Joe Quesada took to the stage at New York Comic Con today...at the DC's "Jim Lee & Friends" panel. Quesada, a beloved artist and editor who ran Marvel for two decades, is returning to DC for the first time since retiring from Marvel in May. He will provide variant covers to some upcoming Batman comics, which will release in January and February of 2023. When Quesada stepped away from Marvel earlier this year, he said he wanted to pursue his own personal projects. While most fans expected to see him head back to his indie roots with something like Ash, the first word in Quesada's next chapter is apparently "Batman."
At the New York Comic Con panel, Quesada announced that he will draw covers for DC titles in 2023, beginning in January. He used the convention's platform to reveal his variant cover art for Batman #131 (due in stores on January 3, 2023), and Batman #132 (February 7, 2023). Quesada told ComicBook.com that there are six sketches currently approved, with inks on at least 3 by Kevin Nowlan and colors by Richard Isanove.
"It was a wonderful call that I got from Marie Javins," Quesada told ComicBook.com. "She waited a few days. So I announced the whole Marvel thing, my exit and stuff, and she just said, 'would you be interested...?' Absolutely. Batman? Absolutely!"
"It's one of those things: I cut my teeth on Sword of Azrael many, many years ago with the promise that I was going to get more Batman work," Quesada added. "It's a long story how that didn't happen, so I never had my run on Batman, never really got to do a run of Batman covers. So it's been a long time coming, and when the offer came, I was like, 'This is awesome.' Just sort of going back to where I started -- the character that reinspired me in comics. I started as a kid and I was a Marvel head, I came back as an adult and I became a DC fan and in particular Batman, so it's going to be fun to really sort of dig my teeth into doing a few covers."
Batman: Sword of Azrael was a comic that Quesada drew with inker Kevin Nowlan, over a script by legendary Batman writer Dennis O'Neil. Not long after that miniseries, Batman broke his back and had to be briefly replaced by Azrael, leading to one of Quesada's most iconic covers: the die-cut, foil-enhanced cover to Batman #500, which featured a traditional Batman which you could fold away to see the new "Azrael-Batman" costume underneath.
Quesada said that as a cover artist, the first priority is to create something dynamic that makes a reader buy the comic. He explained that he first bought Watchmen, relatively sight-unseen, because of Dave Gibbons's dynamic covers.
"I think it's what makes any cover perfect, right? I always described the comics rack, the comics wall, as a big pizza pie with everything on it," Quesada said. "And as a fan, you go to your local shop and look at this wall of comics, and there will always be something that makes your eye go 'voop,' and single out that one ingredient in the pizza pie. If you can do that with a cover, then that's what makes you successful. There's no real methodology outside of thinking in terms of shapes, colors, guiding the eye....Ultimately, as a cover artist, your goal is to sell books. Your goal is to separate a customer from their money."
Quesada, who took an editorial position at Marvel in 1998 and eventually rose to the role of chief creative officer, announced in May that he would be stepping down effective immediately, and that after more than 20 years in one place, he was looking forward to facing new challenges. He was named Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Entertainment in 2010, just after the birth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe created a wave of new projects that he and his editors were responsible for. He left his editor-in-chief role in January 2011, and his position was re-titled as executive vice president and creative director in 2019.