Welcome back to the all-fan Friday of CUP O’ JOE, which we call CUP O’ Q&A. Exclusively here at CBR, Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada answers questions posed by you, the readers, in CBR’s Marvel Universe forum.
Of course, we’re hot on top of CUP O’ JOE content across our mini-site with new installments of Joe’s regular interviews with the CBR staff and of course CUP O’ DOODLES, where you can presently see the process by which Joe Quesada draws Iron Man.
In this week’s all-new CUP O’ Q&A, Quesada answers your questions about Marvel’s famous recap pages, the population of international heroes, the preservation of the Marvel archives, C.B. Cebulski’s worldwide talent searches, trade paperback pricing and much more.
CUP O’ JOE is Executive Produced by Jonah Weiland and Produced by Kiel Phegley.
Kiel Phegley: Before we get to the fan questions, we understand you’ve got some news on the “Spider-Woman” animated front?
Joe Quesada: Yeah! I’m sure you’ve all been hearing about the Spider-Woman Motion Comic by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Shecky Maleev. I bet most people never knew Alex’s middle name was Shecky. Anyway, we’re going to show the entire first episode at Comic-Con International at the “Marvel Digital Comics…and Beyond!” panel on Friday at 5:30pm. But just to wet your whistle, here’s the worldwide exclusive preview of the first trailer. See, read CUP O’ JOE and you always get something cool in return.
Kiel Phegley: This week, we’ve got a lot of questions on “how the sausage is made,” for lack of a more comics-centric phrase. Plenty of people on the CBR boards were asking about some of the nuts-and-bolts stuff that comes up in the day-to-day creation of Marvel comic books.
Let’s start with board member bat2supe, who asked about what he called the “generic pages” in each Marvel monthly that recap previous events and give creative credits. He wonders, “How is it that the name of the cover artist is sometimes mentioned in said generic page and sometimes not — even when they are mentioned in the solicitations, the previews, even in shipping lists?”
Joe Quesada: Funny you should mention this, bat2supe, we were just discussing this during our weekly Editorial Meeting. There have been a few reasons for the inconsistencies with respect to cover credits. Sometimes we just goof and miss putting in the credit, in other cases it has to do with just the large number of credits we have to take care of — this is especially true and gets compounded when we have more than one cover on a particular book. Ultimately what we decided this week was to get the name of the artist of the regular cover in the credits and not to worry about the alternates as they tend to be special incentives anyway. I personally feel it’s the only fair way to do it while still keeping our credits page somewhat reasonable. By the way, this doesn’t mean we won’t goof again from time to time.
Kiel Phegley: Expletive Deleted had a question on the digital frontier. “I’m interested in digital preservation issues. I recently read a report from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences called ‘Digital Dilemma’ about problems facing movie studios and indie filmmakers in saving and maintaining their born-digital content and other digital materials, and it got me thinking about the comic book industry. As I understand it, almost everything that reaches you guys from artists and writers is transmitted digitally. I’m sure you’ve got an archive of printed comics, but I’m wondering what Marvel does, if anything, to preserve the digital files involved with the creation of comic books these days?”
Joe Quesada: Hey, Expletive Deleted, thanks for asking a question I know absolutely zero about. [laughs] But hey, that’s what CUP O’ JOE is all about — I often get asked questions I know nothing about or don’t fall within my realm of responsibilities and decisions, so I like to make it my job to try to get you the answer. How’s that for CUP O’ JOE customer service?
Okay, being that I’m not involved on the technical end of Marvel’s digital world, I went to the best guy to answer your question, our big giant tech brain and SVP/CIO, Mr. Glenn Magala. Here’s what Glenn had to say:
“We’ve taken all of the older books and have digitized most and in turn have put them on WORM (Write Once Read Many) technology. All newer books go though the Publishing life cycle digital contribution and approval process, and are eventually assembled into a final digital product and archived to the same WORM technology.”
Thanks, Glenn! See, now wasn’t that simple? Now if someone can just translate that for me?
