LBCC: 50 Questions in 50 Minutes with Mark Waid

by  in Comic News Comment
LBCC: 50 Questions in 50 Minutes with Mark Waid

On Saturday, as part of Long Beach Comic Con, comic book writer and BOOM! Studios Editor-in-Chief href="">Mark Waid sat down with Comic Book Resources’ Jonah Weiland to answer 50 questions in 50 minutes.

With BOOM! Studio’s Chip Mosher keeping time, questions came from both CBR’s online forums and the audience. As a bonus, those in attendance who asked questions received “Irredeemable” t-shirts and comic books for their participation.

Jonah Weiland: Welcome to 50 Questions in 50 Minutes with Mark Waid. [Audience applauds] Last year we did this, and Mark answered 56 questions, so we’re going to see if he can do it again this year. I don’t think he will, and I’m actually going to pretty much guarantee it.

Mark Waid: Ok, all right! [Audience laughs]

Weiland: Can we start the clock?

Chip Mosher: Started!

Weiland: Mr. Mark Waid, your first question, from Rollo Tomassi & Stonegold & Ilash: What was the issue or event from DC Comics that prompted you to give up collecting new books on a regular basis?

Waid: If I say, it impugns the poor writer who did it who was an up-and-comer, and I don’t want to do that. But let’s just say it was another cookie cutter superhero story that I read a thousand times before. It’s not a declaration that I want comics to be different or I want comic to be more like they were when I was a kid, it’s just that sense of, “You know what? I think, for the time being, mainstream superhero comics are not quite for me.” They may be down the road sometime, but we all get to that point. Remember, most guys gave up comics in their high school years or college years and they came back. I was one of those guys who stayed straight on, so maybe this is my time.

Weiland: CBR’s George Tramountanas, one of our writers, asks: Of all comic book publishers (excluding BOOM!), which one is “doing it right” in your opinion in terms of offering the best deal to creators and taking care of their employees? Why?

Waid: Good question! With the exception of BOOM!, IDW, I think, is doing it right in a lot of ways; they are taking care of their guys and they’ve got a really wildly diverse slate of publications. IDW is my answer.

Weiland: Goff asks: With the CrossGen Universe returning, what characters from that universe would you like to write again for?

Waid: What? [Audience laughs] I could see myself writing the Ruse characters again. Could happen. It’ll happen. [Audience laughs]

Weiland: Ghost Planet asks: What’s the #1 story arc of your career you’d like people to read?

Waid: “Superman Birthright.” I think that’s the one arc I’d want people to read. Or “Flash” #0. One of the two.

Weiland: Bohemia Drinker asks: It’s well known how much you love Superman, and yet “Irredeemable” has shown us a really perverted analogue [of the Man of Steel]. Was this a choice made to challenge yourself as writer? What was the process that led to this choice in particular?

Weiland: HBR wants to know: Do you have any plans for more Stan Lee/POW! collaborative characters to appear within BOOM?

Waid: We’re talking. I personally see places where we can expand that line. Let’s see how it goes over, but so far it’s going over really well. It certainly exceeded my expectations in terms of sales. Paul Cornell currently has written the best selling BOOM! book of all time, which I’m only a little bit bitter about. [Audience laughs] When does “Traveler” come out?

Mosher: November 24.

Waid: So we may still beat that record.

Weiland: Brannon asks: Regardless of your personal affinity for the Silver Age, and given the state of Superman today, do you think the character would be in better shape if DC would have fully supported the “new” Superman that Byrne introduced with The Man of Steel instead of trying to reboot the character every few years?

Waid: Every few years? Really? Like 25 years between or 15 years between reboots? And yes, they’re happening more and more, and as a matter of fact there’s another one right now. I don’t know. Things change, characters change. If you took that same question and put the word Santa Claus instead of Superman in that question, then nobody would be asking that question. Myths have different faces, myths have different stories and everybody has a different story to tell. Continuity is not the most important thing in the world: consistency is.

Weiland: Ok, we’ve got 20 questions down.

Mosher: 35 minutes!

Waid: I can do this! I’m totally doing this! [Audience laughs]

Audience Member: If you could write the next Batman movie, what direction would you take?

Waid: I love the Christopher Nolan movie, I love the last few minutes where you realize Batman is going to be the villain in that story, essentially. I have no interest in writing that kind of movie, because that means I don’t get to watch that kind of movie, and watching the second Batman movie was one of the best comic book experiences I ever had in my life.

