BIG TIME: Collecting "Wednesday Comics"

Collecting last summer's unique hit, "Wednesday Comics," was never going to be an easy task for DC Comics.

But when you visit your local comic book shop today, you'd be doing yourself a disservice by not picking up the 200-page oversized, hardcover collection that Editorial Art Director Mark Chiarello, Senior Art Director Curtis King, Jr. and the rest of the men and women at DC Comics have created.

Featuring all 15 of the original 12-week strips in sequential order, the "Wednesday Comics" hardcover also boasts two single-page fill-in strips that Chiarello had ordered just in case one of the project's creative teams missed deadline during the original run, allowing fans to read Evan Dorkin and Stephen DeStefano's Plastic Man story and Keith Giffen and Eric Canete' "Beware the Creeper."

Also included in the colossal coffee table book is an artist's sketchbook, complete with a commentary by Chiarello, and 16 logo options that designer Rian Hughes' supplied DC Comics.

Just like we did during the original run last summer, CBR News checked in with Chiarello to discuss "Wednesday Comics" and the man behind the oversized opus shared his thoughts on the decision to go ahead with the project in the first place, how DC Comics decided to collect it and the possibility of a sequel.

CBR News: We spoke numerous times during the initial run of "Wednesday Comics," but it's been eight months since it ended and we last discussed the series. Now that some time has passed and you can look back on things, why do you think readers responded so incredibly to "Wednesday Comics"?

Mark Chiarello: Simply put, it was a fun reading experience. I think sometimes publishers can over think things, worrying too much about what will or won't sell and which market a project is built for. The simple intent of "Wednesday Comics" was to entertain. Hey, it's OK to do a project because it's cool and big and fun. I give [Current DCU Co-Publisher] Dan Didio and [Former Publisher] Paul Levitz a lot of credit for feeling the same way about projects like this, and having allowed me to run with it.

Were you, and for that matter, the rest of the leadership at DC, surprised by the response to "Wednesday Comics," or did you know you had something pretty special from the get-go?

The initial vibe in the offices was similar to that of the online fan community: This is sorta weird and sorta different, and really special. I think anytime you get Joe Kubert, Neil Gaiman, Paul Pope and Eduardo Risso together on the same project, people are going to take notice.

I know when we spoke during the initial run, you were still contemplating how you were going to collect "Wednesday Comics." How many iterations of the collected edition did you go through before landing on the final design, and can you share some of your earlier considerations?

When we first started talking about the collection, someone at DC suggested that we collect it just slightly bigger than a regular comic book. Everyone in the meeting picked that person up and threw him out of the window. He hasn't been heard from since.

Seriously, once we got the green light on the big size, the book's designer, Curtis King had a field day with it. I'm really, really stunned by how beautifully it came out.

You've decided to gather the individual storylines and stops together as opposed to keeping issues together. Was that a difficult decision, or was it was always your plan?

It was always part of the overall plan. We knew we wanted the collection to be a completely different reading experience than the initial series: Bright, white paper vs. newsprint, collecting the strips together as opposed to one page of each character per week. We wanted a related, but totally different experience from one format to the other.

So what is the "totally different experience" that the collected edition offers?

The original series had an immediate gratification feel to it, which is always great for summer entertainment. A lot of the readers of "Wednesday Comics" told me they'd read each issue and then give it to a friend or a relative so they could pass along that fun reading experience. The different vibe that the collection offers is one of a beautiful, classic coffee table book for the ages. I guarantee that if you can find a spot big enough on your bookshelf, you'll keep this baby forever.

I know you don't want to pick favorites, but were there a few surprises in there or any teams that really wowed you with what they delivered?

Oh, sure, a lot of surprises: the [Karl] Kerschl and [Brenden] Fletcher "Flash" was just so bizarre and groundbreaking, [Ryan] Sook and [Dave] Gibbon's "Kamandi" was a thing of beauty, crazy Kyle Baker's hilarious "Hawkman," the jam-packed genius of Ben Caldwell's "Wonder Woman" strip. But, of course, everyone's favorite was Jimmy [Palmiotti] and Amanda [Conner]'s "Supergirl" story.

The book includes two single-page stories that you had banked just in case someone missed a deadline during the original run. Would you have liked to include a full run of the Plastic Man and Creeper strips during the original run?

Every comics fan just loves those two characters, so I guess I could answer that question by saying, "That's what sequels are for, no?"

Well, you know I was to going to ask, so this seems like the perfect segue. Are we going to see "Wednesday Comics," Vol. 2?

The obvious challenge would be to create a sequel that's worthy and just as much fun as the original. Fortunately, I've been contacted by a good number of great comics creators who have expressed interest in joining up if we ever decided to do another. Hmm, makes you think, doesn't it?

The collected edition also includes a sketch book and commentary, which really provides the reader with a lot of insight into the creative process behind the series, not to mention giving you an opportunity to thank the creators involved. What kind of response - once it was all completed - did you get from the folks who were involved in making "Wednesday Comics."

So many of the guys who worked on the series called or emailed to thank me one last time for inviting them to be a part of all this. Honestly, I think they got it backwards, because I know that I was the lucky guy in this scenario. Heck, they all busted their butts and I was able to get all the credit.

Aside from your daily gig as art director at DC, you always have one or two special projects in the works. Any updates on the Chip Kidd "Batman" project or the Lee Bermejo book? Or anything else for that matter?

Artwork for both of those books has been coming in at a steady rate, and they're both gorgeous. We'll be able to share some images from them with you guys pretty soon.

The other big project that I'm just totally jazzed about is "Cover Run: The DC Comics Art of Adam Hughes," which comes out in late June. It's a 208 page hardcover book that collects all of Adam's brilliant cover work, along with sketches, commentary by Adam and a few surprises. I guarantee it'll knock you socks off.

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