Thursday, November 6, 2008

Shoe Shine

If you're in the mood for myth-building, Jonah Weiland has an interview on the creation of the Ultimate Marvel line of books with then-and now editor Joe Quesada and former Marvel executive Bill "Mad as a Hatter" Jemas, the dynamic duo that made superhero comics fun again starting in 2000, over at Comic Book Resources.

Take this anecdote by Bill Jemas on getting a shipload of free sample issues of Ultimate Spider-Man out there, for instance:
The first thing we did was had [sic] a shoe company, Buster Brown shoes, that was filled with these very irrational Spider-Man fans. We spent a fortune to create a great pair of shoes. Joe, remember the red shoes with the webs?

I’ll get back to the shoes in a second, but Joe gives me more credit than I deserve — I brought Joe into every high-end sales and creative meeting I could find because I’m not an enthusiastic person really, but Joe would come in and start beating the drums! Big sponsors and newspapers and companies — you know how Joe gets the comic industry to follow the drum, well, Joe did a lot of that with people from the electronic game companies to the shoe companies.

Okay, so back to the shoe company. They bought 500,000 copies of Ultimate Spider-Man and stuck them in the shoes and sold those shoes like crazy! So, really, what we were doing was getting the comic books out there way in advance of the movie and that spurred the graphic novel program. Then people saw the success of the graphic novels and the shoes and wanted to do some t-shirts and we forced them — and this is horrible to say — but we forced the sample comics down everybody’s throats at first, but then they really liked them. I think the sampling number ended up being around 8 million units.
Also fun are Jemas's comments on his early experiences with the Internet in part two:
I remember walking into Marvel and not really understanding the Internet at the time, saying things to reporters like, “Well, the comic books sucked.” I didn’t realize at the time that that line would be all over the Web for weeks! “Well, I didn’t mean sucked like they were bad, I just meant sucked like I couldn’t give the books to a twelve-year-old who would enjoy it!”
During the course of the interview, oddly, Quesada suggests that Mark Bagley, the artist who ended up drawing the first hundred-and-then-some issues of Ultimate Spider-Man, was not around at Marvel in 2000, and was "brought back" by Jemas.

Erm, no. Bagley had been drawing Marvel's Thunderbolts since 1997, and continued to do so until well into his tenure on Ultimate Spider-Man, in fact.

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