Welcome back to CUP O’ JOE, the internet home of Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, exclusively on CBR. This is where Joe answers your questions in our weekly CUP O’ Q&A segment and publishes a number of sketches and artwork in our ongoing CUP O’ DOODES feature (check back later today for a new edition).
In addition to these regular features, CBR staffers routinely speak with Quesada about the latest Marvel Comics news and announcements, and today’s update is just one of those occasions.
In today's all-new CUP O’ JOE, Quesada discusses some internal promotions at Marvel as well as his own new duties in the company’s animation division. Joe also updates you on the much anticipated “Black Panther” animated series for BET, and discusses the new Spidey monthly, “Web of Spider-Man.”
CUP O' JOE is Executive Produced by Jonah Weiland and Produced by Kiel Phegley.
Kiel Phegley: Joe, this week I got a chance to chat with Marvel editor John Barber about the upcoming "Strange Tales MAX" series, and I learned the news that John's decided to explore some opportunities outside of Marvel. We understand there are a few other changes in Editorial these days. Care to tell us what's been going on?
Joe Quesada: I can’t tell you how bummed out we all were that John decided that he wanted to go back to being a creator. What’s wrong with him? What’s so great about being a creator anyway?
In all seriousness, we’re really happy for John. He’s a tremendous guy and one of the funniest and most talented people I’ve had the opportunity to work with, we wish him nothing but great success.
In other happy news, Associate Editor Jeanine Schaefer was promoted to Editor, and Assistant Editors Daniel Ketchum and Lauren Sankovitch were both promoted to Associates. Along with that, Alexander Starbuck has been hired as an Assistant Editor in the Trades and Special Projects Group.
Our Publisher Dan Buckley got some additional hardware on his title, he’s now Chief Executive Officer and Publisher -- Print, Animation & Digital Media.
Kiel Phegley: And?
Joe Quesada: And… I’m now Chief Creative Officer of Animation on top of my Editor in Chief, Chief Creative Officer of Publishing duties.
Kiel Phegley: Obviously, this goes along with the increased hand you'll have in Marvel’s animation ventures that you mentioned a few weeks back here in CUP O’ JOE, but what can you tell us about the specifics of your new duties?
Joe Quesada: What it boils down to is that both Dan and I will be more involved with Marvel’s animation slate. There’s a lot of catch up to do, and I’m sure our roles will become better defined with time. I suspect it will be very much the same as Dan and I work in Publishing. He handles all the business and strategy stuff and I do creative. Of course there’s some overlap as I love getting my hands dirty in marketing and other aspects of our business that involve creativity, but from my end, I’ll be involved in every aspect of the creative of our future animation slate. Up until this point, I’ve only really been involved in “Super Hero Squad” and ‘Avengers,” so I’m looking forward to working on other upcoming projects. Several projects have been started long before this announcement and my responsibilities changed. So like I said, there’s going to be a lot of catch up on my horizon.
At the end of the day, I suspect that my involvement will be on creating new concepts, reviewing proposals, scripts, art and so on. It’s a lot of work but we have a tremendous team at Marvel West that makes my working in both publishing and animation a lot easier.
Kiel Phegley: This news comes with perfect timing for the folks on the CBR message boards, as we've gotten a few animation questions coming across the bow of late, starting with beta-ray, who asks, "You mentioned in one of your columns that you are more involved with the movies and animation now. Are you also involved with the anime being produced by Madhouse? If so, can you tease us anything about those?"
Joe Quesada: beta-ray, that’s a great question, and currently I haven’t been involved with the Madhouse project at all. To be honest, I only just saw some stuff last week. I do however look forward to seeing what it’s all about, but there’s always a possibility that it may be a bit too far down the road for any of my input.
Kiel Phegley: On top of that, Spidey616 chimes in with a series on a lot of fans’ minds since the initial previews hit the Web earlier this year: "Since you've been involved in various Marvel animation projects, by chance have you heard any new developments about BET's Black Panther animated series? There were some casting announcements a few months ago, but nothing since then not even a release date. Can we still expect it by the end of 2009?"
Joe Quesada: Hey, Spidey616. Again, I’m sort of coming into this in the middle and just got a DVD of the first episode which I plan on watching on my flight to SDCC. That said, I asked [Executive Producer] Reggie Hudlin what the status of the BET Black Panther animates series. He wrote back: “There's a lot I can't say, but we are deep in production, and there's some great new additional casting that I can't talk about right now. The series is now covering in more material than was in the original six issues, which has caused some production delays. So it won't be airing this year. That said, the cast sports some all-star talent, including: Djimon Honsou as T'Challa, the Black Panther; Kerry Washington as Shuri, sister of T'Challa; Alfre Woodard as the Queen Mother and Dondi Reese; Carl Lumbly as Uncle S'Yan; and of course, Stan Lee!”
