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CSBG Archive

Mark Waid Chat Transcript

Mark Waid sat down with me Tuesday night for a very long chat where I tried to ask as many reader-submitted questions as I could, but you folks sent in sooo many that there were still a whole lot of questions that I did not get a chance to ask – I guess we’ll just have to do this again in the future!

Anyhow, here is the chat transcript! When a question is in quotes, it is a direct quote of a reader-submitted question!


Mark Waid: Okay, boss. Here I am.
Brian Cronin: Huzzah!
Brian Cronin: Very nice – we got quite a ton of questions
Mark Waid: I can only imagine. Hit me!

Brian Cronin: The most asked question was – “Will we see any more Empire?”

Mark Waid: God willing, someday. Barry Kitson and I know the next chapter of the story. But so long as Barry’s Marvel Comics exclusive is in play–well, he can do (and is doing) a lot of great work at Marvel, but it precludes EMPIRE.
Mark Waid: Someday, though. We’re not done.

Brian Cronin: Here’s one question I can answer myself.
Brian Cronin: “When is Farscape coming out?”
Brian Cronin: I just saw you guys announced that – Christmas Eve, right?
Brian Cronin: A Christmas miracle!

Mark Waid: December 24th! Just barely in time to go under your Christmas tree.
Mark Waid: And it looks great and reads really well.

Brian Cronin: A lot of people were wondering if you’ve been following the Kingdom Come stuff in JSA.
Brian Cronin: Most with varying degrees of pithiness
Brian Cronin: From “Have you been following the Kingdom Come storyline?” to “How do you feel about it being like you were not even involved?”
Mark Waid: Honestly? I’m doing with it what I do with a lot of arc-driven stories–just waiting until it can be read in a single sitting.
Mark Waid: And it is weird not being involved. Not that I’d have had time to be, or necessarily inclination, but you’d think it would be professional courtesy for DC editorial to at least ring me about the stuff. Weird.
Brian Cronin: True.
Mark Waid: But I guess the argument is that I had my turn with THE KINGDOM and this is Alex’s take on stuff. Which is fair enough.
Brian Cronin: Not even a name check, I believe.
Mark Waid: Not a one.
Brian Cronin: That’s the odder part.
Brian Cronin: As Alex certainly was name checked during the Kingdom.
Mark Waid: HA! Not if you know DC editorial.
Brian Cronin: Fair enough.
Mark Waid: I go through periods, genuinely inexplicable to me, where I’m dead to DC. It always cycles back around.

Brian Cronin: A lot of people wanted to know about Boom!’s submission process, or rather, why the lack thereof?
Mark Waid: The first six months I was there, I was very aggressive in finding new talent and new projects. All of us were–publisher Ross Richie, co-Boom-er Andy Cosby, all of us.
Mark Waid: And now we’re just overwhelmed. We honestly have the entire 2009 publishing calendar blocked out tightly, so we have to turn down even established creators who come to us–with regret–but thoughtless over-expansion will kill us dead.
Mark Waid: Also, the lawyers kept flinging big blunt objects at my head every time I said the slush pile was open to anyone anywhere.

Brian Cronin: Scott Koblish wants to know, “If Superman gets his powers from a combination of lower Earth gravity and our yellow sun’s radiation wavelength, then when the sun sets and only the wider red wavelength light gets through Earth’s atmosphere, do the powers he gains from the tighter, higher yellow wavelengths diminish? Likewise, would those powers be weaker before sunrise, or perform to a lesser degree when he is fully clothed, working inside an office under fluorescents that don’t offer a wide spectrum of light?”
Mark Waid: This “Scott Koblish” of whom you speak isn’t taking into account the solar-battery aspect of Superman’s cellular structure. Yes, all those conditions would affect Superman’s powers given enough time–like, weeks– but he’s got enough juice stored up to last.
Mark Waid: Also – Hi, Scott! Fans should know that Scott Koblish is an amazing inker. He worked over George Perez on The Brave and the Bold and we loved him.

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Brian Cronin: A reader asked : “I’ve been dying to know ever since your Legion run with Barry Kitson began… was Sun Boy’s costume supposed to make him look kind of like Prez Rickard? The shaggy blond hair, the big red shirt with a round yellowy symbol in the center… I always figured it was either a very subtle in-joke (given this Legion’s meta-love for Silver and Bronze Age DC) or a total coincidence, but either way, it was genius.”
Mark Waid: Genius, you say? Then…I…that is…
Mark Waid: …SURE!
Mark Waid: No.
Mark Waid: But good question!

Brian Cronin: A few folks wanted to know about the Batman suit in the Flash ring. “Was this a story he had planned that was never published or is it something we are yet to see?”
Mark Waid: It’s a story I had planned that I hoped to get to back before everyone in the universe decided my return to Flash sucked. : )
Mark Waid: It involved Batman taking the twins under his wing for one adventure.

Brian Cronin: And I guess your previous “I’m dead to DC” bit would answer all the “Any DC work in 2009?” questions
Mark Waid: Who knows how long the cycles last? Anything’s possible.
Mark Waid: I could be back in favor tomorrow. Or I could be the next Cary Bates. Who knows? Ah, well.
Brian Cronin: Bates’ new Marvel series is good!
Mark Waid: And, yes, go read Cary Bates’ TRUE BELIEVERS!

Brian Cronin: Yeah, it’s a very fresh approach by Bates.
Mark Waid: Cary was probably the most adaptable of the 1960s/1970s writers. Look at how much of a departure CAPTAIN ATOM was from, say, FLASH.
Brian Cronin: True, but what I was more impressed by was the ability to jump right back into telling the story. Usually I see at least a bit of a learning curve in a return like that. I mean, it’s been a long while for Bates.
Brian Cronin: Then again, for all I know, he’s been working on this series for a long time.
Mark Waid: It was a big deal when he came into Tom Brevoort’s office a while back to pitch it. No one loves the Flash of that era like Tom Brevoort.

Brian Cronin: Dan Didio mentioned that they killed Bart sooner than they planned, so did that affect your run, as well? Or were you just contacted whenever they did decide to kill him?
Mark Waid: No, I knew they were killing Bart off way, way before I came back to Wally.
Mark Waid: I was offered the Bart relaunch initially, but then-editor Steve Wacker and I could never come up with a take that DC liked.

Brian Cronin: “What do you think of digital distribution of comics? Is it a viable additional outlet to print comics?”
Mark Waid: No. It’s the future outlet for comics, period. Not tomorrow, not next week, but soon. Which is a shame, and the end of an era, and I’m not necessarily advocating it–I’m just being realistic.
Mark Waid: Paul Levitz had a great quote about digital comics, though. If I may paraphrase– the reason we’re not “there” yet has a lot to do with trying to find the right synthesis of format and delivery. For the first decade of its existence, television was really nothing more than radio with pictures. Everything was still dialogue driven, and you didn’t really have to WATCH it. You could just listen. But then Lucille Ball came along and wedded the visual comedy of vaudeville to the structure of radio comedy, and the whole medium transformed.
Mark Waid: And that’s what we’re waiting for vis-a-vis cybercomics. That ‘x’ factor that turns it into its own medium and not just pictures of comic books.
Brian Cronin: Right.
Mark Waid: That’s one of the smartest things I’ve ever heard, but then, Paul’s really smart.
Brian Cronin: So if we do NOT see that – will digital comics still work as the “main avenue”?
Mark Waid: It’ll limp along. But we will see it. Too many creative people are striving to find a way to make this new format work. Someone will be digital comics’ Stan Lee, our Elvis, or whoever.
Brian Cronin: True, sort of like how Facebook blew everyone’s mind
Mark Waid: Exactly.
Brian Cronin: Of course, Facebook did not explode until a bunch of comic book companies had already committed to MySpace, but, well…que sera, sera.

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Brian Cronin: “Who will be the artist on The Incredibles?”
Mark Waid: Marcio Takara is the artists for THE INCREDIBLES, and he’s astounding. Beautifully on-model but imaginative on his own.
Brian Cronin: “Anything more to tease us with the Incredibles?”
Mark Waid: Not without waking up to find a giant mouse head in my bed.
Brian Cronin: Touche

Brian Cronin: “What happened too or what is the status of Boom! Studios ‘Godfather’ title?”
Mark Waid: We’re unlikely to get there anytime soon. The God’s honest truth is that we were ready to go, and then the writers’ strike hit last year–and when it did, during its duration, the licensor we were dealing with went through a big regime change.
Mark Waid: Pity.

