HEAT VISION

Former Marvel Executive Team Launching New Comics Publisher

Former publisher Bill Jemas and editor-in-chief Axel Alonso are behind Artists, Writers & Artisans.
ACO/AWA
Former publisher Bill Jemas and editor-in-chief Axel Alonso are behind Artists, Writers & Artisans.

During his time as publisher, Bill Jemas helped bring Marvel Entertainment out of bankruptcy and turn it into one of the most dominant entertainment brands in the world. During his stint as editor-in-chief, Axel Alonso oversaw Marvel attaining a level of market dominance that it hadn’t seen in years, if ever. With that kind of background, it’s not surprising that Artists, Writers & Artisans — a new publisher created by the former Marvel executives, in addition to former News Corp. executive Jonathan F. Miller — is expected to draw some attention.

News of AWA first emerged late last year, when Jemas raised $5 million from venture capital firm Lightspeed Venture Partners for the enterprise. Now, more information about the project has emerged via The New York Times, including details of the company’s first projects.

AWA’s launch slate will feature series co-existing in a shared universe, a la Marvel and DC’s output, but will look beyond the superhero genre for subject matter. The initial titles will be American Ronin, by Peter Milligan and ACO, about “highly trained operatives of huge corporations”; Bad Mother, written by Christa Faust, about a mother searching for her missing daughter and featuring the tagline “Baking Bad”; Fight Girls, written and drawn by Frank Cho, about the competition for the title of “Queen of the Galaxy”; and Archangel 8, written by Michael Moreci, about a “rogue angel” who uses semi-automatic weaponry, with the tagline, “Even God needs plausible deniability.” The series are expected to debut later this year.

Beyond Alonso and Jemas, the publisher also has a “creative council” of advisors, which includes many veterans of Alonso’s Marvel era: filmmaker Reginald Hudlin; novelists Margaret Stohl and Gregg Hurwitz; Preacher co-creator Garth Ennis; and screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski.

As if the presence of two former Marvel bosses wasn’t enough of a clue about AWA’s ambition, Miller made it clear in speaking to the Times, saying, “I think it’s fairly safe to say that Marvel is the most valuable entertainment franchise in the world.” It raises the obvious question: When will we hear about the movie deals?

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