This is a true story; I actually was asked years ago to write the adaptation for “Spider-Man 2,” the movie, and I turned it down because I so badly wanted to watch the movie. The same thing with “Superman Returns” – they wanted me to do the novelization and I passed because I knew I wanted to see that movie in a theater and have that experience. It was worth it to turn down the job. My accountant still is upset with me over that. [Audience laughs]

Weiland: St. Patrick 67: Q (Star Trek) versus the Beyonder (Marvel) – who would win?

Waid: The fans. [Audience laughs] Thank you, I’ll be here another 30 minutes!

Weiland: Question 22, Kyle and Theophilus ask: Will “Seekers Into Mystery” ever be collected in its entirety?

Waid: Oh, that’s a good question. We did one volume. If you buy enough, if you keep going to Amazon, keep going to the BOOM! site, keep going to enough places like that and keep buying that until we’re sold out of the first volume and it’s out of print, then we’ll talk. I would love to see it. It’s a nice piece of work, it’s J.M. Dematteis and John J. Muth.

Weiland: Lots of people asked the same question: What to do we have to do to get you writing Superman again?

Waid: [Laughs] Here are the bullets you need. It’s not up to me! I’d love to take a crack at Superman again. They’ve got my number. [Audience laughs] I don’t know that any sort of big, giant fan land swell will do it, but who knows?

Audience Member: Do you know how you want to end “Irredeemable,” or do you not know until it happens?

Waid: I know the last few scenes. What’ll happen is, I’ll get there and I’ll change my mind and I’ll do something different. But it’s a way off at this point. I wouldn’t be holding my breath.

Mosher: We’ve got 24 minutes.

Weiland: 31 questions with in 24 minutes remaining means we need a quick break and need to make this more challenging for Mark. To help with that, I’ve hired a jazz trumpeter to come in and play the theme song from Mark’s favorite movie of all time. Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Jamelle Williams.

[Audience laughs and applauses as jazz trumpeter Jamelle Williams enters playing the theme from “Superman: The Motion Picture.” He finishes and the audience applauds wildly.]

Weiland: This is totally wasting a lot of time.

[Mark Waid calls Jamelle over, shakes his hand, and asks Jamelle to play the opening to the theme song as Mark records a new ringtone for his iPhone. The audience eats it up.]

Weiland: Time check please, Chip.

Mosher: 22 minutes and 30 seconds!

Weiland: Alright, getting back to it. Lego Nightwing & G. Wayne are big fans of your “Irredeemable” universe. They want to know if there’s any word on additional merchandise, like your stylin’ Plutonian symbol cap or a similarly styled shirt?

Waid: We don’t have anything officially planned. If you want to do merchandise with us, you come find us. The reason the caps exist is that these are a special Christmas gift I made for the staff last year. Even if you do them in quantities, if I had any extras to sell, they’d be 30 – 35 bucks, and that’s a lot of money for a cap. I’d love to have more BOOM! merchandise and more “Irredeemable” merchandise out there.

Weiland: Bohemia Drinker: A big part of your body of work is in DC Comics, and I think it’s fair to say you made quite an impact there. However, more than any other writer, this work appears to have been systematically undone – the current status of the Flash universe, both your LSH teams being shipped to “limbo” and Earth Prime, a new Superman origin, “Kingdom Come’s” ending having an “alternative” version – all in a timeframe of less than four years. Sorry if this question is not an elegant one, but: do you believe that this is intentional? Do you think that your vision simply disagreed with DC’s editorial plans, or is this a “case by case” thing scenario?

Waid: He forgot Impulse. [Audience laughs]

‘Cause I’m sober right now, if you get me later at the bar I’m like, “those bastards!” [Audience laughs] I think it’s a combination of some things. I do think my vision didn’t quiet fit in. I have to say, it bugs me sometimes. I’ve always said this, when people ask me, especially about breaking into comics and being new at it, the only way I know to do this is to write Superman and Spider-Man is to not concentrate on the thought that you’re just playing through. You really have to get in there and you know you don’t own it, that your stuff is subject to change on a whim. But the only way I know to do it is to get in there and just give myself 100% to it.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve very much seen the downside to that, whether its by design, but I think mostly by coincidence, there are times I feel I made no impact at DC Comics, that I’m a footnote in DC history. At this point I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bum me a little bit. I’m still young in terms of comic book years; maybe there’s still room for me to get in there some point down the line and do something that has an impact.

Weiland: Acespot wants to know: Where would you have taken “Brave and the Bold” had you been able to stay on?

