Waid fired, off 'Fantastic Four,' Marvel EIC Quesada responds

Mon, June 16th, 2003 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
Jonah Weiland, Executive Producer/Publisher

Earlier today Newsarama broke the story that writer Mark Waid had been fired off the Marvel Comics title "Fantastic Four." Waid was brought on the with issue #60, which was offered at a discounted price of just $.09 cents. Waid, along with series artist Mike Wieringo, were credited with reigniting interest in the title and bringing it back to a place of prominence within the comics industry. Waid's final issue will be #508 (the numbering on the title has since been restored to its original numbering before the many restarts the title has had) sometime late this year/early next year.

In confirming his firing, Waid told Newsarama, "I wish I'd had a longer run, and I'll admit I was surprised at being so abruptly fired. A few weeks ago, Bill [Jemas] phoned and tried to convince me to jettison our high-adventure approach and everything else we've been doing in favor of making the FF a wacky suburban dramedy where Reed's a nutty professor who creates amazing but impractical inventions, Sue's the office-temp breadwinner, the cranky neighbor is their new 'arch-enemy,' etc."

After talking it over with editor Tom Breevort, Waid revealed that he felt he would not be able to make the changes asked for by Jemas, feeling it was too much of a departure from what he was hired to write. Then, after thinking about it further, and getting together once again with Breevort, Waid felt he found a way to make the changes requested "without completely changing the FF's personalities beyond recognition." Alas, it may have been a case of too-little, too-late. "It would seem the decision to replace me was made the moment I failed to get with the program," said Waid. "Still - Bill's company, his prerogative."

Late Monday Marvel Comics released an open letter to the comics community from Marvel editor Joe Quesada, which follows:

The FF, Mark Waid, Bill Jemas & the Internet

Dear Comics Fans,

I've been busy as hell of late and found my life much more enjoyable these

last few months that I've avoided Internet message boards, but sometimes

things get so out of hand that issues just need to be addressed and tackled

head on.

First off, regarding Mark Waid's exit from the FANTASTIC FOUR (pretty much

the only part of this 'story' that's completely accurate). Let me preface

this by saying that Mark and I have been friends for years and years and I

expect that that relationship won't change over this creative decision. Mark

is one of the most talented guys in the business and I have the utmost

respect for what he does, but his departure from FF is now being siphoned

through inaccuracies, mistaken impressions and hardcore enthusiasts

inability to wait for the whole, real story before slitting their proverbial

wrists and launching profanity-ridden grenades. Hey, what the heck, it's so

much more fun to be angry at Marvel even with only half the story.

Over a month ago Bill Jemas asked for a change of direction for the FF

monthly title ... business as usual and no different than asking for a

costume change, a change of cast or story line. As President, it's Bill's

right and responsibility to call for changes as he feels will benefit any

Marvel title just as it is mine. This is not the first time such changes

have been asked for and I certainly hope it won't be the last.

Bill called up Mark and asked him personally to steer the book towards a new

vision and Mark made it clear that it wasn't a direction that he felt he

wanted to write in or was comfortable with. That in turn is Mark's right and

responsibility as a creator - if it's not his cup of tea and if he can't

bring his "A" game to a project then that's okay, no harm no foul. I respect

Mark for making his decision as I respect Bill for giving Mark the first

crack at the new storyline.

Mark has also been given every opportunity to work on other books here at

Marvel.

But like with every creative change at Marvel, this change has been met with

much "fanfare" and fear. Let me assure the fans that while Mark will be

missed, the high quality standard of FF stories that Mark and company have

set, will continue.

As for Bill Jemas writing the monthly FANTASTIC FOUR title, and the "wacky

suburban dramedy" description, with all due respect to Mark, neither is

accurate. A new FF writer will be announced shortly, but it won't be written

by Bill and won't be as described. Everyone getting upset and angry over

this are getting upset and angry over nothing ... or in other words,

business as usual. I'm in no way saying that Mark is misleading the fans,

only that he may be mixing up stories he's heard and judging the new

direction on what was a very initial pitch that was circulated over a month

ago.

Furthermore, this isn't a cost saving measure nor is it some flight of

fancy. This is a change in direction for a Marvel title requested by the man

who schemed the Ultimate Universe, had the guts to tell Origin and turned

Marvel's publishing business around in less than two years. But hey, what

does he know. Yes, Bill is indeed working on an FF-related concept, but then

so am I, along with a couple of Marvel's top creators and perhaps that's

where the stories get mixed up ... but more on that when the time is right.

Finally, I want to get to all of the anti-Epic garbage that has been hitting

the streets. It seems that there are those that feel that perhaps the best

way to get accepted by Epic is to scare off anyone who wants to submit.

Think about it, put out some nasty rumors that this is all some evil plot by

Bill, that there are 3000 submissions gathering dust, that the editors

aren't reading pitches and the fewer people that submit, the better the

chances of those that are already through the door. Epic is no more nor

less than what we've stated from the beginning. We feel that there is a

wealth of undiscovered talent out there in need of a break. We honestly

feel that there are stories out there that need to be told that are just

looking for the right opportunity. If you believe all of this Epic

conspiracy nonsense, then you're falling into a horrible trap.

See ya in the funnybooks,

JQ

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