MyCup o' Joe is the weekly communiqué from Marvel Comics Editor in Chief Joe Quesada to the legion of Mighty Marvelites Assembled! Every Friday, Joe will sit down with journalist Jim McLauchlin to answer questions on the pressing issues of the day at Marvel and throughout comics.
And you get to chip in as well! Joe will be answering YOUR questions NEXT week! To get in on the fun, post your questions at the bottom of this page!
JM: So J. Jonah Jameson is mayor of New York. It's nice to see another Irishman in office. For that, I thank you.
JQ: Wait. J. Jonah Jameson is Irish? I didn't know that.
JM: With a name like "J. Jonah Jameson," he has to be. Think about it: Your favorite Irish whiskey is Jameson's, right?
JQ: I thought that was your favorite Irish whiskey.
JM: My favorite is Irish whiskey is whatever's in arm's reach. But I will claim J. Jonah for the Dubs!
JQ: Whatever you say.
JM: Well, regardless, question is: Is this something that was on the drawing board as soon as you started mapping out what was to happen in "Brand New Day," or did it become part of the plan as you went along?
JQ: It wasn't a Day One idea, but I'm pretty sure we did come up with that in the second Spider-Man retreat we had. It was very early on. It was a little bit of a subject for debate, because one of our rules in the Marvel Universe it that it's based on the real world, and that office is obviously not held by J. Jonah Jameson in the real world. But there were so many great and compelling reasons to have Jonah become the mayor, that we decided to go with it. And we really weren't concerned with "Oh, let's see his rise to political power and the campaign," but we were well more concerned with all the fun we could have with "Wow. Just what the hell would this do to Peter Parker and Spider-Man?" Those particular points and story elements were just too compelling for us that we couldn't not do it. That apple was just too juicy not to take a bite out of.
JM: It occurs to me that much is made about story planning and going with the hot iron in the fire as regards the TV show Lost. That said, you guys have big honkin' "summits" and make macro- plans for your books. Do you have a general philosophy or rule of thumb when it comes to sticking with the plan versus abandoning ship in favor of what you hope is a better idea?
JQ: Generally speaking, we don't change the plan. The "change for a better idea," we hope, comes at these summits themselves. We'll debate stuff for days sometimes to hopefully get it right. Rarely do we change gears after the summit is done. There are just too many other moving parts it could effect, and an entire editorial group and an entire group of writers and artists who have bought in to what the plan is. It just wouldn't be prudent for us to change. So if there's another idea to be had, we generally save it for the next summit and make it part of the next year's publishing.
JM: Is there, though, a single "for instance"? Can you recall one idea that really clicked that you decided to run with that ran contrary to a previous macro- plan?
JQ: Not really. The one kinda of famous-slash-infamous change we did make, though, happened at one of the summits, and happened, I think, right at the end of the third day. Again, we'll go over this stuff for days sometimes, and the closest we came to making a big change was still at a summit when we came up with the idea for Civil War as our big summer crossover. We were going to do "Planet Hulk" leading into World War Hulk. That still happened, but when the idea for Civil War came up at the 11th hour, we realized that one was a better fit for the entire Marvel Universe. World War Hulk is still a great story and I still love it, but one of the great sayings in the world of writing is that "Sometimes, you have to kill your little darlings." World War Hulk was one of those darlings, and we just moved it a bit to the side so Civil War could be center stage.
JM: And we're right around the corner from Amazing Spider-Man #600. Any big honkin' plans there?
#600 cover by
JQ: Yeah. How about 100 pages, all original content? How about a Stan Lee story? We've got all sorts of great stuff in that book. We really look at Spider-Man kind of like our company mascot, and this will be a story worthy of being a great anniversary present to that company mascot.
JM: When you get Stan Lee involved with something these days, what's it like for you? Is there the fanboy giddy when he sends in the script, or is it just like working with any other writer?
#600 cover by
JQ: It's always a joy working with Stan. You can't help but feel his giddiness, his energy. As soon as he makes that first keystroke and you start getting the stuff, we all start getting excited. You can't help it—he's Stan!
