Concluding the Mark Waid interview. He's been working in comics a long time, he's seen a lot of changes, and he's got a lot to say:
What did that mean to me personally? You cannot IMAGINE the frustration. No, I mean it. You think you can, but you can't. The one job I'd been working towards my entire life--and I'd just been told point-blank that not only could I never have it, but I couldn't have it for any reasons that were just or made any logical sense--at least in part because someone at DC had point-blank asked me for a proposal and then failed to speak up when another someone decided I was simply crusading for a job that wasn't available, violating the freelance code, and acting in bad (and punishable) faith. Doesn't matter that that wasn't true; since when do truth and politics go hand in hand? Welcome to the real world.
Don't get me wrong. I wasn't told I could never write the CHARACTER Superman. In fact, I was told I could pitch whatever Elseworlds or one-shot or what have you I might like. I just couldn't write the ongoing adventures of Superman, couldn't guide the character to his heights, couldn't polish him up and let him shine like a diamond, couldn't give back to him in the spirit he gave to me. I felt just like David Letterman when he was crushed even though he was told he could have his own CBS show--because he didn't want a CBS show, he wanted the Tonight Show. Worse, I couldn't get anyone at DC to understand that difference. No, worst of all is a part of it that all four of us had to endure--Grant, Mark Millar, Tom Peyer and myself--that we choose not to talk about because it can to this day only make lots of lives more miserable.
It was a good thing. It was a very good thing. It got me off my ass and put me in the frame of mind to create my own stuff and to start making some inroads into other media as a fallback. And it only made me hate the industry--not the medium, just the industry--about 100% more instead of a perfectly understandable 10,000% more, which was fine, because lots of good material comes from anger, right?
My relationship with DC overall, as near as I can tell, is still reasonably good despite all that nonsense, thanks in enormous part to Dan Raspler, who gave me JLA when other editors might have been (unjustifiably) afraid to. And by and large, I think everyone at that company still knows to this day how loyal I have always been, even when Marvel was backing trucks of gold ingots up to my door to lure me away, and that I love DC, am the caretaker of its history, and am genuinely helpful to its characters and employees rather than harmful. I have to assume that counts for something.
Is taking an editorial post also a way to protect your writing from the predations of other editors, such as you have suffered on CAPTAIN AMERICA and elsewhere? How badly have you suffered at their hands since, say, KINGDOM COME?
Nah, not really; I won't say that it's impossible for me to name some of my embolisms after certain thuggish editors, but I combat that less by running to CrossGen and more by working only with the editors I know won't make me want to ram my head through a lamppost. Frankly, while I've had my share of frustrations, the X-office is the only editorial office I've ever really suffered under. Everyone else in comics, both before and after KC, has been generally easy to work with, probably because I've always known enough to communicate early and often with my editors rather than simply hand them material out of the blue and be surprised if they squawk.
Then again, I got my start at a very good time from a very good editor--Brian Augustyn. Now that I've since heard horror stories from Devin, from Brian Vaughan, from Jay Faerber and Todd Dezago and so many others, I'm certain that if I'd been subjected to half the indignities they've had to endure, I'd be in prison for homicide right now. They'd be finding the Jason Liebigs of the world bobbing face-down in the Hudson with my fingerprints on their throats.
How secure are you in your talent? Going from KINGDOM COME to X-O MANOWAR struck as the act of a man who didn't understand what he was capable of, nor what he could ask for.
Yeah, I get crappy seats in restaurants, too. And smoking rooms at the Hyatt. But we're not all as scary as you, pal. Besides, I never, ever know what it's all right to "ask" for. Red M&Ms? An eighteen-year-old cheerleader? The very act of negotiating demands sometimes--not always, but sometimes--teeters on the edge of arrogance, and arrogance is in my eyes maybe any human being's single most loathsome character trait. I don't abide it in others and am thus very cautious not to fall prey to it myself. If I'm gonna err, I'd rather err on the side of timidity than swaggering ego.