Brian Cronin: “The Muppets comics (not to mention the Disney/Pixar ones) have a great chance to appeal to a wide audience…if the wide audience knows about them. What are you going to do to make sure the non-comics-reader knows about the title, or better yet, what will you do to bring the book to where the non-comics-reader shops?”
Mark Waid: Muppets: agreed that if we were doing it just for the direct sales market, it’d be commercial suicide. So we’re in negotiations to make sure it’s in every bookstore and school library in the nation. I wish I could say more on that, but trust me, we’re on this aggressively, and all signals are good.

Brian Cronin: “Potter’s Field vol. 2 is coming out…when?”
Mark Waid: Potter’s Field: Stone Cold, a one-shot by myself and Paul Azaceta, is on the schedule for spring, followed by a trade collection pulling together the whole run thus far plus some unseen material. It looks GREAT.
Brian Cronin: Azaceta did a great job on that.

Brian Cronin: “Who contacted who about your appearance on LA Ink? Did she legitimately meet you at a local con, or was it a more arranged event for the show?”

Mark Waid: What? Are you casting aspersions on the legitimacy and truth-telling of a reality show? I’m offended.
Mark Waid: I’d met Hannah. And I was sincere in my critique–she’s a very talented graphic artist and could, should she elect to move from the high-paying and high-profile life of TV Celebrity to the slave wages of indy comics, do quite well.

Brian Cronin: “Now in your capacity as EIC of Boom Studios, do you find it difficult to write stories for either DC or Marvel given your complicated schedule?”
Mark Waid: Working for DC or Marvel is pretty much a nights-and-weekends job nowadays, natch. First priority goes to Boom! But from the start–and this wasn’t a condition that I put down, it was part of Boom’s approach to me –Ross’s take was that it was fine for me to keep my hand in at DC and Marvel, with the notion that a rising tide floats all boats–any publicity I get out of Spider-Man or whatever gives me a chance to point readers back to Boom!

Brian Cronin: “During your Flash run, years back, you referenced Wally West’s first time travel experience, which was apparently horrible. When do we get to read that?”
Mark Waid: Flash’s first time-travel experience on his own is a story I’ve carried around forever and haven’t yet told. I may have to take it to my grave. But I really love it.
Mark Waid: “When do we get to read that?” Haven’t we already established that I shouldn’t be let back in the Flash universe for a while? : )

Brian Cronin: “When asked how long you expected your Superman: Birthright would remain in continuity, you replied, “What time is it now?” Do you have any feelings you wish to express about Geoff Johns’ Superman: Secret Origin, which will essentially render void your version of Superman’s beginnings?”

Brian Cronin: That last one was a fairly common question, asking what your take on Johns’ Secret Origin was, which I found kinda odd – “How do you feel that they’re re-doing the origin you created?” “I think it’s AWEsome!”
Mark Waid: “Dear Mark: How do you feel about the fact that Geoff Johns is dating your ex?”
Brian Cronin: Yeah, exactly.
Mark Waid: I wish Geoff and Gary Frank the best of luck with Superman: Secret Origin. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad that it was bulldozing over a project that was a lifelong dream, but again, that’s the downside to working at the big two.

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Mark Waid: If you think you can leave any sort of lasting legacy, you’re deluded. And I was deluded for a long time. But we live and we learn.
Brian Cronin: I dunno, so far, Wally/Linda looks solid
Brian Cronin: That’s something
Brian Cronin: And Ed Brubaker picked up Sharon Carter big time
Mark Waid: Dude, zero legacy. Zip. Not false modesty. Just reality. Best I can do is just put my head down and keep bleeding on the page and hope someone will still be reading it fifty years from now.

Brian Cronin: “Many years ago there was a proposed Origin story of The Red Skull that would be helmed by you. Due to the nature of humanizing a Nazi, I think it was scrapped. Do you still wish to flesh out a character who could really use a background?”
Mark Waid: It wasn’t an origin story, exactly. It was Captain America #14, which was written, drawn, colored and lettered and then scrapped by Marvel at the last second–literally, the last second, so late that the cover was already printed.
Mark Waid: Which is why my name’s on it. I had time to pull my name from the printed, bowdlerized job, but it’s on the cover.

Mark Waid: S’okay. I have high hopes that someday that run will be collected at Marvel, and the pages of art and color still exist–Marvel could get some mileage out of the “director’s cut,” if you will. Write Marvel.
Mark Waid: Demand it.

Brian Cronin: Here’s another odd one for me, as you’ve worked with co-writers a LOT of times, but: “Mark, it’s seems to me that more and more comic writers these days are collaborating on projects, often times to great success (Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction I’m looking at you). Is there anyone in particular you’d like to try and team up with to write a book, and if so, who and in what genre?”
Mark Waid: I enjoy collaborating. Heck, some of the best work out there with my name on it is stuff where Tom Peyer or Brian Augustyn or Kurt Busiek did the heavy lifting while I sat by the pool. It might be fun to jam with Joe Casey on something. Or Fraction. I can always learn new tricks.

Brian Cronin: “I understand you have been frustrated with some projects that have not ‘hit’ the way you expected. How do you balance appealing to popular taste with good, classic storytelling? Do writers really have to pander, or should they pursue at least the semblance of originality?”
Mark Waid: Everyone’s been frustrated with projects that haven’t “hit.” But, as frustrating as that can be, and as much as that leaves you with a three a.m. fear that you’ve totally lost touch with the audience, it’s still preferable to grinding out sausage.
Mark Waid: All writers are better off swinging for the fences and failing than simply writing what they think people want to read. That’s just a pathetic waste of electrons, the latter.
Mark Waid: There are writers out there who pander shamelessly. And, frankly, they’re all richer and more successful than I’ll ever be. So my word is hardly law. But as a writer, deep down, you know–you KNOW– the difference between work you tell yourself you’re proud of and work you’re ACTUALLY proud of. It’s so easy to convince yourself that you’re not pandering, that you’re not catering to a base or taking shortcuts but you KNOW in your heart. Here’s a big clue: if you don’t, at some point or another with a piece of work, look at it in mid-process and go “THIS SUCKS, I’M A FRAUD,” then you’re probably just pandering.
Brian Cronin: Do you also agree with the notion that you should look back at your older work and think “Wow, I could do that a whole lot better now”?
Mark Waid: Yes, God, yes. If you’re not looking back on older work and thinking, “I could do that better now,” then you should just stop and open up a tire store. Combustion engines will be running off your fossilized remains soon enough, anyway.

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Brian Cronin: “How many outfits did Supergirl have during the late 60’s and early 70’s and what did Batgirl’s light do on the front of here batcycle?”
Mark Waid: Supergirl had more outfits in the early 1970s than I have in my closet right now. I always thought the godawful one with the hip boots was tragic. But the one from Adventure 409 got my little prepubescent heart fluttering.
Mark Waid: And the lights on Batgirl’s cycle could, somehow, actually follow TRAILS OF CRIME. I wish I were making that up.

Brian Cronin: Here’s a cute one a reader sent in based on our recent Top 25 Comic Book Battles (the end battle in Kingdom Come came in third, I believe!) – “Mark, can you think of a good reason why Kyle tried to punch Deathstroke in Identity Crisis #3?”
Mark Waid: Here’s a charitable reason: people do weird things in fights.

Brian Cronin: A bunch of readers asked “Would you want to/What would you do if you did” write Superman?
Mark Waid: Superman: Birthright is the best clue of that. There’s a giant essay in the back of that trade collection that pretty much explains my views on Superman from cowlick to boot-toe.

Brian Cronin: Did Bill Loebs and Mark Gruenwald help much with the transitions to your runs on Flash and Cap?
Mark Waid: Both did enormously. Bill because he was a longtime friend. I actually didn’t use his supporting cast, not because I didn’t like them, but because he and I both thought he’d be taking them into his next assignment. But it didn’t work out that way — and by the time he realized that, I’d already sort of set my own tone with the series.
Mark Waid: And Gruenwald was unbelievably gracious. I still have the reams and reams of data he provided me on Cap’s villains, origins, back story, etc. He was SO HELPFUL.
Brian Cronin: You took Linda, though, from Bill. I don’t think he ever got enough credit for introducing Linda. I mean, obviously you did all the romance stuff, but she had a solid base right there in Bill’s run, including the flirtation between Wally and Linda.
Mark Waid: Bill totally created Linda. Bill totally does not get nearly enough credit for how good and how influential he’s been.
Brian Cronin: Speaking of Bill, a reader asked: “Can we have some more work by William Messner-Loebs, his contribution to Zombie tales #5 was amazing. Any chance of an ongoing or mini from him?”
Mark Waid: Bill’s currently doing a four-issue mini for us at BOOM! called NECRONOMICON (with artist Andrew Ritchie) that’s maybe the best thing we’ve put out yet.
Mark Waid: And more from him at Boom! Yes. Door’s wide open. Look for more in the Zombie and Cthulhu anthologies.