JM: Hey, looks like Gene "The Dean" Colan is drawing Captain America #601, which is pretty cool. Now this is…what? The Captain America Annual you've had in the works for a while, yes?
JQ: Yeah. Now this story was always part of [writer] Ed Brubaker's master plan, but it's now winding up in a different issue. One of the things we realized when we started getting Gene's art was that it was just so absolutely stunning, that it deserved a better showcase in a sales and marketing sense. And it's just the structure of comics, the infrastructure of comic sales, that part of the regular series will sell better and have more eyeballs on it than an Annual. We had the opportunity to put it into the actual run of Captain America, the issue right after #600, so we did. It's also a nice opportunity to give a little tribute to Gene, and show folks how awesome his stuff is. On top of it all, we're going to print the story twice in the issue. Once "regular," and once black-and-white, just Gene's pencils, so everyone can see just how amazing his work is.
JM: Y'know, it's interesting. Gene Colan is one of those guys who never lost his fastball. When he does that grayscale pencil routine, it is amazing and beautiful to behold.
JQ: Yeah. Absolutely. The guy can still crank.
JM: If you look at yon Interwebs, which is always a notion with its own inherent upsides and downsides…
JQ: You mean the tubes? The tubes?!
JM: Sure. That series of vacuum tubes. It seems like a large amount of people just wanna hate on Marvel Divas. Is this your perception as well? If so…why do you think? The title? The high concept? Anything?
JQ: Well, first of all, I'd take exception to "a large amount of people." What's a large amount of people? Two? Two million? I dunno. But the bottom line is, there's not a single thing we could talk about here that someone won't hate on. And some people really like to find something, make it negative, and focus on it.
Marvel Divas…if it's for you, great. If it's not for you, okay, that's fine as well. But I just don't get how people want to hate on things without having read a stitch of it.. What have you read of it? What have you seen of it? If you want to hate it after the fact, fine. Hate on it. Maybe we didn't give you a book you loved. That'll happen. There are hits, there are misses. But if people want to hate something before they've read it, before they've seen anything of it… okay, knock yourself out.
JM: Do you ever just scratch your head and go, "I just don't get it. I don't get why people love to get so up in arms over something. If you don't dig it, don't read it" as regards a Marvel Divas or similar?
JQ: No. I have been doing this now at Marvel for 10-plus years. It doesn't bother me in the slightest. It might have a bit when I was a rookie, but now I realize it just comes with the territory. I could bang my head against a wall if I wanted, but it wouldn't change a thing. It just seems that in the essence of fandom, at its root…some people just want to hate. They hate, but guess what? They read. And they buy. And they hate some more, and they read and they buy. So hate as much as you like—we love you anyway!
JM: Now I know you want to talk a bit more, as we did last week, about "writers breaking in." One aspect I'd like to focus on is just getting out there and producing your own comic, via Image, yourself, or whatever. You said Marvel is always looking everywhere for new talent. Is this one of the places you look?
JQ: Yeah. We sure do. As we talked about last week, the cold submission is a much, much more difficult place to get discovered. Having a comic we can look at makes it much easier, and it's already in the language of comics. It's a much, much easier way for us to look at the material, and to digest it. You can see very early on how someone handles dialogue, what they can do, and if they really know how to write for comics.
JM: And due to this wonderful system of vacuum tubes we have called the "Internet," collaboration is possible across borders—
JQ: —and let me interject, it's a lot easier and a lot cheaper, too, collaborating via the Web. Back in the day, we might have asked if you had something in print or at least if you had an ashcan or sample we could look at. But now, in the digital world, people are able to put their own comic together without spending a dime on getting it printed up. And even if you want to print it up, there are now printers these days that can do small runs on books at extraordinarily low prices. In the past, this would have cost a fortune.
With the digital age and the world getting so much smaller and people finding each other across continents, finding people and resources as a writer is so much easier now. There's just no excuse for a writer not to find someone with the similar passion to create and collaborate with them. Plenty of people are looking to create comic books right now. I just wish I had these resources and opportunities back when I was breaking in! I would have taken full advantage of them. So when I hear a writer say, "You know, I'd love to team up with an artist, but I just haven't been able to…" keep looking. There are tons of artists out there looking to break in as well, and they need a story to draw and they want to find someone simpatico with the way they feel. So go out there. Find those people. Do it.
