Big news day for comics yesterday. Axel Alonso was named Marvel Editor-in-Chief, and Tom Brevoort also received a promotion.
This is huge news. Not only had Joe Quesada been at the E-i-C game for more than a decade, he’s done a great job. From his days at Marvel Knights with Jimmy Palmiotti, he’s really helped to usher in both an influx of talent and a renewed dedication to quality storytelling at Marvel. The comics giant went from very low to all-time highs, in the publishing space and obviously in Hollywood. While his tenure isn’t perfect (and how could it be at a company that size, and given that this is comics), it’s a high-water mark for modern comics publishing. Oh, and let’s not forget that he’s the one that hired Axel away from Vertigo.
Axel is one of my favorite editors in comics (along with Will Dennis at Vertigo). I’ve had the pleasure of sitting down with him and talking craft, and I still take what he told me about his approach to the process to heart every time I’m embarking on a new project. He knows his shit, he’s great at sniffing out talent and he has an unbelievable story sense. Not to say Joe Q doesn’t have this same skill set, but his editorial oeuvre was more limited when he took over the helm. Axel has an amazing track record, and this is the most excited I’ve been about anything out of Marvel in some time.
Of course, lost in the hustle and bustle of Marvel’s big, unexpected news was DC’s efforts this week. They’ve officially launched their “Holding the Line at $2.99” marketing campaign, will re-instate letters columns in their books, and will collect the much-ballyhooed Flex Mentallo from Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely in a deluxe edition later this year. Now, none of these announcements are as big as Marvel naming a new head honcho (and they didn’t get nearly the same response when they named Bob Harras to the same position, but they have the DiDio/Johns/Lee triumvirate as the more public and vocal face of the company), but it sets the tone for 2011.
There seemed to have been, especially over the last year or so, a relaxation from Marvel and DC. They weren’t making big announcements outside of their Hollywood plans, and their books weren’t taking the world by storm. Something was lost from the early days of the Jemas/Quesada Marvel reign and how DC stepped up to the plate to try and knock them down at every turn. I guess you can call it complacency. The best way to shake it up is to bring in new blood, and while most of this blood is just shifted, we’re talking about good changes for both companies.
I’m excited to see the product coming out of both, and even more excited at the prospect of writing for each company in a changed landscape. I think by the end of the year (no changes in comics happen overnight), we’re going to see some very new, very different and very exciting offerings and moves by both companies. It’s a bad time to be in publishing, but it might just be a good time to be in comics.