CUP O' JOE: Marvel's Multi-Media Madness

Welcome back to another Marvelous installment of CUP O' JOE. Exclusively here at CBR, Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada takes the time to tackle the hot topics of the day in regards to Marvel's entire media empire

And while you're brewing up your own quality questions for the Marvel bossman for our CUP O' Q&A feature, we've got loads of CUP O' JOE content across our mini-site from the latest installments of Joe's regular interviews with the CBR staff, CUP O' DOODLES sketch fests, polls, videos and more!

This week's CBR goes one-on-one with Joe for news on three of Marvel's biggest new initiatives: the origins of the just-announced 2010 "Siege" event series, Quesada's role in making Cartoon Network's "Super Hero Squad Show" an animated series that will draw new fans to comics, and the impending launch of the "Astonishing X-Men" motion comic. Beyond that, Joe talks about his new deal with Major League Baseball and honors a too-often overlooked titan of the comics industry.

CUP O' JOE is Executive Produced by Jonah Weiland and Produced by Kiel Phegley.

Kiel Phegley: So, Joe, what's the deal with you and Major League Baseball?

Joe Quesada: Hey. Kiel, actually, before we get into that, I want to take a moment if we can to let our fans know of some sad news.

Earlier this week, we were informed here at Marvel of the passing of legendary letterer, Joe Rosen. Joe was at Marvel since the very early days working shoulder to shoulder with Stan and Jack. His amazing talents graced the pages of some of the greatest Marvel titles in the history of the company. Joe's work spanned decades, from Spider-Man to Hulk, from Fantastic Four to X-Men, during his many years, there was hardly a book published that his incredible lettering style didn't enhance.

Perhaps the most famous book he lettered on a regular basis was the Frank Miller and Klaus Janson run on "Daredevil." Joe was a true gentleman and professional. No matter how much work was thrown at him Joe would characteristically respond with his catchphrase: "I'll do what I can." And he never once missed a deadline. We'll miss him.

Kiel Phegley: That's sad to hear. He was really one of the legends of lettering.

Joe Quesada: Yes he was, and I just wanted our fans to have his family in their thoughts.

Okay, so what have you got?

Kiel Phegley: Well, as I mentioned, what's up with you and MLB?

Joe Quesada: I made it, Kiel, I finally made it into the majors! As anyone who knows me can attest, I'm a huge baseball fan, played it my whole life. Love the game and actually play in a men's league in Long Island during the Spring and Fall. None of that kiddie softball stuff, we're talking ol' fashioned, fast pitch, hardball. Unfortunately, I'm also a die-hard Mets fans, so please, hold your jokes for after the interview.

Anyway, I was contacted by Michael Furno over at MLB.com, who is also a huge comics fan and has actually co-written a graphic novel "Minions of Ka." Seems MLB is trying something fun out with Twitter by having people from different aspects of the entertainment field Tweet during the playoffs, some of these folks are at the actual games, others are watching from the comfort of their own home. People like comedian, Larry Miller are on there, as is Matt Fraction. You can check out everyone's Tweets at #mlbpulse. Some pretty funny stuff going on.

As an added bonus, I got to go up to the MLB.com offices here in downtown and did a small interview. Michael was also kind enough to give me a tour of the joint, and it's just an amazing place. Lots of comic fans over there as well...we are legion! The coolest part of the tour was seeing all the broadcast booths they use for their live streams and the actual room that they use for instant replay of all homeruns across the country (and yes, Toronto) during the season and now of course the playoffs. I'll go on the limb here and say that the Mets most likely didn't have the guys in that booth working too hard.

Oh yeah, and before I forget, you can follow Michael and JB, who is the host of MLB.com at @mlbinfurno and @jbmlb respectively.

Kiel Phegley: Joe, news hit this week of the long-rumored event "Siege." We talked with Brian Bendis for the news section and on video about this, so the general plot of the story is now out there. But aside from digging spoilers or product announcements, I think the interesting thing about all of this is how you've spoken about the events of 2010 as being a "third act" to the story that started rolling in "Civil War." At what point in the creation of all these stories did you and the writing talent see things going into that kind of giant, multi-year super-structure? Was it something in your mind from early on when this "event era" started?

Joe Quesada: Yes it was, and it was even more in the minds of all the creators involved with these stories. I've said this a million times, we don't go into any of this without a plan, you just can't do that and then expect all of these stories to hold together cohesively in the end. So, yeah, while we didn't have the exact story nailed down when we started this crazy ride, we knew at the onset of "Civil War" where we wanted it all to go and what we wanted that end point to be, and who was going to be left standing and who wouldn't.

