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AICN Comics Column Special Update: Joe Quesada speaks about the future of Marvel! Plus a preview of DETECTIVE Comics!

Hey folks, Harry here with a look at what's going on from an official standpoint from MARVEL COMICS! Editor in Chief Joe Quesada (who has rumored to have completed some amazing DAREDEVIL design work for Mark Steven Johnson's DAREDEVIL film!) and Marvel President Bill Jemas took time out of their lives to speak about a great many things concerning Marvel comics at a press conference today and Andrew Goletz, one of our AICN COMICS Specialists was their to catch it all. Also, check out the groovy preview of DETECTIVE COMICS as it is being drawn... right now!

Marvel Talent Drive: We Want You!

-by Andrew Goletz

publisher (GrayHavenMagazine)

Marvel Comics held their bi-weekly press conference today. In attendance for Marvel, were President Bill Jemas, Editor in Chief Joe Quesada and Bill Rosemann. Jemas began by responding to Internet premonitions of doom and gloom for the industry.

‘Marvel is making a huge turnaround in sales and we feel it’s due to some simple, common sense policies that we initiated when Joe took over as EIC’, Jemas said. ‘Listening to some reports, you might think that the sky is falling, but it’s not the case. The worries and trepidation that some people have is due to the lack of hard data they have and we’ll do a better job of providing the information to you. You can trash us and say whatever you want, but try coming to us first and getting the right information.’

EIC Joe Quesada then added his take to things. ‘What is being felt in the industry is bordering on Silly’, Quesada said. ‘It was one thing to talk poorly about the industry when we were suffering. Fans and even pros were talking about how the industry was dying and it was sort of tolerable when sales were down. But now sales are going up and there’s negativity still. That’s getting into the mindset that we’re destined to fail and we’re making excuses for those failures now. Everyone from creators to fans to journalists have to become less tolerant of the negativity being spread and be proud of the rising sales and increasing diversity in comic books. If we don’t change our philosophy, the only fans left will be those who read their comics under the covers at night. The negativity being spread is going to lead to a self fulfilling prophecy where we do fail.’

The big news of the day came when Marvel confirmed their much-rumored new talent initiative for the rest of 2001 and into 2002. Marvel will begin an active talent search at this summer’s two biggest comic conventions: the San Diego Comic Con and Wizard World in Chicago. The only catch for these two drives is that they’re only eligible to people who attend the conventions in person. They’re looking into expanding it beyond that in later drives, but for the opening 2, it will work like this:

In San Diego, Editor Tom Brevoort will head up the ‘Thor Talent Search’. A 3-page sample script will be soon found at Artists will submit their work at the convention and will be judged as they come in. As submissions grow, Brevoort will put up the leading contender(s) for fans to see. The ultimate winner will be decided at the convention, and they will be teamed with a professional writer and go on to pencil a full story within the Thor series within the next year.

Writers won’t be ignored, though. Writers will have the opportunity to work with a professional artist on an 8 page backup story to appear in the same issue. They will submit 1 type written paragraph springboard idea for the story, which will be judged at Marvel’s home office in New York.

Editor Mike Marts will be handling the contest in Chicago for the Wizard Con. The same rules will apply, only this time the character/comic will Wolverine.

Quesada was quick to point out that new creators need not be discouraged by their chances. Even if they don’t win the contest, a talented entry could still be considered worthy of publication.

Bill Rosemann added, ‘In keeping with the spirit of Rocky, on the 25th Anniversary of the film, an underdog comic writer and artist are going to get a chance to work on the most popular characters in comics for the #1 comic book company.’ When asked by Eric Morales of Assignment X, how this differs from other convention talent searches, they responded that ‘first of all, we’re actively looking now and we’re going to give you an issue. You could have approached us with the best portfolio in the world before and it still could take months or a year for us to get in contact with you. This is more immediate’

After Maggie Thompson of Comic Buyers Guide asked about any filters on the contest, Marvel added that a system of rules will be set up in the near future, including who is eligible to enter or not. ‘As of now, anyone who isn’t a professional in comics or who hasn’t had their work solicited by Diamond should be eligible.’

Some other Noteworthy news/discussion:

The sample script for the talent contest will be available to any outlet that would like to use it to promote new talent.

