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
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JM: So let's talk about numbers…
Sure. How's "12"?
JM: It'll work. But specifically, sales numbers. The April '08 sales charts were recently released by Diamond Comics Distribution, so…categorize it for us, in a general sense: On the day these hit every month, is it the buzz in the office? Or do people still have their heads down making sure the next issue of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN hits its date?
The honest truth is that when we were first digging our way out of bankruptcy and trying to revive our publishing business, the monthly sales numbers were a huge buzz in the office, especially as we started to take over the top spots from the competition in monthly sales and then later in collected editions. Now, while I can't speak for others, for me the real buzz is what are our upcoming stories. I really worry less about sales and more about excitement within our content. If we nail that then I honestly feel sales will follow. To me, sales numbers become a big buzz in the office only when a book exceeds modern sales trends or even our lofty expectations.
JM: One could easily argue April was a good month for you. On a unit basis, Marvel had 44% of the comics market all by itself. Do people there take pride in this?
I'd be lying to you if I said, no. Of course we do. Who doesn't take pride in the fact that people are responding to the hard work you put into a job? Yes, it's very gratifying, but you have to keep it in focus because things can change in the blink of an eye if you're not diligent and get complacent.
JM: How much schadenfreude is felt at the expense of a DC, Dark Horse, or whoever else?
How much what?
JM: Schadenfreude. It's a German word that roughly translates to "finding joy in the misfortunes of others."
Absolutely none. It's nice to be #1 but I certainly don't want to see other publishers hurting. First and foremost, while I work at and love Marvel, I love this industry and comics even more. Ultimately I want to see DC, Dark Horse, etc., all have great success because it means health for everyone in our industry from publishers to retailers to all the great talents that work within it.
JM: Do you believe comics, at this point in time, is a zero-sum game? One extra sale here means one less sale there?
No I don't, but we do need to keep our eyes open because things are getting tough all around due to this current economy. What I have heard from one retailer about a month ago was that it isn't that the people are reticent to buy comics, but that some just don't have the gas money to commute to the store. It's a general belt-tightening in America that we need to be aware of. By the way, this isn't just comics that's going through this, but every single business that I know. What I'm very optimistic about is that I personally believe that after the crash of the late nineties, publishers—and especially retailers—are smarter than they've ever been, and while we may see a dip here and there, everyone is going to shrewdly weather whatever storm may or may not come. Comics are a very strong and savvy industry now.
JM: What do you think rank-and-file fans really know—or perhaps more importantly, what don't they know—about these numbers? What do they really mean in context, from where you sit?
Probably the one thing they don't know about these numbers is that sometimes the books that are in the top slots with respect to monthly sales aren't necessarily the ones that are doing best in the bookstore market or subscriptions.
JM: To that point, your Marvel Adventures books—usually termed the "kids books"—are among the strongest in your subscription base, right?
Yes, they are.
JM: I guess I'm asking you to project yourself into the mind of Joe Average Fan, but do you think fans care too much-slash-not enough about sales numbers? Outside the obvious dilemma of "if it doesn't sell, it gets canceled," what do you think about fans' apparent "rooting interest"?
Cover of MARVEL
Cover of MARVEL
Cover of MARVEL
Outside of the fan of the low selling book on the verge of cancellation, I don't think it means a hill of beans outside of bragging rights. If you're a Marvel fan, it's good times and you poke fun at your DC brethren. On the occasional times DC overtakes us, then the reverse is true. But outside of that I can't imagine what else it could possible mean to fans.
JM: What happens on the front end of something like SECRET INVASION? Obviously, you must have projections for you to apply a marketing budget against, just like Ford has to guesstimate their '09 models and Coca-Cola needs to approximate next month's Sprite sales. Did you have a number in mind for SECRET INVASION #1?
Oh yeah, absolutely. But this is completely the purview of our sales and marketing guys. What's astonishing to me is how often they're spot-on with their projections. Next year I'm taking a few of them to Vegas!
JM: Is there a number on that book you would have been disappointed in? And on the flip side, a level at which you would have said, "It's a gusher!"?
Yup, you better believe it. And before you ask, yes, it was a gusher.
JM: Do you ever take a look at these charts and just scratch your head? Is there a book or two—Marvel or not—that just feels like it sells way too high or way too low to you?
All the time, but that has more to do with my own personal tastes in story and genre. From that point of view, I'm no different than any of our fans. That's why I've always said that we don't just publish things that I like. To do that would be complete and utter arrogance, and a surefire way to go out of business. An example I've used way too often are the cosmic stories. I've never been a fan of them, but that doesn't mean that I don't believe that there are people out there who like them. So, since "Annihilation" we've been knee-deep in cosmic stuff. Even though it's not my favorite segment of the Marvel U., it's proven to be a huge success for us.
