Marvel has officially named its new publisher, ComicBook.com has exclusively learned.
The brand has hired industry veteran John Nee to fill a role left vacant after it promoted Dan Buckley to President of Marvel Entertainment last year. As the Marvel publisher, Nee will oversee the health of the comics line both print and digital; be tasked with ensuring the quality of the line; managing budgets; as well as guiding marketing.
Buckley recently informed staff, and spoke with ComicBook.com as to why now is the best time to bring a new publisher on board and why Nee is the right person for the job:
"This was more of the right time than the “best.” Our comics and prose businesses have many opportunities in front of them, and each of those opportunities require a certain amount of expertise. We feel John can provide us with that expertise for each of these opportunities." Buckley said of the move. "John’s has a comprehensive background that makes uniquely qualified for this role. He has a depth and breadth of experience in gaming, consumer products, prose publishing, collectibles, and most importantly comics."
Nee was president of Wildstorm when Jim Lee sold the studio to DC Comics in 1998, where he then joined DC as a Vice President. While with DC, he oversaw business development for WildStorm and the CMX manga imprint. DC promoted Nee to Senior Vice President of Business Development in 2007.
As far as structure is concerned, Buckley told us, "As the publisher, John will lead our business strategy for publishing as a whole and focus on growing the comics and prose business. All business aspects of publishing report up to John. Creative and editorial planning will still have oversight from C.B. Cebulski, Joe Quesada, and myself."
In 2010, Nee moved into the tabletop gaming, trading cards, and collectibles industry when he then co-founded and became CEO of Cryptozoic Entertainment.
During his tenure the company began publishing expansions for the World of Warcraft trading card game. Since then Cryptozoic Entertainment has become well-known in the gaming space as it publishes the DC Comics Deck-Building Game (which uses the company's proprietary Cerberus Engine) and Epic Spell Wars of the Battle Wizards: Duel at Mount Skullzfyre. The company has also worked with other major brands, including Adventure Time, Ghostbusters, The Walking Dead, and Rick and Morty.
In 2017, Marvel was the top publisher in the industry including having the top book, Marvel Legacy #1. However, Marvel heads into a market full of ebbs and flows. Buckley further elaborated on how the Publisher plans to handle the ever changing marketplace. "'Ebbs and flows' are the only constant in any business. Our job is to recognize the nuances and trends of this constant. This is usually addressed with shifts in talent assignments, tone of content, pricing or even changes in the physical product." Buckley told ComicBook.com "Every now and then you need to address the ebbs and flows by adjusting internal personnel assignments. Bringing in new perspectives to specific roles is at times the best way to resolve the changes that are occurring the marketplace."
He continued, "With that said, we still saw a lot of support from fans for the year. We were still the top publisher in the industry in terms of dollar and market share, and four of the top five selling books for 2017 were Marvel. But we need to keep listening, change what doesn’t work, and bring in the best talent to make our stories a reality. This year, we think we can do better."
Nee's deep rolodex with licensors could be a boon to Marvel's plans this year. When asked how Marvel plans to top what it did in 2017, Buckley told us:
"There are a lot of moving pieces from a tactical and strategic execution standpoint, but the simple answer is that we need to deliver compelling stories about our great characters that are produced by the best talent. These plans will reveal themselves over the coming weeks and months."
With Marvel's competition heating up and the battle for market dominance gets closer and closer, Buckley acknowledged that the company needs to step it up if they plan to keep their lead.
"We are simply focused on delivering great stories and content for Marvel fans around the world. By focusing on the story, we find we do our best work with the best results. Our competition produces some great comics – and we are always keeping a pulse on the industry - but we are less concentrated on what the competition is doing. We’re concentrated on how Marvel tells its story."
Buckley further elaborated, "At Marvel, everyone understands how blessed we are to be working with these incredible characters and stories in a universe that Marvel past and present has built up over almost 80 years. We understand that provides us with some unique advantages when it comes to “competing.” These pieces allow us to focus on the story in a thoughtful way."
The addition of Nee will allow Buckley to focus on the other aspects of his duties as President which include brand management, oversight of animation, digital media and brand/franchise planning.
While Buckley was Publisher, Marvel saw growth in a number of markets and kept Marvel as the industry's top publisher. This included yearly line-wide events and initiatives, Marvel's Digital Comics Unlimited, and a commitment to diversity in its line.