A fan submitted this question for Quesada to answer:
About the "hating" on Marvel Divas, let's call it what it really is—criticizing how sexist this book appears to be. If Marvel produces comics that are offensive to female readers, why shouldn't people "hate" on it? Why would I want to support a company that produces offensive, sexist material? Why shouldn’t everyone speak out against it? While the book hasn't come out yet, what has been released so far is blatantly sexist. But what troubles me the most is that Marvel thinks people want to read this, and this constitutes strong female characterization. Does Marvel actually want to attract female readers or is the whole point that Marvel Comics are only for guys?
You can read Quesada's entire 700-word answer at the link above. I already mentioned the nonsensical logic of saying, "If you’re Marvel reader and truly feel we’re sexist, then why are you reading our books? Now, perhaps you’re not a Marvel reader, then if that’s the case, I’m not quite sure what you’re criticizing if you don’t read our books?"
And I've also expressed my incredulity of his not only liking Pink, but publicly admitting so.
Reading through Marvel's solicitations for their August books the other day, I noticed something odd, based on Quesda's answer to this fan question, so I'd like to parse his statement a little further.
First, there's this:
You haven’t read a lick of this story yet!
Please, I can buy you saying that you’re cautiously pessimistic based upon what you’ve heard so far, but to throw around allegations like that is completely unfair, not just to Marvel or myself, but to the creators and editors who are working on this book.
Creative types and defensive fans make arguments like this pretty frequently. Yes, it is completely unfair to judge a book by its cover. On the other hand, what's so unfair about judging a book cover by itself? That's what's going on here. Sure, people are inferring certain attitudes at Marvel, from evil and misogyny to innocent cluelessness or being out-of-touch with potential demographics the company could be exploiting. But that aside, there is a lot of criticism leveled at the cover image as a standalone image itself, and that's certainly valid.
Is it sexist? I dunno. After that one Heroes for Hire cover, it's actually hard to think of any Marvel cover as comparatively sexist or exploitive (That is, no matter what the image may be, you can always say, "Well, it's not as bad as the tentacle rape one"). It's not a very good cover though, from a technical stand point, and I think it's generally uncool to to use cover artists whose styles are so different from that of the interior artists.
But at the end of the day, who gives a shit? This is a book that was never going to sell more than 20,000 copies. Maybe putting a "hot" cover artist like Campbell on it bumps that up to 25,000, and the "is it sexist?" controversy knocks it back down to 24,000. It's a tempest in a tea pot, but that's only because the comic book direct market is itself a teapot.
Anyway, this is the part that inspired the post:
The cold hard reality of publishing and trying to sell our books to as many people as possible, so here’s an example of what happens more often than you may think here at Marvel. From time to time, we’ll be launching a title that doesn’t focus very heavily on the super heroic. From time to time I’ll get a cover sketch and it doesn’t have a costumed hero or villain on the cover, what we internally refer to as a “quiet cover.” On those occasions, more often than not, I ask my editors to direct their cover artist to give me at least a first issue cover with the characters in costume. Why? Because it will help launch a book that will most likely have trouble latching onto a large audience. We want to give every title the best possible chance to be successful. Marvel Divas is no different and that’s why you’re seeing our strong female leads in their super hero personas.
...then there's the part where he says he likes Pink and that she uses sex to try and sell her CDs (do people buy CDs anymore...?)....
Comics are no different and as much a part of the entertainment business as any other medium, and the cold hard truth is that if we were to launch Marvel Divas with a “quiet cover,” I guarantee you the book would be canceled before it hits the shelves. That’s it in a nutshell, I could sugar coat it for you and give you a million other reasons that would sound plausible, but that’s not what I do.
It is cool that Quesada spent 700 words taking the question I guess, even if all the answers don't really add up to anything. (As a miniseries, this thing is canceled before it hits the shelves anyway, and if they can't a Captain Britain series starring Blade and Dracula above cancellation levels, I have a hard time believing a book starring four unpopular characters is going to sell above cancellation levels).
But regarding the "quiet cover," with the characters out of costume? Covers of women in clothes other than superhero comics doing something other than posing in a field of blank space, surrounded in a ring of fire? Those are to be avoided? Because these are all Marvel covers from August:
It might be unfair to compare all of these as if each of them is the exact equivalent of Marvel Divas #1. Some of these have "hot" artists like Greg Land and Campbell drawing them; the Mary Jane covers are selling sex so if that is the beginning and end of your problem with the Divas cover, it still holds true; MJ is, if not more popular than the Divas cast, is at least starring in a very popular superhero's book, and Marvel has made her the pole around which abig, controversial plot is revolving; Pride and Prejudice is expected to sell like crap anyway and is only being published to make back some money before publishing a trade and so on.
Still, quiet covers with gals in street clothes, just kinda of sitting or standing there not being superheroic. And all from one month; you can look backwards and find a tone of examples of quiet covers on Mary Jane/Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane or Runaways.
I can't think of any reason why Marvel Divas couldn't feature a cover exactly like the Campbell image of MJ, only with Felicia Hardy instead of MJ in it, you know?
Okay, I'll shut up about all this now.