JM: We may quickly be approaching he point where I have to fly there and kick your ass to get your HULK cover. What's status, man?
I'm very busy and very tired.
JM: C'mon. George Tuska did this masterpiece, ably inked by Joe Rubenstein! And George is 92 years old! What's your excuse?
George Tuska HULK
Okay, I guess I have none. Oh, hey! Look over there—reader's questions!
When are we going to see a return and good use of Iceman? Will he be returning to a current X-book (meaning not FIRST CLASS or a flashback in LEGACY)?
You're in luck, Dan. Iceman is going to be the major focal point in the four-issue X-MEN: MANIFEST DESTINY miniseries. It takes a close look at the move to San Francisco and the bigger picture of what it means to the X-Men. And, as if it couldn't get any better, writer Mike Carey is writing your beloved Iceman! And even tho' ya didn't
ask for it, we'll show Iceman some more love in X-MEN: FIRST CLASS #16, guest-starring the Human Torch and Spider-Man as well!
I Shot Liberty Valance asks:
I know there has been positive reaction to the refreshing and progressive abundance of gay (Wiccan and Hulkling), lesbian (Karolina), and trans-gender (Does Xavin Count?) youth characters in the past couple years at Marvel. Has there any been negative backlash?
Liberty, there has been from time to time, but not much in recent memory. So much of this has to do with the political climate in the country at the time. There was a time four to five years ago where any story we told depicting the variety of lifestyles within our world would receive some negative backlash. These days, not so much. But like all things, the climate can change overnight, and then all bets are off. However, the one thing that I've always preached here at Marvel is that we cannot publish in fear. Marvel has always been about reflecting the world that we all live in, and as long as we do that as fairly as possible, everything will turn out fine.
Qui *Lemon* asks:
So what happened to G.I. Ant-Man?
Lemon, lets just say that Tom Brevoort gave Dan Slott a big slap.
Hey Joe. I really love everything that is coming out of Marvel. If only every title was made into a movie or TV series. The digital comic for ASTONISHING X-MEN #1 that was on Marvel. com was awesome, and I have to agree that you should do it more often.
A couple of years back, Intec Interactive did some "digital comics" for Marvel, which I still own. I've showed them to a few friends who were skeptical of comic books, thinking they were childish. Well, they thought this until they watch this! Then they were hooked. I think more of these digital comics that people can watch as if they were watching a movie would help bring more fans into the comic book world. Your thoughts on this?
Pedro, I think you're right. But I also think this is a case of "there is no spoon." In other words, I think that there are many ways of getting new people into the fold, whether it be through the digital experience, our movies, animation, collected editions, video games, toys, what have you. All of these things tie into one singular vision of the Marvel Lifestyle or MarveLife as I like to call it. That's copyright and TM Joey Q!
But hey, good job, Pedro, keep bringing 'em in!
Eric Brown asks:
Since getting into comics, I've discovered D-Man, who has become one of my favorite characters. He's got a lot of interesting aspects to him (being seen as a Z-list hero despite formerly being an Avenger, his status as a protector of the homeless). Is he going to be appearing in any books such as AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE any time soon? He'd go perfectly, being teased by Ant-Man and Taskmaster.
Eric, that all depends on quickly Dan Slott recovers from that slapdown.
I'm loving what Marvel is doing, but I'm begging for a fix. Can we get a villain-based mini-series soon? BULLSEYE: GREATEST HITS, ZEMO: BORN BETTER, TASKMASTER, and MODOK'S 11 were all great. And I know the T-bolts are set to be big this summer in SECRET INVASION. But come on man…bring on the bad guys!
As we move ahead into 2009, Patrick, you'll be seeing a lot more focus on the big villains of the Marvel Universe, but it's premature to say anything more just yet.
1) Will there be another LONERS mini-series (I love Darkhawk!)?
2) In a "Hero Registration" world, will the Hulk's old friends, the Pantheon, be showing up?
1) There are no immediate plans for the Loners, but individual characters from that book will be showing up. So keep an eye out for Darkhawk!
2) And there's' nothing in the immediate future for The Pantheon, but they're certainly not outside the realm of possibility!
Hi Joe. Firstly I'd like to say that I've been reading Marvel comics for almost 30 years now and creatively I believe the comics are at the best they've been since the Lee/Kirby days. I have a few questions which I hope are answerable.
1) Is there any chance the Hulk newspaper strips will be reprinted, or will I have to bankrupt myself on eBay?
