MyCup o' Joe is the weekly communiqué from Marvel Comics Editor in Chief Joe Quesada to the legion of Mighty Marvelites Assembled! Each Friday, Joe sits down with journalist Jim McLauchlin to answer questions on the pressing issues of the day at Marvel and throughout comics.
JM: So, Jets fan, you happy with Mark Sanchez? And do you think he's worth the no. 5 overall pick?
JQ: I'm happy. I think the Jets needed to take a proactive stance in the draft, and they did. It's always a bit of a crapshoot, and we'll see if he's really any good at the NFL level soon enough. So…I guess "cautiously optimistic" would describe my mood. I'm not running out to buy Frank Tieri a Sanchez jersey yet—he got a Brett Favre one immediately last year and got all of one year's use out of it!—because I wanna see the guy get on the field and see what he can do. So remember, Frank—cautious optimism! Hold off on that jersey for now! But the jerseys are in all the stores here already, which is just bizarre to me. He hasn't played a down yet! Optimistic. That's my word.
JM: So have you seen the new Wolverine flick, I assume?
JQ: Nope, haven't seen a stitch of it, if this were a Marvel movie I would have been immersed knee deep into it and would have known all the nooks and crannies, but being that this is Fox's flick, I haven't been privy to a stitch of it. I plan on seeing it but won't get a chance to do so until after this column hits the airwaves.
JM: Speaking of Wolverine, we have new math! #73 comes before #72!
JQ: Yes it does…
JM: Now we all know the reasons: Artists are not machines, people fall down and so on. Plus, the title shifts to Dark Wolverine with #75. But when something like this happens, is it…what? A grit-your-teeth painful moment? A "you gotta laugh" moment?
JQ: Y'know…it's tough. It's a tough moment. You try to keep the integrity of creators and their stories, and keep their run together. And at the same time…well, we have books we have to publish, and with that Wolverine movie coming out, we need our Wolverine books out there. It was one of those things where we had the Solomonesque decision to make and unfortunately in this version, the baby gets split in half. There's no pleasant way to do this. I know some people aren't happy that the numbers are out of order but I don't think people would have been happy if we had just said that Mark Millar and Steve McNiven's run was going to have to be canceled. Their run on Wolvie is just an epic story that people are raving about, so there was no way we wanted to do that. So…this was just the only way we found to go about this in a manner that maintained some semblance of a straightforward and linear story when it was all put together and would hopefully keep the completist happy.
And I know it sucks from a collector standpoint, a numbering standpoint. The math sucks; I'm not going to deny that. It's just one of those situations where we tried to make this as painless as possible, but nothing is totally painless. And lets be honest, at the end of the day, it's just a number on a cover.
JM: Now Marvel's doing a big hoo-hah for the 70th anniversary where fans can help pick the 70 greatest Marvel covers of all time: http://marvel.com/seventy_years/countdown/voting. That said, being both a nerd and an artist yourself, any particular Marvel cover faves of your own?
JQ: Y'know, I'd have to sit there with one of those giant books of Marvel covers to pick out the specific issue numbers—I'm usually pretty terrible with that—but I always come back to some of the great Gil Kane Amazing Spider-Man covers including the ones that I believe he inked over John Romita. I always think of them with very fond memories from when I was young, and when I stumble across them again in day-to-day life at Marvel, its like I fall in love with them all over again. There are so many spectacular covers Gil did. It's like…we were talking about Gene Colan last week and how Gene is one of those guys who never, ever, ever lost his A-game, and Gil Kane is the same way. He had just impeccable skills at rendering anatomy. He could just…twist figures in space in a way that not even Jack Kirby was doing at the time. And speaking of Kirby, there are so many Kirby covers to choose from as well. I mean, Kirby's the King, and one of my all-time favorites as well…
JM: Y'know, it's interesting with Gil Kane. He's one of those people who never really appealed to me as a kid—all I noticed was that you were always looking up someone's nostrils in an up-shot!—but he really, really grew on me as I got older and started to appreciate just what he was doing and how well he did it.
