Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer, Joe Quesada, has seen a lot of change since he started out in comics. From Marvel’s lean days at the turn of the last century to its current domination across multiple media platforms. Speaking to Comic Book Resources at the San Deigo Comic Con, Quesada remarked about how the broadening of the comics market has helped to bring new characters and newer versions of old characters to life, and how comics are still guiding their other media counterparts.
“I think what sticks out to me is the audience’s willingness and desire to accept different versions of our characters, or characters that generally were never successful, now being successful. And Squirrel Girl is a perfect example of this, folks have embraced her.”
“And I think that’s a really interesting thing to see happening. During my tenure, and even before my tenure, it was a very difficult door to breakthrough. And as much as we pushed, certain offbeat ideas would have a lot of trouble sustaining. But now it seems like the readership, because it’s growing and there are more women reading comics, and we’re bringing in a lot of different people that are interested in comics through the movies and television…I think that audience growing in that sense, and the diversity of that audience is helping us to launch new ideas and new concepts, or revive new ideas and new concepts, or twist old concepts into something new that works.”
This sense of experimentation is readily felt in the direction that MCU is heading in. Characters that were once thought to be second-tier like Doctor Strange are receiving major Hollywood films and newer characters like Jessica Jones are being brought into the television spotlight to much acclaim. Quesada says that all of this has its roots in the publishing arm of the company and that those looking to see where the MCU is going to pivot next should check out were the comics are going.
“I tell this to these people in particular — [not] those who live in this world of comics and understand it, those who understand that when Cap says “Hail Hydra” you should wait til the second issue before you lose your mind — for the uninitiated, I always say, if you come to Marvel, through either our animation, our television shows, our movies, our video games, however it may be, if you haven’t come through the comics and you want to know what’s happening in this world, comics are the hub of the wheel. If Marvel is a wheel, comics are the hub and everything else spokes out. Movies, TV…they’re all spokes of the wheel. If you want to know what the future is, in the movies, television, video games, animation — pick up the comics, because there’s a very good possibility that the stuff you’re reading today will eventually find itself — or a version of it — in one of our media outlets. Could be next year, four, five years from now, maybe ten years from now.”
“If you look at the stuff we’re producing in studios right now — Civil War, right? Civil War was 10 year ago, and here we are, it’s this huge movie. It’s the same thing in our television division — Jessica Jones was a comic, and that was more than ten years ago. So who knows where Squirrel Girl will end up. That, to me, is the incredible richness and beauty of comics — we can be so wildly creative. At the end of the day, if it fails as a company, a publishing division, you lose thousands of dollars. If this is a television show, you’re losing millions of dollars.”
By trying out new variations and directions for their stable of characters in comics, Marvel is enabled to fine tune and build a fanbase that’ll follow the character when they make their leap into another medium. This broadened fan base that includes more women and people of color has been what has allowed these concepts to flourish.
“Our readers are the Johnny Appleseeds. They tell us something is resonating, something is hitting a core, and that’s something we should try to cultivate. Another great example of this: Ms. Marvel. If we had put this book out ten years ago, it probably would never have succeeded. Not only did we find the audience, but we had the right people on the book and we had the right editor on the book, the right creators on the book. And now we have a character that’s very recognizable — very, very quickly. That doesn’t happen a lot. Who knows where Ms. Marvel’s going to end up. You can be sure that, somewhere down the road, she will be a part of the future of Marvel in other media.”
“I remember having this phone call, right around the time that we became a part of Disney and we were talking about the movie slate. ‘Well what do you have after the Avengers?’ [I said] ‘Well, we have this thing called Guardians of the Galaxy. It has a talking raccoon and a tree. Trust us, it’s going to be great.’ And then we went into the pitch, and they immediately got it. That’s how these things happen — that’s the beauty of publishing — you can strike gold, and sometimes, even if the audience doesn’t see it right away, internally we feel it. ‘Okay, there’s really something here, so let’s try to build on that.’”
And build on it they did. Guardians of The Galaxy was a massive hit and Vol. 2 is now eagerly awaited. While Marvel continues to expand its reach and introduce new characters, they are sure to always keep the comics as the soul to their storytelling. To keep up to date on all of your Marvel movie news The MCU Exchange is here to keep you posted.
Source: Comic Book Resources.