After almost a decade at Marvel, artist Chris Samnee will be leaving the company once his contract expires.
Samnee, who announced the news on his personal Twitter account the other week, is one of the House of Ideas' biggest artists, with high profile stints on Daredevil, Black Widow and Captain America cementing his status as one of the industry's best pencillers. Together with colourist Matt Wilson and frequent collaborator Mark Waid, Samnee took part in some of the publisher's best comics this last decade, so the fact he'll be leaving this year should come as quite the shock.
Samnee's departure is the biggest since Marvel architect Brian Bendis up and left the company last November, and while the reason for that particular change would appear to be innocuous, owing to Bendis' lifelong dream to write Superman, Samnee's isn't without precedent. Just last year, the then Marvel Editor in Chief, Axel Alonso, spoke to reporters in what would become one of the many PR disasters that befell the company during their annual Retailer Summit. When queried on the value of the company's artists, Alonso replied:
"It’s harder to pop artists these days... There is no apparatus out there. There is no Wizard Magazine out there that told you who the hot top 10 were. We don’t have that anymore. We can hype our artists all we want, but I don’t know if we know how many artists, besides maybe McNiven and Coipel, absolutely move the needle on anything to be drawn."
Alonso's comments drew criticism from almost every circle of the industry and, as a Marvel artist, Samnee himself offered his thoughts on the matter. Any reader will tell you that he and Wilson were just as responsible for making Daredevil and Black Widow the successes they were as Mark Waid was. And while Alonso has now left the company, having been replaced by C. B. Cebulski, downplaying the value of their own talent wasn't just a bad idea, but a demonstrably false one too.
Another Marvel artist, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, also announced that he'd be leaving the company upon the end of his contract. Neither have commented on what they'll be working on afterwards, but in light of Alonso's comments - and Marvel's growing reputation for courting controversy - could more departures be on the way?
Contracts renew and expire, but in a year that saw Marvel fumble time and time again, one can't help but feel that there's more to these departures than meets the eye.
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