Cup of Joe @ Baltimore Comicon: Waiting For Monday

Sun, September 10th, 2006 at 12:00am PDT

Comic Books
John W. Smith, Contributing Writer

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Joe Quesada talks with a fan during the 2006 Baltimore Comic-Con.
Marvel Comics Editor in Chief Joe Quesada and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort appeared Saturday at the first Baltimore Comic-Con Cup O' Joe panel. Most of Marvel's big announcements are being held over until Monday's retailer summit, where Quesada promises big announcements on next summer's event leading out of "Civil War" and on a massive mainstream outreach initiative. The lack of big news allowed for a broader Q&A. "Civil War" delays were discussed, along with Stan Lee's mutant talents and what late nights must be like at the Joe Quesada household.

One announcement Quesada did make was that issue six of "Daredevil: Father" has been done for months, and that it's just a matter of waiting until Danny Miki and Richard Isanove are free from other projects. Additionally, Miki is recovering after dislocating his shoulder.

The first question from the audience was about whether "Metabarons" artist Travis Charest would do any work for Marvel. Quesada revealed that he'd recently had dinner with him in Charlotte, and while he'd love for him to do Marvel work, Charest is busy with his other commitments.

Quesada was asked about comps - a topic that came up in another panel. He admitted that Marvel doesn't comp their artists or writers for books the same way other companies do. When the company entered bankruptcy, he said, they had to watch every penny - all the fringes were cut, convention booths, etc. "With 'Daredevil: Father' I get my five copies and that's it." According to Quesada, Marvel can't offer perks on one end, but they can offer different perks on another - like great page rates.

"Ultimate Wolverine Vs. the Hulk"-what happened? "'Lost' is what happened," Quesada said. "Damon [Lindelof] bit off more than he could chew." Later in the panel, Quesada appeared to confirm that Lindelof had finished script three and that they were just waiting on art.

"Civil War" - why was it being delayed? Quesada made it clear that the reasons for the book's delay had been made very public. The book fell behind, he said, and it was felt that it was best to wait and stop and wait for the creative team to catch up.

"When you see issue four, you'll understand," said Brevoort.

Why wasn't an event of such proportion done months in advance? "We did!" Brevoort said. "Books are still done by human beings, not machines."

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"House of M" was mentioned as an example. "At some point Olivier [Coipel] hit a crisis point," Brevoort said. After urging him on, "He started doing books in three weeks, it worked out. McNiven couldn't up the pace." Brevoort says that they didn't want readers saying "'Wow, we got 'Civil War' number four and it stinks!'" Brevoort and Quesada reiterated that they have a great summer story planned for next year, but that the story isn't being worked on yet. "We don't have the story-story yet." If it happens to go late, people will still say "why didn't you start earlier." It was announced that "Civil War" issue four is at the printers now.

Quesada and Brevoort talked about short term gains versus long term gains. "'Marvel Knights Moon Knight' was what it was all about," Quesada said. When he and Jimmy Palmiotti started the Marvel Knights imprint, they were asked to do four books. The reaction to those, he said, combined with the state of the company, led many to wonder when every book would become Marvel Knights. Quesada said that he'd learned that down in production, someone was making a "Moon Knight" logo that featured a Marvel Knights slug. When he told the powers-that-be "you can't do this," they said "we have to." Current Marvel President Dan Buckley, at that time in marketing, "fought the good fight" over the issue. Marvel eventually relented over Moon Knight, but Buckley left the company for a period. "If Marvel Knights had failed," Quesada says, "a lot of things would be different, many things wouldn't be happy."

A fan asked about "Heroes for Hire" now that writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Grey have signed exclusive deals with DC Comics. Brevoort and Quesada weren't sure on the issue count - probably eight - but but they would definitely finish their arc.

Will Spider-Man go back to his original costume? Yes.

A fan complimented the "Beyond" miniseries and asked if Dwayne McDuffie would see anymore Marvel work. "Yes, hopefully," Brevoort said, also mentioning that he was a fan of McDuffie's work on "Justice League Unlimited."

Is Joss Whedon done with Marvel after his run on "Astonishing X-Men" ends? Quesada says he's always asking Whedon to stick around, and revealed that he's "talking about doing something." Expect a short story from Whedon in the"Stan Lee Meets Spider-Man" one-shot.