Hope that helps.
Kiel Phegley: Meanwhile, back in the comic book business, there’s a new "Web of Spider-Man" ongoing series. When Marvel began producing "Amazing Spider-Man" three times a month, the other regular titles were discontinued so as to avoid maxing out the dollars of Spidey fans. Why is now the time to launch a new Spider-Man monthly, and how does this work in terms of keeping "Amazing Spider-Man" a stand-alone experience for readers?
Joe Quesada: I don't quite agree with the premise of the question. The three Spidey books were folded into one title as an experiment since the writers were all going to be working closely together to tell Pete's story. “Amazing” has the history and for all intents is the "real" Spidey book. Dollar-wise, it costs the same as the readers who were already buying all three books. We hesitated from making it weekly from the get-go because we weren't even sure if we’d be able to handle it from a production end. But that’s where [editor] Steve Wacker has been so successful for us doing an amazing job with Spidey.
But now that we're settled in, we want to see if it’s possible to make Steve crack and we're trying out the fourth [week] book as a way to tell some stories that relate to some of the big stuff going on in Spidey (and as a print home for Tom [DeFalco] and Ron [Frenz’s] Spider-Girl). We're all making sure that if you just read “Amazing,” you'll still get everything you need to know what's happening.
Kiel Phegley: The press release for the series noted that J. M. DeMatteis' story in the first issue will feature the villain Kaine. Is this something that plays off upcoming events in the "Amazing" title, or is the character's inclusion just part of the general Clone Saga zeitgeist that seems to have crept up at Marvel over the past few months?
Joe Quesada: All the Clone stuff has been more coincidence than design. The Spider-Writers, AKA The Web Heads, have some plans for Kaine and since DeMatteis had done some great work on the character over the years, he was the natural choice to sort of retell the origin and put him back onstage.
Kiel Phegley: Finally, the other feature of the book focuses on the villains, with stories by Fred Van Lente. Will there be an ongoing arc to the title, or will it retain a "one and done" feel month in and month out?
Joe Quesada: Not really an ongoing arc, though you will get a flavor for what's happening in “Amazing” each month. Spider-Girl is an ongoing serial, though, so there will be some stories that continue from month to month.
Kiel Phegley: Marvel announced that with the launch of "Ultimate Comics Spider-Man" and "Ultimate Comics Avengers” will come something reminiscent of the 1990s, "foilogram" covers, combining two of the speculator boom’s most notorious gimmicks. What can you tell us about this development?
Joe Quesada: I’ll be completely honest with you, Kiel. I learned about it at the same time fans did, so it kind of hit me as a surprise as I’m not a part of the meetings that decide these kinds of things, which shouldn’t be all that much of a surprise. But like I said, I guess it’s because I’m always out here in a public forum, people assume that I work in every department at Marvel. At the end of the day, my role is a creative one, we have much smarter people in our sales and marketing department who are experts at what they do and the make the decisions on how to best sell our comics.
All that said, the truth of the matter is that outside of the fact that the cover is shiny, this is absolutely nothing like what was done by publishers in the ‘90s. In the ‘90s, those special covers were created solely to increase the cover price on the comics that sported them. The important thing to note about this “Ultimate Comics Spider-Man” cover is that there is zero -- let me repeat that: zero price increase for the comic. So, in effect it’s no different than any of the black and white variants that we do. In fact it’s a better value because it’s costing us more to produce and you get something shiny in return.
At the end of the day, this is a radically different approach with completely different intent than what was done in the ‘90s.
Kiel Phegley: Obviously, everything pertaining to "foil" and "hologram" covers raises some bad memories for certain folks in the industry and in fandom. And probably some good memories for others, to be fair, but what do you say to the people getting worried about these kinds of trends?
Joe Quesada: I’ll be honest, I’m one of the former, I hated that whole era. But it was the gold rush and a lot of people got rich. I’ll admit, much like some fans, I had a Pavlovian reaction to hearing the word “foil,” but when I saw how it was being handled and what it was being used for, I personally knew that this was something completely different and perfectly fine.
Kiel Phegley: Is this a one-off promotion? If these covers prove successful, could Marvel be trying more special covers in the future?
Joe Quesada: This is actually something that our marketing guys would decide. I haven’t heard of any future plans, but if it’s handled as we are handling it then I honestly don’t see a problem with it any more than I see a problem with any variant.
Have some questions for Joe Quesada? Please visit the CUP O' Q&A thread in CBR's Marvel Universe forum. It is from this dedicated thread that CBR's staff will pull questions for our weekly fan-generated question-and-answer session with Joe, which will be this Friday.
Discussion about today's feature may take place at the link immediately below.