Marvel Decade

Marvel Decade: Dan Buckley

The CEO & Publisher of Marvel closes out our series looking at the past 10 years with his memories of the period's most impactful events!

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As the year 2000 dawned, Marvel Comics had only recently escaped bankruptcy and the company's future stood on shaky ground at best.

Flash forward 10 years. With landmark achievements in film, animation, publishing and digital media behind it, Marvel not only solidified its hold on the comic book world, it established itself as an incredibly successful worldwide entertainment brand with few peers.

As the company stands at the edge of 2010, Marvel.com takes a look back with the people who made it all happen speaking in their own words; this is Marvel Decade.

 

Dan Buckley's first tenure at Marvel lasted from July 1991 to September 1998, during which time he oversaw fields within the company including international publishing and new product development, last holding the title of VP - Marketing Services. In October of 2003, Buckley returned to the House of Ideas as Publisher and has spent the past six-plus years steering the company to unprecedented new heights. Earlier this year, Buckley assumed the new position of CEO & Publisher, Print, Animation & Digital Media.

 

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN
Bendis & Bagley on ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN
Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley being put on ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN begins to define what Marvel would become in the 2000's. Yes, that all actually happened while I wasn't here, but it was very significant. At the time and with the nature of the concept, we needed an artist with clean lines and a writer [who] wouldn't scare parents and Bendis and Bagley were perfect for it. In fact, the [Ultimate line] as a whole really defined the creative process and how we manage production values today.

Marvel Movies Take Off
The first "Spider-Man" film is part of the reason Marvel came back as a company. We'd had some success with the "X-Men" movie, but we were still limping around when the first "Spider-Man" got real big. No one really saw it coming. No one really expected it. The significance of it was it showed us that Marvel was more than relevant and that we could control our own destiny. The next major release, of course, would be the first "Iron Man." There was a new Marvel when "Spider-Man" came and "Iron Man" represented a new Marvel fully in control of its own destiny. These movies

"Spider-Man"
were seminal events to where Marvel was at the time.

The Decade of the Writer
As a decade you have to put Joe Quesada, Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Millar on the same line. They really defined how comics operate. Their collaborative capabilities and their great storytelling-they're very special creators, much in the same way Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were. I'm not taking anything away from our artists but it was definitely the decade of the writer. You'd be hard pressed to go through comics history and find three guys that had both a number one book in the beginning of a decade and a number one book at the end. Joe has had the second longest tenure as Editor-in-Chief after Stan Lee and it happened during this decade.

Young Guns
Don't get me wrong, this decade also produced a plethora of new, marketable pencilers like Steve McNiven, Olivier Coipel, Jimmy Cheung, Adi Granov, Bryan Hitch, etc. There was a huge influx of these guys, a

Avengers Disassembled
veritable wave of rock star artists during the decade. The first batch of "Young Guns" artists we picked really had a huge impact on the books. They created a bar that was set for other "Young Guns" who have come along since.

Avengers DIS-Assemble?!
Avengers: Disassembled proved we can make our super heroes and books some of the best. Going back to one of my first creative retreats, we really focused on what we could do to reinvigorate the Avengers. It was Mark Millar who came up with the simple idea of putting Spider-Man and Wolverine on the team; that's where it all started.

We Have to Astonish Them!
ASTONISHING X-MEN with Joss Whedon and John Cassaday was a big one for us. It's an evergreen story that people will read forever. And how it came about is rather fascinating. [NEW X-MEN writer] Grant Morrison had just left Marvel for DC and, as you might imagine, Joe Quesada was bummed out about it. At San Diego Comic-Con that year, Joe happened to be signing at a table and Joss Whedon appeared. The rest is history.

Marvel Adventures
Marvel Adventures: All Ages Fun
Nowhere in Marvel's history had there been a true all-ages line before. I noticed [this] when I got back to the company; I was actually uncomfortable with some of our content. As a whole it had gotten too dark, not just in storytelling, it was borderline overly sexualized. With the help of David Gabriel [now Marvel SVP, Sales and Circulation] and Alan Fine [now Marvel EVP, Office of the Chief Executive] along with C.B. Cebulski [now Marvel's Talent Liaison] and MacKenzie Cadenhead [formerly a Marvel editor], we produced over 25 22-page comic books in under two months so we could launch the Marvel Adventures line. It's been the longest running all-ages super hero line in Marvel history, along with First Class. I'm proud of that.

