April 4, 2001. In a conference call with the press today, Marvel President Bill Jemas didn't mince words when defending his 'no overprint policy' (see 'Reactions to Marvel's No Overprint Policy'). In response to a question on the topic from ICv2, he responded, 'It's sort of an IQ test for comic retailers. You can count the digits in their IQ based on their enthusiastic reaction to the 'no overprints policy.' The smart guys who like to make money are very happy with the increased reader interest, and with the just general increase in Marvel's quality that's really directly related to the additional dough that we spend on top creators. At the other end of the spectrum, they speak for themselves very vociferously, so I'll leave it at that.'
On a related topic Jemas talked about doing more three-issue collections of hot titles, a plan that 'dovetails nicely with the policy of not overprinting.' Jemas stated, 'As aggressively as retailers have ordered the Ultimate X-Men and Spider-Man books, the contents (of the issues in production) are spectacular, so we think that the demand will be there, and we are gearing up to do more three-issue collections.'
As for the popular Ultimate line, Jemas and editor-in-chief Joe Quesada are seriously thinking about adding a fourth title to go along with the Ultimate Spider-Man, X-Men, and Team-Up books before the end of the year. They didn't rule out additional expansion of the Ultimate titles beyond four titles, but said any such decisions are at least a year away.
The female webslinger got a reprieve thanks to a determined email campaign and one very eloquent letter, which, according to Quesada, 'melted Bill Jemas' charcoal heart.' Spider-Girl was targeted by the Marvel bean counters, who noted that if current sales trends continued, the book would soon become unprofitable for Marvel. But in response to the strong fan reaction and to in-house editorial enthusiasm, Marvel is determined to give Spider-Girl another shot. Jemas was particularly interested in the young female demographic that the title served. This, plus the in-house creative enthusiasm for the title made the difference. Other Marvel titles that were canceled fairly recently, like X-Men Hidden Years, lacked strong in-house support and an underserved demographic.
On a positive note for retailers, sales of Marvel books have been strong enough that no other Marvel titles are in any immediate danger of being canceled. The message to fans of books that might be up for cancellation in the future is to organize and send emails and snail mail letters. It can make a difference, and retailers, who have to face the disappointed fans, can help to organize a response, if they feel strongly about at title.
The mature readers line of Marvel comics that launches in September will include some characters from the Marvel Universe, but don't expect Spider-man or the Hulk -- the characters in the mature line with ties to the Marvel Universe will be 'fringe' characters. Though he wouldn't reveal who these fringe players are, Quesada did throw the press 'a bone' when he announced that 'come September, we are going to be experimenting with a particular format for the adult imprint, and there's a very good chance that one of the books will be a weekly comic that we will probably experiment with for about three months and see how the market reacts. We have a team that can produce this amount of material of the absolute highest quality. This was something that was pitched to us this way, not something that we came up with.' Quesada predicts that this 'manga-influenced' title will be a surprise hit, and he vows that Marvel will keep the 'price down as low as possible. I don't have a price point for you yet, but that will be one of the surprises of the adult imprint.'
Speaking of formats, Marvel is planning a panoramic comic, stapled across the 'top' so the book has a cinemascope-like horizontal look. The different binding process is more expensive, so Marvel is going to limit it to this year's X-Men Annual, and possibly the Uncanny X-Men Annual.
Several creative teams are pitching various takes on the X-Men: Evolution animated series, which was just renewed for a second season. Quesada is looking to do something creative with the book rather than to publish a pale imitation of the cartoon series.
Fantastic Four Mini-Series
The FF four-issue mini-series written by Grant Morrison and penciled by Jae Lee will debut in July. Each book will take the point of view (and reflect the emotions) of a different member of the FF.
WitchesQuesada announced that Witches, a new on-going series, will be part of the Marvel Universe, though it has not been decided whether or not it will receive the comics code seal of approval.