JQ: Yeah, and you might not know, but doing those up-the-nose shots is not an easy thing to do! Doing that perspective, making it look right and making it work is a tough thing for an artist to pull off! But Gil did it so very gracefully. I remember, one of my proudest moments as a young artist trying to break in was showing my artwork to Howard Chaykin and Howard saying, "The way you twist these figures in space reminds me a bit of Gil Kane." I was floored to be compared to him like that. I just wanted to stop right there and never draw anything again! [laughs] I was compared to Gil Kane; there was noting better.
But yeah, there was a real athleticism, a dynamic athleticism, to all his figures that no one else has been able to capture. Many guys try it now, but Gil was just special.
JM: Y'know, I always just loved the old Bill Sienkiewicz Moon Knight covers. The one that always stuck out in my mind was #29, which was a Moon Knight v. Werewolf issue. All you saw were glowing Werewolf eyes, teeth, and a blood-splattered Moon Knight crescent. You ever see that one?
JQ: Yep. And there was a time there when Bill Sienkiewicz just came in and reinvented the comic book cover. He found this voice that combined his own innate talents with a splash of Neal Adams, plus Bob Peak, Sergio Toppi…who else?
JM: I always think Gustav Klimt.
JQ: Yeah, Klimt, too. And all those influences combined into this wild, kinetic style that was just mind-boggling! And nobody could copy it, 'cause Bill is such an amazing artist with a skill level that's beyond 99% of the rest of us in this field. He's just amazing.
JM: How about "your own"? You wanna go on an ego trip? You have a favorite Marvel cover of your own you've done?
JQ: My own? Ah…I very rarely look back on my old stuff. I'd rather try and work forward. One cover I do remember very fondly was my first maybe real foot-in-the-door at Marvel, an old Ghost Rider cover I did. You'll have to look up the number [#21], but it was an all-white background cover with the title "Snowblind" that had a dead Ghost Rider with a spear sticking through his now-smoking and no longer flaming skull. It was a cover that when I was finished, I said to myself, "I think this is the one." I knew it wasn't your typical Marvel cover and I had this guy feeling that this particular piece was going to get me a lot of attention at Marvel. And, consequently, someone must have liked it, 'cause the phone started ringing.
I remember color-directing the colorist, who I think was Joe Rosas, I could be wrong, but I think it was, practically begging him, "Whatever you do, you have to leave the background all white. Please!" And that's what he did, and that cover became something of a showpiece for me with the editors. I started getting more work at Marvel! But now…you know, I look at it now…I can't even look at it! All due respect to Joe Rosas—he saved me!—but it's so poorly drawn, I can't stand it!
JM: All you artists are like that—your own worst critics. Probably even Bill Sienkiewicz.
JQ: Jesus. I sure hope not. Not Bill. I hope not.
JM: And it is with teary eyes that I bid you a fond adieu this week.
JQ: Yeah. This will be our last week here. We didn't really give any advance warning, 'cause we wanted to go out business-as-usual, and hopefully with a bang as well. The big thing is, right now my schedule is just in…sane with work, and I find myself not being able to find the time and devote myself to this column as I'd like to…
JM: Case in point: You're on your mobile phone walking back from the barber shop right now, right?
JQ: Right! I've got…what? 15-20 minutes over lunch after getting my hair cut this week I can actually shoehorn this in. Between the comics, Marvel's movie and animation and even the Broadway musical, it's just jam-packed right now in my work life in a timing sense. I'm soooo spread-out right now. And, shhhhh, outside of cover work, I'm writing and drawing a top secret, high level project and I may also be working on a short story with one of Marvel's super star writers. I'm in negotiations right now with his agent and I have to audition for the job, so we'll see how it goes.
We've had a lot of fill-ins that have been great, but it's more than I'd like in a column we call MyCup o' "Joe." Someday I'd like to come back to this—hopefully sooner rather than later—but I'd like to come back to it in a way that I can really devote the proper time to it. So really, I need to thank all the editors and creators that helped and filled in. They were great. And the editors have really, really helped me with the fan questions. I'm still hands-on with all the macro-, more global planning of the Marvel U, but not so much in the fine detail. I usually don't know specifically what villain will be appearing in issue #87 of a title, so they've helped me fill in all the blanks. Kudos to the guys and gals, they're the best team of editors in the world and I'll kick anybodies ass who says otherwise.