Brian Cronin: “Did Avengers Forever cause you to replace Kang with Korvac in your Cap run?”
Mark Waid: HA!
Mark Waid: No. Confluence of rumor.
Brian Cronin: Oh?
Mark Waid: Wait. I misspeak. Hang on…lemme go look.
Mark Waid: Here’s what I was thinking of. The Ka-Zar debacle was first by a nose. I think we acquitted ourselves quite well with the Ka-Zar/Thanos battle, but that was never supposed to have been Thanos. I THINK that was supposed to be Korvac.
Mark Waid: And then, later, Kang was going to be in Cap, and Avengers Forever (I THINK) had us shifting out plan around and yanking Korvac BACK because it turned out there was no reason to have taken him out of Ka-Zar at all.
Brian Cronin: Wait a sec – so Avengers Forever WAS the reason you pulled Kang?
Brian Cronin: I mean, why was Korvac not used in Ka-Zar?
Mark Waid: No. Forever came much later. Remember, that run of Cap relaunched simultaneously with Kurt and Perez’s Avengers. Kurt just asked for dibs on Kang after we had put him in the story, which was his right.
Brian Cronin: Okay, fine, gotcha. So it wasn’t Avengers Forever, per se, but it was Busiek’s Avengers.
Mark Waid: Korvac was allegedly being used by someone else at the time, and I regret to say that ten years later, I can’t remember who. All I do remember is that he was yanked for what turned out to be no reason.
Brian Cronin: Aha
Mark Waid: S’okay. That stuff happens all the time.
Mark Waid: And if you’re lucky, it makes for a better story. Honestly, I am still very proud of the entirety of the Ka-Zar run.
Brian Cronin: So did you catch Starlin’s “Thanos clones” explanation in one of his Infinity mini-series?
Mark Waid: Yes, yes, yes. ZZZZZZZzzzzzz. It’s really easy to say “Well, Ka-Zar fighting Thanos is STUPID!” unless you, oh, actually READ THE STORY.
Mark Waid: Because that was THE POINT OF THE STORY.
Mark Waid: But it’s easier just to be pissy and dismissive.
Brian Cronin: Yep, I have always complained about creators knocking other creators in their work.
Mark Waid: Jim and I already had it out over this in Baltimore one year and shook hands. I saw where he was coming from, he saw my point. All’s well there.
Mark Waid: But see what I’m saying? There’s nothing you can do on non-creator-owned material that can’t be undone by the next guy. And revenge is about the dumbest, least creative reason in the world to write a story.
Brian Cronin: It was a good run – it was really rough to ask Priest to follow that run, especially without Andy Kubert! Although that series later gave us some of Brian K. Vaughan’s first work

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Brian Cronin: “Why did Boom Studios change the ‘Fall of Cthulhu’ ongoing series into a “series of mini-series”? I felt as an ongoing series, it had the potential to reach Issue #50 and beyond. Why the hesitancy of doing an ongoing series at Boom Studios?”

Mark Waid: It’s just tough–very tough–to sustain any sort of long-term love from readers and retailers in this market. It’s something we’re aware of at Boom!: the trade-off between the sales upswing you’ll get on a first issue versus the sense of legacy you get by building a long-term hit.
Mark Waid: We take that one a case-by-case basis. And the answer to how any smaller publisher approaches that depends on a lot of factors, not the least of which is which way the wind is blowing that day.
Mark Waid: My guess is that if we were launching FoC now, we’d be more inclined to have done it as a perpetual ongoing because our trade paperback sales are stronger now than they were earlier in 2008 when we made the decision to relaunch. But the landscape is different right this second than it was earlier in 2008. And it’ll be different six months from now.
Mark Waid: 20/20 hindsight in action.
Mark Waid: And let me take the opportunity to plug Cthulhu writer Michael Alan Nelson, and his new series from Boom!, HEXED, which comes out early next year.
Brian Cronin: It’s like JJ Abrams’ Alias meets Hellblazer!
Brian Cronin: Some wise man said that

Brian Cronin: Speaking of rumors, we had another one: “What was your original Onslaught origin?”
Mark Waid: The original take on Onslaught–and whether or not this would have been a good idea is open for debate, because I’ve always been the first to say that I wasn’t a great fit on X-Men–
Mark Waid: –is that it was just intended to be Xavier’s dark side that had been percolating for decades. IMHO, the last-minute decision to shoehorn Magneto into the mix was a confusing misstep. But maybe not. Again, I’m not the best judge of anything X.

Brian Cronin: “Every time my DHL box of comics arrives, my kids want to know just one thing: When is the Wall-E comic book series coming out? Mark, you’ve got to do something, they’re 5 and 7 years old, they are obsessed with Wall-E, and they are MERCILESS!”
Mark Waid: We would LOVE do to Wall-E. Seriously. What a brilliant movie. And what a brilliant property. And what a movie I can never, ever, ever watch again.

Brian Cronin: Hah
Mark Waid: It broke my heart. It hit all the pain buttons in me. It’s the single saddest movie I’ve ever seen. It left me devastated. Seriously.

Brian Cronin: “Do you think that silver age artists, working at the skill level they had back then, would be able to get jobs in comics now?”
Mark Waid: They would be at Boom!

Brian Cronin: “Are you comfortable with the co-authorship inherent in writing, but not drawing, comics? What is necessary to ensure a good collaboration?”
Mark Waid: In my experience–and I stress, this is just my experience–I think the final story is best when, no matter how collaborative the creative process is, one guy does all the typing. Mixing writing styles, even among friends—is a delicate alchemy.
Mark Waid: But what’s absolutely necessary to ensure the best collaboration is to check ego at the door. That, more than anything else, is what made 52 work.

Brian Cronin: “With a little bit of time and perspective, what’s your take on your Legion reboot? What worked, what didn’t and what would you have done differently?”
Mark Waid: Legion reboot. Hrrm.

