Sometimes, change can be both slow and quick. After a few weeks, we landed David Bogart, coming over from Harris Comics. He settled in as my Number Two and we set him up in space just outside my office, initially relegated to a cube since there weren’t enough offices for the executive growth Bill Jemas had been talking about.
As David arrived, IT was ready to start testing and rolling out the digital workflow, beginning with Editorial. David made a quick study of those and my first role for him was to get the X-Office into better shape. While Mike Marts and Mike Raicht were a steady, well-oiled machine, Mark Powers and Pete Franco were still struggling to get their books ready in a timely manner. While somewhat shielded because of the phenomenal success of New X-Men, they were still our most chaotic team.
By now, Bobbie Chase and Matt Hicks’ books had been handed around and the new editors settled in. Tom Brevoort was busily remaking Iron Man with incoming writer Mike Grell and making plans to bring Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo to the Fantastic Four (there’s an excellent oral history about this run over at Newsarama).
However, just as we were getting the Collected Editions team ramped up to handle the increased demands, Ben Abernathy announced his resignation, heading to WildStorm (and eventually to DC). That left us shy a manager and workhorse. Matty Ryan took over running the shop as we struggled to find another able body, something we failed to do before the department was made over in January.
That month the team released the second and final set of Marvel Masterprints, another collection of repurposed art on cardstock for kids to hang on their walls and in their lockers.
Heroes, the 9/11 tribute magazine, was causing a stir with orders around 50,000, considered by many to be on the very low side.
About that time, we formally announced that Andrew Lis, Bobbie’s assistant, had been promoted to full editor while Ralph Macchio’s assistant, Brian “Smitty” Smith was being upped to Associate Editor. Andrew got the last of Matt’s books, Cable, X-Treme X-Men and some new X-spinoffs.
The staff changes were slowing down, which I think was a relief to all. Somewhere around August-September, my immediate boss, Lou Gioia, was relieved of his duties. He was never fully integrated into Marvel after all his Toy Biz experience and I suspect everyone saw there was no real role for him. At around this time, Alan Fine, President & Chief Executive Officer of Toy Biz, returned after a brief period as a consultant. He started in August as Executive Vice President of the company and as President & Chief Executive Officer of the Toy Biz Division. During my entire year there, I never met or had reason to interact with him once.
Losing Lou meant my one champion was gone and I was directly reporting to Bill now. He still had said nothing to me about “issues” so I continued to manage and plan as we were now well into producing books for 2002 release.
Also joining the staff at this point was Paul Gitter, joining Russ Brown’s licensing team. Since I was still reading all licensed book material, I was tasked with giving him the lowdown on the program. As it turned out, the company’s new licensed publishing manager didn’t have any publishing experience at the time, so I took him into the company library for a tutorial on books, the difference from a paperback to a trade book and so on. He was a nice enough guy and he must have done well since he’s still there, now SVP-Disney Consumer Products, which still includes books (handled by VP-Consumer Publishing, Sven Larsen).
It proved to be a relatively quiet and productive month with less turmoil than usual. Bill seemed happy to pick on sales’ Matt Ragone and complain about titles he didn’t understand, and Ike Perlmutter was preparing to leave for Florida, where he resided half the year for tax purposes. Joe Quesada seemed thrilled as his work was expanding beyond just comics, consulting on other media matters including a Marvel presence on Monday Night Football. He even found a little time to do some art, as I recall pages of a Punisher job for Marvel Knights remaining on his drawing board throughout the fall.
It seemed as if we were all settling in and riding a wave of better content, rising sales, improved word-of-mouth, and all signs pointed to good times ahead.
#Tags: Alan Fine, Andrew Lis, Ben Abernathy, Bobbie Chase, Brian Smith, David Bogart, Heroes, Joe Quesada, Lou Gioia, Mark Powers, Mark Waid, Marvel Comics, Marvel Knights, Marvel Masterprints, Matt Hicks, Matt Ragone, Matty Ryan, Mike Grell, Mike Marts, Mike Raicht, Mike Wieringo, Paul Gitter, Pete franco, Ralph Macchio, Sven Larsen