The Dawn of the Knights

By Mario Muscar

Marvel Knights Advances Marvel's Comics Production

Not only did the comics that Quesada and Palmiotti produced for the Marvel Knights imprint tell different and award-winning stories, they also advanced the method of comics production at Marvel Comics. Quesada said their concern with the quality of the art was the driving force behind the changes.

"I think what separated Marvel Knights from [everything else that] was happening in comics was the fact that we didn't chince (???) on the art," Quesada said. Aside from the fact that we had Mark Texeira painting Black Panther, Bernie Wrightson on Punisher and Jae Lee on The Inhumans, there were changes in coloring. The one thing that you need to know historically is that Marvel was not coloring comics on the computer. Our books were [some of] the first lines of books that did. We came in and did our books on disc, and Marvel didn't really know what to do with them. And it wasn't really until Bill Jemas hired me as editor-in-chief that he said, 'Let's do this linewide. Let's do computer coloring all the way across.' That changed our line of comics and consequentially everybody else's. I think that made a big difference because we were doing the highest possible quality coloring."

Quesada as E-I-C

The success of Marvel Knights both commercially and critically, as well as several profitable movies featuring Marvel characters such as Blade and the X-Men, helped Marvel Comics reinvent itself and wipe away the stigma of its financial problems at the time. The shining star of the company seemed to be the Marvel Knights imprint and the comics that were being produced under it. After the initial four series discussed above, Quesada and Palmiotti added to the line with titles such as Black Widow with art by J.G. Jones and Tony Harris' take on Dr. Strange. Marvel Knights became an imprint where exciting stories were being told and where a new change in Marvel Comics began.

There was also a change happening in the powers-that-be. In 2000, Bill Jemas was promoted from a vice president position to president of consumer products, publishing and new media. Bob Harras, who had been editor-in-chief since 1995, left the company, leaving the position open. Quesada said this is when Marvel came to him and offered him the position. His reaction was what one would expect.

"I was floored," he said.

Quesada said he was faced with a quandary over whether or not to take the position. Taking it would mean leaving his and Palmiotti's company, Event Comics, behind.

"The process was definitely a weird one because it was Marvel hiring me away from my own company to run theirs. There were a lot of long conversations with my wife about this because it was going to put my company out of business. But in the long run, there were loftier goals. It would help the comic industry and help Marvel. In a lot of ways, it was a no-lose proposition because Marvel was barely hanging on. So I was either going to do really, really well or I was going to keep the course and eventually be gone. Marvel was under new management and they saw me as part of it. Eventually, it was an offer that I labored over for two weeks, and then I said, 'All right. I'll do it!'"

Look up your favorite comics (Superman, Black Cat) or topic (Artist Interviews, Reviews)