Waid: I liked where we were going. The sad thing about “Brave and the Bold” is that I don’t know why it didn’t do as well as we wanted it to do. It did OK. It didn’t tank in sales, but it didn’t turn into a blockbuster. We were trying to do something that wasn’t an event tie-in, and boy, it seems like there’s not much of an audience for that these days. I don’t want to believe that. It’s too easy for a creator to use that as an excuse. I don’t want to use that as a crutch. But I’m happy with what we did.

The sad thing was, especially as I got near the end of my run, I’m trying to put big names in the book. The problem was DC was in flux. I wanted to put Aquaman in the book, and they said,”We don’t know what Aquaman’s origins is at this exact moment,” and that was from the editor of Aquaman! We got near the end and I’m like, who else has their own book that I haven’t put in the thing? I know, Catwoman! And then the day I wrote that story, they cancelled Catwoman! There were really only seven or eight guys who had their own book, and everything else was a spin-off.

Audience Member: If you had to choose between “Irredeemable” or “Incorruptible,” which one would you like writing?

Waid: Incredeemable. [Audience laughs] I would mash them up and do 12 pages each per month.

Mosher: 15 minutes and 55 seconds!

Waid: You guys having an OK time? [Audience applauds] I don’t want this to be “Mark Waid is Bitter for 50 Minutes.” If you want that panel, come to my house every day. [Audience laughs]

Weiland: Question number 36 from StoneGold: Who wins in a fight, Muhammed Ali or Goody Rickels?

Waid: Muhammed Ali, now? [Audience groans] Great, I just made the greatest athlete of the 20th century mad at me. Awesome. Muhammed Ali wins. Even now.

Weiland: HBR wants to know: When you came up with “Irredeemable,” did you just want to create the most powerful, destructive, feared version of a super hero gone rogue? What came into your mind when developing Plutonian?

Waid: It wasn’t just that. It was the idea of what would it be like living in a world that fears you rather than respects you. What’s it like to have that level of power and not be brought up by a kindly farm couple who loves you. My experience is in real life; the more people know about you, the more they use it against you. That’s unfortunate, but that seems to be the way of the world a lot of times.

Audience member: Do you think Geoff Johns and Jim Lee will steer DC in the right direction?

Waid: The short version is, “Yes.” I especially think that putting Jim in charge is a really smart move, without a slight to Geoff. It feels like a DC that is not the DC I knew, but that’s because, for better or worse, that’s not the DC I knew, and that’s fine. Oh my God, I can’t wait ’til this is over so I can say all the things I want to say! [Audience laughs]

Mosher: 12 minutes and 21 seconds!

Weiland: PyroTwilight asks: Plutonian and Hornet are in some ways the [analog] equivalent of Superman and Batman. Were there or are there any plans for a Wonder Woman [analog] one at any point?

Waid: Wow, not at all, but that’s partly because I didn’t see Hornet as an analog. If I say him as an analog at all, I saw him more of a Blue Beetle type. To be honest, I’ll cop to the fact that when we first started out, we were still feeling our way around the “Irredeemable” universe. I was playing a little bit more with analogs. I got away from that pretty quick, because it’s the easiest thing in the world to write your version of the Justice League month after month after month.

Weiland: Question number 40, Krazemon asks: Do you think Superman would be a more interesting character if his powers were downgraded and some of them maybe eliminated to either “Man of Steel” levels or even lower than that?

Waid: No. No. No. No. [Audience applauds] I think Superman would be more interesting if you gave him the powers Grant Morrison tends to give him in “All-Star Superman.” The most interesting thing about Superman is not his power level, and the people who say, “I can’t relate to Superman,” well, you’re not supposed to relate to Superman. You’re supposed to relate to Clark Kent. That’s what he’s for.

Weiland: LobsterAfternoon: During your epic “Flash” run, you dropped several hints that Wally West had some sort of time-travel adventure gone wrong when he was Kid Flash. Can you spill the beans on what it was? Or do you think you’ll eventually get to tell it?

Waid: I would like eventually to tell it. You know what? Here’s the story: I always wanted to tell the story of the moment Wally learns from Barry Allen he can travel through time. What I wanted to set up was a week before, one of his classmates is killed in a freak accident. So Wally seizes on this as an opportunity to go fix the past. So he goes back and he fails. And he goes back again and he fails. And he goes back again and he fails. And then you’ve got a bunch of different Kid Flashes running around, stumbling over each other to try and fix this. He finally realizes, “I can’t fix this.” There are some things you can’t change. He accepts that, but he hates time travel after that. If you’d like to read that someday, you don’t have to buy it anymore now that I’ve told you. [Audience laughs]

Audience Member: How do you approach “The Incredibles” book versus “Irredeemable?” Do you sit down and say, “Oh, I can’t do this,” or “I can’t do that?”