Kiel Phegley: We hear a lot about how many of these stories are broken out as part of Marvel's regular creative summits that assemble the writers in New York. Most famously, I'm thinking of events like Brian Michael Bendis saying one of the chief reasons "Secret Invasion" hit so well with editorial was because he pitched Norman Osborn's triumph as the end of the series. You've spoken a lot lately about getting Marvel away from massive events and more into "family events" in 2010. Is that a harder task to pull off when the writers are so plugged in to telling stories within the big framework you've already got going?

Joe Quesada: Yes it was, so much so that it even surprised me. I remember how excited I was after an editorial meeting in which I spoke to our Publisher Dan Buckley and our Senior Editorial staff about getting us off of massive events for at least a year. I felt we were entering the point of diminishing returns. We needed to pull back, regroup and take a deep breath. I personally feel that the big events are an important part of our publishing arsenal, but if we keep tapping that vein, it would eventually be a tool we wouldn't be able to use any more because it would wear out its welcome. It's not unlike my methodology with respect to comic story telling. An artist has many tools in his or her arsenal. Take the use of breaking panel borders; it's a great tool for certain storytelling effects, but if you use them all the time, they lose impact on the reader. So, I felt strongly that if we could take a some time to regroup and let our creators focus more on some stories that they were driving as opposed to the hive mind that then, if and when we wanted to create a new line-wide event, our readers would be ready for it, and creatively we would be charged up and ready to go.

What came out of that and subsequent meetings was a tremendous game plan, and I was so jazzed about it that I wrote a manifesto about our approach to the coming publishing year. It was a challenge to our editors, writers and too myself about how to approach each and every title in a year where we aren't going to do a line wide event. I was stoked and sent it out to the crew, and I was certain they were all going to be as thrilled as I was.

But, perhaps it was the way I phrased it or perhaps I wasn't clear in how I was describing the new objective, but from the feedback I was getting, some of our talent was a bit concerned. Like I said, it was probably me and how I worded it, but it just seemed like some of the crew who got the manifesto weren't quite sure what to make of it. In the end, when we had our next retreat, and I was able to verbalize the approach, it was all worked out and now here we are, raring to go with guns a-blazin'!

Kiel Phegley: Overall, is the "end of massive events" mindset changing the way you guys at Marvel are plotting out stories. Will the big summits where all the talent shows up begin to end soon?

Joe Quesada: No, that will never end during my tenure, I can assure you that. Our creative summits are the lifeblood of our publishing business. Without them we would be lost. What we have changed for this year is that, instead of having a few gigantic summits that involve every book in the line, we're having more character family centric summits. They're smaller, but we're having more of them this year as whatever big stories are happening, are happening within the different families. They'll still be huge stories that we hope our fans will have to have, but what it'll mean is that you don't have to look at tons of issues that tie in together.

Kiel Phegley: To slide over to a topic significantly less under wraps, last month saw the debut of Marvel's "Super Hero Squad Show" on Cartoon Network. Now, as you mentioned last time, these are streaming online for fans to see, but since you've got a young daughter in the house, have you been waking up on Saturday mornings to check out the final product?

Joe Quesada: Yup, we sure have. Actually to be more accurate, she wakes me up, she's the early riser in the family, and we head over to the TV and watch it together. Her favorite characters on the show currently are [Silver] Surfer and Hulk.

Kiel Phegley: We've spoken a little before about your new role in Marvel's animation studio, but now that people have gotten a look at this show, I wanted to look at a few of the specific things you're contributing. In general, what's your role on a show like "Super Hero Squad Show"? Are you helping out with the visual and design elements of the show, or are you reading scripts and giving notes on character and story development? All of the above?

Joe Quesada: Yeah, I'm helping out in all the areas, but mostly with the scripts as they come in in various stages. I work on outlines all the way to the full final scripts, giving notes, suggestions and gags when applicable. At the end of the day, I try to make sure that the stories still keep that Marvel feel to them that makes them completely unique and what Marvel fans expect.

Kiel Phegley: Is there anything from some of the episodes coming up you recall that bear the "Mark Of Quesada" so to speak?

Joe Quesada: I'd have to tell you as I watch them as I've thrown in a bunch of gags here and there, as well as story directions and outline ideas.

Kiel Phegley: Between the action figure line, the upcoming video game, and the TV show, one of the marks of the "Super Hero Squad" franchise seems to be a real connection to the comic book Marvel Universe, from direct things, like the introduction of the Reptil character, to general character designs and ideas based on current Marvel books. To you, what about tying those things together do for both the Squad stuff and the Marvel publishing line?

