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During this afternoon’s “Cup O’ Joe” panel at Comic-Con International, Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada teased the audience with an image of CrossGen’s original “Sigil” logo and the date “2011.”
The obvious implication was, of course, that the CrossGen comics properties, purchased in 2004 by Marvel’s new parent Disney, will be making a return next year. The question is, however, in what form.
“We’re gonna be doing some CrossGen stuff,” Quesada confirmed to CBR TV. He said that although Marvel does have a plan for the properties, “we’re not really prepared to talk much about it right now.”
“But we have started to work on some concepts based on the old CrossGen concepts, trying to strengthen them up, and eventually bring them to Marvel,” he said.
“It just offers us a wider variety of stories to tell than just the normal Marvel Universe kind of stories,” Quesada added later. “I think with the CrossGen stuff you’re going to see us attempt a little more genre publishing, which I think is much-needed in our imprint.”
Founded in 1998 by Florida entrepreneur Mark Alessi, CrossGen featured a line of titles in a variety of genres with a shared universe, or “Sigilverse,” with characters broadly linked by the Sigils they received. The first wave of comics launched in 2000 with the space opera Sigil, the fantasies Meridian, Mystic and Scion, and the “untold tales” anthology CrossGen Chronicles. Later additions included the Victorian detective series Ruse, the contemporary horror Route 666, the pirate adventure El Cazador, the fantasy Sojourn and the wuxia comedy Way of the Rat.
CrossGen was unique among comics publishers at the time, with creators initially working as full-time employees out of its Tampa offices. Alessi brought together a mix of industry veterans — Mark Waid, Barbara Kesel, Ron Marz, Chuck Dixon, Butch Guice and Brandon Peterson, among them — and then-relative unknowns, such as Greg Land, Mike Perkins and Tony Bedard.
With a solid talent roster, high production values, even higher ambitions, and a variety of genres and titles with (potentially) broad audience appeal, CrossGen seemed poised to give major comics publishers a run for their money. However, by mid-2003 reports emerged that the company had fallen behind on payments to freelancers, exposing a shaky financial plan that apparently was undermined by massive returns from Barnes & Noble and Borders.
CrossGen filed for bankruptcy in 2004. Later that same year, Disney bought the company’s assets for $1 million, with designs on Abadazad, the children’s fantasy book by J.M. DeMatteis and Mike Ploog. Disney released three subsequent volumes, but canceled the fourth. With the exception of a handful of licensed reprint collections from Checker Books, no other former CrossGen titles have been published.
Below, see video of the “Sigil” teaser shown at the panel.