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Latino Trailblazer

Axel Alonso

  • Gender: Male
  • University: University of California - Santa Cruz
  • University: Columbia University
  • Undergraduate Degree: Sociology and Politics
  • Graduate Degree: Journalism
  • Hometown: San Francisco
  • Organization: AWA Studios
  • Position Title: Chief Creative Officer
  • Organization: Marvel Comics
  • Position Title: Former Editor-in-Chief

Axel Alonso was born and raised in San Francisco, California. His father, a dentist, was originally from Mexico; his mother, a librarian, from England. According to Fortune, he has had an affinity for good storytelling, since childhood, and “grew up reading comics and watching...films.”

He earned a BA in Sociology and Politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where he also worked for the college newspaper. After graduating, he wrote feature stories for newspapers and magazines, and went to earn an MA in Journalism from Columbia University.

One day, after working odd jobs while continuing to freelance, he found an ad in The New York Times for a position at DC Comics that changed his life. He applied, doubting anyone would call him back. But, a DC editor who recognized his byline from a New York newspaper, called and hired him on the spot.

He stayed with DC Comics for several years, editing a number of books in the company’s Vertigo line, including Doom Patrol, Animal Man, and Preacher, among many others.

During his last year at DC, he met a Marvel publisher who wanted to hire him, and he moved over to the rival publication to become a senior editor under Joe Quesada, the new Editor-in-Chief.

As Senior Editor of Marvel Comics, he worked on some of the company’s most notable characters, including Spider-Man, and launched the Marvel MAX line. He also hired new talent, helped develop new characters, and wrote the Spider-Man: One More Day Sketchbook, a tie-in to the "Spider-Man: One More Day" storyline.

He was promoted to Vice President, Executive Editor in 2010 and named Editor-in-Chief less than one year later, replacing Mr. Quesada, who became Chief Creative Officer. Under his leadership as Editor-in-Chief at Marvel, he introduced greater diversity into its story lines, with characters like America Chavez, a Latin-American teenager with superpowers; Miles Morales, a teenager of African American and Hispanic descent who is Peter Parker’s successor as Spider-Man; and Northstar, one of the first openly gay superheroes in American comic books. He also hired two black female writers and National Book Award winner, Ta-Nehisi Coates, to write the latest Black Panther series.

Axel left Marvel to launch his own company AWA Studios, in November 2018, along with co-founders Bill Jemas—another Marvel alum—and Jonathan Perkins Miller, former CEO of AOL and of Digital Media at NewsCorp. The company’s stated mission is “to build a system that supports a network of Publishers, Retailers, Fan Con Promoters and, of course Artists, Writers & Artisans (the words underlying the initials in the company’s title); its tagline, “all the comics fit to print.”

He explained to Fox News Latino the rationale for the breakthroughs he achieved during his tenure at Marvel—particularly in introducing diversity among characters—as a combination of revisiting past successes and understanding today’s audience: “You have to go back to the source material, the original comic books, who they’re created by, who they’re created for, what the audience was, and [realize] that audience has grown over time and evolved over time.” He also explained that for him making those sorts of creative decisions ultimately came down to “the joy of knowing that there would be a child out there who would see Spider-Man peel back that mask to see a different face…[one] that resembled their own.”