Mark Waid: I think what worked was a level of energy and enthusiasm Barry Kitson and I brought to the project. And I think the first bunch of issues is still really strong. But–my own failings as a writer aside (and you can look them up on the internet)–what didn’t work was the 30-page structure. It sounded great in theory–but we didn’t get started soon enough, and no way could Barry pencil 30 pages a month at the level he was working.
Mark Waid: So that meant fill-ins. But as the writer, you want the “choice” moments in your story to be told with your regular artist. BUT you don’t want to make a fill-in issue NOT important to the building story. It’s a dilemma. One I didn’t handle well, and one that made our first 12 issues feel like ten issues crammed into 12. There’s some legitimacy to the theory that the story moved too slowly.
Mark Waid: What DID work, I think, is that we DID get a BUNCH of new readers fresh to the Legion, and for every letter I got cursing me, I got one praising us for delivering an incredibly accessible book for new readers.
Mark Waid: Remember, too, at the time we relaunched, “rebooting” to the Adventure Comics days was Not An Option Available To Us. Had we simply done that, I think we’d have been revered. By 30,000 people. Big whoop.
Brian Cronin: Ha
Mark Waid: This is what I mean about swinging for the fences. I wasn’t trying in any way to be dismissive of existing Legion fans–I’m one of the STAUNCHEST Legion fans EVER, second only to Paul Levitz himself–but Legion fans alone were not enough in number to keep that franchise alive. So Barry and I tried to write for people who had never read the Legion. Like it or hate it, our run was at least eminently accessible to new readers.
Mark Waid: But something was off. We didn’t connect. I’m sure Tim Callahan will lecture me at condescending length about why that’s so, were I to ask him.
Brian Cronin: Would you have gone that route [back to the Levitz era] had it been available?
Mark Waid: I don’t think I would have gone that route, no. The Prime Directive was to make it super-abundantly clear that if you’d never read a Legion comic before, you could still pick up our book and BAM! Be in on the ground floor.
Mark Waid: Relaunching instead with a take that dated back to 1988 would never have sent that message.
Mark Waid: It’s working now, for Geoff, but the landscape’s much different than it was in 2004.
Mark Waid: Also, Geoff has DC editorial behind him. We did not. We had to get sandbagged by the goddamned “Lightning Saga” in JLA that, no fault of writer Brad Meltzer’s, was a total surprise to us and made us look like idiots.
Brian Cronin: Could you have not done a take on the Abnett and Lanning Legion that would have been accessible to new readers?
Brian Cronin: Or did the Abnett and Lanning Legion have too much of its own continuity to worry about?
Mark Waid: It’s not even that it had extensive continuity. It’s that all new potential readers BELIEVED Legion was a continuity nightmare, whether or not that was true.
Mark Waid: (Which it kinda was.)
Mark Waid: But even if it weren’t, we weren’t dealing with reality. We were dealing with perception. This is a fact: The perception was that Legion was totally new-reader-unfriendly.
Brian Cronin: But wouldn’t a third version of the Legion help bolster that?
Brian Cronin: If we’re talking perceptions, “Oh, the Legion, it’s so convoluted, they’re on their third reboot!”
Mark Waid: As opposed to what?
Mark Waid: Seriously. You’ve just advanced a total lose/lose scenario. Discuss.
Brian Cronin: But that’s what I mean – why go with what seemed to be a lose-lose scenario?
Mark Waid: Look, I agree, with 20/20 hindsight (again), the smart thing would have been to roll everything back to Levitz days. But Geoff and Gary Frank have an arrow in their quiver that we did not: Superboy.
Mark Waid: So had we done exactly what Geoff and Gary did recently–well, (a) we couldn’t have, because then-Superman editorial would have nixed it, and (b) IF we had, we’d have had to scrap everything the moment Superboy entered Legal Limbo for two years.
Mark Waid: So we would have had to retcon OURSELVES six issues in.
Mark Waid: What a quagmire.
Brian Cronin: Like the 5 years later Legion.
Brian Cronin: What was that – three issues into the new series that the reboot hit?
Mark Waid: Five issues in.

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Mark Waid: What a nightmare.
Mark Waid: Look, it’s all timing. And my career is, creatively speaking, a virtual ode to lousy timing.
Mark Waid: Let’s move off Legion. You’re driving me to drink.
Brian Cronin: Hah
Brian Cronin: Sure

Brian Cronin: “I used to read the comics letters pages almost as thoroughly as I read the comics themselves and I was always pleased when a particularly insightful letter writer ended up writing for comics (such as a certain Mr. Waid). Have Marvel and DC lost something by getting rid of their letters pages? Did being able to interact with the editors in that way encourage your interest in writing for comics? Did it help you to get your foot in the door? Conversely, did having to write a letter cause fans of the past to have to be articulate in a way that posters to online forums (other than Comics Should Be Good, of course) often are not?”
Mark Waid: Honestly, letters pages never really encouraged my interest in writing for comics. I always enjoyed reading them as a fan, and wrote a handful of letters. I understand the logic in letting them go a few years back–they seemed redundant given the number of message boards–but I can’t deny, in retrospect, there’s something about them that sends the message “We’re listening.” BUT–and this is a HUGE “but”–what those who were most vocally outraged about the loss of letter columns overlooked or didn’t know was that often–VERY often–it was VERY hard to FILL those columns with anything even remotely resembling well-written comments and critiques.
Brian Cronin: Oh, I bet – if people find that hard to believe, come on, read a message board – the majority of comments are usually going to be weak.
Mark Waid: There isn’t an assistant editor of the time who wasn’t, at some point at 2:00 a.m., faced with a thousand-word letter column to fill and only two letters.
Mark Waid: I’m not saying the increasing lack of letters was to blame–but it was a genuine consideration. But, yes, God almighty, having to write an actual letter made you a THOUSAND times more articulate than NuklonFan988 on some message board.
Brian Cronin: Which is too bad, as NuklonFan956 is quite articulate

Brian Cronin: “How do you go about crafting the antagonists’ end of the heroic conflicts (as opposed to personal or internal conflicts) when writing superhero stories? Do you see the villain as the least meaningful element in a superhero story, that is, as primarily a means to explore the protagonist rather; or do you think of continuing adversaries as ‘full’ members of the story or the book’s cast?”
Mark Waid: Antagonists: The pat answer is to say that the hero is nothing without a villain of equal stature, blah, blah. Yeah, yeah. And there’s some truth to that. But that is never, ever, ever, ever, ever where I start my stories.
Mark Waid: Some do. That’s fine.
Mark Waid: And great villains are gold.
Mark Waid: Someday, I may even create one.
Brian Cronin: Nah, use Abra Kadabra instead.
Mark Waid: Har.
Mark Waid: But when I write, I start with the hero’s internal conflict first. What does he want? What’s in his way? What’s going on inside his head? If there’s a villain who can help me externalize that, swell.
Mark Waid: But if not…well, to me personally, the way a hero defeats a villain is always the dullest part of the story. The choices the hero makes and the sacrifices he makes are far more interesting. And, yes, the former can help structure the latter.
Mark Waid: But you can always write without a villain, and you can never write without a hero’s journey.
Mark Waid: Again, that’s just my opinion. And that’s colored by the undisputable fact that I just simply don’t enjoy writing villains nearly as much as I enjoy writing heroes.

Brian Cronin: Here’s a nice ego-boosting question
Brian Cronin: “You’ve written my favorite characterizations of both the classic Superman and of Captain America. With both you showed heroes with a strong moral center, with a clear vision of right and wrong, and with the will, determination, strength, and the hopefulness for a better tomorrow to fight for Truth, Justice, and, if by it we mean freedom of speech, freedom from tyranny, and respect for the honor, dignity, and integrity of our fellow beings, then for the American Way, as well. These are the kinds of characters that define heroism for me. But they *don’t* seem to be the template for the vast majority of super-“heroes” in titles on the stands today. Have you considered creating your own character in that mold? I’d certainly buy such a character and title.”
Mark Waid: Man, why can’t ALL the questions be like that one?
Mark Waid: I’ve not considered creating a hero like that because I’d rather just write Superman well. Seriously. The heroes I have created and will create for Boom–well, I can’t deny that they’ll always have a strong moral compass — but the challenge is to find some way to create a vehicle for that morality that doesn’t feel grounded in the past.
Mark Waid: There are ways. I have ideas. And a BUNCH of Waid-created Boom properties to come in 2009 and 2010. So stay tuned.
Mark Waid: Did I mention www.boom-studios.com enough yet?
Mark Waid: Everyone go THERE. Free digital comics!
Brian Cronin: www.boomstudios.com?
Mark Waid: hyphen. www.boom-studios.com.
Brian Cronin: Ah, my mistake, I meant to write www.boom-studios.com.
Brian Cronin: No, I don’t think you mentioned www.boom-studios.com enough

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Brian Cronin: Okay, for the last two questions – how about your general stance on the whole One More Day situation in the Spider-Man books – are you for or against the marriage, in general terms>?
Mark Waid: My head exploded the day Peter Parker married Mary Jane. Mostly that was because I thought a loser should never win, and part of that was because Gwen Stacy was my first true love.
Mark Waid: But I also understand that for a whole lot of the audience, a married Spider-Man is what they always knew. I understand why they’re upset.
Brian Cronin: I understand it, too, but still…
Mark Waid: I do think Spidey works best as a single man, or at least not married to a hot supermodel, but that’s my opinion.
Mark Waid: I’m very ADAMANT about my opinion, but it’s still my opinion.
Brian Cronin: Hah
Brian Cronin: Nice non-offensive answer
Mark Waid: I’m not going out of my way to be inoffensive. I’m just remembering how much I hated John Byrne’s Superman reboot back in 1986 and how upset I was over it, and remembering that helps me feel compassion for Mary Jane lovers. Seriously.
Brian Cronin: That’s right, you mentioned that in the comments awhile back on the blog.
Mark Waid: Yeah, seriously, it’s like, “Geez, where were all you outraged guys back in 1986 when *I* needed you?”
Brian Cronin: As an aside, the current story – very nice! Marcos Martin is astonishingly good.
Mark Waid: Thank you. Marcos is astounding. Next one up is issue 583, a one-shot by Barry Kitson and myself. It’s gorgeous.

