Joseph "Joe" Quesada (//; born December 1, 1962) is an American comic book editor, writer producer and artist. He became known in the 1990s for his work on various Valiant Comics books, such as Ninjak and Solar, Man of the Atom. He later worked on numerous books for DC Comics and Marvel Comics, such as Batman: Sword of Azrael and X-Factor, before forming his own company, Event Comics, where he published his creator-owned character, Ash.
In 1998 he became an editor of Marvel Comics' Marvel Knights line, before becoming editor-in-chief of the company in 2000. He was named Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment in 2010 and left his editor-in-chief role in January 2011, being replaced by Axel Alonso. He was, at his retirement, the longest-serving Marvel editor-in-chief other than Stan Lee.
Quesada was born in New York City to Cuban-born parents, and grew up in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, 15 blocks from Shea Stadium, which his father help build as part of the construction crew. The first comic book he became an ardent fan of was The Amazing Spider-Man, which he began reading around issue #98, the last issue of a historic anti-drug storyline, which garnered his father's approval. As the character resonated with him (in part because both grew up in Queens), Spider-Man remains a character he particularly enjoys drawing.
Quesada majored in illustration at the School of Visual Arts, from which he graduated with a BFA in 1984. Though he had drifted away from comics, having come to think of them as a child's medium, his interest in them was renewed at age 25 when a friend who learned of his interest in art showed him Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns.
Quesada started out as a freelance artist for Valiant Comics in the early 1990s. His first widely distributed works were for Valiant Comics, specifically penciled interiors and covers for Ninjak, Solar, Man of the Atom and others. His art was heavily influenced by Alex Toth, Mike Mignola and Alphonse Mucha. At DC Comics, he and writer Jack C. Harris co-created an updated version of the Golden Age character the Ray. Quesada co-created the character Azrael with writer Dennis O'Neil in the Batman: Sword of Azrael miniseries in 1992.
Later, Quesada and his inking partner Jimmy Palmiotti, formed a publishing company, Event Comics, and co-created Ash, a firefighter with superpowers. Quesada cites his editorial experience with Event, and the creators he formed relationships with during that period as that which best prepared him for the later role of Marvel's editor in chief.
In 1998, Marvel Comics, which had just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, asked Quesada to work for Marvel in a more exclusive capacity, and contracted him and his partners to produce a line of Marvel books dubbed Marvel Knights. As editor of Marvel Knights, Quesada worked on a number of low-profile characters such as Daredevil, Punisher, The Inhumans and Black Panther, encouraging experimentation and using his contacts in the independent comics world to bring in creators such as David W. Mack, Mike Oeming, Brian Michael Bendis, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. Quesada also illustrated a Daredevil story written by film director Kevin Smith.
Two and a half years after starting Marvel Knights, Joe Quesada became editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics in 2000, following Bob Harras's departure from the company. At the same time, Bill Jemas succeeded to the presidency of the company. The relationship culminated in the establishment of the Ultimate line of Marvel titles, which were aimed at teenagers and took place outside of the restrictive continuity of the Marvel Universe.
In the mid-2000s, Quesada imposed a moratorium on the practice of creatively bringing back characters thought to be dead, known as "dead is dead." In a January 2008 interview in which he was questioned about numerous characters that had since been resurrected, Quesada clarified that the policy was for writers to exercise forethought and caution before killing off characters or resurrecting them, so that such plots were not produced too frequently or without gravitas, and not that it be entirely prohibited.
Joe Quesada's predecessor as Marvel editor in chief, Bob Harras, canceled and restarted all of Marvel's titles that were not either X-Men-related or at fewer than 100 issues already. This was an effort to shore up sagging sales with a new #1 issue for each of Marvel's popular titles, issued at a time shortly after the 1990s bust of the comic book collecting market, and when Marvel was in the throes of bankruptcy. Quesada reversed this policy first by showing the "old", combined issue numbers beside the "new" numbers on covers (the difference between the two issue numbers shown on the cover would always be the number of issues that the series had before Harras restarted it), and then definitively restoring the "old" numbers for Fantastic Four, Amazing Spider-Man and Avengers when they each passed the 500 mark.
