Well that was a fun one. Thanks to a e-mail from Marvel’s PR, a phone number and a handy ID number, I found myself in the Marvel press conference call over the firing of Bob Harras and the appointment of Joe Quesada. Well the latter, really, we were told that talking about Bob’s firing was a no-no. Shame, as that’s where a lot of my questions were…

There were plenty of players in the conference… just about all the online guys, Wizard, CBG (though Maggie Thomson turned up quite late after a runaround to get the number and code… she didn’t know the press call was happening until a few minutes before it did), Tripwire and more. And while there were a few other PR guys at Marvel, it was Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada who did the talking. Lots of it.

Most of the sites will give full coverage, www.fandom.com/comics has transcripts going up even (although they’ve paraphrased for clarity in places). This is handy, because I can’t remember who asked what question. I was holding a phone in one hand and typing with one finger, give me a break! So check that site for all the sourcing you need… I’ll just be pulling out a few bits that caught my ear. And not the atrocious music that played
throughout the whole thing.

Joe seems to view his main role as bringing a kind of energy back to Marvel, comparing it to baseball a lot. Something about making it the Yankee Stadium for comics, I won’t pretend to understand. Oh yeah, and how he wants comics merchandising to have a critical mass so they spill over into comics, like baseball on the TV did to baseball in stadiums. Joe said “More is more, more is more than that, the better the other stuff, the better the comic”. Jemas compared it to what the Pokemon phenomenon did to Pokemon comics. And yes, accoridng to Jemas, Marvel regrets not picking Pokemon up. Really?

Another great analogy, reminiscent of Moore’s quotes about the similarity of superhero comics to drugs, was describing Marvel comics as crack – how if you get a kid hooked, he’s hooked for life. Jemas distanced himself
humorously from such remarks, but since Joe Quesada’s actual title hasn’t been decided (and Maggie Thompson would like to know) ‘Head Pusher Of Literary Crack’ seemed a good one to me.

Jemas talked about a lost generation of kids reading comics with no older brothers to pass them down anymore and how the Ultimate line will build that. One good ploy is to buy rack space on newstands next to gaming magazines for the Ultimate line, which will push their newstand vendor presence up from 15,000 stands to 25,000. Oooh, nice!

Joe wants to look long and hard at the Spidey books, the X-books, hiring more editorial staff, moving away from superheroes, wants a greater diversity of comic talent and probably something else about baseball that I missed. He wants better deals for freelancers, he wants to return to failed experiments and make them work this time and pursue places Marvel hasn’t been before. All sounding good so far!

One of the problems in the past, we were told, is that Marvel was all over the place with different factions fighting each other. And the comics were pretty crap too. Jemas told us some actual specific stories about how the different sides of Marvel operated independently. The Maximum Carnage storyline caused such a fuss in the Spider-titles that a games company made a spin-off, making big bigs and breaking through the charts. But the editorial office had decided they didn’t like the Carnage character when the game was coming out and so the guy was dropped from all the books.

The third-party deals is something the guys were very interested in. They lamented the days when they’d push a promotional book with a third party distributor, free with a box of cereal, say, and the book would be rubbish
because no one wanted to work on it, it had a stigma. And so 10 million copies of something crap were distributed. They want to change that, but sadly show something like the recent TV Guide X-Men comic being an example of this improvement… oh dear.

On licensed comics, well they want a new name for them, but they’ll be back. Bringing a host of fans to comics that GI Joe and Transformers did in the eighties.

I had my question eventually, and after some of the arse-licking I heard, decided to go for a low blow. Mean I know, but Joe can take it. I asked “Marvel Knights was originally promoted as a two handed editorial venture,
you and Jimmy Palmiotti. As outside observers we can’t see who did what. How much do you attribute to MK to Jimmy and what will be missing in that equation when you take over Marvel as EiC”.

Joe said that after Jimmy left, Marvel Knights didn’t miss a beat, the staff ran the place as well as ever, that Joe and Jimmy’s role was to recruit the talent and everyone else did the work.

Bill Jemas stepped in to save Joe from what he thought was a low down question (which it was) and said plainly and simply that despite the affection felt by fans and pros towards Jimmy, that Joe was “the prime mover at Marvel Knights”. Cat and pigeons, I think Bill!

And that’s all I remember. That and the atrocious music. It’s going to be ringing in my head all night. And with this, time for bed.

I would give this a 9 out of 10 value, but as I was tired when listening and am now even more tired when typing, this gets a Rage Value of 7 out of 10.

Yet to Be Answered…

I’m still hearing from other sources, that despite Bill, Frank and Joes’ intentions, clearly set out in the press conference that Avi Arad is planning to phase out comics altogether. Well that’s what I hear he’s telling the big media people.

And as for Bob Harras’s departure? Well, one creator tells us that it was down to a fundamental disagreement between Bob Harras and Marvel owner Carl Icahn.

Despite Marvel’s ban on questions in the press conference about Harras, I’m sure there’s a lot to be leaked out soon.

These get a Rage Value of 5 out of 10.

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