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 every week! To get in on the fun, post your questions at the bottom of this page!
JM: So we have you back after two column fill-ins from Brian Bendis and Axel Alonso as you were taking care of business at a Marvel creative summit. In your own words, how was this most recent summit? What was accomplished?
You know, these summits are usually a lot of fun, a lot of hard work, and very frustrating all at the same time. It's very exciting, and can actually be a pretty emotional time as we start haggling and going back-and-forth on a lot of story points and how the Marvel Universe is going to work. It can be like looking at a massive puzzle, and trying to fit all these pieces together. And sometimes in the 11th hour, you realize you don't have all the right pieces. So it's a lot of hard work putting it all together, and that aspect can be a lot of fun.
And a lot comes out of it. We end up with some ideas that are applicable almost right at that second, and others that are applicable a year, two years, or maybe farther down the line.
JM: What's the one seemingly little thing that came out of this summit that will actually be very significant down the pike?
I don't know that it's little, but the main thing we went in with was an idea for something we wanted to happen in later 2009, leading in to 2010. But again, very much in the 11th hour, we determined that we were going to wind up going in a very different direction, so we had to re-shape the original idea for another place and time. It's really similar to what happened with Civil War. At a previous summit, when we were going to make Planet Hulk into a big summer event, but then we came across the notion for what became Civil War in our conversations, and away we went.
This year, we wound up with our original idea not really being the right fit. We found something in conversation that was a better fit, so it was a real "Ah ha! Eureka!" moment to just take that original idea and shift it in behind the new idea.
JM: I wanna hit on a couple quick Bendis-and-Axel things before we get to the matter at hand, which is the end of Secret Invasion. Brian Bendis mentioned that he and Howard Chaykin will be working together on a new project. What is?
You know, we really can't talk about it yet, but Brian being the huge
fan of Chaykin that he is, it will be pretty exciting by the time it sees light of day. Brian has been kind of circling around Chaykin for a while looking for the right project to do with him. Hell, I'm
excited to see those two guys finally get the chance to work together on something, especially since Brian's been so influenced by his work since…well since he started reading comics, I guess.
JM: And Axel mentioned that "I really doubt we've seen the last of Isaiah Bradley," the "Black Captain America." Is there anything specific on the drawing board for the character? Or is this more just a "someday"?
There isn't anything specific right now, but we at Marvel all love the character, so we will get back to him at some point soon. I know we're re-releasing the Truth hardcover in February. He's such a great character. We'll probably get to him sooner rather than later, since there's such a focus on Captain America right now. It seems like low-hanging fruit.
JM: So Secret Invasion just wrapped, with the last issue hitting a couple days ago. Now that it's in the rear-view mirror, how do you feel about it? Did ya like it?
Yeah. I loved Secret Invasion. And I gotta be honest with you, when Brian [Bendis] was first pitching the "invasion" story, we pushed and pulled on each other a lot over this, and…whoa, that just sounds terrible, doesn't it?
JM: Well, the pulling moreso than the pushing. I think.
Okay, well maybe we just pushed each other a lot on it. Regardless, we really wanted to make it something more that just a standard "invasion" story, more than [robotic voice] "We are here to conquer your planet. We are stronger than you are." That's just a little too '50s sci-fi, you know?
We wanted to give it something more, something different at its heart, and I think Brian and everyone really succeeded in the "Who do you trust?" angle. It was a totally different story, with not knowing who your friends are and who your enemies are. It put many of our characters, some of our top characters, in a different place on the map than readers expected.
But what really excited me about Secret Invasion is where it ended, where it left us. It's evident that we're now in a Norman Osborn world.
JM: And in the aftermath, we get Norman Osborn and his shadow cabinet. One drumbeat you seem to have kept hitting over the last year or so is that the Marvel Universe will be a much more "dangerous place." What's behind the drive to make it so?
I'd say less "dangerous," more "unpredictable." At least I hope that's what I've been saying! It is a more dangerous place, because Osborn's in charge. But the truth of the matter is, we wanted it to be more unpredictable. Being unpredictable, I believe, leads to better storytelling. It's not clichéd storytelling. Again, we get or characters in a place that readers don't necessarily expect, get their backs against a wall, and see what happens. Look, at the end of the day, I think that's what leads to great storytelling—put your characters in a place that readers never saw coming.
JM: After all, you're the bastards who brought Bucky back!
