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March 28 2008

Joe Quesada thinks that Joss Whedon is one of the comics industry's "800-pound gorillas." Scroll down a little more than halfway through to see the Marvel Comics editor-in-chief say that Joss is one of the big hitters who always deliver their A-games. (Minor spoilers for various Marvel series throughout.)

JM: Switching from new to established talent, do you think, in a general sense, certain creators get to pee wherever they want? I look at the All-Star Batman book DC is doing and think, "It's gibberish. There's no way they do that except for the fact that Frank Miller is Frank Miller in their minds, and they'll let him do what he wants." Does that phenomenon exist, or is it my imagination? More directly, does it exist at Marvel? Do you have different "rules" for, say, just to pick a name, Joss Whedon?

JQ- Of course that phenomenon exists at Marvel. It exists everywhere. There are just some talents that are 800 pound gorillas, and that's cool. These are the prime movers, the people that drive our business at the end of the day, and mind you, I don't see anything wrong with it. In most cases, these guys have earned that kind of respect to do their thing. A guy like Frank has a lot of credit in the bank. He's done some amazing things, especially at DC, so in my book, Frank gets to do what Frank gets to do. It's Frank, and it's going to sell like hotcakes. But as I said, this isn't just a DC thing. We do it at Marvel as well, and lets face it, in most of these cases, the creators knock it out of the park. Sure, sometimes they don't, but you run that risk with anyone. Where you mitigate your risk is by targeting the big name creator who puts asses in the seats AND has a track record of bringing their A-game all the time. Just to pick a name, yeah, I think Joss Whedon does that every time.

Hooray!!! This makes me feel happy!
Joe Quesada is the problem with Marvel and he was lucky to have Joss Whedon for as long as he did.
Guy can draw though, gotta give him that (he also seems like a nice bloke, for whatever that's worth). But yeah, even though I don't really follow the main continuity Spider-man properly and so don't feel all that invested, the whole 'One More Day'/'Brand New Day' thing sounds incredibly disrespectful to the readers - brave maybe but disrespectful (though you could make a case that the braver choice would be to somehow try to carry on despite the rod they'd made for their own backs).

I agree with his sentiments though - Frank Miller has earned a little indulgence IMO and no-one hits every ball for six, no matter how talented they are. Course, there may come a time when you're only indulging someone that was once great and then you have to maybe make the hard choice.
My problem with Joss being quoted in the question and echoed in the answer is that the question is a criticism of Miller for his indulgences and I don't think Joss can be criticised for that - at least in the context of the comic world. Certainly not in his Marvel comics... unless his indulgences extend to letting deadlines slip (or not, as the case may be).

Beyond the Spiderman thing, I don't think Quesada really knew what he had with Civil War beyond it being a big promotion for the Marvel brand. Again a situation where the writers had to deal with his excesses at the expense of story and continuity and logic.
I agree with his sentiments though - Frank Miller has earned a little indulgence IMO and no-one hits every ball for six, no matter how talented they are. Course, there may come a time when you're only indulging someone that was once great and then you have to maybe make the hard choice.


Personally, I think Miller has descended into self-parody, and I think it's Sin City's fault. Don't get me wrong, I think most of the volumes are a fun read, but it seems to me like Miller has gotten so caught up in the hyper-noir, extreme violence vibe that pervaded that series that he's become unable to leave it behind when he's doing something else. Which is how you get brilliant quotes like "What, are you DENSE? Are you RETARDED or something? Who the hell do you THINK I am? I'm the GODDAMN BATMAN!"

As for Quesada, I can't muster up the steaming hatred for him that many seem to harbor. Yeah, stuff like "Brand New Day" has happened, and Civil War had its less that great moments. But he's also the guy who created the MAX and Ultimate imprints, and whatever your opinion of them are, they've been very good for the company. He's also the guy who put Grant Morrison on X-Men, which resulted in one of the greatest runs of that series, IMO. Although, retconning the Xorn/Magneto thing after Morrison left - less than classy.

There's good and bad, is what I'm saying. And all in all, I don't think his track record is much worse than anyone else who's had his position.
I dunno Winther, I think Miller's just angry with the way things went after 'Dark Knight Returns' and is maybe taking that out on his readers to some extent. If you look at 'Dark Knight Strikes Again' for instance, it's clearly a book by a middle-aged man who in the 20 years since DKR has become a lot more cynical about the world and the people in it (in DKR the ordinary folk just need a nudge to do the right thing but by 'Strikes Again' it's almost as if he's given up hope for their redemption, like the whole thing needs to be torn down and started again).

That's not self-parody IMO, it's more like profound disappointment.

(though I haven't read 'All Star Batman' yet - originally intended to read it in trade though that's turned out to be a longer wait than i'd imagined ;) - so maybe that is a self-parody. Course, self-parody, if done for a purpose, is a perfectly valid creative choice)

My problem with Joss being quoted in the question and echoed in the answer is that the question is a criticism of Miller for his indulgences and I don't think Joss can be criticised for that ...

