Marvel has filled its publisher position – vacated when Don Buckley ascended to President – by hiring John Nee, a former DC VP and currently CEO of the company he co-founded, Cryptozoic.
Comicbook.com has the news and EIC CB Cebulski confirmed in a tweet.
— C.B. Cebulski (@CBCebulski) January 16, 2018
Nee’s has long deep background in comics, starting as the president of Wildstorm. At DC he was VP of business development before leaving to start Cryptozoic Etertainment which quickly rose to become a top player in the licensing game with such the DC Comics Deck-Building Gameand and other licensing deals with Adventure Time, Ghostbusters, The Walking Dead, and Rick and Morty and other top brands. He’s a well seasoned exec with a strong background for the position.
CB.com also has an exclusive interview with Buckley about the ongoing structure of Marvel. Since Buckley rarely gives interviews, Kremlinologists will want to scour his words for how Marvel has weathered the massive fan revolt from both the progressive and anti-diversity ends of the comics industry
Nee will lead Marvel’s business side, with a focus on growing both the comics and prose busines, Buckley says. CCO Joe Quesada and Cebulski will continue to oversee the creative end of things.
“This was more of the right time than the ‘best.’ Our comics and prose businesses have many opportunities in front of them, and each of those opportunities require a certain amount of expertise. We feel John can provide us with that expertise for each of these opportunities.” Buckley told CB.com. “John’s has a comprehensive background that makes uniquely qualified for this role. He has a depth and breadth of experience in gaming, consumer products, prose publishing, collectibles, and most importantly comics.”
Buckley did address Marvel’s disappointing 2017 indirectly:
“‘Ebbs and flows’ are the only constant in any business. Our job is to recognize the nuances and trends of this constant. This is usually addressed with shifts in talent assignments, tone of content, pricing or even changes in the physical product.” Buckley told ComicBook.com “Every now and then you need to address the ebbs and flows by adjusting internal personnel assignments. Bringing in new perspectives to specific roles is at times the best way to resolve the changes that are occurring the marketplace.”He continued, “With that said, we still saw a lot of support from fans for the year. We were still the top publisher in the industry in terms of dollar and market share, and four of the top five selling books for 2017 were Marvel. But we need to keep listening, change what doesn’t work, and bring in the best talent to make our stories a reality. This year, we think we can do better.”
“We are simply focused on delivering great stories and content for Marvel fans around the world. By focusing on the story, we find we do our best work with the best results. Our competition produces some great comics – and we are always keeping a pulse on the industry – but we are less concentrated on what the competition is doing. We’re concentrated on how Marvel tells its story.”
Interestingly, CB.com mentions Nee’s deep licensing knowledge as a boon to the company. Marvel has been out of the licensed comics game for a while, with the pick-up of the Conan license something of a surprise. Of late, Marvel’s been better at licensing out their books, as deals at IDW and Archie show. If that’s the direction Marvel wnats to go in, Nee has the connections and expertise.
Having worked directly with Nee in various capacities over the years, I can tell you first hand that he’s a creative thinker with deep knowledge of the industry on all levels.
On the larger scale Marvel has now replaced two of its top positions with new personnel. As Buckley indicated, it’s a sign that the people on staff needed a fresh perspective in order to respond better to industry challenges.
To those wondering what changes will come at Marvel, I can see quite a few already, even in dealings with the press. I don’t expect either side of the social media wars to stop scrutinizing Marvel’s actions and tweeting or you tubing about it, but for those who are more interested in industry evolution, this is going to be a very interesting time.