It seems like the actual comic books were on a downturn for quite awhile. I don’t know if that’s still the case. No?
Because of the movies? Or…
JL: I think it’s a variety of things. I’m not an expert on comics, but definitely I’ve been following what they’ve been doing, and it’s actually been growing pretty strongly. Things like Civil War, World War Hulk, they’re just huge events. And publishing’s a tough business, but Marvel’s been able to grow and really been able to do some amazing things.
Obviously the exposure from films definitely helps. And the games business keeps growing, so the exposure from the millions of millions of game units we’ve gotten out there over the past few years, that definitely has to help as well. So it’s hopefully that the IP’s are all growing together: the movies are being more successful, the animation, the DVD, the TV stuff, the comic books, and all that stuff is growing, hopefully, at the same kind of rate.
So what is it that you actually have to do, on your side? You actually have to take a publishing, like a production role, in a way?
JL: The goal with Marvel is obviously licensing, we’ve gotta manage our IP, make sure the characters are being used well and stuff, but for me, it’s a real a collaboration process. I came out of game development. I spent the last [several] years making a lot of licensed games, from the production side, working with the licensor. So I wanna bring something that I learned from that end, now that it’s my new role, and I wanna really collaborate with [developers], and getting out in front instead of just approving things as they come in the back end.
Working with them, and seeing what their vision is. The EA fighting game, for example. Working with them, and see what their unique take is. That’s one of the great things about Marvel, is that everyone has their own spin on it. Through all the years, you’ve got these different versions of Spider-Man, different artists have done... the same sort of thing I wanna do with games. You get the right teams, and a lot of them flex their creative muscle. So for me, that’s what I really wanna enable. I wanna let them really be creative, and do some crazy things, and really innovate in the games, and make it all fit within the Marvel universe.
I think it’s really up front, kind of agreeing, seeing where they’re going, and then obviously staying in touch with it all the way through is kind of the role. So there’s definitely some production stuff in there, but obviously the license, and that role, is my primary focus.
So you don’t have your hand on the project all the way through, right?
JL: I do. I will have, from the very beginning, pitched documents, when we’re meeting up with a new publisher, or a just publisher on a new property. From the very beginning they’re talking to us, and seeing what they wanna do. And all of our partners, they do a ton of research and they know the kind of games that they’re gonna sell, and the history of if they’ve done Marvel games before, or what other people have done with Marvel games.
So it’s really important to share that knowledge and try to come up with great stuff, but really it’s the publishers and developers that we really trust with these franchises. And we want them to feel that they can really be creative on their own.