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CNN LIVE ON LOCATION

Interview with Joe Quesada

Aired December 12, 2002 - 14:46   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's move on to a new comic book that may have the gay -- or a new comic book character, rather, that has the gay community probably saying, Giddy up.
Marvel is relaunching the Western comic book, "Rawhide Kid" and making the main character a gay cowboy. Joe Quesada is editor-in- chief of Marvel Comics, and joins us live from the New York bureau -- hi, Joe.

JOE QUESADA, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, MARVEL COMICS: Hey, how are you Kyra?

PHILLIPS: Let's talk about how you even came to this point. How did the idea surface?

QUESADA: Well, at Marvel, we always have editorial brainstorming sessions to try to figure out exactly how to revive certain characters. We have a catalog of over 4,800 characters, and we were talking about Westerns, and basically the Western genre seems to be really kind of dead in today's modern media, so we were looking at ways of reviving a Western, and we started with the idea of a comedy, and then one of our editors, after looking at some old "Rawhide Kid" comics just sort of came up with the idea and said, I think the character could be gay.

And the idea just sprang from there, and we said, Well, look, if we can come up with a great story, let's produce a great comic book.

PHILLIPS: So what is the artist, John Severin, who is 86 now, who developed "Rawhide Kid" back in the '50s, what does he think about this?

QUESADA: Well you know, John was the first guy that we went to to propose this, because obviously he's the classic Western artist, probably the greatest Western artist of all time within the comic book medium.

And John was delighted. He loved the idea of it. He's like, You know, it makes perfect sense because Rawhide Kid, in his 30-plus years of publishing, really never had a supporting female character or a Mrs. Rawhide, or a continuous girlfriend throughout his series.

So, you know, it sort of made an internal logic, had an internal logic to it and John really loved the idea.

PHILLIPS: All right. Let's take a look at the picture now of the Rawhide Kid, and I got a question for you when we take a look at this picture. All right. What's up with that gun placement?

QUESADA: You know, we have some very creative artists that work for us, and we just thought it was really -- kind of a cute cover.

PHILLIPS: So you got Ron Zimmerman, who is the writer for Howard Stern's show, joining forces with John, the artist of "Rawhide Kid" from the '50s, and you and the rest of the crowd. Now, you think Howard Stern's show, and you are like, Oh, boy this could get really racy. How racy will this get?

QUESADA: You know what it is, Kyra? It's funny what the media really picks up on. Ron has written stuff for the "Howard Stern Show," but he's also written stuff for "Seventh Heaven." As a matter of fact, he costars in "Seventh Heaven" every once in a while, he plays the part of Doc. So he is a good writer, so he writes all sorts of wonderful comedy, and straight genre for a lot of different people and a lot of different companies and a lot of different TV shows and comic books. So...

PHILLIPS: So spiritual gay gun slinger is what we could be seeing, then?

QUESADA: You never know. I think it's really a wonderful, wonderful comedy Western whose main protagonist just happens to be gay.

PHILLIPS: Well, I've got to ask you this. I'm looking at one of the quotes here in the first comic -- one of the first series, and it says here that the Rawhide Kid comments about the Lone Ranger, he is saying -- the bubbles from his head, "I think that mask and powder blue outfit are fantastic. I can certainly see why the Indian follows him around."

Now, it's cute, but I have to ask you a serious question. I mean, is this marking fun of, you know, the gay cowboy, or is this about acceptance?

QUESADA: I think it's always about acceptance, because at Marvel, we have a very, very simple mission statement. And that is the fact that we tell the story of extraordinary people doing extraordinary things under extraordinary circumstances and triumphing over evil. That extraordinary human spirit comes in many shapes and sizes, and this is just one of those shapes and sizes, and we just want to tell great stories.

I mean, we watch shows like "Will and Grace." I mean, you ask me, Who is "Will and Grace" for? Well, as far as I know, everyone I know watches it.

PHILLIPS: I got to tell you, I watch it too. Jack's hysterical. Just Jack.

QUESADA: I don't think this is making fun of anyone in particular. It happens to be a comedy. And the Rawhide Kid, let's not also forget that the Rawhide Kid is in this particular incarnation, he is still the best gun slinger in the West, and he is the best fist fighter in the West, and actually, he is the smartest guy in the whole story.

PHILLIPS: All right. First edition, "Slap Leather," 22 pages for $2.95. When can we get it?

QUESADA: It comes out, I believe, second week in February.

PHILLIPS: All right, Joe Quesada. Thanks so much for coming on and talking about it. We appreciate it.

QUESADA: Thanks.

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