Kiel Phegley: User littleredhat excitedly asks, “Yo Joe! My [local comics store] is over an hour’s drive away so I supplement it with Marvel’s subscription service. But not only are many of my favorite titles such as ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and ‘Amazing Spider-Man Family’ not available for the service but there is no way to get the vital miniseries and one-shots to stay in the know in the Marvel Universe. Why is this?”
|EXCLUSIVE: “Amazing Spider-Man” #601 art by Joe Quesada|
Joe Quesada: Well, lettleredhat, once again, I don’t really have anything to do with subs, but I did do some digging to get your answer. This generally happens because the US Post Office requires that series have from two to three years worth of issues planned, and that’s really hard to do these days with many ongoing series. Obviously one-shots and miniseries don’t fit in there at all. On the bright side, this also helps keep some of these titles exclusive to our largest partners, the direct comics market. So, that being said, I’m sure there are many comic retailers who would be happy to ship you monthly or weekly comics at a fraction of what it would cost you to drive there. Try one of the retailers right here. They may be able to help.
Kiel Phegley: We also got some behind-the-scenes questions about your own artistic process, starting with myakoopa, who wonders, “You mentioned in your CUP O’ DOODLES that you do layout digitally. What program(s) and tablet do you use when doing this? I’ve always been inclined to use Photoshop for any art I’ve done in the past but I recently toyed around with some comic art and just drew using a standard layout pad.”
Joe Quesada: I almost exclusively use Photoshop for my digital drawing, myakoopa, and I work on a Wacom 21″ Cintiq tablet. A couple of months ago I downloaded Manga Studio EX 4, but I’ve been so swamped that I haven’t had a chance to play with it to see if there are benefits for me that go beyond drawing in Photoshop. I know that there are a ton of different drawing programs out there, but for the way that I go about things, Photoshop at the moment is best. I’ll let you know once I start experimenting with Manga Studio.
Kiel Phegley: And user ~Spider-man~ had a follow up about some news concerning you that hit this week, asking, “The story that you and Bendis have coming up in ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ #601, how long did it take you to do the pencils? I know some artists can crank stories out faster than others. Just wondering how long it took you because from the preview it looks great.”
|Joe Quesada’s digital art setup at Marvel and his home studio|
Joe Quesada: It probably took me longer than it should, ~Spider-man~, but it would be tough for me to tell you exactly how long in man-hours since I was working on it in little spurts here and there. Anytime I had a spare moment in the office I would sneak onto the Cintiq and sketch away. I purchased one for my office as well so that I have identical setups. It makes transferring everything from home to work and back again a lot easier. What I can tell you is that once my electronic pencil work was done, I decided to digitally ink it myself and that was at a pace of a page and a half a day of concentrated work at home.
By the way, for any artists who are debating getting a Cintiq, I know they can be pricey, but trust me, it pays for itself very quickly. It’s an amazing tool and I swear by it.
Kiel Phegley: Turning towards some international questions, user Woburn says, “I’m one of the many thousands of Marvel fans living in London, England and I was wondering if Marvel would ever appear over here at one of the few conventions we have? There’s the London Film & Comic Book Convention, and then the MCM Expo, and that’s about it. I’m pretty sure, if you came, the turnout would be huge and well worth your time. Not all of us have the money to fly to the U.S. and attend the cons out there, but we love Marvel just as much as anyone! Even if you just send Slott with a slideshow of art.”
And after that, we had a mini British Invasion on the boards as grahamgreene and geordiesteve seconded this opinion, mentioning the Bristol con. Any chance you’ll be heading over to the UK in the near future?
Joe Quesada: Woburn, we love all you cats ‘cross the pond and we’d love to go to the UK as well as all the many shows all over the world, but there are cost and personnel issues that we constantly have to balance. That said, over the past few years we have expanded our international presence, sending editors and creators to shows in Australia, Spain, Italy, France, and Canada, just to name a few. Not to mention C.B. Cebulski’s world tour. As of this moment, we have no plans to attend any of the UK shows, but I’ll bring it up for discussion again as it’s definitely something we should be looking at.
Oh yeah, and I’ll be at the Toronto Fan Expo from August 28 through August 30.
