Joe Quesada leaves Marvel Comics

Long time Marvel Comics executive and former editor-in-chief Joe Quesada, who has held the title of executive vice president and creative director of Marvel Entertainment since 2019, has retired from Marvel effective June 1 after a career spanning more than 30 years in which Quesada rose from freelance artist to one of the longest-tenured executives in the publisher’s history. 

Quesada released a public statement to his social media accounts (opens in new tab) detailing his departure from the publisher and thanking his many collaborators for their years of hard work.

“In August of 2000, Marvel took a shot on me, entrusted me with the keys to the Universe, and has been my biggest supporter ever since,” reads Quesada’s statement in part. “During that time, I’ve had the great fortune to stand on the shoulders of giants, none broader than those of my predecessors and mentors, the best editorial team in the business, my coworking family, and the most talented creators on earth who put their trust in me, especially in the early days when it looked like I was selling tickets on the Titanic.” 

“Thank you ALL for sharing your talents and pouring your heart and soul into every project. It’s been an honor working with you, and I hope we get to do it all again,” Quesada states.

Quesada’s first Marvel work came in 1991 with a story in the humorous comic What The–!? #13, followed by 1992’s Sleepwalker #12. This led to Quesada’s first full arc as artist on X-Factor #87-90. 

In 1998, Quesada managed to land his first executive title at Marvel Comics as editor-in-chief of the newly created Marvel Knights line, Quesada’s own brainchild which re-introduced characters such as Doctor Strange, Daredevil, the Inhumans, and others, along with introducing Black Widow Yelena Belova in a series of titles focused on a darker edged, slightly more mature take on classic Marvel heroes.

Marvel Knights caught on like wildfire, with Quesada himself providing art, and occasionally writing, for the line’s flagship Daredevil (opens in new tab) title. The line proved so successful that Quesada was promoted to the role of overall Marvel Comics editor-in-chief, bringing the more mature storytelling and character-oriented style of Marvel Knights to the publisher’s entire line.

Quesada went on to occupy the role of editor-in-chief until 2011, overseeing the successful relaunch of the Avengers (opens in new tab) and Fantastic Four (opens in new tab) franchises under the ‘Heroes Return’ banner, Grant Morrison’s revolutionary relaunch of the core X-Men (opens in new tab) title in the wake of the ultra-popular film, and of course 2006’s Civil War (opens in new tab) event, which still has one of the best-selling collected editions of any Marvel story.

During his tenure as editor-in-chief, Quesada also maintained a creative presence in Marvel Comics, drawing the 2007 story Spider-Man: One More Day (opens in new tab), and writing its 2010 follow-up Spider-Man: One Moment in Time (opens in new tab).

Quesada was Marvel Comics’ last high-profile creative executive, as his tenure coincided with the advent of the Internet as the dominant marketing force in the comic book industry. He is known for his Cup ‘o Joe convention panels, was a frequent interview in the early 2000s, and for two years participated in a weekly feature at Newsarama called Joe Fridays, in which he’d answer questions from our editorial staff along with a selection of curated questions from readers.

In 2010, near the end of his tenure as editor-in-chief, Quesada also took on the role of chief creative officer for Marvel Comics, which he maintained long after passing the torch as editor-in-chief to Axel Alonso in 2011. During this time, Quesada became an ever-present face for Marvel, with regular convention appearances, stints as a Marvel-focused columnist and commentator, and of course his later reputation as Marvel’s resident interviewer for popular creators and even actors, including Charlie Cox and the legendary Stan Lee. Quesada also continued to create covers and occasional interior art for Marvel as recently as 2018.

In 2019, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige took on the role of chief creative officer for all of Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Comics included, with Quesada transitioning into his most recent role as executive vice president and creative director of Marvel Entertainment. 2019 also further cemented Quesada’s informal role as the face of Marvel Comics with his Youtube show Marvel’s Storyboards, in which Quesada interviewed numerous actors, athletes, and other entertainers about their personal stories.

Following Quesada’s announcement, colleagues and contemporaries at Marvel issued statements.

“Simply put, Joe is one of the most influential creatives in comics,” stated president of Marvel Entertainment Dan Buckley. “Everything he has done, from penciling to writing to designing to editing to brainstorming, has been – and will always be – at the highest level. Over the past 30 years, I have considered myself lucky to be his friend and collaborator. And while Joe will always be a part of the Marvel family, we should all be looking forward to what he brings into the world next.”

“As an artist and a storyteller, Joe is second to none in what he’s accomplished in the comics industry,” added C.B. Cebulski, current Marvel Comics editor-in-chief.

“From the day I started at Marvel years ago (I became an editor largely due to his encouragement), he’s embodied the heart of Marvel and the work we do, and he’s taught me and so many others how to do the same. Following in his footsteps is no easy task, as he set the creative bar so high. But he’s always gone above and beyond to lend me his ear as a mentor and offer his sage advice when needed. He’s someone I can call family, and I know so many on our editorial team feel the same. While Joe’s moving on to begin his next big chapter, I’m thrilled we’re going to keep working together on a few projects, and he’ll never be far from our stories here.”

“There are few who know Marvel Comics like Joe, and his countless contributions have helped create characters and stories that will never stop growing and evolving,  stated Marvel Studios present and chief creative officer Kevin Feige. “I’m grateful for his creative leadership and collaboration over the years and wish him nothing but the best for what’s next.”

Despite Quesada’s departure from Marvel, he states that he’ll continue to occasionally contribute to the publisher, including in an upcoming unannounced project that he’s teased several times. Additionally, Quesada promises further creative projects, including a short film that he is writing and directing.

Joe Quesada had his hand in some of the best Marvel Comics stories of all time.

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