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The Fifth Color | Joe Quesada gave good face

by  in Comic News Comment
The Fifth Color | Joe Quesada gave good face

Wednesday we were treated to the first and last one-on-one with Joe Q wherein we get the skinny on the Marvel/Disney buyout for the time being. It’s pretty skinny, folks, as we’re told up front (and at the back) that until the deal goes through, the shareholders make their vote and the checks get written, all the juicy details of what could and could not happen are in the hands of the legal department, not the comic editor.

There is no possible better man for the job, however, than our own Joe Quesada then to handle the multitudes of questions and concerns we fans have because there is no finer EEK out there who can just put his fingers in his ears and go la-la-la!

Kiel Phegley: There are also lots of properties that aren’t in comics these days within the Disney catalogue from some of the classic animated movies through modern hits like “Pirates of the Caribbean” and teen-centric stuff like “High School Musical.” Are there any Disney stories you’d like to bring into comics given the chance?

Joe Quesada: La-la-la-la-la, I can’t hear you. You’re sneaky Phegley, but I know what you’re trying to do! This is your version of “Duck Season-Wabbit Season!” isn’t it? Oh wait, wrong company (laughs).

Brilliant! Even though it was even phrased as a softball “In your, not the company’s, opinion” question, Joey Q just can’t be stopped. Or started.

Let’s cut him the slack he deserves, though, this time. He was very upfront and clear about not being able to answer details legally, so props for the man even taking the stage when the backup band is this thick block of legalese that looks terrifying and boring at the same time to this lay person, but on the other hand… what else do we say? There’s this big elephant in the room and we can’t ask how it got there, what it’s doing or if it’ll leave or if the elephant had any bran recently, we can just look and point and go “Golly, that sure is an elephant!” It’s a weird place, Limbo. Just ask Illyana Rasputin. But it’s where were going to have to be for now when it comes to all the really good chewy questions and blanket fears we the fans have over a big company buyout.

Again, that big block of legal mumbo-jumbo at the bottom. The short-short version is that, not only doesn’t he know the formal when and wheres of this merger, but until there are dates and signatures, he can’t even guess. Now, not a Marvel employee, my guess is that this whole process is going to take about four years to really blossom into something we fans can complain about. If Joe Quesada said that, some red alarm would have gone off and, even though the legal text says that any “forward thinking” is non-binding and no one important is going to back and read this or follow through on any conjecture made in this interview, Mr. Quesada played it safe enough to say as little as humanly possible.

So what can you say? Man’s got a whole article here, internet fans clutching on to CBR like a comforting teddy bear and waiting for one word of “Please don’t let us turn out like DC and Warner Bros.?” We may joke about putting Mouse Ears on the Punisher, there are still some people out there who fear The Mouse’s artistic influence. Well, Quesada does his best to assuage those fears by clearly stating the obvious:

Kiel Phegley: In a more specific sense on the editorial side of things, some have worried aloud whether or not Marvel will be able to produce more mature comics with content that’s seen as less than kid-friendly such as the MAX line or cutting edge books like Jonathan Lethem’s “Omega The Unknown.” Was the future of those types of stories at all discussed during all this?

Joe Quesada: As I mentioned, they have no intention of altering how we go about our business. Bob made it very clear, the reason Disney made this purchase is because they love what we do and have been big fans of it for some time. They want us to continue doing it and with their global reach, we’ll be able to do it even better.

Now, if I were him, I’d correct that “how we go about business” to something more along the lines of “how we go about our creative business” or “altering our creative content”, because let’s face it. Getting corporate overlords not to interfere in business just isn’t going to happen. In my non-Marvel employee status again, I can say that of course Disney is going to get its mitts into Marvel’s business, but that’s all. The business side, the marketing, the shipping, the stock and the bean counting stuff. The things that make the money. They won’t care if the MAX line is showing boobies or the Icon imprint is blowing people’s minds, graphically or metaphorically, just look at Miramax. Disney will however, care about how the product gets into our grubby little hands, which is a discussion for another time.

No, we’re talking about The Man in the Hot Seat today, doing what he does best, and that’s not answering a single one of your questions. It’s annoyed me at convention panels before but today, his powers are used for good and not evil. At this year’s San Diego Comic Con, the Cup O’ Joe panel was asked by a teen fan about the amount of weird growths our flagship heroes like the Hulk and Wolverine have been going through. Saying that these characters “hadn’t changed” since we first met them in the books, it seemed out of character to him to have all these sons pop up and Romulus involved in Logan’s history and the Red Hulk be strongest one there is now and all sorts of gaffs in story show up that change who these characters are at heart. Or at least that’s what I heard. What Quesada heard was “characters don’t change” and told the kid his question was ‘invaild’ and shot him down. Instead of taking it, admitting to have made some bold character decisions recently, maybe adding that the whole ‘son of Wolverine’ and ‘son of Hulk’ is a funny coincidence, then bringing it home by saying what while such drastic steps are drastic, it will lead to some great stories down the line. Even copping to the fact that years from now, some other editor might retcon all of their change later, such is the story of comics, but that would been rather bold. Still, he chose invalidate the question and the guy asking it.

Mid-way or so through this interview, Mr. Phegley brings up something Quesada had said before in regards to our Distinguished Competitors and their corporate overlords:

Kiel Phegley: And I know that one thing you’ve cited in the past that’s been a big difference between Marvel and DC in terms of the publishing slate is DC’s ability to release original graphic novels and prestige format one-shots because their corporate connection to Warner Brothers gives them more leeway in terms of spending cash upfront on long-gestating projects rather than having to serialize all their stories to maximize profits.

So because DC’s got the cash in the back already thanks to Big Daddy Warner, they can take chances on original graphic novels more than Marvel, who’s got to make the cash now rather than wait for the payoff of an OGN. Makes sense… Or does it??

Joe Quesada: Hang on a sec. While WB may offer them this leeway, as an editor and creator, I’ve stated publicly on many occasions that I’ve never seen the benefits of original graphic novels. The economics just don’t work and are poor for both the publisher, retailer and the creator, especially during this Marvel regime when so much of what we do gets compiled into a collected edition anyway. While I would never discount doing one, I don’t see the outward benefits nor does the model work.

Let me pull my retailer card and say that yes, there is a market for original graphic novels to the ‘neophyte who walks into a comic shop’. If it’s reasonably priced, well received in magazine articles or online, they’ll even ask for it by name! Laura Hudson over at Comics Alliance covered this far better that I could have but my two cents is that certain mini-series, like Startling Stories: Banner / The Hulk by Brian Azzarello and personal favorite Thor: Ages of Thunder are practically prestige format graphic novels by now, as the individual issues are no longer as sought out as the collected editions.

In an interview that could have been constant ‘Hey look over there’ jokes or a man sweating bullets on the stage, Joe Quesada insights discussion over the industry in a manner he can handle and that’s the statement above. This rather inflammatory remark has given the reader something to chew on and fans something to discuss that keeps him from Forward Thinking statements and could actually be considered backwards by some fans.

Never let it be said that Joe Quesada can’t get the job done, one way or another.

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