With the announcement that C.B. Cebulski would replace longtime Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso that was broken by Bleeding Cool earlier this week, former Editor-in-Chief turned Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada will be focusing more on the publishing division. In an interview with Newsarama, Quesada revealed that he's been more involved with Marvel's comics since October.
"I've already talked to some of the guys at Marvel and told them I want to shift some more of my focus so I can do a little bit more in publishing, as I want to be there to help C.B. land with both feet running and be there for him in any way he needs me to be," Quesada said. "So yeah, it was around early October that I started to shift my focus a bit. We have a young editorial crew and these kids are super bright and eager to learn as much about Marvel and the industry as possible so I started doing a few seminars on covers, design, pacing, etc. It's been a blast getting back in the trenches."
Quesada referred to recent Marvel PR disasters as "missteps," such as the fiasco when Alonso and David Gabriel inexplicably allowed website ICv2 to report on a series of candid, closed-door meetings with retailers, resulting in about a dozen embarrassing quotes from the executives to make headlines in the comic book press, including one where Alonso claimed there were no artists who could "move the needle" at Marvel and another where Gabriel said:
What we heard was that people didn't want any more diversity. They didn't want female characters out there. That's what we heard, whether we believe that or not. I don't know that that's really true, but that's what we saw in sales.
We saw the sales of any character that was diverse, any character that was new, our female characters, anything that was not a core Marvel character, people were turning their nose up against. That was difficult for us because we had a lot of fresh, new, exciting ideas that we were trying to get out and nothing new really worked.
Another recent scandal involved the publisher's plan to team with arms manufacturer Northrop Grumman for an all-ages comic book. And of course, sales have been down in general and response to Marvel Legacy has been lackluster, partially due to general burnout over Marvel's shock and awe publishing style of nonstop quasi-reboots, super-mega-crossover events, and elaborate variant cover schemes, and also partially due to an unfortunate week when Marvel promised an industry-changing announcement to kick of Marvel Legacy and then revealed it to be Nu52 style lenticular variant covers, which retailers promptly started boycotting. Oh, and there was that time they got caught shipping free copies of books to retailers to artificially spike sales numbers. Captain America was a Nazi for the better part of the year. And their top writer just left for DC Comics after seeing Superman in a library.
Yeah, Marvel's had kind of a rough year. But change is in the air, CB Cebulski has that fresh, new editor smell, Marvel's sales are still better than DC's, and Quesada is feeling optimistic.
"This is the ebb and flow of comics that has been happening since our dawn of time," said Quesada, waving off concerns. "There are good years, bad years. There are good months, bad months… and great years and great months."
"Have there been some bumps in the road? Absolutely," he admitted. "But there are always bumps in the road. My philosophy in this is always the same: If you learn from the mishaps, then these are huge opportunities not just to fix the problem but also to get better at doing what you do. There have been a couple of recent missteps, and we lost a great talent in [The Great One] Brian Bendis. And while I'll miss him dearly, this is an opportunity for us as well."
Quesada also seemed to tease bringing back the Marvel vs. DC softball game.
"I think we're a championship team," Quesada concluded. "We're not going away anytime soon."