Siege Sales, Marvelman, Cap Casting & iPadding

Here we go again with another jam-packed installment of CUP O' JOE! Exclusively here at CBR, Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada opens up the minds of the Marvelous, revealing the ins and outs of everything from comics to animation and beyond!

Driven by a regular string of responses to the biggest questions submitted on the CBR message boards for our CUP O' Q&A feature, we present 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, CBR catches Joe in the midst of a multitude of Marvel news. From recent movements on frequently asked after topics like big events and the future of Marvelman to more up-to-the-minute stories including the official casting of Chris Evans as Captain America to word that Marvel Comics will appear on the iPad, Joe covers all the hot topics of the moment and more. For his take on the sales of "Siege," meeting a UK comics icon, landing the perfect Steve Rogers and more...read on! And be sure to check back to CBR early next week for a fan-driven Cup O' Q&A!

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

Kiel Phegley: Joe, last time we talked you were getting geared up for your big Emerald City ComiCon concert with the boys in Kirby Krackle. We've got a photo set up here on CBR, but how did things go from your point of view? No broken strings or spontaneously combusting drummers, I hope?

Joe Quesada: The show was great, though I'm kind of pissed at the Krackle guys. The forbade me from doing any of my patented windmills, splits and guitar twirls, and most disappointingly, I wasn't allowed my own personal fan so that my lustrous rock god hair would appear windblown at all times.

In all seriousness, Kirby Krackle rocks very hard and their tunes are great everyone should run out and buy their CDs. My understanding is that they're going to be rocking C2E2 in April, so I'm looking forward to catching their show. Fans at the con should come on down and hang with me and the Marvel crew. It should be a blast and you never know what might happen.

Kiel Phegley: And as promised, you had some limited edition Marvel guitar picks on hand for concert goers, and once a couple of...er...pics of the picks hit the web, folks started asking what exactly the "O.M.I.T." stamped on the back stood for. By now, we've learned that the name is a series of some kind featuring the efforts of both you and Paolo Rivera, but what exactly does "O.M.I.T." stand for? And what can you tell us about the project's place in the Marvel U?

Joe Quesada: What I can tell you is what you already know and that in a week or so, more information will be revealed. Oh yeah, and I can also tell you that this is going to be a breakout project for Paolo. He's doing the best work of his career at this point and hopefully this will get him some much deserved attention.

Kiel Phegley: C'mon...can you at least tell us what one of those letters stands for?

Joe Quesada: Nope, sorry.

Kiel Phegley: I had to try! Well, with the concert and the show wrapped, I guess we can safely say that con season is now underway. One thing that strikes me about things being different for Marvel this year is that, over the past few years you've gone into con season often with one marquee title or branding to talk about - everyone having those Skrull masks for "Secret Invasion" comes to mind. With the mega event winding down in "Siege" and a more "book-by-book" status quo coming with the "Heroic Age," does that at all change what you expect to be doing and talking about at conventions this summer? Does it add more work for you and the staff?

Joe Quesada: What you'll see this year is a much more diverse marketing push as we spread the marketing wealth across many of the projects and big stories we have going across titles. It's a bit of a different approach for us, but a much needed one.

Kiel Phegley: We've talked before about events and what they can give and take away from the market. Sometimes, the across the board branding involved with big stories can help boost sales on smaller titles that play along or hurt sales on books that fly solo. These days, are you worried that without a "big idea" driving the stories in the Marvel U, it might be easier for some books to get lost in the shuffle, so to speak? I know that "Doomwar," while it was announced and promoted in advance as a big story, seemed to catch some readers by surprise because they enjoyed it as an event even though it didn't have the regular teaser images and such behind it.

Joe Quesada: This is a problem whether you have a big event or not. There will always be titles that catch readers by surprise or that get overlooked. It's inevitable. What we're looking at this year as we spread the wealth and avoid planning a huge line wide summer blockbuster, all encompassing event, is raising more than just a handful of books by the bootstraps. We're going to offer our readers a variety of universe defining stories and the ability to pick and choose what's most compelling to them. If we do our job right, they'll pick a lot of what we're offering, especially since our creators are really going to kick it into high gear.

Kiel Phegley: Let's talk about "Siege" and the end of the big event cycle for a minute. As I'm sure you've seen, there's been a lot of talk on whether or not the series is "a flop" because it didn't debut with the big sales numbers stories like "Civil War" and "Secret Invasion" did and hasn't sold as much with its early issues as DC's "Blackest Night." What do you make of all that? Did "Siege" perform below Marvel's expectations?

