Monday, June 18, 2012

End of an Era


I started working for Marvel when I was barely old enough to drink (legally). I’ve never written a résumé or curriculum vitae. I’ve never gone on a job interview. I’ve never been unemployed. In short, I’ve been very, very lucky. But I’m 31 now... and I’m calling it a decade.

I have decided to leave Daredevil and end my exclusive contract with Marvel after 10 years of work for a company that I can only describe as family. From the moment that Joe Quesada hired me via email, I have gotten nothing but the best treatment from the most dedicated editorial and creative talent in the business.

So why am I leaving? The short answer: ownership. With the exception of just a few published pieces of art (which belong to other companies), Marvel owns the copyrights to my entire professional portfolio. And why shouldn't they? I was, of course, compensated fairly for it, and for that I’m grateful — but the sum total of that work is not enough to support me in the distant future. My page rate is essentially the same as when I started at 21, so I've decided to invest in myself. What I create in the next decade needs to pay dividends when my vision gets blurry and my hands start to shake (and who knows what else). Now is the time to make that choice, while I’m still young, possess "great power," but have few responsibilities.

And yet, I’m not done with Marvel by any means. They've been nothing but supportive throughout my decision, as has been the case throughout my career. I will continue to do covers for them and occasional projects as I see fit, just not exclusively.

So what am I going to do with my time? In the short term, I plan on clearing out my commissions list, which dates back to 2008. That will keep me busy while I plan more daunting endeavors. I’m not accepting new names at the moment, but I will in due time.

In the long term, I may scour my old emails. I’ve had to turn down some amazing opportunities in the past decade, so I may finally accept some non-Marvel work — it all depends on the creative team and the property.

Regardless of what new opportunities come my way, my main focus will be an ambitious, creator-owned project: an original story, sci-fi in nature, with primal themes and a compact cast of characters. It’s far too early to give any details, but it's something that's been trickling into my mind (mostly in the shower) for the last 5 years.

I also have some smaller, tangentially comic-related projects that I hope will serve as experiments in both distribution and funding — think Kickstarter. The site is already proving its worth to the industry, and I think it’s the future for creators who have something novel to offer fans. I hope it can work for me.

Finally, I’d like to apologize to my readers and my collaborators. I made many promises that I haven’t kept and I feel pretty awful/stupid for leaving such an amazing book, just when we were hitting our stride. A special thanks/apology goes out to Mark Waid, Steve Wacker, and my Dad, all of whom went out of their way to support me on Daredevil. I promised them more than a measly 6 issues. 

I apologize as well for the long-winded announcement. I have very mixed feelings about my decision and I wanted to explain, as best I could, the many factors that went into my leaving the single greatest job on the planet. Daredevil will continue to shine without me. Trust me, I've seen the issues.

Marvel will continue to shine as well, just as it's done for generations. They've given me much more than money can buy: a devoted fan base. As valuable as that is (roughly, 4 billion), it comes not from the company, but from my creative predecessors — it's what Disney really bought in 2009. The reason you’re reading this now — the reason I have a career — is that I have played a privileged part in stories and characters that predated my birth and will long outlast my life. As an artist, my reputation — my fame, in blunt terms — is what makes this a profession, and not a hobby. And while I take great pride in the originality and craft of my Marvel work, I never forget that the audience who funds my living was lured into those seats by creators who worked under far less cushy conditions. My only hope is that some of you will follow me to the next theater when I attempt to create something from scratch.

54 comments:

  1. Best to you in your future endeavors, and I know I'll be following your increasingly soaring career. You've proven you have the chops, now run with it.

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  2. Best Wishes! I'm Excited to see what's next! What ever it is, I know it will be great!

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  3. Good choice, Paulo!
    I've been feeling much the same lately.
    We can't be pulling all-nighters when we are 70... we need to have some intellectual property to call our own.
    I've vowed to take half of 2013 to get my own projects underway as well.

    And congrats on the engagement.

    I'm happy to see so much going so well for you.
    ;)
    Dan dos Santos

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  4. I can't say I'm not disapointed about you leaving Daredevil, that would be lying. The book launched with you and Marcos Martin, and now you're gone a year later.

    But I don't blame you at all for wanting better for yourself when it comes to ownership of your artwork. Gene Colan did hundreds of DD pages and he didn't receive a red cent from it beyond the standard page rate, even when his vision blurred and he had to commissions just to pay the bills. You gotta do what's best for you. And I know it's not an easy decision.

    Just know that whatever you do, I'll be there to check it out. You're an incredible artist, Paolo, and your work on DD earned you a fan who will follow you anyway.

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  5. What Jeremy said. Best of luck! I'll be there to see what you do.

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  6. Goodluck! I think it's a great decision. Almost all of my favorite stories are creator owned finite series (whether that's 4 issues or 50)

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  7. Good for you! Congratulations and I can't wait to see your own creations!