Brian Cronin: Here’s an interesting one to close on (from our own Joe Rice) – “What superhero/genre creator would you like to read a mainstream/art comix project from?”
Mark Waid: Huh. Good one. Gimme a sec.
Mark Waid: I think I’m having problems with this question because it presupposes that there’s something inherently artistically superior to non-genre work. And that’s just not so, not necessarily.
Mark Waid: Or to put it another way, I don’t get the same sense that I might have in the 1980s that there are a bunch of super-hero writers out there who are suffering under the genre and who are just champing at the bit to break out and do “real” work.
Brian Cronin: I see your point, but if you take it as a strict “what creator from Genre A would you like to see work in Genre B” type of deal, rather than a qualitative statement, I think it goes better.
Brian Cronin: Like how Howard Hawks would direct Westerns, Romances, Mysteries, Screwball Comedies, Science Fiction, etc
Mark Waid: Okay, that’s fairer. And I would love to see Grant Morrison tackle a western without any extra-genre trappings. And I think letting Gail Simone write flat-out comedy would be aces.
Brian Cronin: Your second statement, by the way, is basically Brian Michael Bendis’ response to the Kirkman manifesto. That there aren’t creators chomping at the bit to not do non-superhero work – those that want to, do so
Mark Waid: Exactly. I thought Kirkman’s manifesto was just ADORABLE.
Mark Waid: It was so cute.
Mark Waid: I remember when *I* had MY first beer.
Brian Cronin: Ouch
Mark Waid: I like Robert a lot. He’s a good guy. And he’s very talented.
Mark Waid: And I think he’ll bring a lot to Image.
Mark Waid: But….c’mon. There are no absolute answers in the system.
Brian Cronin: Yeah, that was basically my reaction, as well.
Mark Waid: Luck and timing are every bit as important–maybe even more important–than career planning and creator ownership.
Mark Waid: And, like you say, I don’t know anyone who’s “suffering” under the burden of non-creator-ownership.

Brian Cronin: Oh hey, speaking of timing – I don’t think I’ve ever heard you asked this
Brian Cronin: What did you have planned for your Avengers run?
Brian Cronin: The pre-Onslaught one
Brian Cronin: I’m sure it was asked somewhere, I just don’t recall seeing it
Mark Waid: Really? That was never intended to be a run. I knew from the start that I was running the clock out on those three issues. I had no plan. Had I a plan, those wouldn’t be the three lamest issues of Avengers ever.
Mark Waid: No offense to Ringo, who drew 400.

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Brian Cronin: Haha
Brian Cronin: See, that‘s why I never heard about the run! There WAS no run!
Brian Cronin: And yes, those were bad issues
Brian Cronin: But come on, those were better than the issues that directly preceded them
Brian Cronin: So at the time, it seemed like a great new start
Mark Waid: But that is not a good comic. In my defense, I was writing those three issues while my mom was passing away, so that wasn’t a great time. But, still…man, my name will be on those forever.
Mark Waid: Pain does not always equal great art. Sometimes pain just equals crappy comics.
Mark Waid: Blurgh.
Brian Cronin: Hey, everything can’t be X-O Manowar

Mark Waid: Okay, “classic” is strong. But it really is a good run.
Brian Cronin: I think X-O Manowar is going to be Chris Ware’s next story arc in Acme Novelty Library
Mark Waid: We did something there that no one ever caught onto, Augustyn and I.
Mark Waid: And I’m proud of it.
Mark Waid: We deliberately made all the supporting cast members women, because the keynote of the book was “fear and anxiety,” and nothing makes comics fans more anxious than girls. And we made them good, good characters.
Brian Cronin: Actually, seriously, there was nothing wrong with X-O Manowar. I liked your run on it. I couldn’t think of a better story to put in there, and X-O Manowar just sounds hilarious
Mark Waid: There are SO many worse comics you could pull off my resume.

Mark Waid: Any last burning questions?
Mark Waid: Also, www.boom-studios.com
Brian Cronin: With a hyphen!
Brian Cronin: Too many to bother with, so we should just end it at that!
Mark Waid: Also, Russell T. Davies “The Writer’s Tale” is the best book about the writing process I’ve read since college. Mention that.

Brian Cronin: I think you just did.
Brian Cronin: Thanks for the chat – that was a LOT of questions
Mark Waid: Glad to help.


Great read. I always enjoy reading interviews with Mr. Waid. I’m crossing my fingers that one day he gets to do a long run on Superman.

I’m not saying he’s wrong or right, but Waid’s been VERY candid in the past about DC and their editorial. With that in mind, I’m surprised they still even talk to him.

And again, I’m not saying he’s wrong with his comments. From everything I’ve read and heard, he’s probably right.

I just wanted to clarify that.

Reading Mark Waid talk about his career is like hearing a dude in a police station talk about getting mugged fifty times in one night. Why does he have such awful luck?!


That was actually a really interesting read.

in response to Superman: Birthright being “rendered void” by Geoff Johns, I simply have to say good stories will never be forgotten. My ambition for the last 7 years has been to be a screenwriter and the second that day comes I am handing my parents each a hardcover copy of Superman: Birthright. It is truly one of the best Superman stories to ever exist no matter what gets written with the character afterwards.

One day the up and coming comic readers of the mid-nineties to early 2000s will be the comic writers at DC comics and we’ll see how long this resurgence of silver-age concepts lasts.

That was a great read and Mr. Waid was honest and candid. Thank you!

Fantastic interview, Brian! I had the absolute pleasure of meeting and talking to Mark at last year’s Megacon, as my podcasting partner sequestered him for a quick interview. Still sorry about my overly-enthusiastic Asian friend bouncing up and down with glee at meeting you, although the look on your face as he tried to marry you was quite classic.

Anyway, Mark is a classy fellow, and one of the absolute dolls of the industry. Hope to have a chance to talk to him a bit more this year if he gets a chance to head down to Orlando again!

I started reading comics when the first trade of Waid’s Legion run came out. His work on that title has made me a huge fan of the Legion. With all respect to the continuity nuts out there, his work was incredibly accessible and enjoyable to read. Thanks, Mark!

“Mark Waid: Exactly. I thought Kirkman’s manifesto was just ADORABLE.
Mark Waid: It was so cute.
Mark Waid: I remember when *I* had MY first beer.”

BWAHAHAHA. Giffen’s got nothing on Mark when it comes to bringing the funny. :)

And Mark’s right – he’ll never be persona non grata at DC for very long. He’s just wielded too much influence during his career.

Interesting that everyone reading Lightning Saga recognized it was screwing over the LSH book, and apparently Waid agrees.

This was a terrific interview Brian. You made my day when I saw you picked my question. Thanks. I just hope one day in the near future we can get some more mainstream work from Mark. I hear that JSA is having a writing vacancy soon.

Very nice interview. Really, all I have to say is that I’m one of the people who Waid brought to Legion and sadly I’ve leaving once it’s over. It really was accessible even to someone who never read a DC book.

Oh, and Wall-E was both an awesome movie and such a tearjerker. Waid is right it really hit all of those buttons.

I hope history treats Waid and Kitson’s (and Bedard and Calero and Shooter and Manapul’s) threeboot Legion kindly. It’s been quite a worthwhile comic. I’ve spent four years blogging about what a worthwhile comic book it is, and I’d feel better if I knew that Waid knew that *somebody* appreciated what he was up to.

Mark! I use to buy every comic you write for the big 2 expecting top quality comics. Even the Avengers books. I once even came up to you at a signing and said your books are “crazy” good.

To hear the back stories behind those arcs is interesting, but disparaging at the same time. I have to tell you even though you didn’t enjoy writing all of those stories, I thought they were great. Ka-Zar vs. Thanos was a classic. Legion was pure fun. Onslaught, well, not my favorite but it was a fun and shocking story.

Prof. X loves young Jean Grey. Forever.

To: John Lewis, Jr.
Thanks for finding that. It may be kind of wrong to say that I might read Supergirl if she dressed like that.

Fantastic chat. Thanx to both Brian & Mark for taking the time to do it.

Four words: Send. More. Mark. Waid.

Mark Waid: If you think you can leave any sort of lasting legacy, you’re deluded. And I was deluded for a long time. But we live and we learn.

Hey Mark! Your legacy lives on in my long boxes at home. i can pick up any of your comics and instantly be transported through your work. You’re work on Flash and Captain America are amoung my favorite comics of all time, and i have been reading since the early 70’s. Great writing will always leave a lasting legacy. Thanks for it all!
Thanks to Brian too, for a great interview!