Kiel Phegley: As you said, Marvel talent scout C.B. Cebulski makes a lot of international trips these days. How do you guys plan for Cebulski’s trips?
|EXCLUSIVE: Pages from “Spider-Man: The Clone Saga” #1|
C.B. Cebulski: I wish there was a more scientific answer to this question, but basically a lot of my international con visits come down to word-of-mouth. We’ll hear from some established creators that there’s a lot of up-an-coming talent in a certain area of the world and I’ll make arrangements to head over and check out a con in a nearby city. For example, Mantova Comic & Games in Italy is a perfect example of his. I’d heard from a few of our Italian pencilers that Mantova is a cool show where they’d seen a lot of potential in young artists who were displaying there, so I flew over the following year to check it out. And they were right! There are several artists working for Marvel now that I met on my trip. That con was so successful in our recruitment efforts, in fact, that I went back this year and we’ve already hired two new artists I met this past spring! So that’s pretty much how it goes. I’m hoping to get to Croatia soon for a show as Esad Ribic and Goran Parlov tell me it’s a hot bed of cool talent now, as well as down to South America to check out the artists there.
Kiel Phegley: Last on our international roundup is Australian Brad, who says, “Recently, talking to an English friend, I said that I was jealous because within the Marvel universe he had two quite cool superheroes, Captain Britain and Union Jack. It was then that we realized that the Marvel Universe (to the best of our knowledge) doesn’t have an Australian superhero. Now Israel has Sabra, England has the above mentioned superheroes, Canada has Wolverine. My question to you is when will Marvel bring about the Australian representative? Please, lets not go another 70 years of Marvel Comics without a cool Aussie superhero. I’m talking the kind of character that bogans will tattoo on their biceps and Aussie skaters will paint onto their skateboards. Here’s hoping. Cheers.”
Another board member noted Gateway from the X-Men, but he’s not a superhero in the traditional sense. Is there any hope for Australian Brad?
Joe Quesada: Ah, Australian Brad, shame on you! Have you forgotten Eden Fasi who was just introduced in “Secret Warriors?” He’s an Aussie, my friend. See, we’re on it and always trying to include our international brethren. However, how cool a character becomes is always an unknown for us, we’re always trying to create characters that will become as popular as possible, but ultimately that is a black magic we have little control over.
|Art from “Secret Warriors” #7|
Kiel Phegley: Moving dangerously close to pricing discussions that we’ve had over recent weeks, user Captain Fur had a question that we thought might be worth exploring just in that “nuts-and-bolts” sense. He asks, “What criteria do you follow in pricing the trade paperbacks? Sometimes I’m surprised by the difference between trades. ‘Daredevil: Lady Bullseye’ collected five issues and was $16.99, ‘Captain Britain and the MI13’ vol.1 collected four issues plus two reprints plus material from the ‘Marvel Spotlight’ magazine and cost me $15.99, being one dollar less for more pages. ‘The Immortal Iron Fist’ vol.2 collected seven issues from the ongoing series plus an annual and cost $17.99, which is a great price, but when compared to the ‘X-Factor’ vol.6 that collected only seven issues (six from the ongoing plus a ‘She-Hulk’ crossover issue) but was priced at $19.99, it makes for and odd comparison. I’d like to hear your thoughts about it.”
Joe Quesada: Okay, here we go again. Thanks for the question Captain Fur, but much like our $3.99 discussions of previous weeks, pricing isn’t something that I’m actually involved with. But that doesn’t mean I can’t get you the info you need. While we don’t discuss our pricing strategies, I will say that pricing comes down to more than, “This edition has four issues and this one has five.” It’s a balancing act of page-count, issue-count, work involved with either reprint material or design, and printing costs. Which includes among other things, paper costs, shipping, distribution, whether the TPB had an earlier premiere or oversized hardcover, the price of the comics, the cost of the comics, whether it is an ongoing series or limited, etc. etc. My head hurts. So while it may not look like it on the outside, a lot of work has gone into pricing these volumes and I’m glad it’s not my department. [laughs]
|EXCLUSIVE: Pages from “Spider-Man: The Clone Saga” #1|
Kiel Phegley: Captain Fur had a follow up that takes us closer to X-Men territory. “I’ve spotted some gaps in my collection. At first I thought I’d skipped some trades, but after talking to my LCS owner and some research I found that these trades haven’t been published yet. I’m talking about the recently published ‘Uncanny X-Men: Lovelorn’ TPB, which collected issues #504-507 and the second annual. The problem is that the previous Uncanny X-Men TPB published was the one that collected issues #495 – 499, leaving a gap of four issues (#500 – 503) unpublished in trade form. When will these issues be collected in a trade?”