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  8. I have a vague recollection of discussing creator-owned vs work-for-hire with you all those years ago. It's certainly been fun following your Marvel work, but I'm super-excited to see what you come up with on your own.

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  9. Paolo, it has been an absolute pleasure to watch you work for Marvel, from that fully-painted Peter Parker comic where Spidey meets the lad with cerebal palsy (your ultra-slim Aunt May in that story will always make me smile) through to your masterful work on Daredevil.

    You can damn sure bet I'll be there to see what you do next!

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  10. What comes next is going to be awesome...it's incredibly far sighted to make this decision now

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  11. You are a very talented, very obsesive artist and you work is outstanding. I'm looking forward for your creator owned work in the future. Best luck.

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  12. Big step, fella! The best of luck, Paolo. I know you'll succeed beyond your wildest dreams.

    Pam Rice

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  13. Best of luck. I think that Kickstarter is changing things a bit for creators wanting to put out their own projects. In the past, even "names" like J.Scott Campbell and Mike Wieringo couldn't make their solo gigs as worthwhile was their big two work. The beauty of Kickstarter is that you don't need to sell nearly as many units since there is no middle man distributor to be taking a lion's share cut.

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  14. Paolo,

    I've been collecting Daredevil since March 1966 - #16, Enter Spider-Man (Lee, Romita and Giacoia) so I've seen my fair share of DD creators come and go. To have gone from a 12 year old kid in The Bronx to a 58 year old father of three and still be wowed by someone's artwork is a wonderful thing. Your vision (pun definitely NOT intended) and creativity gave The Man Without Fear another well-deserved boost. I want to thank you for your relatively brief but important -- and most of all, fun -- stint on Daredevil, and I wish you all the best down the road. I look forward to see what comes next!!

    Steven Springer (@dbronx on Twitter)

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  15. I loved your work on ASM and Daredevil. I wish you all the best and I hope your long gestating project is a success.

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  16. Paolo, when we last talked and you hinted that change was in the air, I remember 3 thoughts crossed my mind ( I guess I was on a roll ):

    First one was "Damn!"
    What can I say? I've really loved your run on DD.

    Second thought was that I'd follow you anywhere. Your work anyway. ( No secret plan to stalk you personally, except for the occasional late night encounter on the 5 train )

    Third thought was "Damn" again... Closely followed by "If he's actually off to do a creator owned-book, that would be freaking awesome!"

    Huge congrats for making the leap. It's truly the smartest thing to try at this point in your career, and certainly the most exciting too.

    Last but not least, another (belated) congrats to April & you for your recently announced "exclusive contract." Counting on you two to beat Lee & Kirby ( and Bagley & Bendis ) for the longest consecutive run by two people on a title!

    ps : Are you seriously going to San Diego?

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    1. Yep, I'll be in San Diego, but not really on the floor. Just there to meet people and hang out (and maybe go to an awards ceremony). As for my secret project, it's still about 3 years away, but I plan to do plenty of other things in the meantime so people don't forget about me!

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  17. I'm proud of your decision, Paolo. It's a pretty big one to make, but I'm sure it will turn out to be an excellent journey!

    You'll always remain to be my favorite Marvel artist (it was a tough decision between you and Marcos Martin).

    I'm looking forward to everything you create!

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  18. Hi Paolo! I wish you lots of good luck. I'm sure whatever you work on will be successful. You're an amazing artist, not only technically. Your way of depicting emotions is unique. :)

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  19. i like your attitude and look forward to what's coming next.

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  20. An incredibly eloquent and well-thought out post and I have no doubt that you will find success. Not only are you a true professional but the fact that you're thinking about your future years means that there are some brains behind that artistic brawn.

    If you continue to truly enjoy what you're doing, and work hard at it, you'll do just fine.

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  21. Loved your work and I as a fan hope you succeed in all your future endeavors and I will truly miss your work in Marvel.

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  22. Real sorry to hear you're leaving DD, but cheers for venturing out into the unknown. Best of luck in all of your new endeavors! I'll certainly give the primal science fiction a shot.

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  23. Hey Paolo,

    I'm not going to lie. I'm going to miss you terribly on DD. It seems like your run on the title was just getting started and your work to date has been simply phenomenal, the best of your career so far. I was looking forward to seeing more from you on DD and hoping for a nice long run on the book from you as I've been a long time fan of the character and your artwork was a great fit.

    However, I totally understand where you're coming from and I wish you all the best in your future projects. I'm here to support you as you really are one of my favourite modern day artists and I look forward to seeing what you're going to create for us next.

    All the best!

    Cheers,
    Josh :)

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  24. Looking forward to your upcoming projects!