Joe Quesada: Those numbers that are reported are deceiving in many ways. "Civil War" and "Secret Invasion" were published during very different economic times as what we're seeing with "Siege" and were much, much larger events in scope, and even issue count. And, while we don't compare the sales of our books to other companies, you have to look at all the other big ticket books we had coming out at the same time: "Captain America Reborn," "Ultimate Comics X," "Fall of the Hulks," "New Avengers," "Dark Avengers," "Nation X," "X-Necrosha," "Second Coming," not to mention "Thor," "Iron Man," "Spider-Man" and, yes, even "Deadpool." Keep in mind, while you may not see "Secret Invasion" style numbers on "Siege," our overall market share has gone up. That means that we are doing incredibly well across a wider number of books as opposed to just one brand or one event.

So, as we announced earlier last year, we were trending away from one huge blockbuster event each year and instead we were looking to more contained events, more along the lines of the success we had with "Annihilation" a few years ago, but on a larger scale. So the short answer is, yes, we're extremely pleased with sales on the series. Keep in mind, you don't see all the actual numbers on those internet reports, and any series that increases in orders over a short 4 issue span, as "Siege" has done, when everything these days just hits a decline issue after issue, is a huge success in our minds.

Kiel Phegley: I think one thing that has changed how the public has viewed this series is that, even before issue #1 came out, you guys were starting to talk about the "Heroic Age" branding, and now before "Siege" has wrapped, the Heroic Age promotion has come on full bore. I know a lot of that is necessitated by having to alert retailers to the books they'll be ordering for May and beyond, but do you think that the very fact that you're already talking about how the heroes will be united and cooperating come summer has taken the wind out of "Siege's" sails to some extent? Won't fans be less excited about a book if they feel they already know the ending?

Joe Quesada: Well, isn't that always the case as we market stuff three months in advance? Readers may always feel like they have the answers to what's going to happen. Hopefully, if we do our job right, they'll find some nice surprises. And to be honest, I don't think it matters either way. Folks who are interested in the Marvel Universe and "Siege" are going to read it regardless, because even knowing the outcome, every one of us wants to know how we get there, and as I've stated, sales have been going up on the series, so that to me says that interest is peaking.

Kiel Phegley: Another piece of news that hit on the heels of your ECCC appearance was that Marvel is ready to release some Marvelman product starting in June with a "Marvelman Classic Primer." You spoke at the convention about interviewing Marvelman creator Mick Anglo recently, and I'm assuming that was for the Primer. What was that experience like, and what can fans expect from this opening one-shot come June?

Joe Quesada: Meeting Mick was a huge thrill, and despite his age, he's still spry and sharp as a whip. He also has a pretty sick sense of humor, which I really appreciate (surprise, surprise). What was interesting about Mick is that he really doesn't understand to this day what the big deal is with respect to Marvelman and his past work. It was just a job for him back in the day. While he is certainly appreciative, he is incredibly humble about the whole thing - but also incredibly eager to see his old work in print, which is what we'll be starting with.

As amazingly fun as it was to speak to Mick about his old comics days, Mick's stories of his time in WWII were just fantastic to hear. He has had such a colorful life that it would probably make a better comic than anything currently on the market.

Kiel Phegley: As exciting as this all is, many have been wondering what the classic material on tap for the summer means for the famed modern material? What can you say about the full rollout in terms of why you've started with the original British material and when readers might expect word on more plans for Marvelman at Marvel?

Joe Quesada: A publishing plan has been set internally at Marvel, and we'll be making this all public very soon. But that said, we think it's important to put MM in historical context, so it only seems fitting that we start with the original Mick Anglo creation and run. While Mick is well known in the UK, I think this will help people here in the states realize what a great artist he was. It's a perfect primer for anyone wanting to really immerse themselves in the rich history of Marvelman. So, patience, grasshopper, patience.

Kiel Phegley: Let's shift topics for a minute to another piece of Marvel news which has been a very hot topic of late: the casting of Captain America for Joe Johnston's upcoming Cap feature film. Chris Evans has been confirmed as the lead, but even before that, this process did draw a lot of talk including multiple reports on what actors were reading for the part weeks ahead of time. Why do you think people are so invested in this specific casting process?

Joe Quesada: Well, all I can say is that last week I was out in LA on a super secret covert mission. Well, it was covert until I mentioned it on Twitter the other day (whoops). And, from what I've seen, I think it's reasonable to say that the search for Captain America left no stone unturned in Hollywood. If you can think of an actor who might fit the role, either perfectly or remotely, I can almost assure you they have been considered and or screen tested for the part.

