Comic Book Biography: JOE QUESADA

joe-quesadaJoe Quesada has been penciler, writer, creator, publisher, editor and in charge of America’s largest comic publisher. Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief took time out of his day to chat with First Comics News about his career.

Rik Offenberger: You started with the DC TSR series Spell Jammers, how did you did you get the job?

Joe Quesada: I was literally in the office when the regular artist on that book quit. Does anybody know if those first issues that I did have gone up in price? Man those were some terrible comics but when you’re breaking in it feels like you’re working on Watchmen.

1st: Overstreet lists them at $2.25

Joe: I guess that’s good since I should be paying you money to read them.

1st: Within two months you were working on Legends of the Dark Knight Annual, some artists never get a chance to work on Batmantheir entire career, how did you end up on Batman so early on?

Joe: Denny O’Neil and the folks at DC at the time took a liking to my work I suppose.

1st: From Spell Jammers, you did 2 very high profile mini-series for DC, The Ray and Batman: Sword of Azrael, what was it like to work on such high profile projects so early in career?

Joe: It was pretty cool, I wish I had gotten the chance to do moreBatman afterwards but it just wasn’t in the cards. I really lobbied DC to put me on something Bat related but they had their crew of people and I wasn’t a part of that. I guess it all worked out okay.

1st: After that, you did layouts on the DC/Impact Crucible and left part way through to do X-Factor with Peter David, how did you go from DC to Marvel and why in the middle of Crucible?

Joe: I was doing Crucible as a favor to a pal, Jim Owlsey. I was already overbooked so they knew that my commitment was only a tentative one. Also, I was only doing breakdowns and the only reason I was doing breakdowns was because they wanted to be able to put my name on the book to move some units. Yeah, that worked out reeeeeal well. We can all laugh about it today, thank God.

1st: Why did your work on X-Factor end after only 5 months?

Joe: Because Peter left the book and I was on the title in order to work with him. It was the X-Statix of it’s time, really off beat X-Men stuff and lots of fun. To this day the therapy issues is one of the most fun issues I remember doing of a comic.

1st: From X-Factor you went to Valiant for about a year, why Valiant?

Joe: I started at Valiant and they had some fun characters. They were edgy, taking risks and real renegades at the time. I really loved the vibe of those early Valiant days. You would walk through those offices you could see that there was a great energy; there were people who were looking to change the way that comics were produced and how comics were sold.

1st: Most notably at Valiant was Ninjack, what was it like working onNinjack?

Joe: It was a blast; I partially created the character so there was a lot of me vested in it. Heck, there was a lot of Alphonse Mucah vested in that book too.

1st: After less than four years as a pro you left corporate comics to self publish with Jimmy; how could you afford to give up a regular paying jobs to start your own company?

Joe: It wasn’t easy, but the Event formula was always very simple: Find very competent people, the best at what they do and keep your staff small. Event was never more than three, sometimes four people on staff and that was counting Jimmy and I. We took all of our money and we decided to put it were our mouths were. We believed in ourselves and our vision for comics and I think ultimately, even though we ended up parting ways, it worked out very well for Jimmy and I. Event was a stepping-stone for better things.

1st: What was it like to all of a sudden be in charge of everything?

Joe: It was a blast and scary as hell! We learned on the fly!

1st: How did you and Jimmy come up with Ash?

Joe: Many nights drunk in strip bars. No joke.

1st: In the four years Event published comics, it didn’t publish very many, what held up publication?

Joe: I was undisciplined and going through some major life stuff. But ultimately, it was my lack of discipline and focus. Thank god I grew out of that phase or there would be no way I could do what I do today.

1st: How did you go form being a publisher in competition with Marvel to being an editor at Marvel with Marvel Knights?

Joe: Marvel hired Event comics to do books for them. It was that simple.

1st: How did you get so many talented people to work for Marvel Knights when Marvel was having trouble getting them to work for Marvel?

Joe: Many nights drunk in strip bars. We prided ourselves on knowing our creators and treating them with respect. Our reputation preceded itself.

1st: Was their concern that once you got Marvel Knights running, Marvel wouldn’t renew your contract for a second year and just go on publishing their heroes without you and Jimmy?

Joe: It wasn’t a concern but anything was possible. We were just having fun and we figured if we did a good job we would help Marvel and thus help the whole industry.

1st: How did you go from being the editor on a fringe line at Marvel to becoming the Editor in Chief?

Joe: Bill Jemas liked the job I did with MK and then offered me the job.

1st: What exactly are our duties at Marvel?

Joe: As simple as I can put it, I along with Bill define the flavor of the books we will publish and set the direction and tone.

1st: Marvel has certainly grown and changed under your leadership, what are you most proud of?

Joe: The HEROES magazine.

1st: You started by fixing the X-Men line, are you happy with were they are now?

Joe: I feel we still have some work to do. Many of the titles are excellent, but we can always do better.

1st: After the X-Men you focused on the Marvel Universe line, how has that worked out?

Joe: I think it’s all shaping up, but like everything, we can certainly improve.

1st: How has Max worked out?

Joe: Pretty well. I like the books that have come out, some fun stuff.

1st: Marvel embarked on the manga styled Tsunami line this year, is it meeting expectations?

Joe: It’s actually really surprised us; most of the books are healthy right now! It was a nice sign that the industry would embrace these books.

1st: What do the early numbers on Epic looking like?

Joe: Don’t know.

1st: By opening the floodgates for anyone to submit to Epic, how do you deal with the avalanche of submissions?

Joe: I don’t, I have editors that do that.

1st: What is planned for the rest of the year at Marvel?

Joe: Wait and see. Most likely total world domination.

1st: What are you next challenges to tackle?

Joe: Keeping it fresh.

1st: Is Marvel where you want it to be?

Joe: Not yet, but we’re getting there. Of course when we get there I probably won’t be completely satisfied.

To visit Joe Quesada on the web go to
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