Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.
Here's Marvel's own Master of Mayhem, Bill Jemas, with his newest Q&A column courtesy of our buddy Andrew over at GrayHaven Magazine.com. It's a welcome addition to the site, and we're glad to have 'im back. So, come on, Jemas... dig into that mailbag and let's see what you've got to say for yourself:
There is a bevy of Marvel Comics related movies either in post- or pre-production. This could spark a lot of interest in the Marvel universe. For instance, a successful Daredevil movie could bring new fans to the book. On the other hand, a bad movie could turn others away or paint a poor image of the character. It took arguably the greatest comic book of all time to restore Batman's image from the campy television show. What sort of measures if any are you taking to assure these movies stay faithful to the books and nothing silly happens? I think Marvel has a responsibility to its characters and fans to not let Hollywood "suits" take liberties with them.]
Bill: Loved the Batman TV show, can't stand the comics - I'm not in the minority.
Sony was nice enough to give me a sneak peak at the Spider-Man Movie - it is totally freakin' awesome. The movie is so good that DC could do a Spider-Man comic and it wouldn't hurt the character.
How come you raised the prices on Marvel Comics? Because Daredevil came out late, and then later it came out on time and then you raised the price on daredevil and all your other comics. Then you said this was Marvel's best year, so how come you raised the prices on your comics? Once you did raise the prices you could at least put better paper in your comics, because Daredevil feels like it's made on toilet paper.
Bill: Please don't squeeze the Elektra.
Mark Millar (Writer of Ultimate X-Men and The Ultimates)
Dear Mr Jemas,
While browsing the Net, I stumbled across your official on-line photograph. While I admire a side-parting as much as the next guy, I really must ask if you are indeed related to Mister Fred Savage of TV's The Wonder Years as I have long-suspected?
Bill: That is Fred Savage from the 'Wonder Years'. I don't want to show my real picture, because I'm afraid that you guys will recognize me when you visit the Bullpen.
How come it's okay to do a reprint of Heroes or go back to press on Ultimate Spider-Man for the movie and Free Comic Day, but you won't allow for reprints at any other time?
Bill: You are a little confused here. Marvel constantly reprints comics in every format we can bring to market (trade paperbacks, hardcovers, magazines, fast-food promotions etc). With respect to Ultimate Spider-Man our goal has always been to distribute 12 million free samples and we are well over half-way there. In fact if you count downloads of marveldotcomics from Marvel.com we are well-over that amount. It may be that what you are waiting for is a reprint of Ultimate Spider-Man #1 as a quasi-forgery of the first printing - that would be like reprinting a quasi forgery of Amazing Fantasy #15 - we'll never do either.
Dear Mr. Jemas,
Does anyone answer mail from email@example.com? Where have the letter pages gone? I only see a couple in existing marvel comics.
Bill: We have interns answer the marvel.com mail and get coffee for the executive floor. I'm much more focused on the hot beverage part of their job function.
I love marvel comics but I have a question/complaint. My gripe is with all the adds for the Ultimates showing an awesome sweet angry looking Thor, he wasn't showed in the premiere issue. Not that I have anything against the issue, it was very solid but I can't help but feel led on by the advertising promising an appearance of Thor. Look at the subscription ads: Thor raising his hammer high during a thunderous storm. Why couldn't Marvel have featured Captain America (who was the main char. in the issue) in the advertisements?
Bill: You can't judge a book by its cover.
When will you admit that the no overprint/no reprint policy is a bad thing for Marvel? I suspect deep down that you know it to be true, but out of a fear of having retailers say, "I told you so", you won't admit it publicly. I've decided to put my dollar where my mouth is and cut my Marvel orders to the bare bone, and I'm investing those dollars on comics from other companies that I have wanted to try for a long time. And you know what? It's working. We have about an 85% customer return on the roughly 30 new comics we're trying, with money that formerly went to Marvel. We figure, if Marvel won't support us, then why the hell should I support them beyond what I know for a fact I can sell? Meanwhile, dreck like Bloodstone, X-Force, New X-Men, Deadpool Funeral For a Freak, Avengers Celestial Quest and others slowly die a deserved death. I believe it is you who has failed the "IQ test", not the retailers.