Sooooo, when’s Kitson’s contract with Marvel over?

I’m jonesing for some EMPIRE!!!

Thanks for the book referral. This budding writer appreciates it.

For what it’s worth, Mark, I loved you and Barry’s Legion. I had no Legion experience before I came in, but I was able to start from the ground up and enjoyed every minute of it. I think history will be kinder to it than the market or the fandom was.

And now to completely annihilate any goodwill gained by the previous post:

“A loser should never win.”

That’s the thing: Spider-Man’s not a loser. If he were, he’d never have crawled out from beneath that big damn piece of machinery in the Master Planner’s lair.

Mark Waid, one of the best writers of this generation. I’m not a spiderman fan but I started reading the Amazing spiderman issues because of Mark. I still have the Captain America issues which Mark wrote almost 10 years ago. I would buy the TPB of Superman Birthright when I drop by the comics store the next time.

I had to look up Adventure Comics #409 after reading Mark’s comments…

Waid’s X-O Manowar was great.

Acclaim is a lost treasure of great books, that gets’s dismissed because of the freak Valiant fans.

Waid, Busiek, Priest, Nicieza, Ellis, Ennis, Delano, Maguire

Who wouldn’t want a company who’s books are from that line up?
It’s main problem was that it came out before the WWW exploded into the public.

When Waid left, though, you really saw who did the heavy lifting in the Waid/Augustyn partnership, I’m afraid.

But then McDuffie took it over and it became great again!

I totally agree about “a writer’s tale” (a wonderful revelation to read and a treasure to own*) and feel the same about “birthright” (*ditto). I am a proud owner of both (in hard copy, not just DLs). A story exists as long as it exists. Continuity be damned. I’m sure behind Mark Waid’s slightly bitter ripostes** he is confident that good story just survives.

**and I think that is just because sarcasm doesn’t translate on the screen.

Great interview! I always enjoy reading Mark Waid’s interviews. His run on Fantastic Four will probably always be my favorite run on any title ever. It’s literally what got me into comic books. Thanks for everything.

My take on “Birthright” is that saying that it was somehow erased by the latest version of Superman’s origin is like saying that Ken Branaugh’s Hamlet erased Olivier’s. It’s an interpretation (and a very good one) of the Superman origin story, but I don’t obsess over whether or not someone will bring up the specific detail of Kryptonian culture referenced in the “Birthright” origin, the “Man of Steel” origin, the “Earth-1″ origin, et cetera et cetera ad nauseum. I just enjoy them for what they are, interpretations of legendary stories that are told and retold for each generation.

Great interview. I always love reading Waid’s comments on stuff. I do take issue with this though:

Mark Waid: Yeah, seriously, it’s like, “Geez, where were all you outraged guys back in 1986 when *I* needed you?”

Hey I was right there with you thinking it was stupid. I couldn’t believe how much they were trashing all because some people thought those elements made Superman seem “dumb”. Especially when Alan Moore had been able to show everyone how not stupid all that stuff could be with a good writer. And now look, it’s been almost completely reversed at this point.

I suspect that the unmarried Spider-man will be much like the rebooted Superman. It may last a while – it may last a LOOOONG while. It may long outlive it’s usefulness (which as far as I can tell is to primarily let writers off the hook about having to write about a non-dysfunctional married couple, something the current crop of comics writers seem to find really damn difficult for reasons beyond my ken). But it will eventually be reversed by someone, much like the folks who have been undoing the boring-ifying Superman “reboot” of the 80s for years, who grew up reading books about a married Spider-man and who understand just how stupid throwing out the baby with the bathwater actually is.

I will never ever ever ever read a comic off a computer screen. Just like i will never watch video on a cell phone or tiny ipod.

Motion comics don’t work either, and probably never give you the same experience as paper.

I’m terribly unimpressed with every aspect of Davies’ work except for his ability to write for a broad audience and his dialogue, but hell, if Waid thinks the book is worth reading I suppose I ought to give it a shot.

Oh, and for the sake of double-posting, I’m frustrated about the undoing of the Byrne/Wolfman/Stern/Jurgens etc Superman, and the last thing I want is to see Superboy associated at all with the LSH. I hate that in a big way. Those bug me way more than the spider-marriage being undone. Too much Krypton in Superman is a huge pet peeve. Superboy overshadowing the hell out of the Legion Espionage Squad bugs me. I was 5 in 1986, right? I want my DC to feel like really well written Marvel, damn it.

[…] If there’s one thing that has to be said about BOOM!’s EIC Mark Waid, (and it can’t be, as he explicitly prefers, “genius”) it’s that he’s honest. And boy, was he in fine form in his latest sit down with CBR. Head over and check out the transcript of their discussion right now! […]

Wow, Waid’s smart and humble and a class act.

Thanks for such a long in-depth interview, Brian. I’d love to see you do more of these.

GREAT interview!!!

And Mr Waid is WRONG!! A writer can have a legacy.

His FLASH and CAPTAIN AMERICA runs are unmatched. His Flash especially for me.

Hopefully he’ll make his way to Queensland Australia and I can tell him in person how much I have and continue, to enjoy his work.

Hot damn! Why couldn’t every other writers be this honest, ego-free and interesting. The dude actualy go into one of his comic run and do not mind even talking about what worked, what didn’t. Can you imagine the bald dude and the Scotman looking back at their work saying what worked and what didn’t. And what’s amazing is that what he says about some of the failiures of Legion hits bulleye, it’s exactly why I had trouble reading it, it felt like say 12 issues crammed into 10 and it was not moving enough(and I usualy hate decompressed stories).

It’s also funny how Mark talked about other creators freely and doesn’t come off as offensive. “I hated the Byrne revamp!”. He says it in such an honest manner that it doesn’t come across as taking a jab at somebody.

In closing I think Mark should do more mainstream work. I hope BOOM! is a success but another FF-like good run on a title would be cool.

btw, I still think he could do something special with the Avengers and X-Men. The last time(The Crossing, Onslaught) was mainly bad timing.

“But something was off. We didn’t connect. I’m sure Tim Callahan will lecture me at condescending length about why that’s so, were I to ask him.”

Well, if Mark Waid DID ask, I wouldn’t have too many negative things to say. The Threeboot actually got me back into the Legion after a decade-long absence, and I was more than happy to spotlight what’s so interesting about it in the “Teenagers…” book. Of course, Matthew E is the guy who has been the most vocal champion of Threeboot greatness, but I know that the series holds up pretty well because when I re-read the entire Waid/Kitson (and company) run, I enjoyed the heck out of it.

Really, though, I could lecture anyone at condescending length about anything. But a condescending lecture about the Mark Waid Legion wouldn’t have my heart in it.

I didn’t expect a Russel T. Davies mention coming out of the blue and right at the end. He’s one of my favorite writers right now.

Wasn’t Mark Waid the guy who said in a Con (addressing Byrne) “when are we going to get our Superman back?”

And then he wrote Birthright, which paved over what Man of Steel did.

Well, that’s kinda funny…

Mark Waid is a legend, regardless of how he thinks, Kingdom Come is one the genre’s masterpieces, he shouldn’t feel bad about the Legion or Birthright, his JLA: Year One story is cannon and its a legacy from him.

The 1930s and 1950s versions of Superman’s origin are compatible, with only a few minor details that are different. Those versions also fit with All-Star Superman.

Any versions that contradict these origins is worthless, so this will dictate wethar I buy Secret Origin or not.

As many have stated here, Waid is one incredible writer and certainly an important personality in comics. I also agree with those who stated that good comics as they are become a legacy, not necessarily because they are not retconned and stay “canon” for a long time. If this were the case, all the great comics that Denny O’Neil, Neal Adams, Elliot S! Maggin, Curt Swan, Alan Moore and the likes did in the DCU before 1986 would mean nothing and leave no legacy, and that’s not true. There legacy is that they still entertain fans and inspire new creators to make their own work better than it would have been without this legacy. O’Neil, Adams, Maggin, Swan and Moore leave that legacy, and so does Mark Waid. The RETURN OF BARRY ALLEN, BIRTHRIGHT, KINGDOM COME, and all (or most of) the other stories from Mark still entertain me as a fan today and inspire me as a writer. He leaves a legacy, and it’s a good one.

“Wasn’t Mark Waid the guy who said in a Con (addressing Byrne) “when are we going to get our Superman back?”