It's been a lot of fun, a very cool ride for these 15 months doing "MyCup" on MySpace. But we're kind of evolving it for now. Starting next week, Friday the 8th, Marvel will begin "Marvel Fridays," a MySpace-exclusive weekly Marvel preview with a cool interactive component. We'll roll out a preview of an upcoming Marvel book, and you, the fans, will also get to vote on what preview you want to see the NEXT week. It should be a bit of fun.
I really wanna thank Sam Humphries, the former MySpace Marketing Manager, who was responsible for working with us to make this happen in the first place, and Tyler Hale, MySpace's current marketing guy, who's kept the fires burning. And of course, all the MySpace fans for supporting us since we started this routine on MySpace back in March, 2008!
And lets not forget the man in the shadows, the very stealth like and deadly Arune Singh our Manager of Sales and Communications. And yes, you Mr. Mclauchlin, without both you guys, this column would never EVER be happening as it does. Hey, no crying okay, you'll get me started too. And last but not least, all of you cats out there. Without you all, there would be no Marvel and this universe wouldn't even exist.
But hey, I'm not riding quietly into a sunset, either. I love doing the "Cup o' Joe" panels at conventions when I attend, and who knows? Maybe we'll find a way to do a new Internet column sooner than you think.
JM: Thank you. You're out to reader questions.
I have been a Marvel fan for years and always enjoyed every comic I have bought. I was saddened that She-Hulk got canceled. I know Jen will be fine but I must know the fate of She-Hulk's team, the Lady Liberators. Marvel is not going to let this team go to waste just because Jen doesn't have a book anymore, are you? Are they still going to pop up in the Marvel Universe?
JQ: Who says Jen doesn't deserve a book anymore?! You want a bunch of Lady Liberators coming to your house and tearing up your comics? She-Hulk is beloved by many—especially writer Jeph Loeb, who is using her in a major way in upcoming Hulk stories. After all, with at least ONE other She-Hulk running around (you HAVE been reading the new adventures of the Savage She-Hulk, haven't you, Seancomicfan?) there's sure to be a meeting somewhere soon!
Regarding the Hulk renumbering to issue #600, there are 474 issues of the old series, 112 issues of the more recent series (which became Incredible Hercules) and 12 issues of the new series as of May. That totals 598 issues. The July issue should be #13 (#599), so where is the missing issue? You've mentioned Hulk #13 before in this very column. Can you shed some light on this?
JQ: Math class is hard, but why count the past when we can predict the future? Here's some great news for ya, Bob: Hulk #600 is a one-shot special that will answer some of your questions (such as "What happened after World War Hulk and before Hulk #1?") as your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man tries to solve the mystery of "Who is the Red Hulk?" (That is, provided he doesn't get killed like some other folks we know…) After #600, Hulk will continue its numbering with Hulk #13, which directly follows (like minutes later) #600 as very special "Dark Reign" tie-in. Believe us, when you read the life-changing ending to #600, the Hulk will never be the same!
It can't be true that writer Greg Pak is leaving Skaar: Son of Hulk with issue #13 when the title is retitled simply Son of Hulk! Is it? Is this truly the end of Skaar for Pak, or is it far from over?
JQ: Rest easy Pak fans! There's a MAJOR MAJOR announcement coming up for Hulk and Greg Pak that has a LOT to do with Hulk #600! (See how important that single issue is going to be?!)
Cy's Cychotic Cychology asks:
The Red Hulk seems like a major role player, but hasn't been in any title besides Hulk. Are there any considerations to make him a Dark Avenger, or any plans for him to show up in other titles?