2) Will you make it to Wizard World Texas this year?
3) Is the battle to get Alan Moore to write for Marvel again lost forever?
4) Will there be a reprinting of the Al Milgrom run on the Hulk to bridge to gap between the John Byrne and Peter David Hulk Visionaries books? If so, will it include the Peter David-written INCREDIBLE HULK #328?
Thank you for your time,
Thanks for the kind words, Nick. Here are your answers.
1) Not in the near future that I'm aware of.
2) Nope, too many shows, not enough time.
3) I never say never with respect to anything, but at the moment, no.
4) According to our collected editions folk, not yet.
Prophet of Doom asks:
Hey Joe! I'm one of the many loving SECRET INVASION, and one of the few (it seems) loving "Brand New Day." As a matter of fact, I'm loving so much stuff that my wallet is crying!
A few questions…
1) In X-MEN: LEGACY, it seems that Mr. Sinister has had his dirty little hands in the lives of the X-Men since before the beginning. Any plans to make him a major big baddie for the X-Men? I always thought he should have been.
2) It seems that there is some legitimate heat between the Distinguished Competition and yourself. I remember a few years back, there was talk of a pretty sweet-sounding Daredevil/Batman crossover (penned by Brian Bendis, I believe). Have things cooled to a point that maybe there could be some talks about this?
Prophet, thanks for the kind words. First with respect to "BND," you're not in the minority, my friend. What happens is with most things on the 'net, the naysayers scream loudest while those that dig stuff just dig it and go about doing what they do. That said, appreciate the props.
1) Check out MESSIAH COMPLEX if you haven't read it. Mr. Sinister was
a major big baddie in that storyline. And how about the classic "Inferno" storyline? Also, pay close attention to LEGACY. There are some big changes a-comin'.
2) As I remember this, I had nothing really to do with Bendis' offer to write a DD/Batman story (with Ed Brubaker doing the DC end of it at the time). This was something that started online and then carried over to a convention where someone from DC interrupted Bendis' panel to state that Paul Levitz was forbidding the crossover to happen until Marvel decided to fire me. So, as far as animosity or heat between myself and someone up at DC keeping a crossover like this from happening, well…you really you need to ask the folks at DC about this because this is their issue, not mine.
I'm a Sentry fan. I know it's currently not cool to like Bob Reynolds, but I've loved the character, and I always pick up MIGHTY AVENGERS for the sole reason that I might catch some glimpse of redemption for the character. It makes me sad when I see Bob completely neutered by the mere mention of the Void. (By the way, I was under the impression that he was freed of that crippling Void-fear when he threw his alter ego into the sun? Very therapeutic for the guy, I would imagine!) Please tell me, are there plans to make the Sentry back a respectable character again? I feel like I am the only one who really wants to see the Sentry get back his stability and be a force to be reckoned with again. MIGHTY AVENGERS #14 didn't offer a lot of hope for this fan.
Rodeo, the Sentry is truly one of the most complex and coolest characters we have in the Marvel U. today. We're currently working very hard to make him the major player he deserves to be, as well as—potentially!—the greatest hero in the Marvel U.
That said, if you're at Wizard World Philadelphia this weekend, tune in to Marvel panels for a Sentry-specific announcement…
With Mockingbird apparently reappearing, is there any chance that Hawkeye's first mini-series which first brought them together might get reprinted as a Premiere hardcover?
Nemo, our sales folk, they like this idea, so perhaps!
I have really enjoyed THE TWELVE, and have high hopes for seeing more Golden Age characters in the AVENGERS/INVADERS series, and look forward to seeing the Agents of Atlas in the SECRET INVASION: WHO DO YOU TRUST? one-shot. I have two questions:
1) Are there other plans to make more use of other Golden Age characters in the works that you might be able to hint about?
2) In THE TWELVE #0, we got to see the original stories of the Laughing Mask, Rockman, and the Phantom Reporter. Are there plans to reprint some of the stories for the other characters in THE TWELVE? Maybe include them in a trade hardback like was done with AGENTS OF ATLAS?
Thanks for putting out good books.
Ben, glad you're diggin' it.
1) There'll be some other golden age characters turning up further down the line in AVENGERS/INVADERS, sort of. Here's a cool Alex Ross-illustrated pencil-portrait of come of the other classic mystery-men who'll be putting in an appearance.
Alex Ross sketch
2) We've toyed with the possibility of reprinting some other vintage stories of the Twelve characters, but nothing concrete is planned right this second. One of the real considerations is being able to get our hands on good reproduction materials for these classic old stories, which can be both costly and time-consuming. But if enough readers demand it, you never know.