Not exactly, but that’s the version of the story that John likes to tell–a lot–so I can understand why some fans might take it at gospel.

If anyone’s interested, what really happened was this: Years and years ago, at the annual Chicago convention, I was on a panel with a bunch of different creators, including Byrne. It ws still pretty early on during my run on Flash, and general consensus among the readership at the time was that Wally was still nothing but a poor man’s Barry. At one point, the floor was opened for questions about Flash and, filling a lull, John said, “I have a question. When are we going to get the REAL Flash back?” Crowd goes “ooooh” and chuckles, and for the sake of argument, let’s assume that John was just trying to be funny and not snarky. Benefit of the doubt. Anyway, I shoot back–mostly but (if I have to be honest) not entirely in fun–with “I don’t know, John, when are we going to get the real Superman back?” Crowd goes wild. It’s a wisecrack at a panel, it’s forgotten the next day.

Except for the past few years, John’s decided he enjoys repeating the story and tells it frequently. Except he likes to “remember” that I yelled the question out from the audience as a sandbag, a shot across the bow, without any sort of cue or setup or provocation or banter. Which, of course, if you tell the story that way, makes me look like an asshole, because it would be a jerk-ass thing to do. Problem is, that’s not how it happened. I tried clearing this up a few years ago by posting to John’s message boards, but to say that didn’t go well would be an understatement–kind of like walking into the Republican National Convenion and saying, “Y’know, I’m not sure Governor Palin has all her facts straight.” And about as effective.

Believe me if you like. Or don’t. I’m just sayin’. But given that I’ve said and done thousands of legitimately dumbass things over the years, it just grates a little to be sniped at for one that’s NOT accurate.

i met my ‘childhood hero’ John Byrne when I was 13 year, and it took about 5 minutes of talking to him to see how narcissistic he was (though I didn’t have the word for it at the time).
Like any narcissist, he relishes any opportunity to make people (including young fans) feel stupid, and like the stereotypical “comic book guy”, he smugly dismisses any opinion that doesn’t line up with his own as idiotic.

Hey why the hate man? I can be as articlate as the next guy I just write what I feel and soimetimes editing yourself just gets in the way .watch any reality show and listen to the people on it Thats HONESTY. What’s the point of compromising what you theink just tobe polite huh?

As always,

Mark Waid has always been one of my favorite writers and I’ve enjoyed his recent work no less than I enjoyed his older work – some of the newer stuff even more so. Great interview Brian and keep up the good work Mark!

I met Byrne when I was 18 at the very tumultuous 1993 DragonCon, where John and McFarlane and Gil Kane all got into it at a panel. I actually liked Byrne a lot. Was he obviously thin-skinned and testy? Yes. Did he say some insensitive things to kids? Yes…

But it quickly became obvious that Byrne was just one of those adults who took kids utterly seriously as little adults. He valued their feedback as if it was adult feedback and he had little tolerance for kid-logic questions. This is silly, but it’s also clearly at the heart of his genius. He creates and champions great comics for kids because that’s his peer group.

Man, that shouting match at a panel between John and McFarlane was great. John tore into Todd for how late the Image books were and how retailers were clearing lower selling books off the shelves in anticipation of Image books that never came. At one point he waved around a page in the air and he explained that he had a whole pile of pages at home that he could never sell, and he called them all “The Adventures of Steve Rogers”: pages of the heroes walking around town living life in their civilian identities. He said that the image books would never survive because the artists weren’t willing to draw those pages, so the storytelling never got off the ground. McFarlane didn’t respond well.

Seconding and thirding and so on others’ comments about the “legacy” thing. Mark Waid knows better than anyone that Elliot S! Maggin created a legacy– regardless of all of his Superman stories disappearing down the continuity hole a decade later.

F’r example:
Waid’s first Flash run was genre-reshaping. Not redefining, but reshaping. At a time when DC was afraid about its Golden Age past- -before James Robinson had come along to make retro cool or Geoff Johns had come along to say that “legacies” were everywhere in the DCU– Waid created a world for Wally that reached back to Jay and Johnny Quick and the reintroduced Max, and forward to Barry’s grandson and granddaughter, and Wally’s own Titans past, and made the whole thing fun and heroic and a great example of what the integrated post-Crisis DCU could be. Wally was a mostly-happy heroic hero all through the worst of the 90s, which is impressive in its own right. The fact that some of Waid’s bits and pieces became mockable tropes (the speed force and time-trips and the Greatest Love of All) was partly *because* the run was so influential and widely-read. Whatever happens to Wally now doesn’t change that Waid’s Flash helped create and sustain all kinds of good and important things for a long time in the DCU.

I’ll weigh in on a few things.

First the return to Flash. Mark gave us a great first run, and introduced a lot to the storied history of the Flashverse. However, he made the same mistake that others have made in the past, such as Ellen coming out on her show. The lost the focus medium they were working. Ellen came out, and it wasn’t as huge a thing as everyone thought…until she made her entire show about the coming out. She forgot, in her joy of having come out…to be funny. Thats why the show then tanked that fast. Mark, as nice a guy as they say, forgot that the book was about Wally West, the Flash. Instead, it became “Flash Knows Best”. Everything seemed centered on the kids. Thats cool if the book is about the kids, but it wasn’t. They could have stayed as babies and it wouldn’t have been as much an aggravation as it did when it became “Take Your Superkids To Work Day.” Waid told good stories, they just weren’t what people were wanting to read.
Legion- Honestly, the “concept” was something that might have flown if there hadn’t been a huge history. And while that may have been the “stumbling block”, and what DC was looking to overcome, it was the core support of the book. Say what you will, and i did, lol, the concept was just…weak for the legion. This isnt a shot at Mr. Waid. His explanation of what he and Barry, a supremely talented artist, were up against shines a light on even more of the problems that many have with DC editorial right now. But the concept, while interesting, wasn’t really at the heart of the legion. The dark distopia that too many writers try to overlay on the legion just turns off the original fan base. And while many writers these days seem to fall back on the “existing fans weren’t enough to keep the book going”, many seem to overlook the fact that quite a few readers say “its not the team, its the poor writing, the characters out of character, the lack of interesting foes, etc…”. And again, this isn’t a shot at Mr. Waid. Its something that seems to be infesting comics as a whole, an unwillingness to say that someone missed the boat on the writing. Waid told good stories on legion, but leaving out the villians of the past was a misfire. And unfortunately, the “eat it Grandpa” became almost the same as the raspberries of the “archie legion”. Mr. Waid was obviously hamstrung by DC editorial, at least by his comments, but the book failed to hit the ground fast and furiously. That was, as i saw it, the ultimate doom. Waid is still a fine craftsman, just too many things conspired against the run.

Who was saying Waid’s return to Flash was terrible, excepting what Wally did to punish Inertia? That was the only harsh criticism I recall of the actual story. I know Daniel Acuna’s art took a beating from fans, which Waid seemed to take pretty hard.

I was 3 in 1986, started reading Superman at the Death, and went back to collect starting from Man of Steel and going forward. That was my Superman, that’s what got me into comics, and that’s what was normative for me. I always thought it made sense for Clark Kent to act like a normal person instead of a doofus.

I stopped reading the Super-books after the Triangle era, around the time of the Dominus “Our Worlds at War” stuff which I just couldn’t care about.

That said — I loved, loved, loved Birthright. I especially enjoyed the fact that Clark Kent was a REPORTER. He was the KIND OF GUY who would want to do actual journalism. At its worst, “doofus Clark” just stands around the Planet wasting life. Take “Superman Returns” — what was the point of the Daily Planet in that movie? It was just a set. It provided an excuse for Lois to get into trouble. Waid brought back the early Superman connection between journalism and heroism — something our country desperately needs right now.

That said, I’m looking forward to Johns’ version too. I understand how Waid feels bad, but he’s totally wrong that he leaves “no legacy” there. It’s just gotta cycle around again. When my current career track crashes and burns and I go into comics, I’ll write a Superman who started like Waid has him start.

If there’s “no legacy” now it’s only because continuity is so effed up that nothing stays the same for two years. Think about it — 50 years between Action #1 and Crisis/MOS; then barely 20 till Birthright; then barely 5 till “Secret Origin.” Probably “Secret Origin” will be retconned two days later, just after everyone recognizes that “Final Crisis” has no connection to the original Crisis whatsoever.

Sheesh, yet another Superman origin revamp, and with all that (albeit slightly-updated) goofy Silver Age folderol thrown in. Meh!