JM: Crossing those borders, it seems Marvel finds lots of international artistic talent, but very few writers. Why is that? Is it as simple as language?
JQ: It's funny you should mention this, because I has this very conversation with a friend of mine just the other day whose parents are writers working in another field but English wasn't their first language, so they were having trouble trying to crack the U.S. market and the main reason was because it's very difficult to do so when your dominant language isn't English. The truth of the matter is that, in my years at Marvel, I've only seen one writer who didn't speak English as a first language who was able to write strong and compelling material for American-style comic books. And that was Akira Yoshida, who wrote Tales of Asgard and all sorts of other stuff for us.
We find, almost every time, that no matter how great a writer might be in the comics field in another country, it just doesn't translate well. They might be able to get from point A to point B in a story just fine, but there's a certain flow, along with certain colloquialisms and turns of a phrase, that are just missing. Structure can be different, too. What might be considered classical story structure in the U.S. might not be considered that in Japan, or anywhere else for that matter. It's very, very difficult for writers to go from one culture to another. And of course, that's a two-way street. I think a lot of great U.S. writers would have a hard time writing for a foreign market. I'm sure I couldn't do it.
JM: I gotta work in one quick plug. Our pal Scott Dunbier over at IDW is putting together Hero Comics, a one-shot for August, and Marvel is kindly allowing us to publish some Art Adams cover recreations he did as commissions, such as the Hulk #181 here. Is this guy wonderfully freakin' insane, or what?
JQ: The guy is crazy. He's also one of those guys who has inspired, by now, generations of artists with the work he produces, and he continues to do so today. The only problem with Art Adams artwork—and I'm sure Art will be the first to tell you this as well—is that there's just not enough of it out there! He is amazing. But I think that will be changing. He's got some irons in the fire with us.
JM: That's right. A project with [writer] Jeph Loeb, right?
JQ: Yes, but about that, I can say no more.
JM: Then you are on to reader questions.
Could you please give your readers an honest, straightforward and most importantly BS-free explanation about what is causing the delay with the new Spider-Woman series? The book was originally due on April 1st, then I believe it was June 3rd, then June 24th and now it has been canceled and supposedly will be resolicited at a later date. Could you give your readers an idea of exactly how the book fell so badly behind schedule, and in the future could you please refrain from soliciting a book until you are certain that it will be ready when promised?
JQ: First off, Mike, I really have to take issue with the way you asked your question. You're pretty much saying, "Could you not lie about it, like you always do," and I don't think that's cool. No matter the subject, I always try to shoot straight with you guys, whether you like the message I have for you or not. I don't do these columns every week to hide from the readers—I'm here to speak about whatever you want to talk about.
The reason for the delay on Spider-Woman is quite simple. As we've announced previously, that series is going to debut as the first of our all-new Motion Comics, a major digital initiative that we believe is going to become a bigger and bigger part of our publishing program as more and more of the world turns to digital platforms for their entertainment. The drawback with working in a new medium like this is that there's plenty of experimentation. Everything is new, and so little has been done before, so it's taking us all a bit longer to work out the kinks than it normally would, and we'd rather delay and get it right than rush it along being only a fraction of what it could be. If it was just a normal comic, we'd be way ahead of schedule—but it isn't. This is Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev, after all, who did a five-year run on Daredevil with nary a misstep—I think they've got the kind of track record for delivery that you can look at and understand that the delay isn't from a lack of work being produced. Brian's already written a huge number of scripts. Here's a tiny taste of what's to come:
TITLE: AGENT OF S.W.O.R.D.
BY Brian Michael Bendis
Immediate continuation from last episode. Same scene, same setting.
From behind Jessica on her hands and knees looking wide past the crowded street to the sky just over her head and a half a block away.
AN OLD SCHOOL AVENGERS QUINJET is coming in for a low hover. The baydoor opens to reveal... THE NEW AVENGERS.
