Over the course of 20 years working at Marvel, Joe Quesada has climbed the ranks majorly, shaping the publisher’s creative vision in a big way. After serving as an interior artist for a number of years and going on to craft the massively successful Marvel Knights imprint, Quesada graduated to editor-in-chief, overseeing the publisher’s entire line from “House of M,” to “Civil War” and “Brand New Day,” among other major storylines. These days, Quesada is Chief Creative Officer at Marvel, serving as the liaison between the company’s publishing and entertainment divisions.
Appearing at Comic-Con International: San Diego, CBR News had the opportunity to speak with Quesada about his workflow as CCO, in addition to the time he currently spends drawing, the influence of his work on the current slate of Marvel Netflix shows, and more.
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Describing a day of work, Quesada told CBR’s Albert Ching, “The beauty of my job, and the thing that I always feel incredibly blessed to be able do — besides being able to work in this industry — is the fact that no two days are ever the same. Everyday is different. One day I could be working on scripts, one day I could be working on things for comic books. I would say that right at this moment, just because of the sheer density of the work we have, I’m doing a lot of stuff in television right now. In particular, the Netflix stuff is taking up a considerable amount of time. But while I’m working on the Netflix stuff [for example] I’m drawing a Darth Vader cover for a Star Wars comic, and I’m working on other things.”
He added, “People assume I’m not drawing as much — which is true — but I’m still drawing a considerable amount. It’s not stuff for print, it’s design work. Or even at [SDCC], there’s a Luke Cage poster that’s sort of a concept drawing, and that’ll be out there. But yeah I’d say that right now it’s probably the Netflix stuff that we’re doing.”
Quesada touched on his longing for the days when he was solely an artist, saying, “It’s the stuff I miss. When I actually have the opportunity to sit down and draw, I’m like ‘God, yeah, I could so easily go back to doing this 10 hours, 12 hours a day,’ because it’s what I’ve always done. So there is a sort of melancholy feeling that I get when I start doing it, because I know I’ll only be doing it for a short spurt, then I gotta move on to the next thing. Most recently actually — and I can’t really say what this is for — but I did do a four-page sequential story that’ll actually be in a film. But again, when somebody’s ready to talk about that, they can. It’s not a big deal, I had an offer to do it, I said, ‘absolutely I have to do it, it sounds like great fun,’ and I did it.”
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While Quesada’s no longer regularly drawing comics, the influence of his past work is evident in shows like “Daredevil,” which takes elements of the grounded, gritty incarnation of the character he helped revive in the late ’90s. Asked about his love of the take on the property, Quesada said, “Not only do I gravitate towards that realism and sort of darker, hardboiled side of the Marvel Universe, but it also takes place in my hometown. I’m a New Yorker,, I’m still a New Yorker, and I love the fact that we’re shooting in New York. So it’s everything I could want out of something like this.”
Quesada remarked on the satisfaction of reimagining his early work: “…it’s incredibly gratifying as well to see stories that I group up with, from the Miller stuff and beyond. Even the stuff that I had the opportunity to work on, with Kevin Smith and David Mack, and so many other people, and see parts of that portrayed in the series. And Jessica Jones, I was lucky enough to bring Brian Michael Bendis to Marvel and help usher Jessica Jones, he created the character with Michael Gaydos. It’s great to see that stuff actually happening.”