For the first time since the pandemic, former Marvel editor-in-chief and chief creative officer Joe Quesada made his grand return to SDCC for his spotlight panel where he took on any and all fan questions. The format wasn’t too dissimilar to his old Cup o’Joe panels during his tenure at the House of Ideas, where fans had the rare opportunity to get a glimpse behind the curtain.

Joe Quesada began by bringing up his newly minted Substack newsletter, “Drawing the Line Somwhere.” He’s finding it an incredibly satisfying experience and particularly enjoys interacting with readers through his Substack more than on social media.

On the subject of his Substack, a recent entry teased a new comics project from Marvel. Unfortunately, Quesada couldn’t divulge any information but promised that next year he’ll be back at SDCC and will actually be able to promote and discuss it.

The first question came from a pair of elementary aged young Peter Parker/Miles Morales cosplayers asking about lessons learned from his tenure at Marvel. As most people are aware, unlike previous Marvel EiC Quesada came in as an artist as opposed through the corporate side. He admitted his natural competitiveness as an artist ended immediately once he became EiC.

His primary goal was making sure Marvel’s characters in a healthy or even healthier state by the time he left the company citing Crimes and Misdemeanors to explain his approach, “If it bends, it’s funny. If it breaks, it’s not funny.” ama

The next person at the microphone inquired about getting back to sequential comic art. As a storyteller at heart, Quesada can’t imagine just drawing covers for the rest of his career. Since leaving Marvel, he’s been branching out into other things outside of comics such as directing a short film.  

Quesada said there are two demons that every artist faces in their career- being surrounded by four walls and a blank page. Learning to put down the pencil and take a personal day was an important lesson for him as an artist. In his own words, “It’s okay to suck for a day.”

A fan conceded that current comics from both Marvel and DC don’t resonate with him as much as when he first got into comics 20 years ago and asked about comics being more beholden to corporate interests.

Quesada recounted his early days at Valiant where he started out as a colorist and he sincerely believed the comics company could compete with Marvel. Unfortunately, he cited the terrible business decisions such as paying colorists $14 by the hour. While Quesada maintained a diligent work ethic, others took their sweet time. When the news came that Valiant had to lay off a large portion of the staff based on seniority, Quesada knew as the fresh hire that he would be among the casualties. However, his time at Valiant allowed him the opportunity to strike up conversations with and learn from  comic artists who would come into the office.

A fan of Quesada’s approach to designing costume inquired about creating the Azrael costume. Apparently, Denny O’Neil’s instruction to Quesada about designing the Azrael Batman costume was to make it completely implausible in order to reflect the character’s deteriorating mental state. Basically he took what Rob Liefeld and the Image guys were doing and amped it up to eleven.


As previously announced, Quesada has signed a first look deal with Amazon but due to the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes everything in Hollywood is on hold. 

Finally, Quesada offered his opinion on the comics industry. Even with actors and entertainers bowing out of SDCC this year, the convention is the perfect encapsulation of how comics have become much more mainstream than 20 years ago. He conceded in becoming mainstream comics have lost some of that personal intimacy of conventions, and how creators charging for signatures has become the norm. However, he remembers how the comics industry almost lost everything in the late ‘90s. Entropy is the way of the universe according to Quesada, but he sees this as a normal cycle and things will likely turn back the other way.

Miss any of our earlier SDCC ’23 coverage? Find it all here!