While I like Waid a lot as a person, he’s lost it in my opinion. Birthright was terrible, especially Wu’s art (too ugly and scratchy for Superman). Birthright read like a crunchy liberal’s wish on what Superman SHOULD be rather than a hero for EVERYONE, Republicans, Democrats everyone. All that vegetarian, Africa nonsense was a huge turn off and a big surprise from someone like Waid who loved the Pre-Crisis Superman so much and it had none of that feel. Now in Kingdom Come, he felt like Superman for the first time since Byrne took it over but in Birthright, bleehh.

As for Cap, his run was no where as good as Roger Stern’s or the current Brubaker. His Flash started out ok (maybe Brian Augustyn helped?) until the Speed Force came into the picture and the constant trying to convince us Wally was the greatest Flash ever.

But the biggest problem Waid has had was outside of Kingdom Come, he never really had a GREAT artistic collaborator on a memorable run.

“All that vegetarian, Africa nonsense was a huge turn off ….”

Wow. You actually got mad about this one mention in BIRTHRIGHT were Clark states that he’s a veggie? You’re pretty easy to piss off, aren’t you?! Furthermore, someone you wants a Superman to be a hero for everyone I thought having him travel the world before becoming Superman would be kinda neat. At least, it’s that for me.

It just made him seem small. There was no sense of grandeur or universal themes or anything that made the Silver Age version so loved.


December 16, 2008 at 9:00 pm

Legion- Honestly, the “concept” was something that might have flown if there hadn’t been a huge history. And while that may have been the “stumbling block”, and what DC was looking to overcome, it was the core support of the book. Say what you will, and i did, lol, the concept was just…weak for the legion.

That’s very subjective – I’ve looked at other Legion books before and thought they looked like it could be a good idea, but was too caught up in it’s huge history – even when it rebooted, it kept going back.
As much as I wanted to read super heroes in space – that didn’t need to keep coming back to our Earth, I just couldn’t bring myself to get into LoSH.
Once I found out that this Legion had no connection to the others, I picked up the trades and loved the heck out of it.
I have zero interest in reading about the Legion of old brought back – heck, Waid’s legion, IMO, only slowed down when it got tied into Supergirl – although that of course could also be because the issues after a year long epic are never going to have that same ‘WOW!’ factor.

So yeah, I don’t know that what you are saying is right (or I could just be reading how you are saying it wrong), but those seem to be the reasons it didn’t work for you, not why it didn’t work – the very things that you say were wrong with the book were the things that got me interested in the book.

[…] this chat transcript with Mark Waid, courtesy of COMICS SHOULD BE GOOD! A very insightful back-and-forth with one of the best writers in comics […]

I know that no one will probably ever read this, but Mark’s comment above that Mark Waid “never really had a GREAT artistic collaborator on a memorable run” is just dumb. Mike Weringo on Fantastic Four and Flash. Barry Kitson on Legion and JLA Year One. Andy (or Adam, sorry I’m not sure which) on Ka-Zar and Cap. Ron Garney on Cap. George Perez on Brave and the Bold. And several others that I’m sure I’m forgetting. Every writer should be so lucky. Sorry, but I just couldn’t let that sit here unchecked.

BTW, I think most people are misinterpreting Waid’s lament of his legacy. It’s not that he doesn’t think his stories will be remembered (or appreciate that, I’m sure), but that he’ll never do anything that will never be undone, because of the fluid (some would say irrational) nature of mainstream comics. And I don’t think he’s right, actually: he’s the ONLY writer that managed to take an 80’s replacement character and establish him/her in their own right. Fans accepted Wally West as the Flash, in a way they never accepted Kyle Raynor, John Walker, Jim Rhodes, Artemes, ect.

Could not disagree more. No disrespect to Wieringo but he was a nice artist (and to me not suited for FF), not a great one and the same goes for Kitson. Garney is overrated to me. None of those runs are classic by any means. I did forget George Perez who s ia great artist but the stories were nothing to write home about.

“he’ll never do anything that will never be undone, because of the fluid (some would say irrational) nature of mainstream comics”

Its a frustrating trend, but many writers are many careers out of revising comics history. Some do it well (Ed Brubaker on Captain America), some don’t (Brian Michael Bendis on…well, everything).

Mark Waid (and Gerard Jones) have been defending the Silver Age since as long as I can remember (as writers for Amazing Heroes, the first time I was exposed to them), and nothing warmed my heart more than the ‘Christmas with the Superheroes’ story where we found out that Kara/Supergirl was really out there somewhere! Waid also brought back Superboy (briefly) into his Zero Hour crossover in the Legion book, and made me a life long fan.

With the exception of the two Legion reboots that I reject as canon (sorry), I am loyal to Waid mainly because of his own loyalty to the Silver Age of DC–the foundation of the modern DC U, that too many people have trampled on in the past 20 years. Like Morrison and Moore, he has figured out how to use the magic and awe of that time period to tell new stories in a way that appeals to new readers.

I’m not asking for Lois Lane to learn Kryptonian martial arts–I just think the weird sci-fi/fantasy/fairy tale hybrid that Superhero comics were in the 60s is a far more likely place to find good stories than the dreary, rational world that too many comic writers put their characters in today. I do like Brubaker and Millar’s take on Superheroes, but I don’t think the rest of today’s talent really ‘gets it’.

I stand by my theory that the Big Two are keeping our industry in a feedback loop by catering their comics to the people that buy New Avengers and loved ‘Batman Hush’. I keep hearing “its what they want”, “retro doesn’t sell”–but “they” equals about 100,000 people in North America, and THEY are the people that Silver Age stuff “doesn’t sell” too.

Any non-comics fans I’ve ever met have a deeper emotional response to Kirby, Romita, Swan or Wayne Boring. They like that stuff, because it looks like “comics”. The pop culture/merchandising landscape is dominated by simple, cartoony characters like Family Guy and ‘Hello Kitty’, yet Marvel and DC still insist on giving us pseudo-realistic characters that strikes poses and make speeches, and bleed, and all that fun stuff, and not one of them exists in a real story that any reader will remember 20 years down the road.

All the comic book movies use material written 30-40 years ago as their template because the modern storytelling style focuses on realistic dialogue (good) and decompressed, vapid plotting designed to fill trades (obviously bad).

Comics writers are getting away with taking a 22-page story and spreading it out over six issues, and 8 minutes of reading (with no story turns) is not enough to make a fan out of a first time reader. This is why I prefer to read my old Jim Aparo Brave & The Bolds. Not because I prefer the ‘silly’ situations and stock characters, but because its nice to read a story where something actually happens, and where the writer is showcasing strange and new ideas, and the heroes surprise us with the solutions to their obstacles.

Today, the comics writer beats me over the head about how ‘important’ his story is, or what the ‘ramifications’ of his event will be.

The writers write the way they like to write; they don’t write based on a mandate to “cater to 40 years old”. And if Marvel and DC wouldn’t like the way they work they wouldn’t have them on the payroll. I think people are overreaching the way they think comic companies evaluate their product. At the top the money men are happy because these properties are just there to make movies so Marvel and DC comics not hitting all the demographics doesn’t botther them. And Quesada and Levitz are doing books that they feel are exciting to them, hiring people they feel are good. And on the creators side, guys like Bendis and Brubaker learned their trades in then indies and they’re writing the way they’ve learned how to do it. Personaly I feel it’s decompressed but they know how to do things differently and these companies are not bothered with what they’re seeing. This is what’s going down. I don’t think they’re a mandate to “cater to the same people”. It’s just that things have become something that you not like.

[…] Waid explains the Batman suit in the Flash ring (and answers lots of other questions). […]

Oh, 20-20 hindsight. Just the bits and bobs about DC editorial, and playing favorites with creators while leaving others out of the loop (and out in the cold), and now, just a few years later, we have the post-Flashpoint New 52 DCU. I loved DC when it was you, Grant, Kurt, and Geoff (Geoff as part of a team rather than, erm, rebooting and running absolutely everything).

I miss Wally and Linda and the kids, too.

But as Grant Morrison said in Animal Man, their stories live again whenever we read them, so they’re out there somewhere having an absolute ball, living happily ever after with the married Lois and Clark, Donna Troy, and the others… :)

[…] think people want to read. That’s just a pathetic waste of electrons, the latter.” From this interview. •Eric Naiman in the Times Literary supplement investigates a series of hoaxes (for […]

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