Spider-man, Luke Cage, Captain America (catching his shield) Wolverine, Ms. Marvel, Ronin, and Mockingbird.
Everyone is there to help. There to help a friend. It's a real amazing moment in the life of Jessica Drew. A moment she didn't know she had coming to her.
(A full page spread in the comic)
They're Skrulls. They're all Skrulls. Not the Avengers. Not Wolverine or Carol Danvers. Skrulls!!
Dazzle Me Softly asks:
Hey Joe! When can we see more Daniel Acuna interior artwork? I know he was listed as a Young Gun and his work in Eternals was awesome, but now all we see him doing is covers (which are awesome) but I'd love to see him do more. Maybe a book like X-Force?
JQ: Keep your ear to the ground, Dazzle. Seٌor Acuٌa has some big news coming on a September book! Your suggestion isn't far from the truth!
Hey Joe, what's going on with Moon Knight? Is it taking a month off or is there something more to it? Writer Charlie Huston turned him into my favorite character and I'd hate to see the book get quietly cancelled.
JQ: You haven't seen the last of Moon Knight, trust me. Look for clues to Moon Knight's destination in the denouement to Moon Knight #30. We are very excited about Moon Knight's future.
Steven Ghost asks:
Are there any big plans for X-Factor #50?
JQ: Definitely—but there are EVEN BIGGER plans for the following issue.
When will we next get to see Rick Jones/A-Bomb, and any chance of an explanation behind his new alter-ego?
And with Deadpool and Hulk as top sellers right now, is there any chance we can see the two appear in the same book anytime soon?
JQ: Check out HULK 13 for next appearance of A-Bomb and INCREDIBLE HULK #600 for his senses-shattering origin. As for Deadpool and Hulk, looks like we're on the same wavelength, RMFJ!
Any plans on a release date for Ultimate Comics Avengers and Ultimate Comics Spider-Man? With Ultimatum #5 delayed until July 15, would that mean both books have to come out in August so you don't spoil the story?
JQ: The release of Ultimate Comics must be closely coordinated with the mind-blowing conclusion of Ultimatum. Stay tuned for adjusted street dates. But have you seen the awesome covers to our Ultimate Requiem specials in July?
Chaka KAHNNNNNNNNNNNNNN! Asks:
I know you have said in the past that "dead means dead," but you think there's any chance we'll see Kraven the Hunter coming back anytime soon? It would be awesome to him and his daughter up for another run at Spidey.
JQ: There's definitely more to Ana Kraven than meets the eye, and both she and the mysterious woman we saw with her at the end of the recent "Kraven's First Hunt" storyline in Amazing Spider-Man will be turning up again when you least expect them—and as the build-up to the much-rumored SINISTER 666 begins! But Kraven himself is pretty dead, and has been for a good long time now. Still, that didn't stop us with Bucky…
Hey Joe, I'm really diggin' the Marvel Noir titles. Can you give any info regarding other characters getting the Noir treatment?
JQ: Yes, we are. Here are a couple covers for you to mull over.
Gypsy Kill Krew asks:
Hey Joe, what's the fate of the Initiative and Camp Hammond? Will there still be a team in every state? I know Norman Osborn's still looking for all the Initiative information that Tony's been keeping in his head, but where are all these heroes going to go? Will Norman enlist them?
JQ: These are some relevant and well-timed questions you have, Gypsy—especially as the answers are all revealed in Avengers: The Initiative #23, on sale this week! And you know how I hate to spoil your reading experience!
Father Jim asks:
The Defenders have always been an awesome concept for a super-team, and they've made some odd appearances since they last had an ongoing series. Any plans to permanently resurrect them, and not in a tongue-in-cheek kind of way?
JQ: Father Jim, if you want to get your fix of one of the coolest versions of the DEFENDERS to come around since the original line up, check out the current arc of HULK (10 through 12) featuring…the original line up!!!! The bone-crushing, beam-blasting, fist-pounding action is brought to you by masters Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness. This jaw-dropping image of the DEFENDERS VS. THE OFFENDERS is also available in Hulk size as a poster available at your local comic shop now!
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