When asked if anything would erase the damage done to the Marvel Universe after the events of "House of M" and "Civil War," Quesada said "The point is that these toys are meant to be broken." Quesada said if the stories stuck to the status quo he'd be out of a job. He cited Spider-Man as an example: "Ruin his life, give him stuff, take it all away again."

A fan asked about the future of "Thunderbolts" after "Civil War." "We've got an idea for an ultimate fighting type of book!" Quesada said. "Thunderbolts" will be a high profile book after "Civil War" - expect some "character evolution."

What's the progress on "Ultimates" volumes 3 and 4? Quesada has seen Joe Madureira's first issue and says it looks good. Madureira is "feverishly" working on more.

A fan despaired over the possibility that one day a writer would write a story so terrible that the Spider-Man titles would be canceled. Quesada and Brevoort said that's not likely to happen, "Spider-Man is almost as indestructible as they come," and that nearly every writer on the titles since and including Stan Lee were "the one ruining Spider-Man."

A young fan (who'd apparently not read issue 98 of "Ultimate Spider-Man") about Ultimate Spider-Woman? "I think there might be an Ultimate Spider-Woman coming up," Quesada said. "Stay tuned."

Any plans for bringing Hulk back from space? "Stick around and see what happens," Quesada said. "Hulk is happy where he is. Would we pull him away from things? We like a happy Hulk, it leads to a more contemplative character! 22 pages of that rocks!" Quesada also said that writer Greg Pak will be staying with the title after Planet Hulk concludes.

The next "Ultimate Spider-Man" artist? "Can't tell you," Quesada. Brevoort pointed out current penciller Mark Bagley has a year and a half worth of issues left on the book.

What's up with "Omega Flight?" Is that Captain America on the cover? Quesada encouraged people to read the book, but he can't reveal anything because it would spoil the end of "Civil War."

Whose side is Gravity on? "We haven't seen him in 'Civil War,' but he's in 'Beyond'." Brevoort points out that his fate in "Beyond" still isn't clear.

A Shazam fan asked Quesada what the plans for the name of Captain Marvel are, pointing out that many DC fans wished they could use the name. "I wish I could use Superman," Quesada said.

Who's the new creative team on "Runaways?" "You'll find out in a week," Quesada said, adding that there is a plan for Runaways and he thinks everyone will dig it. "Runaways" writer and co-creator Brian K. Vaughn was able to hand-pick his successor.

Will Sue Storm go over to Captain America's team? "Good question," Quesada said, encouraging readers to watch "Civil War" issue four on September 20th. Where's Ben Grimm? Also in issue four, Quesada said, the next issue of "Fantastic Four" reveals where he's going.

Quesada was asked how the company would keep its' current readers and gain more. Monday's Marvel retailer summit should feature huge announcements, including a mainstream outreach program that will advance the industry. Quesada said that outreach program doesn't include just heroes. After an audience member compared him to Stan Lee as far as outreach to a broader audience, Quesada said that he's not Stan, who he called the "ultimate showman." He said Lee, in his Stan's Soapbox features in classic Marvel titles, displayed a "mutant talent" to make you feel like it was like it was just for you. Quesada says he's trying his best to bring a sense of community back, utilizing new tools like e-mail and message boards. Tom Brevoort discussed his recently completed Marvel editor simulation, he says he'll definitely do it again.

Now that Taskmaster has resurfaced in "Moon Knight," will there be a sequel to his 2002 miniseries? Quesada: "You'll see Taskmaster around."

A young girl asked Brevoort and Quesada two questions - would there be a sequel to Stan Lee's "Who Wants to Be a Superhero" show on the Sci-Fi Channel? "No idea," Quesada said, encouraging the girl to write Stan a letter. She then asked "What would happen if Spider-man found out you were the guys destroying his life?" The audience erupted in laughter. Quesada suggested that Spider-Man would probably write Stan a letter, too.

In a perfect world, what writer out there would Quesada love to have work for Marvel? "Shakespeare's dead," Quesada said. "I've always been a huge William Gibson ('Neuromancer') fan. We tried to reach out to him once but his agent slammed the door." Quesada would have loved for Gibson to write Deathlok or Iron Man. He also mentioned Neal Stephenson ("Snow Crash"), who he had talked to about doing something. Later on in the panel Quesada remembered Stephen Hunter ("The Master Sniper") as the novelist he most wanted, adding that a "Stephen Hunter Punisher story would rock!"

