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EPIC Suspended --
More Changes Rumored At The House of Ideas

A brief shining moment in Marvel Comics' history has come to an end. Officially because of simple overload, Marvel has "temporarily" suspended their EPIC comics open submission policy.

"The response has simply been incredible, and because of the high volume of pitches we're still receiving, we're no longer going to be able to evaluate them and respond to aspiring creators in a fair and reasonable time frame," explained EPIC editor Teresa Focarile. "Creators who have taken the time and energy to go through the submission process are entitled to a timely

"Now that we realize the level of response and the kind of commitment these projects require, we are going to restructure the EPIC process across all editorial offices and implement some new procedures that will hopefully have us back on track before too long."

It's not unbelievable. From the earliest days of this version of EPIC (Marvel previously had the imprint as a creator-owned, almost alternative line in the '80's), they've been dogged with controversy. Some creators complained that they weren't being given a response, or that choices were made due to political insidership. But just ask Ian Feller at CrossGen -- trying to evaluate submissions takes up a lot of time, and quite possibly Marvel really wasn't prepared for the response they were going to get. However, it does look strangely coincidental that the two highest profile EPIC releases so far were both by Marvel insiders -- John Jackson Miller on Crimson Dynamo (soon to be writing Iron Man) and Mark Millar on the tempest in a teapot teen romance comic Trouble.

Several announced projects, however, have come from outsiders, albeit web journalists that had already made some sort of name for themselves. Included among those is Young Ancient One by Rob Worley, former writer of Comics2Film and yes, friend of Fanboy Planet.

Marvel has not yet commented on the status of those projects, rumored across the net to be shelved, but according to Worley, "As far as I know, we're still good to go for a February release and we are continuing to work on completing the three-issue series."

The company offers some hope, at least to aspiring writers. According to their press release, they're still looking for new writers on an ongoing basis, with submission guidelines being available on their site.

In addition, the publisher will be launching two titles in 2004 to showcase new writers paired with established artists, Spider-Man Unlimited and X-Men Unlimited. What do you mean you've heard those titles before? They're new. Where the concept differs from EPIC is that that imprint brought in largely untried art talent as well.

Originally, too, EPIC was pitched as a chance for creators to see their own characters in print, but that shifted to a policy of using establishing Marvel characters, some say cynically all the better to license. Yes, Bill Jemas is an honorable man.

Actually, with this change comes rumors that we won't have Jemas to kick around anymore. You may have noticed that he's been terribly quiet lately, and absent from the summer convention circuit due to a business trip to China. Perhaps.

Rich Johnston at Comic Book Resources reports that Jemas may be out at Marvel entirely. Banished from all editorial save the Ultimate line (and presumably allowed to talk to Andi Watson on Namor), the formerly ubiquitous face spraining to pat itself on the back is curiously silent.

Johnston writes in his column, Lying In The Gutters, "I hear that Jemas has moved out of his Marvel office…If these stories are true, it might also back up the word that Epic is to be dismantled."

In addition to launching the successful Ultimate line, of course, Jemas spearheaded EPIC. And as anybody in Hollywood will tell you, projects babied by one regime tend to be the first to disappear under a new one. Sure, they might reappear later, folded, spindled, and stamped with a new personality, but always in a way so as to distance them from their originator.

Why would Jemas be out? He has certainly had contentious relationships with retailers and fans, but that has been rumored to extend to within the Marvel offices as well. Allegedly, he and Marvel Studios head Avi Arad never got along well, and Arad's star definitely remains high with the company. Certainly the high profile flap over the Fantastic Four creative team didn't help matters, as writer Mark Waid had definitely had some sort of clash with Jemas. (And for the record, I'm siding with Waid.)

Johnston believes that a replacement for Jemas has already been found, though he doesn't know the name.

Read into it what you will. Rejoice or Mourn. I'm just sayin'.

Marvel could not be reached for comment.

Derek McCaw

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