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Marvel editor in chief Joe Quesada

He talks curveballs, softball and the newest addition to the Comic Con fan club: normal people.

JOE KNOWS COMICS He'll marry off Peter Parker when he's damn well good and ready.

RECOMMENDED: New York Comic Con guide

Time Out New York: So this whole Skrull ordeal has finally resolved itself then?
Quesada: Yep.

Ready to move on to new things?
Yeah, you know, it’s always good to move on to the next project, especially since when the fans are reading these particular stories, we’re already a year ahead. We’ve been living with it for a long time.

The bagel guy outside my office will no longer accept my patronage because he suspects I’m a Skrull imposter.
Well, you know, that tends to happen. [Laughs]

As a comic fan and not the boss of Marvel, who are you most excited to see at the Con?
For me, it’s always most exciting to see the fans. And not even fans that are there to see me or Marvel in general, but just to see how the industry has grown since 2000, when Marvel was bankrupt. To actually see a thriving New York convention—which, by the way, they said could not be done—and the fans having a blast is great. We built it and they came, so that’s always really gratifying to me.

Have you noticed a difference in the fan base since this reemergence began?
Well, we still have our hard-core constituency, which love our stuff and we love them to death. But you also see a lot more mainstream readership coming in that are not only getting their stuff from comic stores but also bookstores and online; they’ve seen the movies and everything. It’s a broader range of fan...the age groups vary...a lot more women at shows than there used to be. Comics in general have just sort of grown up.

More casual fans?
I think so. And more that understand that comics aren’t just children’s literature. It’s a very sophisticated medium.

Have you had to alter things editorially because the dynamic has changed?
You know, we altered things here before the dynamic changed, in the hopes that the dynamic would change. A lot of that really had to do with how we tell our stories, and gearing our stories toward the trade paperback. So rather than have story lines that go on for 100 issues with dangling plotlines, we try to tell stories like minimovies. So when you pick up a finished edition, you get a complete and satisfying read.

My girlfriend bought me the Punisher omnibus for Christmas. That’s 1,100 pages of nondangling Garth Ennis goodness. Do I have you to thank for that?
Oh, cool. No, you should really thank your girlfriend: She’s buying you comic books—that’s fantastic. It’s like being a junkie and having your girlfriend buy you heroin. Both me and [comic-book author] Jimmy Palmiotti brought Garth here, after much begging and cajoling. Garth is a very dear friend of ours, and we were finally able to get him and Steve Dillon over here to do the The Punisher for us, which was a coup and I think really revitalized that franchise.

Much has been made over your decision to kill Captain America and the whole thing with Spider-Man’s wedding. Any bombshells on the horizon we should be looking for?
Oh, yeah. I think there is going to be some crazy stuff happening in our current “Dark Reign” storyline, which will take us through most of this year. In particular, how the whole thing culminates. It’s way too early to talk about, but by now our fans have become accustomed to the ground shifting beneath their feet. We’re always sort of turning things over and breaking some furniture. That’s what makes comics fun.

So is Bucky Barnes going to start using steroids?
[Laughs] No, we don’t advocate that sort of thing.

What’s all this stuff about “true believers,” anyway? Sounds like a cult.
A true believer is someone that, you cut them, and they bleed Marvel. The reason they do that is because they’re so enthralled in the universe and captivated by the stuff we’re doing. And let me be clear here: If we’re not doing our job, then there are fewer true believers out there. And lately those numbers have been growing.

Who’d win in a company softball game between Marvel and DC?
There is no hypothetical about that. We have an annual one that we do at San Diego Con, and three years running we have kicked their ass. By almost as wide a margin as our market share.

You’re making things happen. Can you lift Thor’s hammer yet?
No! I am definitely not worthy. Not by a long shot. In fact, I have one in my office, and I have yet to be able to pick it up.

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