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  25. Sad to see you go, but you were one of the parties responsible for the revitalization of my favorite character, and for that I will be eternally grateful. I'll definitely keep an eye out for your future projects.

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  26. Sounds like a good choice!
    Best of luck.

    Tim

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  27. The best in your future adventures. Absolute understand your choice, seems pretty logical.
    Best of luck
    Luis

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  28. Thanks so much, everyone! I'll still have plenty of work at Marvel, so don't fret. And I've already received some new job offers as well. All interesting. The real task is going to be staying focused on one thing at a time!

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  29. Elizabeth Neves StricklandTuesday, June 19, 2012

    Congrats on your newest endeavors Paolo! It all sounds quite exciting.

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  30. All the best in your new quest Paolo! You're brave as talented and I must say, you and your art inspire us all!

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  31. Paolo,

    I've been bumping into you at shows and chatting for many years now. Many fans and collectors have followed you and filled up your commission list because you're an amazing talent and a HELL of a NICE guy. We all believe in you and will continue to do so, with whatever you decide to do in the future. Speaking for myself now, I wish you all the best and can't wait to congratulate you in person the next time I see you at a show. You are the genuine article in talent and spirit and I thank you for sharing it with everyone.

    Best,

    Patrick Brooks (Mr. Freeze)

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  32. Good luck for your future projects, Mr Rivera : you're such a great artiste and your work on "DD" rocks ! I'm sad you're leaving the serie but I understand your choice and I'm following your next stuff.

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  33. Thanks for all the great work you have done so far and good luck in the future. I will continue to support you as a fan and as a retailer no matter who you work for.

    Bryan
    Wizards Asylum Comics and Games

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  34. By the description, your new project seems like the kind of thing NuImage (Saga, America's Got Powers, Mind the Gap, Happy, Jupiter's Children...) is putting out lately from ex-Marvel-and-DC stalwarts...

    Or is Marvel offering membership of the exclusive ICON club?

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    1. No ICON for me (at least not that I know of). The project is still a few years away from completion, so I'll have a lot of time to think about publishers and formats. The exciting thing for me now is to hone my writing muscles... which have never been exercised. It'll be challenging, but I have pledges from the best in the business for honest critiques.

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  35. "Ownership"... *now* you're talkin'. Looking forward to what you're going to put together, Paolo, bravo for taking the Full plunge into your own talents. I bet it'll pay off very well for you ... and for us.

    Best,

    Bosch

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  36. Unreasonable A-Hole FanWednesday, June 20, 2012

    How dare you!?! Arrrrgh! I hate you!

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    1. Calm down, Unreasonable A-Hole Fan, calm down. (Sorry, I just really wanted to type that).

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  37. I can't wait to see what you do post Marvel. And when your secret project does come out later down the road i will be there to pick it up, money in hand :D

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  38. Looking forward to what lies ahead. Best of luck. You can be sure I'll be picking up whatever your next projects ends up being.

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  39. I feel like all I've done since the announcement is respond to well-wishers. It's amazing! Thanks for all the support! I hope to live up to the expectations.

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  40. Dude, I have two beautifully framed posters of your Daredevil covers (#1 and #10) hung proudly on my walls. I can't wait to buy a poster of your creator owned work knowing that you will get most of the money. You earned it dude. It's an amazing time to read comics with guys like you, Marcos Martin, Samnee and Francavilla drawing them. Mazzucchelli's influence is truly being felt in today's comic book landscape.

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    1. Thank you! I've certainly been in good company.

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  41. I think this is a great move for you, you are now in such a strong position you don't need the security of an exclusivity contract, your work is both distinct and groundbreaking. I watch with interest, and continue to be part of your devoted fan base.

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    1. Thanks, Nick! It definitely feels like the right time. I look forward to meeting you in Leeds.

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  42. OMG!!! I didn´t check the blog for fifteen days and when I come back you have left Mavel and got married. I wonder what could happen if I don´t read it for a year! Congratulations on two decisions that I think are highly positive for your career -and for us, readers.

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    1. Ha! I guess it depends which year. But yes, big things are happening. I hope to keep the rest of the year rather uneventful.

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  43. So nice to have met you at the RISD show at ICON, Paulo. Best of luck - you really won't need much of it. People with your skill set usually do fine for many, many, many years! Cheers - Kyle

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    1. Thanks for the vote of confidence, Kyle. It was a pleasure to meet you!

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  44. Paulo, you are a nutcase. But meant in the best possible manner:) You grasped that silver age Marvel look so well, and pushed it right into the present day. In short you were the Marvel Age all over again. All the best with your future projects.

    David (a self published artist for the past 20 years, and despite winning awards, I've never had a sniff at Marvel work...oh for the chance ;)

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    1. I can't disagree with your assessment. I hope to continue to be a nutcase for years to come. Thanks!

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