web stats

CSBG Archive

Excellent Mark Waid Interview At Ain’t It Cool News

I’m as suprised as you, but Bill Mitchell did it, and it’s up there. It’s a retrospective not just on Waid’s career but his life in comics, starting with the first one he ever read, detailing how he went from writing about comics for Amazing Heroes to becoming a superstar writer in his own right. You get background info on the creation of Kingdom Come and his Flash run. He also talks about the problems he ran in to working at Crossgen, Bill Jemas’s Marvel, and Dan Didio’s DC, including the fact that Didio wasn’t a fan of one of Waid’s (among others) biggest recent projects:

EIC Dan Didio, who first championed the concept, hated what we were doing. H-A-T-E-D 52. Would storm up and down the halls telling everyone how much he hated it. And Steve, God bless him, kept us out of the loop on that particular drama. Siglain, having less seniority, was less able to do so, and there’s one issue of 52 near the end that was written almost totally by Dan and Keith Giffen because none of the writers could plot it to Dan’s satisfaction. Which was and is his prerogative as EIC, but man, there’s little more demoralizing than taking the ball down to the one-yard line and then being benched by the guy who kept referring to COUNTDOWN as “52 done right.”

It’s a hell of an interview, and thanks to the Savage Critic’s David Uzumeri for pointing it out in his review of Detective Comics #853, which certainly has the best use of MMA slogans in a Batman comic review I’ve ever see.

31 Comments

You know, I’ve occassionally defended Didio for still trying bold (if often not to my taste) moves while holding one of the hardest, most thankless jobs in comics, but if the “52 done right” quote is accurate, then apparently “right” means “worse-selling and almost universally panned.”

There’s an almost gleeful nihilism there that I don’t know whether to admire or fear.

“52 done right”.

I tend to roll my eye at the Didio bashers, but wow, this has to be one of the dumbest statements I’ve ever heard anyone say. I know you have to hype up new projects, but you shouldn’t piss away all your credibility to do so.

I agree, this is a tremendous article. Mark is really honest from his standpoint concerning some of his popular stories.

I know the 52 thing is getting all of the attention, but I found some of the creative processes he discussed, such as Kingdom Come with Alex Ross really interesting.

I also like this interview with Dan Fraga. I feel pretty bad for the guy, he got screwed.

http://www.aintitcool.com/talkback_display/40460?q=node/40460

I found this post by Gail Simone on a CBR forum about the interview:

I’ve talked with Dan extensively about some of this stuff, and I don’t believe he holds most of those views today. He said the opposite to me, that in retrospect, he felt 52 (which didn’t go as he had planned) turned out great, and not so much Countdown (which also didn’t go as he had planned), which didn’t.

It’s always a little tough to see the big picture when the book isn’t done yet. But I think Dan’s positions on those two books is more in line with the general readership, at this point.

It would be interesting to confirm it.

That is probably one of the best interviews by a comics professional I’ve ever read. Funny, shocking, revealing, you name it, it has it.

The part about Waid wanting to break Erol Flynn’s Robin Hood bow over Mark Alessi made me laugh out loud. In fact, I’m still schuckling over as I type this.

Mr. Waid, I salute you!

I don’t really get the “surprising” aspect of it.

This is how Waid has always done interviews. He’s extremely open and candid.

Furious George

April 30, 2009 at 4:00 pm

I love his comments on Crossgen:

“There were some damn good Crossgen books put out–but I swear to you, none of them were issued by Crossgen so much as escaped FROM Crossgen.”

Best line about a defunct publisher ever.

I thought Oliver Queen had the Erol Flynn bow, and now Connor Hawke. ;)

Remember when Chuck Dixon was fired and Warren Ellis was talking about the hostile stuff going on at DC and there seemed to be a perfect storm around Didio and everyone was saying they thought he was going to get fired that week? I wish that had ended differently.

I’d heard the Bill Jemas Fantastic Four story before, but never with specifics as in this interview.

