While the timing was not ideal, today’s Cup O’ Joe Q&A does give Joe Quesada a chance to tell what he can about the new Marvel. Such as his impressions of Bob Iger.
My initial feeling about Bob was that I could see right away why he’s been so successful and a visionary for the company. He’s incredibly smart, relaxed, personable and extremely likable. He was really interested in our group, our staff and what we did for a living and was looking to us, as the shepherds of our content, to continue doing what we do. He kept stressing several things, content is king, quality-quality-quality, it’s about people and that he wants Marvel to be Marvel in the same way that Pixar remains Pixar. We have our culture, it has been successful for us and he wants to preserve that. And at the end of the day, isn’t that the smart thing to do?
To that point, Bob was just here on Thursday and addressed the New York staff. It was a fantastic meeting as Bob took questions from staff members about the merger and what it would mean to Marvel. Once again, he stressed that he was looking to those of us here for guidance as to how to continue to run our business in the same successful manner it’s always been run.
There are many areas that Quesada can’t speak on, but this exchange with Kiel Phegley on the viability of the original graphic novel as a money making enterprise is interesting:
I’ve stated publicly on many occasions that I’ve never seen the benefits of original graphic novels. The economics just don’t work and are poor for both the publisher, retailer and the creator, especially during this Marvel regime when so much of what we do gets compiled into a collected edition anyway. While I would never discount doing one, I don’t see the outward benefits nor does the model work.
Just look at it from the eyes of the uninitiated, or the neophyte who walks into a comic shop or bookstore. When they decide on a hardcover, do you think it matters to them or that in some cases they even know that it’s an original graphic novel or a collection of a six-issue story?
Yet from an economic point of view it makes tons of sense to release the material in serialized form first because it then allows you to sell the product in several different formats. Also, from the point of view of a creator having their material reach the widest possible audience, the price of an original graphic novel can be too steep for many. That’s why you don’t see OGN’s selling in the hundreds of thousands of copies. Yet, if the story is strong enough, you can certainly serialize it and have that many eyeballs looking at your work in installments. At the end of the day, you can work for a year on a mini series that gets collected later or spend that entire same year on the OGN. I promise you, more people will read your mini series when it’s all said and done and that year of your life will have been spent in reaching the widest possible audience. And from an exposure and marketing point of view, you work for a year on a graphic novel, it comes out and you get one big promotional push and then it’s done. If it’s serialized, you get a push every month a new issue hits the stands and then another when it becomes a trade and then another for the hardcover.
While you can’t fault Quesada’s logic based on the business model that Marvel pursues, Disney’s publishing strategy includes many, many books that people work on for months and then promote once. We’d guess that as the merger evolves, the Disney pocketbook and resources would allow more experimentation in that direction, if suitable projects could be found.