In 1991, Marvel Comics gave birth to the adorably disfigured, irreverent, wisecracking mercenary Wade Wilson, better known as Deadpool. The proud parents, Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza, ushered their creation into “New Mutants” #98 as a smartass response to “Teen Titans” villain Deathstroke. Through the 1990s Deadpool was taken in by the likes of Joe Kelly, Mark Waid and Christopher Priest before being relaunched by Gail Simone almost twelve years after his first appearance.
His longest running series launched in 2008 with Daniel Way at the helm in a series that spawned several spinoffs and a renewed interest in the character. After suffering amnesia, switching between being mortal and immortal, and ending up a zombified head, Deadpool has finally found a new home with comedy legend Brian Posehn and longtime friend and comics enthusiast Gerry Duggan. Taking the helm after Marvel NOW! relaunch the series, Posehn’s “Deadpool” still has his trademark humor, but with the weird factor kicked up just a bit.
Although best known for his television and stand-up work, Brian Posehn is no stranger to comic books. Growing up a self-proclaimed nerd who continued his geeky pursuits through adulthood, Posehn and Duggan co-wrote Image Comics’ “The Last Christmas” in 2006. He joined Team Deadpool in 2012 and now, ten issues in, the series is definitely heading in a hilarious direction.
CBR News sat down with Posehn to find out what’s next for the series and just how cool it is for a fan to be the power behind the pen.
CBR News: As a longtime comics fan who now gets to write a well-established series, what would you say has been the coolest part of working on “Deadpool” so far?
Brian Posehn: There are so many parts about it that I’m digging. Just getting e-mails from Marvel Comics, being a guy who grew up on Marvel — that already is cool. Seeing Marvel on the checks.
Actually, I love writing “Deadpool” but the most fun for me has been being able to mess around with other characters I thought I wouldn’t get to touch. The fact that they let us throw Spider-Man in was huge, he’s a big gun.
The Iron Man issue I did, issue #7, was like that. “Demon in a Bottle” is one of my all-time favorite storylines and it’s something I’ve been talking to Gerry [Duggan] about. Our friendship was based on us laughing about “Demon in a Bottle” when we first met and he was working in a comic shop. We’d been talking about writing the misadventures of drunken Iron Man for years, and we knew Marvel would never let us do it, so this is our way of messing with that story we loved so much.
I’ve got Iron Fist and Powerman coming up, like a heroes-for-hire thing, when Deadpool wasn’t around in sort of a 1970s style.
Deadpool isn’t a character with many limitations, and definitely a character with a reputation for sarcasm and fart jokes, which is a great match for you. As you’ve brought your own style into the book, has there been anything Marvel has said no to?
The one thing they’ve said no to so far was that we couldn’t use real celebrities. You used to be able to, even in old “Deadpool” issues there was one where they had Michael Jackson (“Deadpool: Wade Wilson’s War” #2), and it was clearly him but I don’t think they ever called him that. The lawyers at Marvel are a little scared of that now, so you can’t really do it anymore.
I wanted to kill the Kardashians, which I know isn’t an original idea; I’m not the first person to want to kill them, but I wanted to do it in a “Deadpool” comic. I’m sure that’s a first. They wouldn’t let me, so in issue #4 when Lincoln is fighting in the MMA fight, they’re in the audience. I wasn’t able to call them out the way I really wanted to, but [ghost Ben] Franklin calls them “dusty strumpets.”
Since Wade exists outside of the Earth-616 continuity, do you feel like you have a lot of freedom in what you get to do with him?â€¨â€¨Oh, absolutely. We haven’t really had to ask what else is going on in other books, even though he’s in “Thunderbolts” it’s not an issue. We haven’t even really had to ask about other characters we use in terms of what’s going on their books. I can’t give too much away, but we have Superior Spider-Man coming in pretty soon, and that will be in continuity. Other than that, I’ve got free reign.
You have a diverse career in writing — everything from “Mr. Show” to “Metalocalypse.” How are writing comics different from writing for TV and movies?â€¨â€¨It’s way more collaborative, and you’re working with an editor much more closely. It’s more detailed. You’re writing and directing it at the same time.
When I was younger and writing screenplays, I thought I had to put all of the details in, then I had someone tell me to take it out and make it simple. When you’re writing comic books, you have to throw all the detail in. That’s been way more fun. We can throw in background jokes, and things that you don’t always get to do in other forms.
With writing for TV and movies you know you’re writing for a pretty specific audience. Who do you think about when you’re writing comics? Who is your script directed toward?
The readers, primarily, but Gerry and I are such fans of all of these different characters. When we did “The Last Christmas” — and what we’re doing with “Deadpool” — we’re writing to each other as fans. It’s two fans getting to write a Marvel book. I think that comes out, I feel like it does.â€¨â€¨We’re doing things the Quentin Tarantino way: putting a bunch of different things we love in a blender, especially in the first story arc. “Big Trouble in Little China” and “Ghostbusters” is in there if you look, without us directly referencing them. That’s what we were always thinking, “Let’s do a big adventure story!” And we thought that it would be great if there were a movie of Deadpool killing dead presidents instead of just being a story. We wanted it to feel cinematic.
Would you say it’s akin to fan fiction in a way?
Yeah! That’s what it feels like to us. We still kind of can’t believe we get to do this. I made a career of being a jackass, and I couldn’t ever imagine doing this.
You pitched a Deadpool movie about twelve years ago, and that didn’t come to fruition. Any hope of your current work heading in that direction?
I hope we’re in the mix the next time those opportunities come up. If the video game goes into a sequel, I’d hope that they talk to us for “Deadpool 2.” I love the character, and I’d love to be involved if they ever make a movie.
Without saying too much, I didn’t love his representation in the [first] Wolverine movie. I think they got him wrong, and a lot of fans do.
Who could you see playing an ideal Deadpool?
Oh, it’s totally Kurt Russell. For me, it’s Jack Burton from “Big Trouble in Little China” in the suit in my head. That’s the voice I hear when I’m writing it. Or maybe Bruce Campbell.
In a way, it seems like Deadpool is the voice of the fourteen-year-old boy we all have in our heads, and that fits really well with your sense of humor. Which other Marvel characters do you think would do well with the Posehn treatment?
If I do another Marvel book, I’d have to adjust. It couldn’t be as silly as “Deadpool.” I’d love to be able to take a pass at Spider-man and have it be fun again, and have him be more of a smartass. I think that would work.
But if I ever wrote, like, a “Thor” book I’d have to treat it very seriously.
When did you start reading comic books?
I was probably seven or eight. I remember the summer that I was nine years-old, and this ages me, but all of these DC books had bicentennials and I collected all of it.
It was the first time I felt like oh, I have this, and now I have to have all of these other books. I read comics, but that was the first time I felt like I had to collect.
Did you want to work in comics then?â€¨â€¨No, I was one of those dudes who never even thought of comedy as a career, let alone comics. When I first got into comedy, I didn’t think it was something I was going to do, I just thought it was something I loved, like heavy metal. I sort of fell into standup.
This is so stupid, but I had an English teacher in high school that wrote jokes for Phyllis Diller, and she told us about what that was like, but I never walked away from that thinking it was something I could do!
What I should’ve taken away from it was that anyone could become a comedy writer. I didn’t until realize that until many years later and I thought of her. I thought, “This is like her!”
“Deadpool” #11 by Brian Posehn, Gerry Duggan and Mike Hawthorne goes on sale June 12.