Stephen King and Third Party Publishers
Publishing material from third party publishers and especially working with Stephen King was huge for us. At first, I didn't know what "The Dark Tower" was. But after I found out, I knew we had to do it. It has been great because there hasn't been a Dark Tower movie or television show, so we haven't had to compete with anything graphically. As for Stephen

Stephen King's The Dark Tower
King, I never met a more creative mind in my life. Stephen came into the room one afternoon and hammered out a whole story line we could use for Dark Tower and how we could adapt it for comics. Stephen's people were probably some of the most pleasant and fair people I've ever done a business deal with. And the creative team behind Dark Tower really made it all happen; writers Peter David and Robin, and artists Jae Lee and Richard Isanove. The success has since lead us to Orson Scott Card's Enders Game, Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake, Halo, and Soliel which has ultimately in the end helped us grow the company and the graphic fiction business.

Hero vs. Hero
The whole idea of the event came out of the last four hours of a retreat where someone uttered the two words "Civil War," and everyone just jumped on the idea. Immediately, we drew up plans of who would be on which side, with creators arguing the reasons why. CIVIL WAR will be the book that really says what we did during the 2000's. It was the top selling event of the decade and the beginning of a huge mass market run. The

Civil War
"Whose side are you on?" promotional campaign generated a lot of excitement. It actually went along with the country's zeitgeist at the time. People really "got it." They could agree with Tony Stark, Iron Man [who was pro-government supported super hero registration], even though maybe they wouldn't admit it. While with Captain America [who was against registration], it was really a reflection of the times-he was a lighting rod. We found that out the following February when Cap was assassinated. The thing that made it huge was the second issue when Peter Parker unmasked himself. People jumped on it. That second issue outsold the first. That's unheard of in publishing.

The Return of Jeph Loeb
Jeph Loeb coming back to Marvel was big. He's helped with Hulk and so many other stories. He gets super hero fiction He gets people excited. He's just a great Marvel Comics writer.

Rather Icon-ic
Icon proved we can be a home for creators' own ideas. It puts us in a place where we can have creators create their own stuff.

"Ultimate Avengers"
Kimota!
Marvelman found his home. It's fun for us because no one really expected Marvel to be his home. By incorporating one of the most revered properties with its own mysteries into the company, it really represents the vast evolution that Marvel went through during the decade.

Animation Lives Anew
Marvel Animation really saw a rebirth. We'd been out of the game since the 90's [and] "The Amazing Spider-Man." Yes, there was "X-Men: Evolution" and the MTV "Spider-Man," but Marvel hadn't really dedicated itself to animation as a whole until we did the "Ultimate Avengers" film with Lionsgate. This lead to us doing our own shows and it's all us now.

Welcome to the Digital Age
As a whole, I don't think Marvel gets enough credit for its digital comics. We're the leader of publishing digital comics in North America. From Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited to even our Motion Comics, it shows that we are actively trying to bring our medium to the next level.

Executive Producer, Alan Fine
Alan Fine-you Marvel comics readers know him as the Executive Producer listed in our credits-brought real legitimacy to advocating for the Publishing group. He brought a real practicality to the table. Through working with Alan, we were able to do things such as really market House

Marvelman by Joe Quesada
of M and I don't think we would have signed Jeph Loeb without him. Alan has had so much respect for the comics creative community. He's an unsung hero for sure; I don't think we'd be here today without him. One more thing about Alan: You know those Hulk Hands from the early 2000's? They turned out to be a huge toy for us. He was behind that as well.

Disney Steps In
Of course the biggest thing for the end of this decade and looking forward to the next would be Disney and being regarded as highly as Pixar. At the beginning of this decade, there was a time when Marvel was quite seriously on the brink of being sold off character by character. We always knew the characters would live on, but we wanted to see them all kept together. Marvel's story for this decade comes down to this; it's really like a super hero's. We were flat-lining. Then we managed to somehow get up off the table and maybe walk around a bit. And then we got bit by a gamma induced spider and started doing better than ever before. At the end of the 90's all Marvel really had going was comics. Now we've got movies, animation, digital and motion comics and so much more. Most people don't really understand how far we've come.

 

Thanks for celebrating this Marvel Decade with us. Have a safe and happy New Year!

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