Joe Quesada: "SHS" is the kind of show that, because if its look and humor, will be attracting younger viewers. Because of that, we want to make sure, that while these are humorous takes on our characters, that they still represent what the modern Marvel U feels like. So, yeah, the looks of the characters and their costumes are fairly close to the modern incarnations, and you'll see us touch on some storylines that reflect stuff we've done in the comics. In many ways, "SHS" will get younger kids into the world of Marvel, and that's always a good thing.

Kiel Phegley: Staying with animation news for a minute, Sony announced a little while back that they'd be relinquishing the TV and animation rights to Spider-Man back to Marvel. Many fans have been wondering ever since what the future of the popular "Spectacular Spider-Man" show would become. Have you had any discussions with the animation crew on that front?

Joe Quesada: No, I haven't and actually I don't know the answer to that at this moment.'Tis for greater minds than mine.

Kiel Phegley: And since Spider-Man is now in the Marvel animation wheelhouse, is there a chance he could be popping up in "Super Hero Squad Show" Season 2?

Joe Quesada: Perhaps, but I would say it's too early to even think about that at the moment.

Kiel Phegley: Since we've covered comics and animation, let's wrap this week by talking about Marvel's web initiatives. At the end of the month, you guys are rolling out your next highly touted motion comic in the form of "Astonishing X-Men," and I understand there's a party going on for that?

Joe Quesada: Yeah, it's actually a heck of promotion as well as party we're calling MarvelFest NYC 2009. It's an outdoor comic festival to commemorate the AXM Motion Comic launch, and it's something no one's ever done before. On Wednesday, October 28th, we'll be premiering the first episode of Astonishing X-Men Motion Comic THREE STORIES HIGH via an awesome projection system against a building in Union Square (off 14th street) here in NYC. There will be a sound system in place so you can hear the episode as well as see it. There will also be a signing at Forbidden Planet with some big name creators before the event kicks off at 6:00 pm, and it's free, just like all our Marvel signing events. Once we kick off MarvelFest in Union Square, you can join in the the official Marvel Costume Contest with lots of great prizes given away, including the chance to be in a Marvel comic! Stay tuned as we'll be giving you times and other info in upcoming COJ and on Marvel.com, but if you're a Marvel fan - and c'mon, who isn't these days? - you gotta come out for this!

Kiel Phegley: So...what costume will you be dressing in for the event?

Joe Quesada: I will be dressed as the portly E-I-C.

Kiel Phegley: Fantastic. But on the serious side of things, unlike "Spider-Woman," this motion comic is being assembled after the original pages of the series had been completed rather than having the art layered in to be animated. How hard has it been for John Cassaday and the folks working with Neal Adams at Continuity Studios to make the comic work in this format?

Joe Quesada: It's been a labor of love and at the end of the day a technological marvel taking imagery that was originally 2D and making it move and in many cases appear 3D. The collaboration between John and Neal has proven to be a special one, and I think it will show in every episode.

Kiel Phegley: Using a Joss Whedon comic for a multi-media crossover seems like a no brainer because of his fanbase. How involved has Joss been in the process? Has he helped in casting the voice actors?

Joe Quesada: Joss was invited to have as much involvement as he had time for, but due to his rigorous schedule, he was unable to join in on the fun. But Cass was not only there to keep his vision alive in the motion process, but he's very close with Joss, so I'm sure as he worked on the motion comic, he did so with an eye towards Joss' sensibilities as well.

Kiel Phegley: With the success of "Spider-Woman," and "Astonishing" about to hit, have you guys started looking at other books to bring to the Motion Comics format?

Joe Quesada: Yes, but that is a discussion for another day. As always, we're looking at what will really jazz Marvel fans the most to see come to life, and we have some pretty definitive ideas about what to go for next.

Kiel Phegley: Speaking of where to go next, I think now's as good a time as any to get the members of CBR's Message Board Community ready for our next installment. With so many announcements made about new projects in the past few weeks, we're going to be looking for questions on Marvel in 2010 - from the big name projects people want to know more about to the characters they're hoping to make a splash in the new decade. Joe will be ready to dive in to any and all queries on "Siege," details on the Marvel Women Initiative, questions about just how many titles Deadpool will be getting or whatever else is on your mind. Head over to CBR's dedicated Cup O' Joe thread, and we'll see you next time!

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 on Fridays, so get crackin!

Discussion about today's feature may take place at the link immediately below.

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