Tuesday, March 23, 2004

More interestingness from Ellis. 

Kinda swinging from his nuts a little, yeah. But this is worth bringing up, from that thread over at Millarworld:

Q: Assuming you would be interested in such a job, if you ahd the choice between the Editor in chief jobs at DC and Marvel, who would you choose? What would your top goal be in this postion?

A: God, that's a huge question.

I think I'd choose Marvel. I have huge respect for DC, but they move so slowly that any EIC-like position up there would be horribly frustrating. I'm amazed that my friends there in senior editor and VP Creative positions haven't begun serial killing.

I mean, there's no doubt in my mind that in the first year or so of Quesada/Jemas, they were doing exactly what needed to be done for that company. At almost any other time in the previous ten or fifteen years, Bob Harras would have been an ideal EIC -- but he's naturally cautious and he doesn't like conflict, and Marvel at that point needed to kick down some walls and break some noses. Which Quesada/Jemas did. It was necessary, to revive the company.

And now Marvel is revived, no doubt about it. So the question of Where Marvel Should Go next is kind of interesting. If I were Marvel EIC...

You know what? There are the superheroes people are interested in -- that are being optioned for film and the like -- and the ones people have really never been that interested in. And Marvel has to make money. So I've got to tell you -- if FANTASTIC FOUR is in active movie development, I don't want to see FANTASTIC FOUR, HAWKEYE and THE INVADERS on the rack. I want to see FANTASTIC FOUR, ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR and IT'S THE FUCKING FANTASTIC FOUR, STUPID on the racks. (No disrespect to whomever's doing the other books, of course, I just pulled those titles out of my arse as I bang this out while waiting on an email from my agent.) If I'm the Marvel EIC, then my first responsibility is to make money for the company. I'm an employee. That's what I do. I don't do all these extraneous books with characters known only to the hardcore fans. I'm not going to greenlight RUNAWAYS or VENOM. I'm sure they're fine books. Brian Vaughan can write. But no-one's heard of them. I want a GHOST RIDER book, because everyone knows Nic Cage wants to do GHOST RIDER, and it's going to be about a guy on a bike with his head on fire who runs people over. And then lights them on fire. And then goes into a bar and drinks it and does Lisa Marie Presley over the pool table and then lights the place on fire and goes out and gets back on his bike and looks for more people to run over. This is what they want. Damn straight.

You can't publish things just because, you know, you've always published them. You don't keep a tumour in your head because, well, you've had it for years. THOR. No-one cares about THOR. No-one's ever cared about THOR. I wrote THOR. I wrote Thor in bed with a blonde woman wearing nothing but thighboots and opera gloves drawn by Mike Deodato. And still no-one cared about THOR. No-one's cared about THOR since Walt Simonson did the book. And what was the first thing Walt did? Got rid of Thor and replaced him with a horse from space. And the sales quadrupled.

A horse from space.

A successful company's reaction to moving a lot of books is to launch a bunch more. But I personally feel that that works against the initial success. Things degrade. Throwing a lot of stuff at the wall to see what sticks is fine -- but after a while, people only see what's being flung at the wall, not what's sticking. I say keep it manageable and guard the quality of what you've got. The company-owned characters are Marvel's assets, and they must be made to earn money, yes. But if you're running a car rental firm, then you're not going to put the three-wheeler from 1973 on the forecourt. You want to show off the cars that look like they'll run. Which is how you end up with three SPIDER-MAN books and no works at all that feature Angar The Screamer.

And then I'd relaunch the Epic line. The recent attempt was doomed from the start. Relaunch it under the original Shooter/Goodwin plan: the best by the best. No more than four books in any one month. The absolute best people in the medium. Creator-owned original work. And when we're doing the deal? We throw ten grand on top. That's for a one-year option on the film rights. That's the deal. We have Marvel Films. We will automatically purchase a one-year film option on your project, without attaching any other rights. If we can't get it going after a year, it reverts back to you, or we offer to buy a second year. That's "offer" -- not compulsory.

People forget that back in the 80s, Marvel was the radical company. Epic changed everything. If Shooter hadn't suffered some Jemasesque passing of his mental sell-by date, Frank Miller might have placed RONIN at Epic, thereby staying with Marvel. And although RONIN wasn't a worldchanging commercial success, it was an essential stepping stone to THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS...

I'm losing the thread. More whisky.

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