What's the schedule for Stephen King's "Dark Tower?" "2/07," Quesada said, and highlighted the series of an example of working very ahead. "Jae Lee is working on the fifth issue."

The panel's all time favorite comic story? "'Daredevil: Father' #6," Brevoort joked. "because I know the ending." Quesada: "Daredevil: Born Again." Brevoort settled on the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby run on "Fantastic Four."

Quesada was asked about Black Panther, and he reiterated that it'll continue to be pushed to make it an important book and to make it an important part of the Marvel universe.

Michael Turner or Joe Madureira on Spider-Man? "Anything's possible," Quesada replied. "They pick the projects they want to do."

A fan asked about the state of the Ultimate Marvel universe and whether, after five years of stories, it was failing in its original mission of offering stories that weren't continuity-driven. Quesada says no. He thinks you can pick up the beginning of a new arc and not have to worry about backstory.

Has he been completely satisfied with "lackluster" Marvel movies like "Fantastic Four," "Elektra" and "X-Men 3?" "No, of course not," Quesada said, pointing out that he works in a completely different division than Marvel Films. He said that like with comic books, some are always going to be better than others.

The current "Captain America" team - in place for a long time? "Yes."

Is Alpha Flight dead forever? "Read and see."

Is David Lapham doing a Spider-Man mini? Brevoort thinks he's working on something for early next year. Lapham has a story with David Aja coming out in a month in "Giant-Size Wolverine."

Quesada was asked if his run as Editor-In-Chief ended tomorrow, what would be his defining moment? "Gay Rawhide Kid," Brevoort quipped. Quesada says the single greatest accomplishment in his tenure is the "Heroes" magazine, produced five years ago after the September 11th disaster. Quesada said he hopes it's something they never need to do again.

Marvel's most underutilized characer? Brevoort: "Gay Rawhide Kid." Quesada: "Deathlok and Captain Marvel."

Any Golden Age-era Masterworks collections coming soon? Brevoort says yes, at least four, including one Atlas-era. "Mark Beasley came in with a stack of golden age books they'd bought to be able to reproduce," he said.

An audience member asked if, now that Howard the Duck is coming back, how about Rom? "Rom is a rights issue," according to Brevoort, who says there have been attempts to gain the rights, but things never fell into place.

How old are the "Power Pack" kids? "About 43"

Are Eddie Brock and Cletus Kasady coming back? "I'm going to be vague," Quesada said. "Wait and see, the answer affects a lot of things."

As the panel began to wind down, Quesada was asked if there are authors and writers coming to Marvel that they wouldn't have been able to get fifteen years ago. "This is a viable medium-absolutely," Quesada said. "It's the forgotten thing about Kevin Smith coming to comics, love him or hate him. Him coming to mainstream comics opened a door. When you come from the ocean and you decide to play in the pond, there's a lot at risk," he said. "If Kevin writes a crappy comic, that affects him because that reflects on his day job. But when Kevin came over, other writers came over." Quesada also pointed out that writers like J. Michael Straczynski and Joss Whedon were "weaned on what comics gave them, that spark of the imagination and applied it to their thing - TV, movies, novels."

Quesada was also asked how the mature subject matter in many books was affecting the demographics of the readers. Joe said he got into comics at eight years old and got the books from a 16 year old cousin. He referenced a "Rolling Stone" article that came out in the early '70s, that said the average age of a Marvel Comics reader was 21 or 22 years old. Quesada also attributes a big shift in parenting. "When I was a kid, I didn't have to wear a bike helmet, that was Darwinism," he said. "And my dad didn't scour through the comics to find out if they're appropriate."

Quesada said the Marvel Adventures line is there not for kids, but for parents, as something appropriate they can give their children. He says the number one subscription title at Marvel is not "Astonishing X-Men" or "Amazing Spider-Man," but "Marvel Adventures Spider-Man."

The panel wrapped with an odd question about masturbation in the Marvel universe. "There's nothing but masturbation in the DC universe," Brevoort said, "and sometimes a little incest." Brevoort said he didn't remember seeing any Marvel books that featured the practice. Quesada said it came up in James Sturm's "Unstable Molecules." Someone pointed out that it appeared in "Alias," which is different for Quesada, as it's a Max title. "We masturbate like crazy in the adult titles. Like coming home and visiting me."

 
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