And see how that's worked? Pretty well! But I think that's what makes our books particularly interesting right now. Civil War really started turning everything on its ear. And it's just gotten progressively crazier and crazier as we've moved along.
JM: And I guess you have your "Young Guns" for 2009. What's a Young Gun?
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Young Guns are something we established a few years ago. They're artists who are either young and up-and-coming, or perhaps have been around a while without having a lot of work in the mainstream. But they're guys who we feel are going to really have a voice in the near future. "Young Guns" is just a branding we use to point out some new guys, some up-and-comers, that we really feel excited about. And we want to share that excitement. I think we've done well in picking them in years past with Steve McNiven, David Finch, the list goes on…
JM: O-tay. Your marketing guys gave me a list of your "Young Guns" for '09, so lemme hit you with the names and you can tell us a bit about them.
JM: First, Marko Djurdjevic.
Marko is one of those uniquely brilliant talents. If you don't know who Marko is by now, you probably haven't been reading Marvel Comics, as he's done covers for just about every book we do. He's now branching out to interiors as well. Marko has an amazingly strong and unique design sense as well, but it's also a design sense that's mainstream. It isn't too art-school, it isn't so design-y that the general public won't understand it.
He's also just a genuinely great guy, and an unbelievable
professional. Ever since he started at Marvel, he's been all about hitting deadlines, and I don't think he's missed a single one. He comes from a design world, and a very
high-pressure job in video game design where he has to come up with, literally, a number of totally new and original designs every day
. In a way, comics is almost like taking a break for him.
And behind the scenes, we've also been tapping him a lot of new character designs, costumes and so on. Again, he comes from that world, and he's great at it.
JM: Any examples? What's he worked on?
Probably the most recent and notable is the new Lady Bullseye. It's obvious by what he's done so far in this field that he has a real love of comics, and I'm very excited to see what he does next.
JM: Cool. Mike Choi.
Again, a very original stylist. I think that's the one thread we have running through this group is that no one artist looks like any other—they're all very different. Mike is one of those guys who's been around for a couple years, and you already see exponential growth in his work. So where he'll be in 2, 3,4, 5 years…it could be amazing. He'll be a major player artistically in this business.
JM: Daniel Acuna.
He does "painter-ly" work, but with a real superhero edge to it. The best analogy I can think of is that if Jack Kirby was a painter, he'd be Daniel Acuna. There's a very Marvel look, a Marvel vibe to his stuff. We've been very fortunate to get him over at Marvel. I know he's been around for a little while working at DC, but I think he will explode under a spotlight we're going to put him under at Marvel.
JM: Stefano Casselli.
Stefano is kind of the bouncy artist of the mix. He's the guy who comes in and has the fun, fluid style. Geez, I hate to describe any artist's style in terms of another artist, but he's kinda got that J. Scott Campbell style, maybe from the Art Adams school. He's got a really great, young, vibrant "pop comic art" style to his work. And again, from project to project to project, he's just improving dramatically each time out.
JM: What do you hate that? Describe an artist in terms of other artists?
Y'know, I think it kind of pigeonholes people and it's unfair to do that. But sometimes, for the sake of brevity or maybe because I don't have the right words…I just do that. I hate doing that, but sometimes when I run short on descriptive terms, I'll drop a name like that. I guess we all do. But I try to avoid it. It can also put undue pressure on a creator, too.
JM: Well, also, it's damn tough to be "the next Art Adams."
Right. And what he should really be concerned about is being the first Stefano Casselli. That's who he should shoot to be—himself. We're all influenced and inspired by others' art, but the key is not to drown in it. You gotta find your own path.
JM: Khoi Pham.
Khoi Pham is actually a lawyer, a working lawyer, and we had to pry him away from his law practice to get him full-time at Marvel. He's a double-threat. Not only is he a great artist, but we can call on him for contract issues as well, I guess.
When I first met Khoi, I was overwhelmed not only by his artistic talent, but also his business acumen and his intelligence. I think a certain amount of that has to do with his legal background, as obviously you have to study very hard to pass the bar. And this was a guy who wasn't just a part-time lawyer on the side. He was a full-time lawyer moonlighting as a comics guy! When I first saw his earliest pages, I was blown away. I said if we can lure this guy away, get him to work on comics full-time, he'll be huge, one of the top guys in the industry. We've already seen this guy's work getting constantly better and better and better. I just saw his newest pages just yesterday, and they are positively mind-blowing. And they're still pretty raw! He's still growing.