Well you can read it as unfair crossoverman (I agree, Joss hasn't been self-indulgent with AXM - in fact, maybe to some people's disappointment, he's actually delivered a fairly straightforward, conventional story) but the questioner does say "just to pick a name" and the tenor of it to me was "Do you give your big name writers more leeway (because it sure seems like DC does) ?" to which Joe Q answers, basically, "Yes" (mirroring the "just to pick a name" and actually saying that Joss always brings his "A game" as well as being a name that sells books - hard to be more complimentary about a writer than that I reckon).
As for Quesada, I can't muster up the steaming hatred for him that many seem to harbor. [...] But he's also the guy who created the MAX and Ultimate imprints, and whatever your opinion of them are, they've been very good for the company. He's also the guy who put Grant Morrison on X-Men, which resulted in one of the greatest runs of that series, IMO.

The name you're looking for is Bill Jemas.
The name you're looking for is Bill Jemas.


All those choices were made when both men were at Marvel, and the distribution of credit and scorn for the various choices made in that period varies with every article on the subject. My main point is that he's probably responsible for at least some of the good things that have happened at Marvel in the last years, and that I don't think that his tenure has been anywhere near the catastrophe that some make it out to be. And Bill Jemas wasn't exactly universally loved either during his time at the company. Not many people in those positions are.
From what I've heard/seen, all Jemas did was micromanage people and get into mudslinging with fans. The guys a great businessman, maybe, but he seems to be the equivalent of Aaron Sorkin in comics when it comes to one-on-one fan interaction. I'll just note that I adore Sorkin's work (minus large parts of the largely ridiculous Studio 60), but the guy should never be allowed on message boards.
I’ve voiced my opinion about Joe Quesada for a long time and even in several Whedonesque posts. While I’m critical, I don’t have a “hatred” for Joe Quesada. I would say if anything, he’s good for Marvel stockholders and just plain bad for Marvel fans.

I don’t think I’ve ever met a comic book personality that was more full of himself; Not humble or appreciative of fans like any number of other comic book “stars.” One of the reasons guys like Stan Lee and Julie Schwartz were so great at their jobs is that they never took themselves too seriously. And they became ambassadors for the entire industry. I get the impression that Joe feels he is next in the comicbook royalty lineage, except the truth is, that kind of respect from fans and peers is earned not inherited.

The first time I saw Joe Quesada in person was at a comic convention in Chicago about 5 years ago. A young fan in the audience of his Marvel panel asked Joe why, “Marvel had cancelled and restarted The Punisher series 5 different times in less than 3 years because its really very hard to find back issues and to read the story in the proper order and that it was just plain confusing.” In front of hundreds of fans, Quesada replied with a glib (paraphrasing), “We get a sales bump from number one issues.”

That is when I knew this guy was all about being loyal to his pocket book and stock options. If we liken this to politics, its like comparing the candidate that does what’s popular versus what’s right. It appears Joe never got the idea that while Marvel is a business, its not all about business. Its about treating institutions that came before him with respect and integrity…not telling some kid that his favorite titles are being cancelled so they can be re-released 6 months later with a number 1 stamped across the cover to increase sales 20% for one issue. (and I wont even address the Spidey retcon fiasco that is currently in full swing)

Personally I think someone with that attitude should not be in charge of an institution like Marvel Comics.

Can you imagine what the WHEDONesque posts would be like if Joss decided to whore out his characters with flimsy product and misleading promotions because he knows we’ll pretty much buy anything he does?
Oh, I agree absolutely that Jemas was a disaster when it came to interaction with, you know, people. But it's evident, since Marvel went creatively downhill after his departure, that it was him that kept Quesada on a leash (gone now are the "no gimmick covers", "dead stay dead" and "no crossovers" policies), the one that tried most of the creatively challenging stuff (Milligan on X-Force! Quitely drawing X-Men!), who brought future or present superstars to the company (Millar, Bendis, BKV, JMS, Morrison) and tried so many new things, some successful (Ultimate line), others not (Tsunami, Epic).

But the point is that under Jemas, Marvel was surprising. Trying cool or not-so-cool new stuff every other day. Stuff that you wouldn't necessarily expect anyone to ever try. (Mike Allred on a superhero series? Come on!) The most challenging thing Marvel has done in the last three years is... erm, I'm sure there must be something... Right, I got nothing.
:) I hear what you're saying.
My dad knew Joe Quesada back in the 80's, and intensely disliked him, for whatever that's worth.

I've got nothing against him personally; he's definitely an extremely intelligent guy who comes off quite well in interviews and whatnot. But the whole Spider-Man fiasco just pisses me off. Granted, I haven't read the actual comics, but just the entire concept comes as a slap in the face to someone who has been a fan of the character and his mythology ever since I could read.

I also hate the constant huge company-wide crossovers, but, uh...not his fault. That is sadly the norm. Almost everything about the Ultimate line rocks, though.
"800-pound gorillas." Didn't it used to be 600-pound gorillas? Or was it 900-pound gorillas?
It used to be elephants but somebody sued and they settled on gorillas.

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