This has probably been the most exhaustive search for a lead actor since the search for Scarlett O'Hara. But, this makes sense as the role of Cap is such an incredibly special one and really bigger than life. Not only does an actor have to embody the sheer power and charisma of a character like Cap, he must also be able to demonstrate his humility. Add to this the 90 lb. weakling aspect of Steve Rogers and you have a part that is very tough to fill by anyone's standards. The other thing to keep in mind is that while in our comics, Cap is shown as a mature man, perhaps in his early thirties, who has seen a lot of the world - this can't be the case in the Cap movie. Steve Rogers is about 24 when he enlists, and he's not much older than that when he becomes Cap. This may seem like culture shock to fans who have been reading his comics for decades, but when you stand back and think about it for a second, you have to scratch your head and say, "oh yeah, that's right!"

The reason I think fans are so invested in these rumors is because we all have a mental image of what our favorite Marvel heroes look like, and we all hope to see that perfect person who looks like they just walked out of our books and onto the screen. But I think history has proven that what is most important in these roles is finding the right actor or actress first that can embody the spirit of the character and who can give the performance of a lifetime doing so. I think the current batch of leading actors and actresses in our Marvel-produced movies have proven that to be very much the case.

But this is where the casting of Chris Evans is such a homerun. Here you have a guy who absolutely embodies every aspect of Cap, including the look and feel of the character. Kevin Feige was absolutely beaming after meeting with Chris and seeing what he could do, and I've got to tell you, I think he's perfect as well. See, that to me is the beauty of the movies that we at Marvel produce. We know the characters better than anyone outside of our fans, and we know how important it is to cast just that right person. We aren't a bunch of Hollywood execs who don't understand the source material or it's history; it's Marvel guys and gals making Marvel movies, and that's a huge difference.

Chris Evans is going to rock as Cap, as will Sebastian Stan as Bucky, who plays a pretty important part in our movie. The story is epic, the director is a legendary icon and the cast is taking shape in fantastic ways - man, it's great to be a Marvel fan in this new millennium!

Kiel Phegley: I do think that with Captain America, people expect the character to really represent what America means and are far more likely to project upon him their own views. We've seen a little bit of this recently with the "Tea Bagging" incident in the Cap monthly, where folks across the political spectrum seemed ready to label Cap a conservative or a liberal. It seems a movie might take that kind of talk to a much bigger level. Have you and the guys at Marvel Films discussed the political nature of having a superhero called Captain America while preparing the story and thinking about casting?

Joe Quesada: Of course we have, and it's something that we don't take lightly. What's important to note is that this is a guy who wears the American flag, and that flag stands for different things to different people. What is key to us is really more Cap the man than Cap's politics. I think if we focus on that, the movie will avoid any claims of partisanship or what have you. That said, I can almost guarantee you that someone will want to find something in the motives behind why Cap does the things he does. It just comes with the territory and is nothing that we haven't experienced before.

Kiel Phegley: Okay, so I guess we ignored it long enough, but there's been even more huge Marvel news.

Joe Quesada: Really, what, I have no idea what you're talking about?

Kiel Phegley: First, have you had a chance to play with the iPad, and more specifically the Marvel app? Share with us some quick impressions, if you will, and the reading experience as contrasted to a typical comic book. Is it different? Enhanced?

Joe Quesada: I don't have an iPad as of yet, but fully intend on getting, most likely more than a couple. My family is an Apple family, wall to wall, PCs are like Kryptonite to us, so an iPad and a man purse are on my horizon. The Marvel app is remarkable, Ira Rubentstein and his team were very patient and, along with ComiXology, came up with an app that is just incredible - you've seen the reviews, right? This is one awesome digital comics experience. Knowing Ira, as we start to get consumer feedback, he and his team will be tinkering endlessly with the app to improve the experience, so there's more to come.

Kiel Phegley: How significant an impact does Marvel feel the iPad and similar devices will have on Marvel's bottom line? Any predictions as to when - if ever - comics go completely digital?

Joe Quesada: Are you kidding, the significance could be...well, significant. The iPad could be the new feeder system for brick and mortar stores. Ever since the newsstand really died for comics, that element has been missing in many ways. Trades in bookstores picked up some of the slack, but the newsstand used to be huge. I think the iPad will be that and more and will improve the sales of comics in all areas, especially at comic shops. That's why we have the comic shop locator built into the app.

Will comics ever go completely digital? Honestly, who knows if they will. I know that, in my heart of hearts, I hope that all forms of comics delivery survive and flourish, because it's all part of the experience of having, reading and sharing your comics. But there are people that have no access to direct market stores, and for them, the digital world may be the perfect solution.

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 next week's massive return to our weekly fan-generated question-and-answer session with Joe! Do it to it!

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