Announced today at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Mark Waid will sit in the Editor-In-Chief chair at Boom! Studios. In an exclusive interview, Waid tells us what’s behind the decision and what his plans are.
First off, tell me what’s going on here — so you’re the new EiC of Boom! Studios? Why’d you choose this as the next step in your career?
It’s almost as if it chose me. It’s no secret that I’ve been itching for years to step into more of an editorial role in the business and pass along twenty years of accumulated wisdom and creative experience culled both from my successes and my idiot blunders–all of which came with some gift of knowledge. So when Ross [Richie, Boom! Studios Publisher] came to me, handed me the keys to a comic book company, and said, “Run it your way”–there’s no way to pass up an offer like that. Especially because I know the slate of projects it has mapped out for the next year or two, and they’re really jaw-dropping.
What will EiC of Boom! mean exactly? While I’m sure there are certain things you can’t talk about right now, but tell us what you can – what role will you play?
First and foremost, it’s my job to set a creative tone for the company–to help make good books better and to steer creators towards the best ways of telling their stories. I’ll be working with established writers and artists in the medium, and I’ll also be working with creators from other media who have approached us about working in comics and have some sensational ideas, BUT. My philosophy about the latter–my speech to tv and movie writers who have come to Boom! with their pitches–is this: if you’re here to dabble in funnybooks just to say you’ve done it or because your kids think it would be neat, that’s great, go work somewhere else. Our readers aren’t responsible for financially subsidizing your learning curve. If, on the other hand, you have a great story to tell and you’re willing to let me help guide you through the learning process of a medium that’s new to you and show you what comics storytelling can do that’s unique, then let’s do business.
What are some of the goals you’ve set out for yourself as EiC of Boom!?
The first and most important goal is, from a pure craft standpoint, to make the books better than anything else out there on the stands. Look, we’ve got marketing guys. We’ve got legal eagles and production gurus and a pit-bull of a publisher, and they’re all better at those jobs than I would be. As I always said to Ross, my job–my goal–is to raise the bar creatively by teaching craft.
I think most fans of yours, knowing your background, may assume that you’re being brought in to world build – maybe bring a super hero line to the Boom! name. Are you being brought in to world build?
In part, but not by building the kind of worlds you’re thinking of. No one here has even discussed the idea of cranking out another super-hero line, not unless there’s some sort of prize involved for being the millionth company to do it. Yeah, if someone comes to Boom! with a sensational super-hero story or concept that just has to be told, we’d consider publishing it–same as we would any other genre. But that’s absolutely not our focus. Boom’s successes thus far have been, and will continue to be, in genres that Marvel and DC aren’t tackling.
What do you feel you bring to Boom! as EiC?
I know the difference between a bad comic book and a good comic book, and I have twenty years experience in knowing how best to turn the former into the latter. (Dear God Almighty, I learned enough from CrossGen’s mistakes alone to take us successfully into the 26th Century.) No Boom! comic goes to press that isn’t one I’d pay for next Wednesday out of my own pocket.
As one might assume that Boom! is looking to make a major impression and possibly has major expansion plans, will you be actively looking for new talent and accepting submissions? Or will you be primarily working with established professionals? Any light you can shed on things in that regard?
Yes, yes, and not yet. All I can say at this point is that Ross’s eye for new talent and my own list of established contacts–that’s a VERY good marriage.
I know you’ve had a long time friendship with Boom! publisher Ross Richie, but how exactly did this job come about? How did the EiC position become reality?
As my DC exclusive was winding down and DC played an interesting strategy of waiting until the very last possible second before asking me to renew–which I don’t take personally, because that put me in great company with some of Marvel Comics’ very best new-hires–I started having over-drinks conversations with Andrew and Ross about how to intertwine my destiny with Boom’s instead of spending another two years of my life caretaking someone else’s corporate properties.
What does your role as EiC of Boom! mean for your work at DC or any other publisher down the line? Does the Boom! deal exclude working for outside companies?
Nope. As long as I’m doing my job at Boom!, I’m welcome to keep writing super-hero comics for Marvel or DC or whoever. Ross and Andrew made it clear that if they get to keep reading “Brave and the Bold” or whatever, everyone wins. But my upcoming creator-owned material? Boom, baby, boom.
You’ve got one book already set-up at Boom!, will you have more to announce? Is that part of your plan? Anything you can tell us right now?
Outside of “Potter’s Field” – the three-issue mini from myself and tomorrow’s superstar, Paul Azaceta, who’s one of the best artists I’ve ever worked with–there’s certainly more. I like writing horror. I like writing comedy. I like writing a lot of things where capes and super-powers are not a value-add, and you’ll be hearing more about that in the coming months.
Your creator owned book “Empire” was a favorite of mine. You finally got to finish the series while at DC, but might you be revisiting this as part of your deal with Boom!?
For now, the way the DC deal works, so long as DC keeps “Empire” in print and for some time thereafter, it has to stay there. And with me at Boom! and Barry Kitson at Marvel for the time being, even though Barry and I have more Empire to tell, that’s a tough deal to swing. Still, keep a good thought, and in the meantime know that the series ideas I’m pitching for Boom 2008 will show a whole new side of me. If you liked “Empire,” trust me, keep reading.