Now that everybody’s kind of “evented out”, you can kind of look back at the Bill Jemas years with rose-colored glasses. To be fair, a lot of good stuff was published under his tenure. But at the same time, he was doing weird stuff like this where he was willing to uproot a series with a very popular creative team because he didn’t personally like it and thought he had a better idea. Or remember U-Decide? Was that some kind of clever bluff where he tried to make himself out to be the bad guy so fans would support Captain Marvel, or did he actually think Marville was a neat series?

Countdown is 52 done right?

Damn, Negro! That’s all you had to say.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

April 30, 2009 at 7:07 pm

It’s a hell of an interview, and thanks to the Savage Critic’s David Uzumeri for pointing it out in his review of Detective Comics #853, which certainly has the best use of MMA slogans in a Batman comic review I’ve ever see.

I know this is a bit that kid on South Park, but Johnston did it!

My only complaint with it, and it isn’t really a complaint, is that I want more!
Some of those things, such as Alessi making people stand in a corner*, Jemas actually firing him off FF the way he did**… it just makes you wish Waid would hurry up and write his memoirs!

*which I’d always assumed was just a myth, because Crossgen’s sales plans seemed so ahead of their time I couldn’t believe he’d be that stupid – seriously, look at what Crossgen did – steady trades, digital for cheaper, even ‘every book counts’ is exactly what the big two are doing today… they even did something close to the digest books Brad posted about yesterday!

** As a books selling better than it has in years, wouldn’t you wait until that team leaves before trying your own idea out?

That suburban Fantastic Four idea by Jemas is so laughably bad, that I almost have a hard time believing it. I mean, no one could have thought that was a good idea, right? I’ve never been an FF fan, and even I can tell how completely wrong that idea is for the characters. Or any characters, really.

The “52 done right” comment is pretty hilarious, too.

I agree with FGJ. I would love some more depth to some of these stories.

CrossGen was pretty ahead of its time, despite what a nut Alessi may be. I didn’t get into their books until late, but I used their digital subscription service to get caught up. It’s the only digital comic program I’ve had any interest in to date. And I got into their comics originally via the compilation trades they released, which had 1 or 2 issues of several different titles, for a pretty low price. I thought that was a great idea. Kind of surprising to find out he was such an ass.

” Now that everybody’s kind of “evented out”, you can kind of look back at the Bill Jemas years with rose-colored glasses. To be fair, a lot of good stuff was published under his tenure. But at the same time, he was doing weird stuff like this where he was willing to uproot a series with a very popular creative team because he didn’t personally like it and thought he had a better idea. Or remember U-Decide? Was that some kind of clever bluff where he tried to make himself out to be the bad guy so fans would support Captain Marvel, or did he actually think Marville was a neat series? ”

Jemas was a force of good for Marvel when he helped facilitate good comics by encouraging creativity and experimentation ( even if not all of it succeeded ). When he decided that his job was to be a writer instead of make sure the existing writers succeeded, everything went south.

I mean, no one could have thought that was a good idea, right? I’ve never been an FF fan, and even I can tell how completely wrong that idea is for the characters.

A version of it did eventually get into print, believe it or not. This was the compromise version. And several folks praised it to the skies. Not me… but it wasn’t HATED.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

April 30, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Jemas was a force of good for Marvel when he helped facilitate good comics by encouraging creativity and experimentation ( even if not all of it succeeded ). When he decided that his job was to be a writer instead of make sure the existing writers succeeded, everything went south.

Oh, he was great, and his antics hilarious, right up until he forgot it was ‘get creators in, and get out of the way’ (mostly) and decided he was what made Marvel great.
Once he started second guessing the talent, that’s when it all fell apart (in the readers eye’s anyway, I’ve heard the LA guys weren’t too impressed with some of the books we al loved, such as X-Statix!)

FunkyGreenJerusalem

April 30, 2009 at 8:45 pm

Not me… but it wasn’t HATED.

It wasn’t read either – the story the fans didn’t want, told in a second book that ‘didn’t count’… I’m surprised it made it past two issues – regardless of quality, that book was dead from the start.

That other series was still far closer to a traditional FF comic than it was to Jemas’ idea.