Quesada was involved in the creation of three successful Marvel imprints:
Critics of Quesada's policy of emphasizing trade paperbacks charge that they cannibalize monthly comic book sales, because readers may opt to forego monthly series in order to wait for the cheaper collections, not realizing that monthly sales are an indicator to publishers of interest in such collections.
When confronted with a backlash by fans due to his decision to dictate a controversial retcon of Peter Parker's marriage to Mary Jane Watson in the "One More Day" storyline, Quesada participated in a series of interviews on the subject to address the issue of the marriage, comparing it to real life marriages. He also promoted and praised the MC2 title Spider-Girl for continuing to provide fans with a stable marriage and an expanded family, although that title was later canceled and relaunched multiple times, eventually being cancelled for good in 2010.
In June 2009 Quesada began writing a weekly column for Comic Book Resources called "Cup O' Joe", in which he answers questions every Friday from readers or provides information on Marvel projects.
On February 10, 2010, Quesada issued a public apology for the content of Captain America #602, which had drawn condemnation from national Tea Party leaders, for its depiction of an apparent Tea Party protest, and the black superhero Falcon, reacting to it by saying that he would not be welcomed by a crowd of "angry white folks." Also at issue was the slogans on some of the signs held by the protestors. Quesada stated that future reprints of that story would have the offending material omitted.
On June 2, 2010 Marvel announced that it promoted Joe Quesada to Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment. In this position Quesada will help ensure that all portrayals of Marvel's characters and stories remain true to the essence of Marvel history. He will also oversee the creative aspects of media adaptations of Marvel properties, which include participating in story and script development.
On January 4, 2011, Quesada stepped down as editor-in-chief, and was replaced by Axel Alonso. After being given the additional job of CCO, in 2010, Quesada explained to Comic Book Resources, "With my increased travel schedule over the last year plus, I've only been able to work with the publishing division in a more macro sense, or as you put it, a more, "big picture," sense. During this time, Tom and Axel have been handling the more detailed functions of the stories within our comics. My role has been one in which I work on the larger stories and the overall flavor and feel of our books and universe."
Quesada later elaborated on this decision in a 2011 interview with Visual Arts Journal, a publication of his alma mater, the School of Visual Arts, by saying that he always viewed the editor in chief position as a finite one that he would leave after he accomplished what he had set out to, and that the then-recent purchase of Marvel by Disney opened up opportunities he wanted to explore. Quesada contrasted his former editor in chief role as one in which he was solely focused on rebuilding Marvel's editorial division and overseeing its comics content, with his Chief Creative Officer role as one in which he would be involved creatively with several divisions.
When illustrating, Quesada begins with sketches much smaller than the actual size at which he will render the final drawing. He employs a Cintiq drawing tablet when he desires to do a "tighter" digital layout of an illustration. When sketching figures, he will sometimes use photographic reference, and incorporate the photos directly into his sketches during the process of finalizing a layout. Once he makes a final decision on a layout, he will then print it out at full size, and use a light box to pencil it, sometimes altering elements in the design such as lighting or other details.
In Kevin Smith's 1995 film Mallrats Quesada is credited as an artist for the opening sequence featuring fictional comic books covers. He appears in the closing scene of Chasing Amy, alongside frequent collaborator and inker Jimmy Palmiotti, signing comic books at a convention. He later appeared as a pizza delivery man in Smith's 2001 film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
Quesada was one of a number of comics creators that appeared in Once Upon A Time The Super Heroes, a 2002 documentary about the creation and evolution of comic book superheroes.
Longtime DC writer/editor Jack C. Harris reworked the Golden Age character of the Ray into a new hero, assisted by future superstar artist Joe Quesada.
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|Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief
Kurt Busiek & Roger Stern
|Iron Man writer
(with Frank Tieri in late 2000)
|The Amazing Spider-Man artist