JQ: You'll see the Red Hulk popping up all sorts of places in the new year, Cy. But check out Hulk #13, a special "Dark Reign" story that has Norman Osborn (and some of the Dark Avengers) checking up on certain surprises that will be revealed in Hulk #600 (see how cleverly we got another unabashed plug in for Hulk #600?!)
But let me ask, what's up with all the Hulk questions? Hmmmm, methinks Marveldom is diggin' what's going on in Hulkland.
Hey Marvel! What ever happened to the Cloak and Dagger mini-series?
JQ: One thing we can promise you, Sami—neither one of them is the Red Hulk! Although don't be surprised if they happen to stop by to see either ol' Jade Jaws or ol' Fahrenheit Forehead! (Maybe Crimson Puss? Bloody Nose?) A no-prize for the best moniker (that's NOT "RULK") for The Red Hulk!
As for Cloak and Dagger, as they became more important to our Dark X-Men plans, the new direction called for us to concentrate on where their story was going in the context of the Marvel U's current status quo so because of that, the mini series has been put on hold. See the honest truth is that between the time that the mini series was approved to this point, much has been changing behind the scenes for C and D and this has put a crimp in our plans for the mini. Unfortunately, these are the kinds of things that happen in publishing when you have a universe that's in a constant state of flux and change. But stay tuned as more news is coming.
Does artist David Aja have anything long-term on the horizon? I know he's got a one-shot in the Immortal Weapons series, but I need more!
And when do we get to hear what artist will be teamed up with writer Andy Diggle on Daredevil after Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark depart?
JQ: Hey artiepants, you've got some good taste! We love and need David Aja as much as you do…which is why you'll be hearing his name a lot more in the coming year. The horizon's still a bit too far to talk about yet, but David's artwork will grace several projects soon enough.
As for Daredevil…soon! Messrs. Diggle and the new artist are hard at work, and we'll make an announcement when we have some lovely, lovely art ready to show you!
Hey Joe! After Jason Aaron finishes his Ghost Rider run with that mini-series, will the main series be coming back and if so, could you tease a creative team? Also, any chance of getting a MAX Ghost Rider? I think the horror elements of the character would do so well in that format.
JQ: You have not seen the last of Johnny Blaze or Danny Ketch, Splatterpunk. After Jason Aaron completes his run with the 6-part Ghost Riders: Heaven's On Fire, the characters will go on a brief hiatus, but there are plenty of clues in that series where they might pop up next. Here's a preview of Heaven's on Fire:
I'm really hyped about writer Ed Brubaker's upcoming Marvels Project tying together the origins of Golden Age heroes and their roles in the superhuman arms race. My favorite Golden Age hero is Keen Marlow, an American journalist imprisoned in Nazi Germany and given their version of the Super-Soldier serum by a rebel scientist to become the mighty Destroyer. But the '70s Invaders series dismissed Keen's existence, establishing that British journalist Brian Falsworth was imprisoned by the Germans (with Roger Aubrey, the future Dyna-Mite) where the exact same German scientist gave him the Super-Soldier formula that turned him into the Destroyer. (Falsworth later passed on the name to Aubrey and became Union Jack.)
Then, the recent Destroyer MAX series (great stuff!) confirmed that Keen Marlow was indeed the original Destroyer, and I see he'll be featured yet again (with that gorgeous cover) in USA Comics Special #1. I'm not normally a continuity geek, but I figured this would be important to the Marvels Project (and make for a cool "cover-up" story). Any idea if USA Comics or Brubaker will smooth out the origin issue once and for all?
JQ: Interesting question, Daniel! Well, MAX stories are non-continuity, and we'll have to wait to see if Ed's project addresses this question, but if it's the original, bone-snapping, shrouded-in-mystery, alone-behind-enemy-lines Destroyer you crave, then you'll definitely want to celebrate July 4th with the USA Comics #1 70th Anniversary Special! The lead story by writer John Arcudi (B.P.R.D.) and artist Steve Ellis (High Moon) unleashes the one-man army on those no-good Nazis in a two-fisted pulp thriller chock full of teeth-shattering brawls, speeding trains, desperate gambles, and an ending guaranteed to punch you right in the gut. And if you thought that cover by Clint Langley was cool, check out these interior pages by Steve!
