The Quesada Era is going very well, thank you very much, and having steered the ship away from the icebergs, it will be continuing on the course set by the new captain. That was the message Wednesday afternoon at a Marvel Comics telephone press conference.
Kicking off the conference, Marvel president Bill Jemas announced that October's orders were the largest – both in dollar counts and actual numbers of issues ordered – since December 1996, the month that Onslaught tore up the Marvel Universe. Details of the two months vary – in December 1996, Marvel was shipping 87 titles, while in October 2001, it's only 55, but it's also impossible to discount the influence of two issues of Wolverine's "Origin" miniseries has on Marvel's bottom line this fall – but Jemas said, "it's overall the best time in comics."
In light of these strong numbers, Jemas defended a controversial decision made some months before.
"We're not going to overprint, and we're not going to reprint. What we are going to do is continue to drive traffic to comic shops," Jemas said. "Any retailer will tell you that reships are not a big part of their bottom line, except for trade paperbacks. And trade paperbacks have been given a shot in the arm by Marvel. ... But we don't have people sitting around waiting for the 'Origin' TPB. We have a feeding frenzy. And we have a feeding frenzy because they know that Marvel won't reprint. And that drives traffic to the comic shops."
Otherwise, as many of these conferences have been, it was something of a grab bag, with topics ranging all over.
The company announced their name for the December all-silent books event, "'Nuf Said."
"You know what, we just decided this morning," editor in chief Joe Quesada said. "It was a toss-up between 'Word Out' and 'Nuf Said' and we decided to go with the traditional 'Nuf Said.''"
Marvel also confirmed another new initiative:
"We are going to do comic books that focus on the teen girl market," Jemas said. "But what we haven't figured out yet is what approaches to the teen girl market is the storytelling approach or the art approach."
Look for "teen soap opera style" comic books in 2002.
If you notice certain stogie-chewing Marvel heroes – such as Wolverine, the Thing and Nick Fury – chewing nicotine gum in future issues, there will be a reason: The Marvel Universe has gone non-smoking. For the most part, anyway.
"If an artist wants to draw a guy on the street smoking, fine. We just have a problem with Wolverine smoking," Quesada said. Role model characters will no longer smoke in the Marvel Universe. "It's just a matter of whether or not we want to promote cancer or not. ... If Nick Fury shows up in 'Fantastic Four,' do we want to show him smoking? Probably not. Now, if he shows up in a [mature readers] Max comic, which he is, can he smoke? Sure."
Marvel also had a half of an announcement about a comic they may or may not have anything to do with down the road:
"There will be some news about Miracleman coming from someone, somewhere, in the next couple of weeks," Quesada said of the hotly contested property made famous to American audiences by Alan Moore and later Neil Gaiman. "It's coming. It'll probably be one of these conference calls."
Quesada did not have anything new to report on a possible Harry Potter comic, however.
Overall, Quesada said the second year of the Quesada era beginning late this fall looks like it will be an easier one.
I guess a year into it, creators are starting to see that there is no other shoe" about to drop, he said, "and this Marvel is for real. ... For me, in this next year, the new thing is to focus on the creator-owned line."