The always rambunctious "Cup O' Joe" panel was punctuated by shaking walls from some sort of combat demonstration in the room next door and by fans openly confronting each other over the likes of the Great Lakes Avengers (X-Men? Champions? Whatever) but there were precious glimpses of future events and important insights into editorial logic as well.
Quesada appeared alongside Marvel's Publicity Manager Jim McCann, VP of Sales David Gabriel, Managing Editor David Bogart and Executive Editor Tom Brevoort. He proudly announced a special event where he and comics legend Stan Lee would sit down for a conversation at UCLA to benefit ACTOR, with "an after party ... we'll know more soon."
Quesada also announced Young Guns '06: Reloaded, a Marvel initiative to promote a set of artists as "the next big thing" (see expanded coverage here at CBR) which includes Clayton Crain, Simone Bianchi, Pascal Ferry, Leinil Yu, Ariel Olivetti and Billy Tan (who'll be joining Ed Brubaker on "Uncanny X-Men").
Quesada had slides spotlighting the "noirish" "Moon Knight," which will have a Spider-Man guest appearance in issue seven and an "unusual" Civil War tie-in for issue eight. C.B. Cebulski literally wandered in to join the panel, and then announced his new "Legend of the Spider-Clan" with Skottie Young, a 48-page one-shot in November.
WIth Brevoort, Quesada announced the return of the No-Prize, in which Brevoort will randomly award service to Marveldom, not just the explanation away of possible mistakes in Marvel comics. Instead of the traditional empty envelope, "an empty email will be sent," Brevoort said. "A No-Spam."
"Just remember -- Tom loves vanilla wafers," Quesada suggested, and Brevoort nodded in agreement.
The panel also gave kudos to the expected record breaking run on "Ultimate Spider-Man" by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley, but decided "to make it a little bit harder," Brevoort said of their expected passage of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's epic run on Fantastic Four. As previously announced, a "lost issue" of "Fantastic Four," started in 1970 but never completed, will be published in a huge special, as a collaboration approved by the estate of Jack Kirby with new scripting by Stan Lee himself. Eight pages of this issue have been published as flashback pages in other issues, but it features "twelve new pages" that have never been published. Brevoort said it would be inked and colored both in a traditional fashion and using all the new technology available. The original pencils will be included in the issue, so fans can see "this story in every possible way," Brevoort said. For more on this project, check out our brief chat with Brevoort during Comic-Con International and look for more on this project later this week here at CBR.
The floor was opened up for questions, and Quesada soon got into the subject of Peter Parker's marriage. "I'm not crazy about it," Quesada admitted. "Everybody wants to write a single Peter Parker ... but I will not divorce Peter Parker ... if we do that, and it gets into the media that Peter Parker got divorced, first of all most people who hear it won't know that he was married, and then they'll say 'How can Marvel do this? How can they let Peter Parker get divorced?' You have no idea the flak we got on 'Rawhide Kid,' they had Stan Lee on 'Crossfire,' and this lady was just crucifying him on 'how can they put this in a kid's comic book?' Stan was like, 'it's a character that nobody has cared about, and it's an adult comic!' ... When you put out the marketing that this is a gay lead character, there will be a controversy. The media picks up the stuff and goes crazy with it. It's the world we live in. The last thing I wanna do is have people coming down on the comics industry."
Quesada talked about his commitment to reflecting the real world in comics. "Have you looked at 'The Ultimates?' Have you seen all the international characters in there? I'm Hispanic. I saw DC comics, and I saw them as my parents. I saw Spider-Man, and I thought of him as a peer, or that in a few years I could be Spider-Man. I was reading 'Fantastic Four' and saw this character the Black Panther. I was like, 'wow, this is a character of color!' I grew up in a neighborhood with Hispanics and Blacks and Marvel was speaking to us. [Diversity's] always been what Marvel's done. I don't want to put out a mandate, 'we're gonna make all these international characters,' because it's story driven. For example, there will be no Alpha Flight book, but their fans will be happy."
Quesada hammered home the point that big events have to be story driven, when asked if the fate of the Super-Skrull will resonate in Runaways. "We had to keep the cosmic stuff to itself," Quesada responded. "It would have been easy to tie 'Annihilation' into 'Civil War' ..."
"Speak for yourself," Brevoort interjected, getting a laugh from the crowd.
From the academic to the absurd, a man in a Captain America outfit offered Quesada a muffin, another fan asked for ten dollars, and when a man suggested that the New Warriors were tough enough to take on Terrax but got killed by Nitro, and that the Great Lakes Avengers would have been better, another fan angrily shouted "You leave them alone" and pointed a finger accusatorially. Quesada merely chuckled.
Questions revealed that Ghost Rider's look will be explained in issue five of his title, that Bendis and Maleev's "Spider-Woman" is slated for 2007, alongside a possible Luke Cage title. Despite wanting to capitalize on the Sci Fi Channel popularity, Quesada took "Painkiller Jane" to Dynamite, even though an Icon deal was available, to avoid conflict of interest and the appearance of impropriety, and that he turns down lots of requests to do covers for Marvel books to again avoid the appearance of abusing his position. The Scarlet Witch will be back in "New Avengers" #26, there'll be a "Halo" book in March or April, and he considered Tony Stark the hardest character to deal with in regards to aging and developing. He again batted down the rumor that the Ultimate universe will take over the traditional "616," but said, "I cannot confirm or deny rumors about Mary Jane dying." About digital comics and new technology, Quesada said, "The retailers and the industry have to adapt to the market. I don't know what's going to happen." They revealed that Chris Claremont's health is improving, and that he'll be back in January, and that Neil Gaiman might take two years to get back to Marvel, but they do want him to stay involved. "But I will go after Neil Diamond," he added, riffing on mishearing the question in the first case, when the fan pronounced the name "Guy-Man."
The traditional "how can new writers break in" question was asked, and again Quesada suggested publish by hook or by crook, and said that Marvel had 26 writers who had never done comics before get their start at Marvel in the last year. Quesada told a story of a man who approached him at a 'con in Charlotte with a comic polybagged with an iPod Nano. "The comic started as a podcast," Quesada explained, "and he wanted me to hear that too. I told him 'I can't accept that. Because if I do, it will taint your entire career, people will think you got hired because you gave Joe Quesada an iPod Nano.' He understood, and I took the comic, and read it, and it was great."
Weirdest of all was a question about funny animal comics. "At a lunch, we floated the idea of a funny animal month, a fifth week event. We kind of left it up in the air. A week later, Joe Stracynski hands in a Spider-Ham issue. And it's a Civil War tie-in. So we'll publish that sooner or later." When asked whether Spider-Ham, Ducktor Doom and the other characters were pro- or anti-registration, McCann quipped that they were all registered with PETA, and Brevoort said they'd been tagged. "By the FDA," Quesada added. "That was funny, the FDA, some of them didn't get it ..."