Jemas’ story reminds me of Jim Shooter’s EIC tenure during which a whole lot of people bailed out. His “hands-on” approach didn’t go over very well by the end of his time there and Jemas seems to have repeated this mistake even though he wasn’t even the actual EIC. Jemas lost me when he came up with that “bad girls for fan boys” crap slogan. It made Shooter’s years sound classy by comparison. (And despite his critics, I still feel Shooter’s era was the best Marvel ever saw since the Lee/Kirby days in terms of product quality.)

Didio continues to turn me off DC with each new decision he makes. Countdown was a mess which made no sense and left no lasting impact whatsoever. Strangely enough, 52 was a good read until the last few issues, and now I understand why the ending seemed a bit “off.” I have no idea what Didio think he’s doing with DC other than generating capital, but from a creative standpoint, the books lean more toward anarchy than anything else right now.

The future interview I want to read is a “what went wrong with Countdown” interview with Paul Dini. There has to be a HUGEEEE story there that hasn’t been told, because — to be honest — it sounded pretty good in the press materials, and Dini is normally a very good writer.

I mean, a good writer can’t make a bad story great…. but “Countdown” was a train wreck with an elementary school bus and a station wagon full of the elderly.

While I believe Didio disliked 52 during the process… I am sure he’s warmed up to it since then.

Toby Baldwin

May 1, 2009 at 6:20 am

@Greg Hatcher — regarding the ‘compromise’ version did go to print. Do you mean Aguirre-Sacasa’s run on Marvel Knights 4? That run entered my mind when I read the description — it seemed to take some of the concepts of Jemas (i.e., the FF lose their money) but without the absurdity. Actually a very enjoyable read, but only as a companion piece for the Waid/Wieringo run — certainly not a replacement, I would agree.

Yes, that’s what I meant, it’s why I linked it.

The link was down for a while last night. And everyone just kept refering to it as the “other series” but never its name. It was a little frustrating to those of us who didn’t know what series everyone was talking about in such a roundabout way. :) Luckily, the link eventually worked and I could see what everyone was talking about.

entzauberung

May 1, 2009 at 8:48 am

For a fun time: ask Tom Brevoort what he thinks of the MK4 series :).

Oh, okay. Sorry, I didn’t mean that to sound snide, I just was baffled.

The whole FF idea sounded like something from a 50′s or 60′s sitcom. Was Sue’s boss going to be Mr. Mooney?

I picked up a few of those MK4 books just a month or two ago. While they weren’t bad, they definitely seemed… off. As in, “the FF isn’t behaving the way the FF would behave in this situation”. I mean, their accountant absconds with their money, so they have to get real jobs? Really? Don’t they still have funds coming in from Reed’s patents? Sure, things might be a little tight, but having to get real jobs? Doesn’t that seem like an enormous waste of their time and ablities?

Rich Johnston said there was a lot unsaid about why Wacker suddenly left for Marvel; I bet this is a big clue. I can understand why Didio was upset about 52; it was designed for a specific reason (to explain the One Year Later changes) and it didn’t do that. Now, we all know that it did something much better, but editorially that was a big failing. I bet the issue that was rewritten was the WWIII issue.

Pedro Bouça

May 1, 2009 at 4:33 pm

So Mark Waid did an interview badmouthing his former bosses? I’m shocked! SHOCKED, I tell you!

Best,
Hunter (Pedro Bouça)

Waid’s always an interesting interview. If Didio had those problems with 52, Steve Wacker’s departure for Marvel makes a LOT more sense.

With all the horror stories I’ve heard about Dan Didio, Joe Quesada, Bill Jemas and Jim Shooter over the years, I’m thinking term limits would be a good idea for EiCs. After 5-7 years at the helm, they seem to start doing more damage than good.

It’s sad that I now find all this behind-the-scenes stuff more interesting than 80% of Marvel & DC’s output these days.

“I can understand why Didio was upset about 52; it was designed for a specific reason (to explain the One Year Later changes) and it didn’t do that.”

And wasn’t the point of Countdown to Final Crisis to lead in to Final Crisis? Which it also failed to do in a spectacular fashion?

Leave a Comment

 

Categories

Review Copies

Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.

Browse the Archives