BY HEIDI MACDONALD
It appears that another chapter in Marvel's always tumultuous history has come to an end with the finale to Bill Jemas'
run at the top. Sources tell the Pulse that Jemas, Marvel's President of Publishing & New Media, has been removed from any input on editorial, moved to a smaller office when he isn't working out of his home, and is expected to be leaving when his contract expires in January.
In a related development, which hasn't been officially announced, the Pulse hears that Dan Buckley
has been hired as Publisher at Marvel. Buckley formerly worked in marketing at Marvel during the end of the Perelman/Icahn era, and worked with Jemas at Fleer on such products as Overpower. After leaving Marvel, Buckley worked in sports marketing, and had recently relocated to Florida.
During his tenure at Marvel, Jemas was responsible for hiring Joe Quesada
as Editor-in-Chief, installing the print to order policy, and launching the highly popular Ultimates line, which has become the most successful imprint in recent comics history. But despite his run of hits, it all appeared to have gone sour this year.
According to numerous Marvel insiders (and the comic book industry water cooler, which had been heated up to boiling with juicy details of the story over the last 24 hours), Jemas downfall was set in motion over the spring and summer, when such controversies as Mark Waid
being fired from THE FANTASTIC FOUR and Princess Di appearing in X-STATIX garnered a rash of negative publicity.
Although Jemas' confrontational style
garnered lots of attention, and Marvel had initially flourished under his watch, it also created many adversaries, including numerous retailers, who found Jemas' high handed style galling. Many in the retail community found Marvel unresponsive to their needs; the no-overship policy continued to be a sore subject for many of them. Jemas' claim in a press conference that "most retailers love the policy" set off a firestorm of controversy.
In addition, over the past year, Jemas had become increasingly involved editorial, with a laundry list of forbidden storytelling devices (flashbacks were banned outright) and an approach to storytelling that many creators found baffling or constricting. Such projects as the Jemas penned MARVILLE were viewed as proof that the top gun's writing skill were not as sharp as those of most professional writers. Over the summer, such projects as Epic taxed the resources of an already burdened editorial, morale plummeted, and turnover spiked.
Ironically, a letter from retailer Matt Hawes to Jemas' boss, Ike Perlmutter,
was cited by several insiders as one of the last straws. Hawes' cataloging of Jemas' public, confrontational statements earned a contrite call from Jemas himself, at Perlmutter's behest. In addition, while Perlmutter and Avi Arad, Marvel Studios’ CEO, had turned a blind eye to controversies in the fan press early on, reportedly the Princess Di furor had reached the ears of important players in Hollywood.
According to insiders, Arad and Jemas had clashed earlier, reportedly over Jemas' desire to be more involved with Marvel's success in Hollywood. When Jemas' always controversial style began to make waves in Tinsel Town, it was, viewed as a liability.
Jemas' fate seems to have been sealed around the time of the San Diego Comicon. Sources tell the Pulse that was when Quesada, formerly Jemas' #1 ally, threatened to quit if he was not removed from interfering with editorial. By then, the ducks were all in a row – when Quesada's contract renewal was announced
, Jemas' name was nowhere to be seen in the press release, and during a financial conference call, Jemas had been conveniently sent to China, and Quesada took his spot.
While few can argue that Marvel, previously a moribund company wallowing in a devastating bankruptcy, took a significant artistic and financial upturn during the Jemas years, in the end, his flashy style, which flouted convention and broke new ground, seems to have been his undoing.
As for Buckley's role in the company, no one was talking on the record. He is coming in at a lower position than Jemas occupied, and whether Marvel will hire a new president to oversee Publishing and New Media remains to be seen.
While DC remains the Citadel of stability, at least in public, Marvel has always had its woes and triumphs played out very publicly. The chapter entitled "The Jemas Years" is no exception, and definitely provides one of the most colorful episodes yet.