9:18am PT by Graeme McMillan
Marvel Names New Publisher as Dan Buckley Assumes President Role Full-Time
Marvel Entertainment has a new publisher, with Dan Buckley standing down from the position he’d held for the last 15 years to become the full-time president of the company.
John Nee, formerly DC Entertainment’s senior vp business development, will oversee the company’s comic book line in both print and digital formats, as well as oversee budget and marketing for Marvel's comic book output. Nee will also be in charge of Marvel’s nascent prose publishing efforts. The appointment was announced by ComicBook.com.
Talking to ComicBook.com, outgoing Publisher Buckley said, “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.”
Nee left DC in 2010 to co-found and become CEO of Cryptozoic Entertainment, the games publisher responsible for licensed material from The Walking Dead, Lord of the Rings and DC Entertainment itself. His Marvel appointment sees his return to the comic book industry.
Buckley became Marvel Publisher in 2003, replacing Bill Jemas in the role. (Jemas was shifted to the position of chief marketing officer, ultimately leaving the company a number of months later.) His appointment was a return to Marvel, where he had previously worked in international licensing and marketing during the 1990s for seven years; he had most recently spent time as vp operations and communications at marketing agency Radiate Group, Inc.
His time as publisher saw Marvel’s comic book line shift focus toward consolidation around preexisting characters and brands, with an increasing reliance on crossover storylines such as Civil War and Secret Wars, as well as a quasi-annual relaunch strategy, to maintain reader interest. While this worked to keep Marvel as the market leader in the comic book store-centric “direct market” as the industry rebounded following the 1990s crash, the company has failed to repeat that success in the mainstream bookstore market.
Marvel’s digital initiatives under Buckley’s tenure have been a mixed bag; the company offers a digital subscription model (“Marvel Unlimited,” which gives access to the company’s back catalog, updated weekly, for $10 a month, or $69 annually), but based on the little sales information publicly released — ComiXology’s best-seller list — Marvel consistently underperforms when compared with DC in terms of actual single issue digital sales. In recent years, the company has taken to drastically discounting — by anywhere between 70 and 90 percent — digital versions of its collected editions periodically, traditionally around the end of the financial quarter.
In the last couple of years, Marvel’s print sales have declined dramatically; at a time when almost everything that could go wrong for Marvel did, its sales dominance visibly faded, with retailers openly refusing to carry particular releases due to Marvel’s publisher-mandated order levels. In 2017, only three of the best-selling comics were Marvel titles, a far cry from 2014, when the company published nine of the 10 best-selling comics of the year.
Nee takes over as publisher just two months after Marvel gained a new editor in chief in the form of C.B. Cebulski, who almost immediately was revealed to have pretended to have been a Japanese freelancer in an attempt to defraud the company a decade earlier.
This will be the first time since 2000 when Marvel will have relative neophytes in both publisher and editor-in-chief positions, although Buckley will remain as president, a position he took on in January 2017; in that position, he oversees almost the entire company, absent its movie division, and reports directly to Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter.
According to Buckley’s ComicBook.com interview, creative and editorial decisions for Marvel’s publishing line will be made by Nee, albeit with “oversight from C.B. Cebulski, Joe Quesada, and myself.”
Updated 1/17 2:39pm to correct Marvel Unlimited pricing.