Hugh Sheridan reporting from NYCC for Bleeding Cool. Photos by Octavio Karbank.
At his regular Cup O'Joe Panel Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada celebrated the 20th anniversary of his Marvel Knights imprint with his Marvel Knights collaborator Jimmy Palmiotti and writers Christopher Priest (Black Panther, Xero, Deathstroke) and Tom Sniegoski (Punisher).
Priest – in animated form – began proceedings by talking about the Black Panther movie and how in his estimation "85% of what we see on screen" comes from Don McGregor's run, and the element that he gets credit the most for – the Dora Milaje – actually came from his Marvel Knights editors Quesada and Palmiotti who thought it would be great if the Panther had female bodyguards.
Priest talked about how he approached the character by looking at his earliest appearances where he was "Rich and smart and beat the Fantastic Four all by himself". Quesada emphasized the importance of artist Mark Texeira's contribution to the success of the Black Panther book as it was a "complete departure from what you had seen before" with the character.
Quesada then asked Sniegoski about his notorious Punisher run – "why angels!? What were you thinking?" but Sniegoski reminded Quesada that the idea came from them and he cames from a "horror background" so he took on the idea and ran with it.
Quesada then talked about how Daredevil was "the lynchpin" of the Marvel Knights line – we wouldn't have done it without him". Palmiotti then said that after that they used characters they loved rather than ones they knew would be sure sellers – "I knew two titles would be cancelled – Black Panther and Inhumans – it could have been easy – we could have picked the X-Men"
To which Quesada replied "they would never have given us the X-Men!" to laughter from the audience.
Queasda then gave the floor over to questions and answers. The panel was asked who is the best martial artist – T'Challa, Iron Fist, Daredevil or Shang Chi?
"Shang Chi!" Was the universal response. "T'Challa would plan for him (Shang Chi) to win" and compensate for that according to Priest.
Quesada – who loves Daredevil – said "yeah, DD wouldn't stand a chance!" "he is more of a boxer – a brawler – than a martial artist"
Priest was asked about his thoughts on the casting of Black Panther in the movie and he recounted an anecdote about his day on the set of Avengers Infinity War – "there is always great food on set – if you ever get invited to a big movie set – go – it's the best food!'. He said he was getting lunch and he saw Chadwick Boseman getting food "he was getting a Panther Burger or whatever" – Priest was initially reluctant to approach Boseman but he asked a crew member who said it would be cool ("I don't know if there are rules about this stuff"). When he told Boseman who he was he "runs over and hugs me – he had read all my stuff and was very pleased to meet me – funny 'cos I'm a raging fan of all his work"
Quesada then mentioned that when Priest pitched the character Everett K Ross (played by in the Black Panther movie by Martin Freeman) it was with Michael J Fox in mind and Quesada claims that Ross' dialogue is even funnier if you imagine it being said with Fox's high pitched voice.
The panel was asked what character they would love to do in a new Marvel Knights book?
Sniegoski replied with "Devil Dinosaur!" – he would do a "down and dirty version" of the character
Priest said "he kinda stole mine" – "I'd do Fin Fang Foom"
Palmiotti talked about how he always loved The Daughters of the Dragon and would like another crack at them.
Quesada said – White Tiger – "maybe someday".
An audience member asked the panel what the worst part of making comics is.
Priest said the "best part of process is writing 'the end'" and the tough part is partnering with an artist you have some empathy with "If I'm teamed up with an artist that doesn't work it's like dragging a dead labrador up some steps – its like thump!, thump!, thump!". He made oblique references to two books "not published by Marvel so I won't name them here" – one where he isn't gelling with his artist and is having a tough time and another where things are really working.
Palmiotti said he "hates proofreading" and Quesada talked about how he loves and finds most difficult the outlining stage where you are "building your story and your world" the rest is easier, more "like math -figuring out how many panels, how many pages you need" to get the idea out.
Quesada was asked about the upcoming Marvel Knights revival lead by writer Donny Cates. Quesada said he wanted this panel to look back on his era on Marvel Knights and he would leave promoting the new line to Cates but he did talk about its origins
Cates had been bumping into Quesada and asking him if he had any plans for new projects to commemorate the 20th anniversary – ''he gave me a great backhanded compliment – "I loved those books when I was a little kid!!"' Quesada really had no plans and when Marvel came to him with the same question he replied "no, but I know a guy!"
Quesada said he told Cates to approach it like he is a showrunner on a TV series – he writes the first and last episodes and he hires a writers room to work with him on the rest. It will feature "not just the Marvel Knights characters" and will stand alone but make some references to the past Marvel Knights material that old fans will enjoy.
They then talked about the Marvel Knights Inhumans series and its origins. "We loved Jae Lee and wanted to work with him but he was notoriously "deadline challenged"" – Jae suggested the hire Paul Jenkins as the writer so Quesada and Palmiotti read some of his stuff and invited him in. When they asked him how he knew Jae Lee Paul said he had never met him – Lee had apparently recommended him just based on being a fan of his work.
Quesada then talked about the second issue of their Inhumans series which featured young Inhumans entering the Terrigen process. Its "one of the top books we ever did" – Quesada. "We won an Eisner for it" said Palmiotti –"no, we didn't" said Quesada – Lee and Jenkins did – "I have never won an Eisner" – "neither have I" lamented Palmiotti.
Eisners all round?