The Dawn of the Knights
By Mario Muscar
Quesada said Marvel was open to his and Palmiotti's ideas, which surprised him.
"It was just sort of sitting down and saying, 'You guys are impressive,' considering the fact that it was just a three-person company. It was just me, Jimmy and our publisher. The fact that we were able to get as much press and acclaim for the stuff we were doing, literally on a shoestring budget and going person to person shaking hands and kissing babies and all that sort of stuff. And they kinda liked the vibe of what we were doing at Event Comics. I think one of the things about Event is that we sort of modeled it after Marvel from the era that I remember--the '70s, Stan Lee, the Soapbox, including the fans in everything that we did, and [adding] a bit of a self-depreciating playfulness to the books. And I think they were asking about that. Sort of wondering, 'What do you guys suggest? What do you think we should be doing?' We left that initial meeting literally with nothing. We just sort of said, 'We'll think about it, you guys think about it.' It wasn't until the second meeting that we sort of gave Marvel a proposal and it took off from there."
Palmiotti said he and Quesada knew that their job was not just to help create a strong new imprint but to help revitalize Marvel Comics, too.
Marvel Knights Is Born
After several meetings, Calamari, Quesada and Palmiotti came up with some ideas for an imprint that would be named Marvel Knights.
"We hit them with some characters we were interested in and they hit us with others and Joe and I looked long and hard into the four that we felt strongly about and what we thought we could make a difference on," Palmiotti said.
Quesada commented on the organic process that led to the imprint.
"We understood we weren't going to get Spider-Man," he said. "We knew we weren't going to get the X-Men. And to be honest, we didn't want those characters. My great joy has always been taking B- and C-level characters and making them into A-level characters."
The four properties that were decided upon were The Inhumans, Black Panther, Punisher and Daredevil. Quesada said choosing these four properties was easy.
"Marvel wasn't even publishing Punisher at the time," he said. "Marvel wasn't publishing an Inhumans book. Marvel wasn't publishing a Black Panther book. And Daredevil was about to be cancelled."
The inclusion of Daredevil in the contract was the "lynch pin", Quesada said.
"We put our foot down and said, 'If we can't get Daredevil, we don't want this deal.' I really thought that Daredevil was one of the greatest comic properties in the world at that point. Daredevil is a character that history has proven brings out the very, very best in the creators that work with him."
After the deal was signed, Quesada and Palmiotti moved into penthouse offices above Marvel Comics. But Quesada knew how editors tended to react to outsiders and feared that they would not be accepted by the editorial staff.
"They had just done the Heroes Reborn experiment, which had taken a lot of characters away from the people who worked on the staff," Quesada said. "I know it was a very, very hard time for the editors here, because it really felt like that work was being taken away from them and handed to these guys on the West Coast. They didn't have much contact with them, and I know that eventually that whole feeling with the Image guys really started to flounder or really started to fall apart at many, many levels, on both the business side and the editorial side. And I think when the characters finally came back to Marvel, we were thinking, 'Well jeez, what's going to happen to us?' Basically the same thing. These guys are going to look at us with the same sort of lenses that they were looking at the Heroes Reborn/Image deal. But we didn't want to be that."
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