Back in 2011, Axel Alonso was named editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics. I reached out to Marvel to do an “entry interview” and the wish was granted, perhaps because I knew Axel from working together. This interview is, as far as I know, one of only a handful of free, open non-event focused interview Alonso did in the whole time he was editor in chief.
I enjoy an equally collegial relationship with CB Cebulski, Marvel’s new editor in chief but I didn’t even bother reaching out.Such access as I enjoyed in 2011 is unthinkable now. In 2011
there was no social media did not have the suprremacy it has now, and an interview with an online website was just a sidenote to the main business. Now, to quote Rachel in Blade Runner, it is the business.
And so, we learn that CB will settle into his new role before being set loose in the world for interviews.
Instead, Marvel’s chief creative officer, (and former eic) Joe Quesada, as been called in, Mr. Wolf style, to smooth the transition and frame it for the news outlets. The first sign of this is an interview at Newsarama that sets up the next few months very nicely and reveals what a diplomat Quesada is, from thanking Alonso for reigning over the most profitable period in Marvel’s history (true) to setting up the CB years:
And C.B.’s reputation among creators and our staff is top-notch. They love him. So much – so much!- of this game is talent relations. I came in with a lucky advantage in that I had knowledge from both sides of the desk. I understood what it was like to be talent in need of management, and could also see from the other side, driving creative and helping talent with their stories and their dreams. And this is one of the big reasons C.B. was hired back in the day. I saw so much of that exact same thing in him. He truly cares about the people he works for, and the work they produce. That’s such an important part of being E-i-C – getting the talent know that you genuinely care, and more importantly, that they can trust you.
C.B.’s a creative guy to begin with, and has a great eye for talent. He’s done every aspect of this job, and has always been an amazing advocate for Marvel. Now as Editor-in-Chief, he’s now the face of our publishing division. And that “face” is a big part of the job as well. He’s always had a good public and private persona, and again, creators adore him.
He’s also one of my dearest friends, so selfishly speaking, one of the things that gives me great joy about his new job is that we get him back in New York.
Quesada also reveals that he’ll be taking a more hands on approach with editorial to smooth the transition.
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. 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.
I’d actually already heard that Quesada stepped in just before NYCC, and helped calm the waters at a very fractious editorial retreat that devolved into shouting matches over social media and the like. Make no mistake: Quesada is a seasoned executive who knows how to keep things on an even keel. The word I’m getting is that the arrival of the Joe Q/CB duo have already stabilized poor morale. And of course retailers wanted a change, so there it is.
Quesada puts all of this in perspective himself with a quote that shows he is firmly aware of comics propensity for doomsaying while pointing out that predictions of Marvel’s demise are grossly exaggerated:
[Laughs] You know, this is the kind of stuff… No, the house is not burning down. This is the ebb and flow of comics that has been happening since our dawn of time. There are good years, bad years. There are good months, bad months… and great years and great months.
And [laughs] this is the only industry I know, that in my – I’ve now been a working professional for 27, 28 years in comics – it’s the only industry I know that is consistently predicting its own demise every year. It’s always, “This is it! The end of comics!”
It’s not the end of comics, just a new chapter in a long, colorful history.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.