Mike Marts, then an Executive Editor at Marvel Comics and a former Batman group editor at DC Comics, surprised industry observers in mid-April by departing Marvel less than a year after his return. The move allowed him to reach an even higher post, becoming Editor-in-Chief of AfterShock Comics, a new company from writer and former Desperado Publishing founder Joe Pruett. The departure was clearly amicable, and Marts has a long-standing track record for getting along with corporate management just as successfully as he supports creative talent.
As the veteran editor explained to CBR News after Comic-Con International in San Diego, Marts relishes the chance to build a company with seemingly unlimited creative potential from its foundation. Just prior to SDCC, AfterShock revealed some of the writers on tap to launch the line, including Garth Ennis, Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, Paul Jenkins, Justin Jordan, Frank Barbiere, Marguerite Bennett, Neil Gaiman, Jim Starlin, Amy Chu and Brian Stelfreeze. In this discussion, Marts was more than pleased to discuss what attracted him to AfterShock as well as why he picked some of the creative talent for his new company's initial wave of titles.
CBR News: After years with Marvel and DC, what prompted the move to AfterShock?
Mike Marts: Several things. First and foremost, the executive team at AfterShock Comics were the primary reason for me joining the company. After meeting and speaking with them, I quickly realized that their vision for making comics was completely in line with how I approach the craft. It wasn't long before I realized this was the perfect working marriage. Secondly, the idea of building something -- not just projects, but an entire company -- was too good for me to pass up. For as long as I've been an editor, I've had the desire to build -- AfterShock offered me the perfect opportunity to help build a comics empire from the ground up.
Who counseled you in this move? Am I correct in thinking you sought the advice of mentors?
The usual sort of people for this type of a big move -- friends and family. I have a small group of people whose opinion and advice I trust 100%. I spoke to each and every one of them when considering this jump.
What do you consider the assets and major players for your new company?
The assets of AfterShock Comics are first and foremost the executive team. Each and every one of them has years of experience, all from different areas of industry, be it comics, film, television, distribution, social media or technology. Combined, we make one vicious beast of a company.
What kind of comics AfterShock is planning on publishing? Will they all be creator-owned? Is the platform for monthly comics or graphic novels? Will it be a variety of genres, or solely superheroes?
As a company, AfterShock will be offering several types of product in the future, but at present our focus will be on top quality creator-owned projects by the best and brightest in the industry. A great mix of highly-rated established creators with proven track records, and those individuals we feel are the superstars of tomorrow. It's all about quality, it's all about pedigree.
At present, AfterShock's offerings will be in traditional comic book format, and we're offering an extremely diverse range of genres for readers to choose from: everything from sci-fi to horror, humor to crime, fantasy to warfare.
Marguerite Bennett is someone you have consistently supported, first raising her profile with her work at DC Comics, then when you returned to Marvel she was one of your writers of choice. What about her writing makes her critical for Aftershock?
As soon as I joined the AfterShock Comics team, Marguerite was one of the first writers that I wanted to secure. I was lucky enough to be the first editor to give Marguerite work when I was at DC Comics in the Batman office. In a very short amount of time, she impressed me and my entire team of editors with her original story ideas, her quickness to adapt to sometimes unpredictable publishing situations, and with her general great attitude towards comics and story. Not only was she a go-to writer when I needed help in a pinch, but she was one of the first voices that we would think of when initiating a new project. During my time at Marvel last year, I wasted no time in hiring Marguerite for several projects, including an "Amazing X-Men Annual" as well as a Lady Deathstrike one-shot.
Once at AfterShock, Marguerite was one of my first priorities. Marguerite was critical for the launch of AfterShock because I knew she will bring a unique voice to the table. When readers are finally able to dive into the world that she and her artist have created, they will understand why I am so excited about collaborating with her.
Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner are veterans developing for comics, TV and film. Did you tap them for that experience or because your long time working relationship with them and knowing how dependable they are as writers of great stories?
I've known Jimmy and Amanda almost as long as I've been in comics (and that's a long time). Working with them is always a blast, so when we started up AfterShock, they were two of the first people we contacted. Both Joe Pruett and I have long, great relationships with this creative pair, but it was Joe who initially brought them into the AfterShock fold. We knew we wanted that "Jimmy and Amanda flavor" for our company, a similar vibe to what they've doing for DC on "Harley Quinn." They're extremely dependable, great teammates to have in a battle, and the best cheerleaders a new company could ask for.
What prompted you to recruit a distinctive storyteller like Phil Hester?
Phil brings that unique, creative voice that is hard to find within mainstream comics. I've always admired Phil's ability to tackle a story from a direction that completely caught me off guard. He really knows how to build a comic, inside and out and from all angles. Add where else can you find someone who's as equally talented in the art department as he is with story? We're extremely lucky to have Phil in our writers roster. Readers will be loving what he does for AfterShock.
Amy Chu is a relatively new writer versus some of the veterans who've already been announced. What does she bring to the creative mix?
Amy is a new, fresh voice in comics. Her stock has risen quite a bit over the last year. One of her specialties is the short story form which is why we thought she'd be a perfect fit for our upcoming anthology.
Since it just happened, what was it like taking meetings in San Diego following the buzz generated by the writing talent you already have on the team?
What a fantastic way to walk into AfterShock's first San Diego having just announced our writing lineup. The buzz was fantastic and we revived such good feedback and goodwill from everyone.
Stay tuned to CBR News for more on AfterShock Comics.