares, could it be Avi Arad's time to regain dominance at Marvel?" - LITG 6/9/03

"Marvel's reduction of Bill Jemas' prominence in the company, by hiring more Presidents and sharing responsibilities was carried out just in time for powerful Marvel exec Isaac Perlmutter to return to Florida" - LITG 22/9/03

"I have been informed that headhunters have been looking for a new President at Marvel. Haven't they got enough of those by now you ask? Well yes, that's the thing. It appears it's for the publishing division, which would either mean further competition for Bill Jemas or replacement come January." - LITG 29/9/03

"This week, however, I've continued to hear about the marginalisation of Bill Jemas within Marvel…. And now I hear that Jemas has moved out of his Marvel office…If these stories are true, it might also back up the word that Epic is to be dismantled." - LITG 6/10/03

KILL BILL

[Yellow Light]

For the last few weeks, Lying In the Gutters has been reporting on the reduction and dilution of Bill Jemas' power base at Marvel. From the introduction of competing President positions, the reduction of his editorial influence to solely the Ultimate titles, to his nemesis Avi Arad gaining favour in the company, headhunters looking for replacements for his position as President Of Publishing, to last week's removal of his private office and the dissolution of the Epic line.

Since the last column, a few other things have become clearer as the rumourmongers have gone into overdrive. I hear Bill Jemas's assistant Jenny Lee is now working for editorial, possibly with Axel Alonso as they shared a working relationship at Vertigo. I'm told a replacement for Bill Jemas has been found - although I don't have his name. I understand he's an ex-employee of Marvel, previously of their business wing, who worked for Marvel from ten to five years ago, and left when Jemas arrived. Which means he's "untainted". I expect we'll all hear more soon.

As of now, its uncertain as to whether Bill Jemas is working for Marvel. He's been homeworking more of late, since he returned from China, and his current contract extends to January, but it appears the situation has come to the boil and he may have departed prematurely.

Bill Jemas came to prominence in Marvel during the bankruptcy reorganisations, originally from Marvel-owned Fleer, he launched the Ultimate line and eventually was key in replacing editor-in-chief Bob Harras with Joe Quesada. They formed a buddy team for the public, taking the roles of good cop and bad cop, often playing for the peanut gallery and courting controversy and sales as they attempted to mould Marvel in their image. Implementing no-overships, newsstand compilation magazines, the MAX line, entrenching Marvel Knights, removing the Comics Code, widening Marvel's pool of talent to extremes, embracing trade paperback programmes and much more. They changed the face of the company and helped it move from loss into profit, while simultaneously grabbing positive reviews both inside and outside of comics.

Years later, that partnership would suffer as controversy was suddenly frowned on by other Marvel execs and Joe Quesada began to disassociate himself from Jemas in the eyes of Marvel employees and freelancers, even as Bill Jemas was spearheading the Epic line which promised career jumping on point for wannabe comic creators.

Jemas' interference in plots and scripts at Marvel caused much fury internally. He was seen as arrogant, unfeeling and inconsistent and few felt his hands-on changes benefited the books.

Avi Arad was furious over certain comics spearheaded by Jemas that caused him difficulty selling the properties to Hollywood, and causing ructions with stars. As the films became more and more important, executive Isaac Perlmutter switched his loyalties to Arad and the writing was on the wall. Bill Jemas' courting of the press stopped, and his influence within the company was curtailed.

It is expected that the Epic line will publish all announced titles, with a big splurge in February, but after that projects that have been greenlit, but not announced, may well be cancelled. I hear that already Epic editors Stephanie Moore and Cory Sedlmeier are working on non-Epic projects. The Ultimate line, making up some of Marvel's best selling titles, will continue along a similar model.

Bill Jemas' future is unknown. However, after recently cashing in millions in stock, he's not expected to be in need of a job or two right now. Jemas often became the Aunt Sally for Marvel. He leaves the company in a far better financial and creative state than it was when he took over. Some will curse his name, some will praise it. But he avoided committed the ultimate sin in comics - he was never boring.

Lying In the Gutters wishes Bill Jemas success and happiness in his next project.

AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT...

[Green Light]After success with "30 Days Of Night" and "Dark Days", artist Ben Templesmith is going solo with "Singularity 7" from IDW.

Here's a pretty picture:

[Singularity 7]

Click here for this week's regular column.

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