MORE Comics Industry Reaction to MARVEL & DISNEY


Now that more details have been released about the Disney acquisition of Marvel, comic book industry representatives and fans have been chiming in with a more tempered view of the news.

At first, news on Monday morning that the Walt Disney Company would acquire Marvel Entertainment for $4 billion shocked the loyal readers of Marvel's comic books and had industry insiders speculating about what it could mean for the publisher.

Long-time Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada told fans on his Twitter account: ""Everybody take a deep breath, all your favorite comics remain unchanged," he wrote.

One deep breath later – and after a lot of comparisons to Disney's merger with Pixar – and comic book readers are starting to see the positives that might come from the acquisition, despite the ongoing concern that publishing might be negatively affected.

"I don't think that Disney is going to shake up the publishing side of Marvel. Why would they? It makes money and Disney wants to make money right?" one fan wrote on Newsarama's message board.

"I doubt Disney will care about the publishing end of Marvel as long as it's not losing money, pretty much as Warner Bros. treats DC," another fan said.

"I'm actually not concerned about this," another comics' reader posted. "I think it's a great move for Marvel due to the deep pockets that Disney has and the creative respect Disney has shown for Pixar's creators. Disney is a conglomerate but they're not stupid and make many wise business moves and creative moves."

Industry insider Jeff Katz knows the power Marvel has in Hollywood after serving as an executive producer on this summer's blockbuster, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," the Marvel property-based movie that now has two spin-off movies in development. The former 20th Century Fox executive has seen so much potential in comic book properties that he left Fox last year to start his own film/comics production house, American Original. He said the Disney/Marvel deal reflects a growing trend in Hollywood to consolidate efforts and cut redundancies.

"It's a game-changer, clearly," Katz said of the acquisition. "And long term, it's a brilliant move for Disney that will be worth every penny. It makes a ton of sense for them at a corporate level, especially once some of the current Marvel deals expire and can then be exploited through the larger Disney pipeline. I think this is indicative of the general shrinking of the entertainment marketplace. There will be more consolidation along these lines."

Comics writer/executive Robert Kirkman has experience as both a creator at Marvel in the past and now as a competitor, since he was named last year as a partner at Image Comics. The writer is also aware of how enticing comic book properties are to Hollywood since his Image comic "The Walking Dead" is currently being developed as a television series for AMC.

"While there is certainly the possibility of this ending up being something negative for the [comic book] industry as a whole, I don't see that being very likely at this point," Kirkman. "For now, I see things like the comics being sold in theme parks and Disney stores and hopefully an expanded initiative to get more comics in the hands of children.

"But let's be real here. This is all about Marvel movies, animation, video games etc. This is a great move in that respect, especially for Disney," he said. "I think this sale is being made based on the potential of Marvel's continued motion picture success and if they'd just waited until after the opening of Iron Man 2 they could have sold for possibly more money. I think Disney got a deal."

Dark Horse, the third largest comic book publisher behind Marvel and DC, which is owned by Warner Bros., had reason to point out that the company is now the largest independent comics' publisher without ties to a bigger corporate entity.

"I guess what it means is that Marvel becomes more corporate and, if it isn't there already, a company that creates comics for reasons that have nothing to do with the joy of creating comics," said Mike Richardson, Dark Horse publisher. "Nothing wrong with that, but certainly a far cry from the Merry Marvel Marching Society. As far as Dark Horse goes, I happen to have an inside track as to what goes on in the owner's head (yeah, he's a guy, not a company) and he's still in it for the love of comics."

While Marvel's largest competitor in the comic book industry, DC Comics, was contacted for a reaction, a company spokesperson declined comment. But other publishers see the acquisition as verification that comic books hold immense power in the entertainment marketplace.

"The Disney acquisition of Marvel Comics is a testament to the value of comics, the properties & franchises we in the industry create," said Matt Hawkins, president and COO of Top Cow Productions, "and a positive indication of how comic book companies are valued by the larger entertainment industry."

"We're living in an historic moment," echoed Nick Barrucci, president of comics' publisher Dynamite Entertainment. "It's wonderful to see the hard work that all of our friends at Marvel have worked hard for be rewarded with this opportunity."

One publisher that will surely be reacting to the news is BOOM! Studios, although the company has so far declined to comment. BOOM! acquired the comic book license for Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck from Disney earlier this year and already publishes comics starring Disney's Pixar characters.

Jim McLauchlin, comics creator and president of the Hero Initiative charity that helps comic book artists and writers, said the main thing he takes away from the deal now is that Disney is interested enough to pay up for a company that is all about comic books. "A $4 billion purchase price certainly shows the strength of comics, comic properties, and comic assets in the marketplace," he said. "That's a very good thing."

Reed Exhibitions, which runs the New York Comic Con and Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, indicated the company has worked with both Disney and Marvel and will continue the business relationship with the newly formed entity.

"No matter the owner, Marvel will remain our valued partner in NYCC and C2E2 and additionally, Disney, in various incarnations, has been a strong supporter of NYCC for several years now," said Lance Fensterman, vice president at Reed. "We look forward to continuing our work with Marvel."

But despite all the talk, most fans and creators are still just amazed that something like this came out of nowhere.

"This came as a total bolt from the blue to me," said comics' writer/inker Andy Lanning, who currently co-writes several comic titles based in the "cosmic" part of the Marvel Universe. "The deal makes sense to me based on the amount of Marvel licenses Disney is using at the moment but I wonder about Marvel's independence. If Disney treats the deal like the Disney/Pixar setup, then I think it will benefit both companies and give Marvel huge worldwide potential as Disney are such a global operation. I can only hope that our efforts on the cosmic books went some way to smoothing the deal as we've been at pains to put cute talking animals in all our books! Now, because everyone will be demanding it...the Mouse meets the Raccoon, in space!! It's gotta happen!"

But one comics' creator summed it up with one word, as artist Rob Liefeld's official statement on the acquisition was simply: "Wow!"

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