With Apocalypse in the future depicted in "Messiah War," are there any plans for Apocalypse to return? And would his return affect the X-Men and the "Dark Reign?"
JQ: Well, if Apocalypse showed up again in the present day Marvel Universe, I think it would have some affect on both the X-Men and Norman's administration…but only time will tell if that's going to happen.
About the "hating" on Marvel Divas, let's call it what it really is—criticizing how sexist this book appears to be. If Marvel produces comics that are offensive to female readers, why shouldn't people "hate" on it? Why would I want to support a company that produces offensive, sexist material? Why shouldn't everyone speak out against it? While the book hasn't come out yet, what has been released so far is blatantly sexist. But what troubles me the most is that Marvel thinks people want to read this, and this constitutes strong female characterization. Does Marvel actually want to attract female readers or is the whole point that Marvel Comics are only for guys?
JQ: Ashley, while I completely respect your opinion as I do every Marvel fan, your calling Marvel Comics and this particular mini series sexist is a bit extreme from where I'm standing.
I'm going to go on a limb here and assume you're a Marvel reader. It's an assumption I'm making based upon the fact that you're responding to this column. If you're Marvel reader and truly feel we're sexist, then why are you reading our books? Now, perhaps you're not a Marvel reader, then if that's the case, I'm not quite sure what you're criticizing if you don't read our books?
Okay, all that aside, I'm going to go with the former assumption. With that in mind, I'm going to be as straight up honest with you as I can possibly be. That's what this column is all about.
You haven't read a lick of this story yet!
Please, I can buy you saying that you're cautiously pessimistic based upon what you've heard so far, but to throw around allegations like that is completely unfair, not just to Marvel or myself, but to the creators and editors who are working on this book. Have you ever read any of Sacasa's work? Have you ever found him to be a sexist writer? Is the cover image provocative, perhaps, but it's no more or less than any other book we do.
The cold hard reality of publishing and trying to sell our books to as many people as possible, so here's an example of what happens more often than you may think here at Marvel. From time to time, we'll be launching a title that doesn't focus very heavily on the super heroic. From time to time I'll get a cover sketch and it doesn't have a costumed hero or villain on the cover, what we internally refer to as a "quiet cover." On those occasions, more often than not, I ask my editors to direct their cover artist to give me at least a first issue cover with the characters in costume. Why? Because it will help launch a book that will most likely have trouble latching onto a large audience. We want to give every title the best possible chance to be successful. Marvel Divas is no different and that's why you're seeing our strong female leads in their super hero personas. Let me try an example outside of comics. I'm a huge fan of Pink, I really dig her music and love her voice. Love her or hate her, I would say that she's an amazingly strong and intelligent female performer and song writer in the pop genre. In many of her songs she even criticizes the over sexualized female pop stars of the day and their over the top videos. But when you look at Pink's CD covers, while she's looking strong and like she's looking like she's having fun, she's also looking really sexy. The reason is simple, she's trying to grab people's attention and sell some albums. Comics are no different and as much a part of the entertainment business as any other medium, and the cold hard truth is that if we were to launch Marvel Divas with a "quiet cover," I guarantee you the book would be canceled before it hits the shelves. That's it in a nutshell, I could sugar coat it for you and give you a million other reasons that would sound plausible, but that's not what I do.
So, where does that leave us? Ultimately, it's up to you. If you somehow feel you know what this book is about sight unseen, then by all means just pass it up when it hits the stores. If you feel like giving it a try, drop me a line and let me know what you think. What I'd like you to avoid however is globally unfair statements like Marvel is sexist. And if you feel like you're not being heard or like your opinion doesn't matter, just look at how much column space I devoted to your question. Most companies would just duck stuff like this, but you guys are the reason we do what we do and if you have a concern or criticism, I want to try to address them as best I can. Thanks again for writing and for your question.
Well, that's it for me, kids. It's been a hell of a ride and while our road ends here, I will as always…
See ya in the funnybooks!
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