Bill: Will you admit that you did not rank among Marvel's top 1500 retailers? - even before you "cut orders to the bone"?
Marvel's top 500 retailers make up over 50% of our business. This group has shown great support for Marvel, and for the current "no reprint" policy. The fact is that Marvel's Market share for December 2001 was nearly 44%, (it had been 27% in January 2000). This is because our top 500 accounts have more than doubled their monthly orders during that period.
Now Jim, let's not play the IQ card. Let's talk about money. You will make lots more of it if you order lots more Marvel books. I hope you do.
I was saddened to learn this week that Spider-Girl was being canceled. Why can't another solution come up rather than cancel this wonderful book that constantly gets higher sales than Black Panther and Captain Marvel. Wouldn't raising the price another 25 cents be a more amicable solution?
Bill: Rob, that is an excellent suggestion. Black Panther, Captain Marvel and Spider-Girl are all very good books suffering from relatively low sales. Look for Marvel to raise the price by a quarter and just extend the run for at least another year.
While I think it's admirable that you're increasing Trade Paperback production, why are Marvels TPB prices so out of line with that of your competition? In the latest Previews you have the DC offering the Green Arrow HC for $24.95 at 232 pages while Marvel offers the Origin HC for 208 pages at $34.95. Less pages for 10 dollars more? Wait, it gets better. Elektra Trade Paperback is 144 pages for $15.95 while DC's Batman/Huntress Trade is also 144 pages but for only $12.95. Then you have the Cyclops Trade at only 192 pages for $19.95 but Crossgen offers a Mystic Trade of 208 pages for $19.95 and Oni Press' Copy Book Tales is 210 pages for $19.95.
Bill: Tom, another excellent point, we are going to lower the prices of our trade paperback - so that they will never (well hardly ever) be priced higher than the sum of the cover prices of the comics.
In your column at AICN, you say that the clone saga was 7 years ago and "no he's not coming back". Never say never. Ben Reilly is ten times the character that any of the tired, worn out mutant characters that are shoved down our throats. So perhaps instead of a "Wolverine Ties His Shoes" limited series you could give old Ben a try. It may have been years ago, but people are still talking about it. That should tell you something.
Bill: Don't know where you shop for your comics, but if they shove books down your throat, you got to switch.
I'm a comic book fan from Mexico, and your products are translated, printed, and sell, through a company called "Editorial Vid", as I'm sure you already knew. The problem with this company is that they took the staff to publish the Marvel titles in our country instead of a company called Marvel Mexico (by the way, ¿was this company a real part of Marvel Comics?) and when Marvel Mexico stopped publishing Spider-Man they left the story at the beginning of the Clone Saga, and Vid didn't publish the rest of the arc. We didn't read stories like Mark of Kaine, or Maximum Clonage, and since these books are very hard to find in their original edition, ¿Will you consider to reprint them in the form of Trade Paperbacks? Thanks, and congratulations for your achievements in 2001.
Bill: So you missed the end of the Clone Saga? Here's what happened.
Amazing Spider-Man sales dropped from 400,000 per month to 48,000.
First off I'd like to suck up and thank you for making my 3 favorite super heroes readable again. Not only readable but excellent stuff. Spider-Man, Daredevil and the Incredible Hulk are all fantastic. Hell, for the first time in history maybe, all of Spider-Man's many titles are simultaneously great! Anyway, my question is simple Marvel has had the habit in the past of 'fixing' a title (oh, let's say... Iron Man, for example) and then forgetting about it. "We fixed it. It's good now. It'll always be good. Then it starts to suck again. What precautions are being taken to ensure these titles stay good (Hulk, Spider-books, DD) even after their high profile or just damn good talent makes its exit?
Bill: No amount of sucking up will be refused. With respect to maintaining the quality level, it comes down to this: Right now the people who really run Marvel really read our books and actually know a good one from a bad one.
I've been reading comics nonstop for almost six years now, and it seems to me that all of the sudden writers are more willing to make major changes to books more often. The fans also haven't been complaining as much about character deaths. What I'm getting at here is...Would it be possible for you to reinstate the whoever dies stays dead policy from when Marvel first started?
