The Dawn of the Knights

By Mario Muscar

Quesada hoped to prevent problems from the editorial staff by working with them.

"One of the things that we asked for was to work directly in the Marvel office with the editors," he said. "And we established certain parameters and guidelines by which we asked, 'What do the editors here have to do in order to get a book printed? What's the approval process? What has to be signed off on?' And we literally gave ourselves the exact same stipulations and tent poles, so that at least eventually, the people here at editorial would see that we weren't working against them. We wanted to work with them. So that was a very tough thing early on."

Quesada said he still felt tension with the staff, especially since they were segregated from the staff in their penthouse offices.

"I told Jimmy that I'd go downstairs to get something approved, just to speak to one of the editors and ask questions about stuff," he said. "And I could literally feel people shooting arrows at my back metaphorically. You know, it was that kind of thing, it was like, 'Jeez, who are these guys?' And, I mean, in some ways, I really couldn't blame them. Because we were outsiders coming into their world and they just had their world brought back to them. There were other [problems] down the road, but that was the biggest hurdle that I wanted to get over which was having everyone here know that we were all working towards the same goal, which was bringing this company back and bringing comic books back. And trying to do something that hasn't been done in many, many years."

The Four Launch Titles

Daredevil

In September 1998, the first Marvel Knights title released was the one with the most hype and highest expectations. Daredevil was not only pencilled (one "L" or two?) and inked by Quesada and Palmiotti, it was written by Kevin Smith, writer/director of comic fan-loved movies Clerks, Mallrats and Chasing Amy. Palmiotti and Quesada had worked with Smith on some set pieces for Mallrats and Chasing Amy. Although he was a self-proclaimed comics fan, Smith was a newcomer to the comics industry at the time, having only written some Clerks and Jay and Silent Bob comics for independent publisher Oni Press. But Daredevil was Smith's first mainstream comics work, and the expectations from the fans were high.

Smith, Quesada and Palmiotti's eight-issue storyline was titled "Guardian Devil." The story deals with Matt Murdock's Catholic faith, a character trait explored previously in Frank Miller's legendary work on the title. Daredevil is tasked with protecting an infant who he is told is either the Messiah or the Anti-Christ. The story was controversial, with some fans upset with the way Smith treated both religion and Daredevil's girlfriend, Karen Page.

Despite some delays, which Quesada attributes to himself, Daredevil sold very well. Quesada attributes that success to Smith and a lot of hard work.

"It had everything to do with Kevin Smith," he said. "And you know we were obviously very, very proud. I'd like to tell you that I was incredibly surprised, but I wasn't. I was surprised that it was that big, but we knew that we had something special on our hands because Marvel really was helping us with lots of great marketing, too. And we were spending crazy hours in the office. The person who became our managing editor, who I eventually married, my wife Nancy [Dakesian], she and I, we would be in the office until 12:00 or 1:00 a.m., working on trying to get these books just right. And we were there on the weekends too. It was an incredible amount of hard work, but we were on to something."

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