When asked why they were having a talent search for new creators when there are currently comic creators not getting enough work as it is, Quesada laid it out for the press. ‘Here’s the brutal truth. I know that there comes a day for every creator when people just start to lose interest in your work. It’s happened to others and it’ll happen to me and everyone else. It’s Darwinism and you need to adapt or move on. I’d love to be at a point where we were making so much money on our books that we could afford to take some risks on more projects like this, but right now we can’t. We used to publish 100 books a month and now we’re at 35. There are a lot of very creative people looking for work. But our doors have been closed for too long. It’s time to start looking outward now. Our industry has to be aware of and continue to look for new talent.’

The 1st issue of the new Elektra series (by Brian Michael Bendis, Chuck Austen and Greg Horn) will premier in at least the Top 7 and possibly even higher than that.

In discussing the top 50 books by dollar value, Marvel has held price point on 15 books while the closest competitor holding on 6 and Marvel had 25 of the top 50 books.

In discussing the misfortunes of Toy Biz and it’s possible detrimental affect on Marvel, Bill Jemas told the reporters that there was absolutely nothing to worry about. ‘Marvel took Marvel into bankruptcy before, not Toy Biz, and we still continued to publish and sell books. No matter what happens with the other sides of the company, the publishing side is making money. Our Marvel publishing side is bulletproof. I understand the concerns from some, but it’s nothing worth worrying about.’

Marvel is certainly ‘going in the direction’ of having a Young Reader imprint. Commercial ties-ins like X-Men: Evolution would be appropriate for the line and there are a few one-shots being developed. Bill Rosemann will be thrown into the upcoming Licensing Show to see what he can do.

The omission of Stan Lee’s name from some of the books recently was not intentional. ‘We made a mistake’.

When asked if Harry Potter author, JK Rowling had been approached to do something for Marvel, Quesada responded: ‘I hate confirming or denying stories like these, so let me just say nothing’.

On the Alan Moore/Marvel Man Progress: ‘We’ve spoken to a number of different parties involved, including Todd (McFarlane), and we’re waiting to hear from Neil (Gaiman). While we’d love to be able to do more with the series or reveal more, at this point we can’t.’ Quesada continued, ‘I will say that I’ve learned quite a bit of history on the whole Marvel Man/Miracle Man situation and it’s really all quite convoluted. But it was a very influential book to me’.

Jemas had everyone’s undivided attention when responding to a question regarding reprints and collectibility of comic books. ‘We found that by holding off on reprints, we’ve turned comics into something different’, Jemas said. ‘You may not want to believe it, but the evidence is there. Do you think first issues sell so well because everyone wants to just try a new title? And then does that mean the second issue of comics are so bad that they sell a lot worse? Trade paperbacks are ink and paper but comic books are so much more. They’re treasures that people read, collect, bag, etc. Trade paperbacks are the best point of entry for new readers and bookstores selling trades are the best point of entry for new readers.’

Quesada later expanded on earlier statements about the need for a more positive outlook in the industry. ‘There’s a chance a potential fan could stumble onto a web site talking about comics. If they see only negativity, it’s all over. But imagine this potential comic buyer hears that Kevin Smith is doing Green Arrow and they start to get excited, but they don’t do anything. And later they hear that Joss Whedon is doing a comic book and they become even more curious. Before you know it they’re walking into a comic book store and asking about a book. Any retailer worth their salt recognizes a new reader and knows how to treat them. From that point on our job is done’. That’s why we’re banging on pots and pans, acting the way we do. We want to let everyone know we’re here!’

Hey folks, Harry here again... Great report from our man Andrew, we're sure to have more from him this coming week along with the Sexiest Man In Comics, but this comics column stuff seemingly has a large fanbase and seems to be ballooning... For example Shawn Martinbrough read our preview and enthusiasm for Detective Comics and sent in this preview of his own... Enjoy:

Hey Harry,

Just wanted to drop you line to say thanks for the recent write up Detective Comics got on AICN.

Both Greg and I are working hard to make sure our take on Gotham is as interesting and distinct as possible.

Here are some pics of what's on the horizon for Detective Comics and if you ever want to chat about Batman, give me a hollar.

Love the site,

Shawn Martinbrough

artist of Detective Comics

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