Joe Quesada: Checking with our Trades Department, I found out that those issues are collected in the “Uncanny X-Men: Manifest Destiny” hardcover and TPB. The hardcover is already out and in stores and the TPB will be in stores in a few months.
Kiel Phegley: Sticking with the X-Universe, the appropriately named wolvie616 writes, “Mr. Joe: first and foremost I would like to thank you for the sheer awesomeness of having Adam the X-TREME return. Any chance he’ll stick around the x-books?”
Joe Quesada: Holy crap, the one Adam X fan has spoken!Â I’m lost for words. [laughs] Wolvie616, you’re just going to have to read the books to see what happens.
Kiel Phegley: He follows up with, “Also, do we know how long [Matt] Fraction is staying on the book? There was a rumor he was leaving with issue #525.”
Joe Quesada: That is indeed a rumor and not the truth.Â Matt is currently on the books and there are no plans for his exit whatsoever. That said, he is a little depressed about the Chicago Cubs.
|“Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Exodus” #1|
Kiel Phegley: Sir Lord Hippo, King of Hippos had a question I’ve seen a few reviewers asking after in regards to Mr. Fraction’s “Uncanny” run. He inquires, “I’m not sure if this is the sort of question you’ll answer, but what’s the deal with Jean’s body? It was resurrected straight from the grave by Phoenix in ‘Endsong,’ then it appeared to be there again when Maddie was looking for it and no one decided to mention ‘Duh, it’s not there!'”
Joe Quesada: Hey Sir Lord Hippo, that’s one of the reasons Cyclops’ plan to put another body in Jean’s grave was so brilliant!
Kiel Phegley: Finally on the X-score, user steve2275 has hopes one of his favorite artists will land with the book. “What’s next for Ron Lim, who I would love to see drawing ‘Uncanny’ one day?”
Joe Quesada: So you’re a Ron Lim fan are you steve2275? Then you’ll be happy to know that besides continuing his fantastic run on “Anita Blake” and having just wrapped up a very cool run on “Skaar, Son of Hulk,” Ron will be teaming up with Bob Layton on a Hercules miniseries.
|“Web of Spider-Man” #1|
Kiel Phegley: LoneRanger17 makes a fine point about one of Marvel’s more steady B-list characters and asks, “Ka-Zar had a series in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. We are closing in on 2010 and still no Ka-Zar series this decade. I’ve seen him pop up a little more often recently as a supporting character (most recently in ‘Deadpool’). Any chance that he will get re-launched in an ongoing or miniseries?”
Joe Quesada: Sorry to say, LoneRanger17, but it looks like this decade may pass without a Ka-Zar series. It’s not a lock yet, but we currently don’t have a Ka-Zar project on the books.
Kiel Phegley: If this final fan question is presently unanswerable, it makes for one hell of a suggestion. Hawkangel says, “I am a longtime X-Men fan, but newer Deadpool fan. The thing is, I can’t find a single issue or storyline that gives a definitive origin or summary to the character. Both ‘Deadpool Classic’ trades aren’t that helpful with his origin. The closest thing I found was the ‘Deadpool Saga’ comic which was a cut-and-paste job of different issues cobbled together. ‘Wolverine: Weapon X’ summed up Logan’s origin very well. ‘The Times and Life and Lucas Bishop’ summarized Bishop’s origin and also filled in those missing pieces of why Bishop was after Hope Summers. Looks like ‘X-Men Origins: Gambit’ is well underway for showing the character’s beginning as well. How about a miniseries that deals with Deadpool’s origin so us fans don’t have to scamper around different issues to get a glimpse of who he is? Maybe the ‘The Life and Times of Wade Wilson?'”
Joe Quesada: The simple answer to this, Hawkangel, is no, there is no definitive Deadpool origin.
See what I just did there?
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.