Hey Joe, I'm a relatively new member to the comic book fan fold, having only started about six months ago. Question for you:
Is NYX ever going to come back? It was one of the first pieces I picked up and those early issues were amazing. The art was excellent and the writing was just as good. Any chance we'll see any more of that by you? I need closure!
Having said that, loving Marvel right now, lots of great series and lots of stuff I need to catch up on. Feel free to give me a tip or two on what a budding young fan should go for, on the Marvel side of things.
Peter, while I won't be returning to NYX any time soon, this is your lucky day! NYX is back in August with NYX: NO WAY HOME, six issues written by New York Times bestselling author Marjorie Liu (author of the Dirk & Steele series of novels) and illustrated by Kalman Andrasofszky. A little time has passed, but Kiden and Bobby Soul and Lil' Bro and Tatiana's story is really only just beginning.
Cover of NYX: NO
WAY HOME #1
Preview page from
NYX: NO WAY HOME
Preview page from
NYX: NO WAY HOME
Preview page from
NYX: NO WAY HOME
Preview page from
NYX: NO WAY HOME
Preview page from
NYX: NO WAY HOME
Preview page from
NYX: NO WAY HOME
As for what you should be reading? Wow, that's a long list. I would recommend to get a taste of just about everything we're doing, but for starters, give THE AVENGERS, MIGHTY AVENGERS, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, IRON MAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA, INCREDIBLE HERCULES, and UNCANNY X-MEN a try. I'd also pick up an Ultimates title or two while you're at it. This will give you a nice cross section of the Marvel super hero universe and perhaps point you in the direction of whatever might catch your fancy.
And I'd be really remiss if I didn't point out once again the Marvel Adventures titles. They're done-in-ones, not particularly continuity-heavy, and always well-reviewed, it seems!
Welcome aboard o' newly anointed True Believer!
I just want to start by saying how much I have enjoyed these Joe Fridays for the past few years. I'm a big fan!
Given the fact that Greg Land's history of plagiarism is well-documented, why put him on such a high profile book as UNCANNY X-MEN? I know he sells well, but seeing the same faces and bodies copied over and over distracts me from the story. Plus, it sends a terrible message to aspiring artists! The cover to UNCANNY #500 has already been dissected into little bits of plagiarized work, and his run hasn't even begun yet. Marvel has some phenomenally talented artists who deserve a shot at UNCANNY much more than someone who doesn't produce entirely original work.
Please tell me something will be done about this!
See, here's the problem Kevin: I personally feel that Greg is getting a raw deal from certain fans. First, a little history…
Ever since the dawn of time, artists have been taking inspiration from outside sources. And ever since the dawn of photography, using photos as reference. What makes it seem more prevalent today than ever is that the 'net makes it easier for fans to find the same photo ref that our artists are using. I'm no different than Greg in this matter. I use photo ref quite often. Sometimes I take it myself, other times I dig it up. And I'm not alone here. What's happened with Greg is that it's become a witch hunt and way too many people are having way too good a time hurting a tremendous artist's reputation when he isn't doing anything that is any different than any of us. Every line he draws now comes under scrutiny and in so many cases, people are "seeing" things where are none. Here's the thing, if you've ever met Greg you would see what a lovely guy he is and how much love he has for comics. He also happens to be a guy who works very hard to meet his deadlines, and from that point of view, he's better than most of us, and the kind of artist so many fans wish we had more of. I could go on and on about how many times Greg has bailed us out from some very bad deadline crunches. Like John Romita Jr., he's a real team player, and has come through in the clutch more times than I can remember. He's a hard working guy, but there are some online fans that are giving him a raw deal.
Simply put, his books do sell very well because he draws beautifully. If you don't like it or how he goes about it, that's cool, I get it, so just don't buy the books he draws. I don't see why it can't be as simple as that, rather than taking the time and energy to try to get a lynch mob together to hurt a really great guy. I don't understand what value anyone can take from that?
Here, let me put it to you this way and forgive me for speaking frankly. I want you to close your eyes after reading this and imagine this possible scenario. Let's say you got what you wanted and through your efforts such a stir occurred through fandom and every publisher that Greg Land was no longer working in comics and couldn't do what he loved to do; what he was meant
to do to support his family. Would you feel better? Could you sleep at night? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, then I guess there's nothing more than I can say on the subject outside of keep doing what you're doing. If the answer is no, and if you can imagine for a moment what it would be like to be on the other side of this, well, then I leave it up to you.
See ya in the funny books,
That's all for this week of MyCup o' Joe
folks! If you've got a question you asked before that Joe didn't answer, or something fresh on your mind, make sure you post it at MySpace
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