Waid: I don’t. I’ve been doing this long enough, God help me, that with characters like “The Incredibles,” in the movie those characters have such distinct voices and well-carved personalities that anybody in this room would know whether that sounded like Mr. Incredible or not. It’s the same with all the other characters I write that are company owned characters. I instinctively know what they would or wouldn’t do and where the lines are drawn. It’s not hard for me to shift gears because I know characters like I know my own family.

Mosher: Eight minutes and 12 seconds!

Weiland: I hired a trumpeter to mess you up, man!

James234 wants to know: How can we convince BOOM! to make “TaleSpin” comics?

Waid: The more requests we get, we’ll pass those on to Disney. Believe me, we make sure Disney knows what you guys want to see. Write us letters, send us emails though the website”

Mosher: We’ve got “Rescue Rangers” in December! [Audience applauds]

Weiland: Question 44: Do you think printed comics will be around years from now, or do you see them being replaced by digital versions?

Waid: I think they’ll always be around. I didn’t sign any iPads at this convention. But look, be realistic, the print medium is not a healthy medium at this point, and it’s going through a huge transition. When the majority of single issue sales goes digital, what we’re going to end up with is comic book stores, that today exist largely to do periodical sales on a weekly basis, instead turning into pop culture stores where they are selling the trade paperback version. The monthly paper comic book, I don’t know how much longer that is for this world.

Weiland: Xenos wants to ask: Could you see yourself writing Hawkman sometime, and if you were to do so, what would you do to bring excitement to the character?

Waid: Ten years ago, Jim Lee and I were sitting in Dan Raspler’s office, he was an editor at DC Comics, and we were just shooting the breeze. Wildstorm had gotten acquired by DC at the time. We were talking about doing a Justice League/Justice Society crossover that never happened, and it could have been a Wildstorm crossover as well, and I said, what if, at the end of that crossover, you took Hawkman and gave him to the Wildstorm Universe for a year? And Wildstorm could do whatever they wanted to; give him to the artists, give him to the writers, so it’s still under DC’s umbrella but it’s a completely different universe. And Jim, he turns around and he has this beautiful shot of Hawkman that he has drawn. Jim and I were all for it. For whatever reason, the higher-ups said not for us. That was my one really good Hawkman idea. [Audience laughs]

Mosher: Four minutes!

Audience Member: Have you ever had this great idea and then realize it’s already been done? What was your idea that was great but had already been done?

Waid: That’s a good question; we’ll come back to that one.

Audience Member: What character have you wanted to do but haven’t?

Waid: My go-to answer has always been DC’s Captain Marvel, but that was because Mike Weiringo and I were best friends. He had a great vision for that character, but that’s not going to happen because he passed away a couple of years ago. I still wouldn’t mind taking a crack at Aquaman at some point.

Mosher: Two minutes and 45 seconds!

Audience Member: What are the best and worst editorial decisions in comics? Not yours, someone else’s.

Waid: Wow! Best editorial decision is easy. Best editorial decision is the guy who looked at these Superman samples in 1938 and said, “You know what? We should put these in a book.” Superman was rejected from 17 different publishers before DC Comics published it. Everybody thought it was ridiculous, it was just too fantastic. A guy holds a car over his head? Who would believe that? That was the best editorial decision of all time. Worst? There’s like a 100 way tie. [Audience laughs] Throw a dart at any CrossGen book and there’s your answer.

Audience Member: How can you make Aquaman really cool?

Waid: How many people here have been to Sea World? How many people think going to Sea World is really cool and you had a fun time? [Majority of audience raises their hands] People who think Aquaman is a dork for swimming around in the sea and talking to fishes, go to Sea World and watch those people dance with whales and swim with the porpoises. That’s pretty cool. Working at Sea World, that’s my answer. [Audience applauds]

Mosher: 51 seconds!

Weiland: Who is your favorite Superman artist?

Waid: Curt Swan.

Weiland: That’s 45 seconds and you have one to come back to.

Waid: “The Butterfly Effect!” I worked on it for an entire week before I realized there was a movie called Butterfly effect!

Weiland: That’s 50 questions with 20 seconds to spare! Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s hear it for Mark Waid! [Audience applauds]

[Editor’s Note: Head on over to the forums as Mark Waid adds more context to some of his answers above.]