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Artists, Writers & Artisans forms new Creative Council to guide its upcoming output

J. Michael Straczynski, Reginald Hudlin, and Top Gun: Maverick director Joseph Kosinski are amongst the six-person group

AWA Creative Council
Image credit: AWA

Artists, Writers, & Artisans — the indie publishing company founded by former Marvel publisher Bill Jemas and former Marvel editor-in-chief Axel Alonso — has announced the formation of a Creative Council intended to guide its projects into the future, both in comics and other media.

The six-person Council notably doesn’t include two of the most powerful players in the company’s output to date — Alonso, who serves as chief creative officer for the company, and Mike Deodato, whose artwork has appeared across the company’s line since it launched in 2018 — although both are expected to continue in their current roles moving forward. (Jemas left the company in June.) Instead, according to the company, the full line-up of the Creative Council is: Reginald Hudlin, Gregg Hurwitz ,Laeta Kalogridis, Joseph Kosinski, Al Madrigal, and J. Michael Straczynski.

Some of the names on that list make sense on first glance: Straczynski, for example, has been working with AWA since its inception, creating the shared universe setting of The Resistance series; Madrigal and Hurwitz, too, have both created and written comic books for the publisher. Huddlin’s presence might seem somewhat surprising, given his lack of credits on an AWA project to date as well as his involvement with Milestone Media, but he has a longstanding relationship with AWA chief creative officer Axel Alonso that dates back to their collaboration on Marvel’s Black Panther title in 2005.

The inclusion of both Laeta Kalogridis and Joseph Kosinski is, perhaps, more surprising given that both are more known for their work in movies and television at this point. That said, Kosinski is already attached to an AWA movie project — Chariot, adapted from the miniseries co-created and written by Bryan Edward Hill — and Kalogridis has an extensive background in bringing genre material to the screen, whether as writer (Terminator: Genisys) or executive producer (Altered Carbon, Avatar).

Certainly, in its announcement of the Council, AWA played up the potential of the company across media. “At AWA, we are focused on building a next generation entertainment company that is laser focused on supporting creators by helping ground-breaking story ideas grow and scale to their fullest potential,” Matthew Anderson, co-chairman and president of AWA Studios, is quoted as saying in a statement. “We’re honored to collaborate with and share in the Council’s collective wisdom and experience which will help AWA consistently develop powerful original packages along with our TV, film, and Web3 partners.”

Alonso added, “In only a few years, AWA has established itself as one of the hottest emerging players in the graphic fiction landscape. The reason for this is our ability to find and nurture creative talent and create an opportunity for them to develop their original ideas. This Creative Council provides our creators with another true-changing opportunity to work with a company that has unique insights in both the comic industry and who have generated tremendous success in Hollywood as well.”

Establishing the Council in the first place is a move that might be taken as a good sign in Hollywood, it’s worth noting. It is, after all, a framework for creative collaboration very common outside of comics — think of the writers’ rooms of television, the current co-CEO team of James Gunn and Peter Safran at DC Studios, or the mythical Marvel Creative Committee of the early days of Marvel Studios — and something that doesn’t just let media executives and fans alike know that there’s going to be a long-term plan in place for the company, but reassures that it’s a plan that isn’t tied to any one person’s tastes or fascinations.

Beyond Chariot, AWA also has horror property Hotell in development for a movie adaptation with Head Count and Witch Hunt director Elle Callahan, as well as crime horror series Old Haunts, with Aaron Rabin writing. Additionally, the company has a TV development deal with Freemantle. The company, which is part-funded by James and Liz Murdoch, launched its own studio division in 2021 with former Lionsgate executive Zach Studio, in charge.

The creation of its own Creative Council was marked by a portrait of the group by, you guessed it, Mike Deodato, which can be seen at the top of this post.

Jemas wasn’t the only former Marvel executive making moves this year; his co-conspirator from years past, Joe Quesada, left Marvel after more than two decades.