Bill: If whoever died stayed dead, then I wouldn't be back here.
Do you think that the reason that there is such a lack of new comic fans might have anything to do with the current comic community itself? There's surprisingly a lot of people out there who the Simpsons "Comic Book Guy" is frightfully accurate parallel of, as opposed to a caricature he's supposed to be. I for one, if I didn't love comics already, would be dissuaded to by the sheer number of freakish and hideously hard-to-deal with comic fans that I run into when I head to the store to pick up my Ultimate Spidey and Hulk every month. And also: do you think X-Men has earned its place as a top selling title because of the new creative teams and approach, or is it simply topping the charts because it has been topping said charts for almost ten years now? Is it the content or the seemingly mindless armies of X-Fans who would buy an issue drawn by a blind monkey and printed on toilet paper as long as it has Wolverine on the cover?
Bill: Please don't squeeze the Wolverine.
Ron Zimmerman (Comic book Fan)
When are you releasing the trade paperback of the entire clone saga? Also, is Joe Quesada as gay as he looks in photographs? He seems almost liberace`esque.'
Bill: Gay? I just thought he was jolly.
You mentioned how many Marvel books are in the top ten month after month. Do you think there will be a time when Marvel gets the whole thing, having the top ten comics in a month? How far away is this from happening?
Bill: So you're asking me how dumb is DC?
I read Moment of Silence and felt the book was fantastic and honored the memory of those lost in the terrible events of 9.11 while telling a good story. I was particularly impressed by your story. But I do have to ask, in light of the net rumors with you doing an NYX title…would anyone really have the balls to say no to one of your stories or ideas, even if it sucked?
Bill: Thanks for the kind words on Moment of Silence, (by buying that book and Heroes, our fans have raised over a million dollars tor the Twin Towers fund.
With respect to my creative career at Marvel, I hit Joe Quesada and the editors with a dozen springboards ever month - they've only said yes to a dozen in two years. But they do usually say no politely.
I know everyone makes mistakes, but it seems that the editors are letting a lot more mistakes slip through the cracks in your books. Fury has had obvious typos in several of the last few issues and it seems like many more Marvel books are being put on the stands without being fully edited.
To get new readers into the comics fold, why don't you make a deal with the cereal companies and include free comics in the kids' cereal boxes?
Bill: Sure, if we could get Captain Crunch off his @$$.
Marvel's Ultimate line has gotten me back into comics. I am now buying at least 10-15 titles a week from my comic shop (A majority of them being from Marvel). Anyways, I really hope the Ultimate line sticks around. To take a look back the 2099 series were great but too many titles and fans lost interest. Will you keep expanding the Ultimate verse or keep it dormant until sales start to drop.
Bill: Glad you like Ultimates - they got me back into comics as well. The "plan" is to have four Ultimate Marvel books at $2.25 or - $9 a month.
Are we ever going to see ads for comics in movies/TV shows/any other media when the project is based on a Marvel comic (like the ads for the comic that popped up at the end of every episode of GI Joe back in the day)? It's kinda scary how many people don't realize that some of these projects (especially stuff like Blade) are based on comics.
Bill: Blade is scary. The price of a 30 second TV spot is even scarier.
You said on your closing remarks that Ben won't come back later right? Well isn't that what Marvel said with Aunt May!?! With the Green Goblin NORMAN OSBORN!?!?! You won't be at marvel forever so don't make promises you can't keep.
You got me there Jimbo.
Did you imagine when you went through Harvard that you would spend your professional life talking down to your audience and customers and writing adolescent funny book stories? Do you feel challenged or embarrassed to talk about your profession with CEOs, Supreme Court justices and U.S. vice-presidents at class reunions?
Bill: You got me there, Jerry, and yes I would like fries with that.
* Joe Quesada cannot stress enough how the opinions and comments of Bill Jemas do not necessarily reflect those of Marvel Comics
* DC would like to remind fans that Marvel stole the 9-cent FF idea from them.
* Bill Jemas would like to remind Andrew that Ben Reilly is still dead and that his foolhardy 35 part retrospective better not interfere with his deadlines.