JM: Y'know, Pham might be a dual threat, but Mike Choi is a triple threat. He's an artist, he has a business degree from the University of Texas, and he tried to walk on to the football team at UT.
Really? Well, I know Marko's from Germany, so he probably doesn't play American football, but probably soccer-football. We can get some more Marvel teams going.
JM: Perhaps. Rafa Sandoval.
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Rafa is a guy I have to admit completely surprised me. One day, a few months ago, I was reading one of our issues of Incredible Hercules and I just said, "Wow! Who the hell is
this guy?" I was just blown away by his stuff. It's a very, very "classic" superhero style in the—again, here I go—maybe Andy Kubert or John Buscema sense. He's got tremendous, tremendous upside and potential. He really snuck up on me, but our Talent Department guys were really all over him.
JM: On a fan level, consumer level, call it what you will…does this matter? Does Bob Spideyfan buying this week's Amazing Spider-Man care if that issue's artist is a "Young Gun" or no?
I think it matters to the artists. I don't know if it's the kind of thing that sells thousands and thousands of extra copies of the book, but I think it's a nice brand-builder. At Marvel, we try to be very conscious of building and maintaining our brand. All big companies do, and some are really masterful at it. Disney has obviously done a great job over what its now decades. Apple is masterful at it. One thing I always tried to do—and hopefully I was successful—when I was a freelancer was try to maintain my brand, and find the right project, the right "next thing" for me to do. At Marvel, we have a dedicated talent relations and talent management department that works with our writers and artists and helps connect the right people with the right projects. I always say that Marvel is a great place to build, accelerate, and maintain a career—all three of those phases—if you're a creator in this business. I think we're the best in the business.
And we're always looking. That talent department is basically C.B. Cebulski, Chris Allo, David Bogart, and Dan Buckley sticks his two cents' worth in when it comes to business matters and certain talent meetings. The other
side of the talent division that no one really knows about is that we have 2-3 guys out there, satellite people who are good friends of mine or C.B.'s that have a great
eye for art. I have a very good friend named George Belliard, and we have Olivia Halibert (sp?) in Europe who are constantly sending us links saying, "Check this guy out. Next talent meeting, bring this guy up." When those guys see someone with a certain spark, we assemble the group and start circulating pages immediately. We're constantly scouring the globe, man.
JM: Last q, and we'll hit some reader questions. Something I asked Bendis and Alonso as well. What are you reading these days? Any book/magazine recommendations?
Lately, I have to admit, I've been so damn busy I haven't had a chance to read many books. I'm almost embarrassed by the size of my growing reading pile. I just got a galley copy of Was Superman a Spy?, a collection of comic book urban myths and legends, I hope to get to soon. The reality is I have to read—well, I want
to read, but it's also an important part of the job that I have to read them, too—so many Marvel scripts. It's the comics, especially our larger "event" books, and now a lot of our animation scripts and movie scripts now that Marvel's more directly involved in that business. I gotta tell you, I'm reading 4-5 animation scripts a week. There's a lot of that to read.
Every now and then, I do admit I like looking at little short movies that people will send me. I gotta give a shout-out to a director named Kyle Higgins. I just saw his short film, The League, which is just…absolutely…wonderful! It is so slick, so cool, such a wonderful superhero take, and I'm sure it was done on a very low budget. He's a film student and this was his thesis film. Please, you get a chance, go check it out
JM: Okay. Reader questions ahoy.
No, one more! One more shout-out! I gotta give congratulations—actually, we just popped the cork on a bottle of champagne—to the Spider-Man office led by Steve Wacker. One year of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN "Brand New Day" publishing thrice monthly, and they hit every deadline and shipped every
issue on time. So big congrats to Steve, Tom Brennan, and I guess if I really have to, to Tom Brevoort as well. Steve and crew have just been monsters cranking this book out.
Hey Mr. Quesada,
Your fill-ins were pretty insightful. It was cool to here a little about the creative summit.
Was there anything decided at Marvel's recent creative summit about a certain deceased Spidey clone, say Ben Reilly? Will he have his own "Brand New Day" in the pages AMAZING SPIDER-MAN any time in the near future? Please bring back the original Scarlet Spider, in current continuity!
