Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso has “mutually parted ways” with Marvel Entertainment, the company announced today.  C.B. Cebulski, most recently VP, Marvel Brand Management and Development, Asia, has been named the new EIC, effective immediately.

Alonso was having a tough run recently, with declining sales of Marvel comics leading the direct market down (see “Comic Sales Resume Double-Digit Declines”), and the departure of Brian Bendis, Marvel’s top writer, just last week (see “Marvel’s Top Writer Signs with DC”).  Alonso was named Editor-in-Chief in 2011 (see “Marvel Gets New EIC”) and had some big successes, including Marvel’s launch of its Star Wars line after Disney took the license back from Dark Horse Comics.

But recently there had been a lot of push-back against tactics that had been used liberally by Marvel, including frequent renumbering of series, changes to legacy characters, and cross-over events ad infinitum.  This pushback (and sales decay) culminated in the reaction to Secret Empire and the changes to Captain America, one of Marvel’s oldest characters. Issues related to the editorial strategy boiled over around the time of Marvel’s retailer summit in March (see “Marvel Retailer Summit”), and ICv2’s interview with Marvel SVP-Sales and Marketing David Gabriel, who described the reaction to Marvel’s recent editorial offerings (see “Marvel’s David Gabriel on the 2016 Market Shift”).

Attempts by Marvel to get its mojo back this fall by returning to legacy characters, legacy numbering, and a more focused approach do not appear to be bearing much fruit to date, so it makes sense that it was time for a change.

Cebulski is an interesting choice.  A loyal Marvel soldier who’s been working on Asian alliances and talent most recently, Cebulski also has written stories featuring Marvel’s top characters and was the head writer for Activision’s Marvel: Ultimate Alliance video game.  Perhaps most relevant for his new job, Cebulski was one of the driving forces behind the creation of Marvel’s Talent Management Department (see “C.B. Cebulski Named SVP, Creator & Content Development”), providing some early experience in the all-important area of talent relations.  He helped sign Skottie Young, Adi Granov, Sara Pichelli, Phil Noto, Steve McNiven and Jonathan Hickman, among others, according to Marvel’s announcement.  And most importantly, Cebulski is widely liked in the industry, an important qualification for a part of the business in which relationships are everything.

His long international experience at Marvel and elsewhere gives Cebulski a strong leg up on what Marvel described as one of his areas of emphasis in his new job, “furthering Marvel’s efforts to expand the publishing division internationally.”  We first met Cebulski during his time at Central Park Media, an early anime and manga company based in New York.  He will relocate from Shanghai, China to New York to take his new job.

Marvel Entertainment President Dan Buckley laid out Cebulski’s qualifications and responsibilities.  “C.B. is one of the most well-known, liked and respected editors and personalities in the comics industry,” Buckley said.  “He has a keen understanding of the Marvel brand, and knows the importance of publishing within the larger Marvel ecosystem.  As our characters continue to reach unprecedented levels of global popularity, we need to ensure our core comic business sets the standard with fresh and compelling graphic storytelling that excites both our longtime fan base and new fans.”

Cebulski shared his thoughts on his new job.  “Spending these last 18 months in Asia, and introducing more fans here to the depth of the Marvel Universe, I’ve seen firsthand how our comics and characters constantly bring joy into people’s lives all over the world,” he said.  “I hope to continue capturing that creative magic here at home, and deliver inspirational and entertaining stories that are true to the classic Marvel DNA, but built with an expanding global mindset.”