Mark Waid on The Incredibles

First announced at San Diego's Comic-Con International in July, BOOM! Studios' line of comics based on Disney/Pixar movies kicks off in March with "The Incredibles: Family Matters" #1, written by Mark Waid with art by Marcio Takara. The following months will see debut issues of "Cars," "Toy Story," and "Monsters, Inc." CBR News caught up with Waid, who is also BOOM!'s Editor-in-Chief, to talk about his plans for "The Incredibles" and what readers can expect from the forthcoming Pixar comics.

"Incredibles: Family Matters," the first four-issue miniseries in BOOM!'s Pixar line, will be available in direct market comics stores for $2.99 (trade paperback collections will be distributed to the mass and direct markets). The story sees Mr. Incredible slowly losing his superpowers, and explores how the hero copes with this development. "We get a peak into Mr. Incredible's rogues gallery, because obviously he's going to be very curious as to who or what is loosing this fate upon him," Waid told CBR. "We meet a new supporting character named Doc Sunbright, who is Costume Maker Edna's cousin, and he is the doctor of the superheroes. He is to medicine what she is to fashion. He ends up being a major player in this storyline because he's got to get to the bottom of what sort of sickness can undo superpowers."

Any time one works with established characters, a certain level of research is necessary to familiarize a writer with what's gone before. With "The Incredibles," Waid said, this was not a problem at all. "You watch the movie a dozen times, and luckily it's not a chore," he said. "You sit there with a pad and pen, and you make notes about this interesting character or that interesting character, and it sparks you into realizing what a rich world they created in just two hours of movie. You look at the guy who is the Incredibles' government liaison-- who shows up at exactly the thirty-minute mark, by the way. I know this from watching the movie a dozen times--and now you want to know more about him, who else reports to him. Or you start to look at some of the other heroes, guys like Gazer Beam, and it makes you want to do stories about not only present-day Incredibles stuff but, if Pixar will let me, I'd like to be able to delve into the past history of Mr. and Mrs. Incredible."

Licensing can prove a challenge for comics publishers, because creative ideas can conflict. Pixar and BOOM!, though, appear to be on the same page as to what kinds of adventures the Incredibles should be having. "We pitched three or four story arcs right off the bat, and they bit on all of them," Waid revealed. "So it's just a matter of seeing which ones I can get to first."

As previously announced, the Pixar titles will run in a series of miniseries format, with each story arc comprising four issues. "Each issue should have some sort of conflict and resolution in each issue inside itself, so each issue can to some degree be standalone, but still there's the ongoing thread that will make it, if you read all four parts, feel like a graphic novel," Waid confirmed.

Marcio Takara's art on "The Incredibles" is a departure from the movie's CG effects, but is also quite different from styles seen in many all-ages comics. "Pixar specifically asked us not to do the 3-D CGI look, because they realized, and we realized it too, that's great for their movies but that's not necessarily comics at its rawest," Waid explained. "If you're going to do comics, be unapologetic about it and do comics. And so we turned to Marcio and said don't make it look like your standard Johnny DC Cartoon Network book, it shouldn't look necessarily like it's all kid-ified, but certainly bring that energy to it.

"There's a level of detail to his work that is not typical of all-ages books in comics. In comics, when we do all-ages books, we have a tendency, unfortunately, to super-simplify to the point where they almost look like coloring books, and I don't necessarily think in this day and age that's what five-and-six-year olds respond to. I think they respond to things that are a little bit more detailed and will command your attention a little bit longer."

The Pixar line is the cornerstone of BOOM!'s all-ages publishing efforts, but Mark Waid noted that it can be difficult to launch kids comics in the current marketplace, a challenge that many publishers offering all-ages comics are struggling with. "The demographic of comic shops is not six-year-olds, so if you're going to launch kids comics, not only in comic shops but also try to break outside of comic shops into the mainstream media as well, you've got to do it with a proven property, something that is without question acceptable to parents across the world for their children," Waid explained.

"I know some other publishing companies have not had as much luck in mass-market distribution, even though they might have things like Spider-Man or some other name properties that everybody knows--in part because those brands are not necessarily guaranteed family-safe. Even though the material might be [safe], even though you might be doing a Spider-Man book specifically for, let's say, Target or what have you, the content of that specific book is clearly all-ages but that character is not necessarily all-ages in all its incarnations. And it snowballs. Whereas Disney is absolutely synonymous with 'safe for all children.'"

Following "The Incredibles," next up from BOOM!'s Pixar line will be "Cars: The Rookie," also in March, featuring a Lightning McQueen origin story by Alan J. Porter and Albert Carreres. Then there's "Toy Story: the Mysterious Stranger" in April, written by Dan Jolley with art by Chris Moreno.

In addition to Pixar properties, BOOM! Studios will also be publishing comics based on Jim Henson's Muppets. "Muppet Show" #1 appears in March, written and illustrated by Roger Langridge.

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