Drew, there's good news and bad news and more good news on the Ben Reilly front.
The good news is that he's appearing right now in X-MEN/SPIDER-MAN #2, which takes place in the past.
The bad is that there are no plans, nor have any other decisions been made with respect to Ben.
The other good news is that as while we're currently working on building Peter's world back up again, the door certainly isn't closed on Ben if one of our writers has a great idea down the road.
So the simple answer is, "No Ben Reilly for right now."
Daniel wants to know…
In X-FACTOR, writer Peter David explained that mutants who display their powers at birth are actually not "mutants." Rather, he dubbed them "killcrops," or genetic throwbacks of a sort.
Cable's Messiah Baby was recorded at birth as being a mutant. Madrox and Siryn's baby may follow suit. Are we going to get an exact explanation as to what the difference between a baby that exhibits the mutant trait at birth, and a killcrop?
Daniel, I think to a certain degree the jury is still out on the science on that one. It's also a matter of definition, and some people might disagree that there's enough of a distinction there to really indicate a difference between species. Other people—other scientists—would completely get on board with that notion. I imagine that debate is raging in the letters column of New Scientist magazine in the Marvel Universe.
Either way: the Messiah Baby was, possibly, something else entirely. It was VERY unusual that her birth set off alarm bells in Cerebra. That is NOT the normal way these things work. What does it mean? Well, the next big piece of that puzzle is in upcoming issues of CABLE…and X-FORCE.
For Madrox and Siryn's baby, being born with powers is definitely a possibility. Mutant? Killcrop? Flatscan? X-FACTOR #39. Don't miss it.
Everyone has a favorite superhero. But who's your favorite anti-hero?
Lawsonifier, I think I'd have to go with Ari Gold.
The Mighty Mutt asks:
Will Dark Avengers be replacing any of the existing Avengers titles? And will we ever see the "Earth's Mightiest Heroes" tagline on any of the Avengers books?
Mr. Mighty Mutt, how's it goin'? The answer to your question is "no," Dark Avengers will be an all-new and amazing addition to the Avengers line of titles that presently includes New, Mighty and The Initiative. But yes, we'll probably see the "Earth's Mightiest" tagline again, somewhere down the road.
I just recently got into DAREDEVIL, and want more to read. But it seems like DD just stays in Hell's Kitchen. Any plans for our blind hero outside, in the rest of the Marvel Universe?
Hey MahNaMaNah, we're glad to hear that you're digging DD! The introduction of Lady Bullseye and Master Izo—who is certainly the most popular nearly immortal amoral character Ed's introduced since Orson Randall—is indeed a harbinger for some massive changes in DD's life. Part of these changes will bring Matt face to face with Iron Fist, Black Tarantula, White Tiger, and a host of others in and around the Marvel Universe, while also forcing him to search for allies in unexpected places…
Rebel without a clue is so L.A. says…
First time writer, longtime Marvel reader.
I really enjoyed that writer Brian Bendis brought Dr. Strange back to the forefront in New Avengers. But where was Dr. Strange during Secret Invasion, and will he see him again anytime soon?
Tony, after all these years you finally write! It's about time! We've been worried about ya! Here's the skinny: Doctor Strange will be playing a pivotal, and dare I say, life-changing role in NEW AVENGERS starting in issue #51—and that's where you'll learn where the good Doc's been and what sort of mischief he's been up to the past couple of months. And just to make sure you write us again, here's a cover image just for you. But don't show anyone else, okay?
Sean gets metaphysical with…
If a tree falls in the woods and no one is around to hear it, can Spider-Man Spidey-Sense it?
Only if that tree is about to hit Aunt May.
So since I know you wont say who he REALLY is, can we at least get a clue to who the Red Hulk is?
Dustin, rather than dance around this question how about this: No.
In January, we'll have 600 issues of Thor. In June, there will have been 500 issues of Daredevil and 600 issues of Captain America. Will these books go back to their "classic" numbering?
Next year is going to be filled with all sorts of milestones, chief of which is Marvel's 70th anniversary. As I like to say, "Make Mine '39!"
Where do you see the Marvel Universe heading with the new presidency? We've seen past presidents in books, so is Barack Obama going to start showing up?
Absolutely. Obama will be no different than prior presidents. If a given Marvel story calls for us to see the President of the United States, then Barack Obama will be the guy you see.
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