Charles Soule arrived for his WonderCon 2016 panel accompanied by longtime friend and "Galaxys for Hire" writer Shawn DePasquale. After shaking hands with "Extraordinary X-Men" artist Humberto Ramos, Soule welcomed the audience. He introduced Pasquale as a friend who has been working with him over a decade, explaining, "He reads almost all of my scripts, and then we have a conversation about them."
DePasquale recalled how their relationship started through "Ultimate Spider-Man" writer Brian Michael Bendis' old message boards. Both identified other comics talent that have come from the message board, including "Captain America: Sam Wilson" writer Nick Spencer. The attention shifted back over to Soule when the panelists shared a young photograph of the author. "I thought it was the most baddest-assed thing in the world," said Soule of the single white Michael Jackson glove he was wearing in the photograph.
"I was, and continue to be a practicing lawyer," Soule stated, noting that writing was something he could do in his spare time. "I know that rejection is the hardest thing to get over, to push past someone not caring until someone starts caring," said Soule of his first comics work, "Strongman."
"I found an email of him asking me if I would letter the first seven pages of 'Strongman' for the pitch," DePasquale said. The pair shared the very first check Soule ever made for writing comics, with Soule commenting, "it was the best $146.27 that I ever made."
The panel shifted towards a conversation of Soule's first Image Comics series, "27." "The amazing thing about that, was that it got into people's hands from The Bendis Board," recalled Soule. The book got into fellow Bendis Board graduate Spencer's hands, who passed it off to Shadowline Comics publisher Jim Valentino.
The gap between "27: Second Set" and Soule's first DC work, "Swamp Thing," was two years. "I had a complete year where nothing was coming out after the follow-up chapter of '27.'" Soule said. "Eventually, I was able to get the next book, 'Strange Attractors,' out. Then, I was at my table at San Diego Comic-Con and (former Vice President, Publishing Planning & Collected Editions at DC Entertainment, and current Director of Publishing Planning & Trade Book Sales at Image Comics), Jeff Boison came out and asked, 'Why haven't you written something for DC?' I said, 'Nobody has asked me about it.' He said, 'I'll put you in touch with a guy.'"
Matt Idelson, former DC Entertainment Group Editor and current Senior Editor at Dynamite Entertainment, soon called Soule asking him to pitch to take on the ongoing "Swamp Thing" Scott Snyder and Yannick Paquette launched as part of The New 52. "I thought, of course I'm going to shoot for the fences. I was terrified -- at that time, there was a lot of sort of flux in the DC writer's crew." Soule explained that he was worried about being forced to leave "Swamp Thing" and DC because the books were being shaken up do often, leading the writer to include Superman in his first few issues so he could be sure to have the opportunity to write the character.
"I did this big huge epic story, and I had a million of plot threads to pull home," Soule said of the series' eventual conclusion. He was gracious DC gave him an expanded final issue to conclude the story.
The two talked about a plot point where Swamp Thing emerged from a piece of popcorn. The writer noted that he wanted to include the scene in the comic since his first issue, but was unable to write it until "Swamp Thing Annual" #3.
A fan asked Soule what characters he would want to write at DC, to which he responded Hourman, among others. "I have some cool villains stories, like a bigger Lex Luthor story. I always wanted a crack at Batman, and I have always liked Wonder Woman."
Another panelist asked about the process of pitching, giving Soule the perfect segue into how he pitched "Swamp Thing" to DC. "I tend to have big themes in mind, so I have a roadmap to it," Soule explained. His approach to "Swamp Thing" was focused on the continuity former writers added to the character, combined with what his take on the character would look like. "Scott Snyder shows up in the last issue of 'Swamp Thing' in a Batman shirt," he said.
Explaining his decision to throw in fully with one publisher rather than splitting his time between the several, Soule said, "I was working at Marvel and DC at the same time at a huge stack of books, it was brutal. It kind of became clear to me that I was going to have to settle down. The project that made me go down the Marvel path was 'Death of Wolverine.'"
A fan asked about the coordination of the Inhumans characters from the cinematic Universe to Soule's All-New, All-Different Marvel comic. "That was a huge thrill," Soule said of Lash, a character he co-created, showing up on the "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." television series.
"I wrote four scripts before I even looked at 'Netflix's Daredevil'" Soule said of his current run writing the Man Without Fear. "There's a push and pull with that for sure," Soule said about the character's relationship with the legal system. "Fortunately, I'm able to see my way through making it more realistic than it otherwise might." His and artist Ron Garney's run is focusing on Daredevil working in the District Attorney's office as a prosecutor as opposed to the defense. Soule met with prosecution attorneys in real life and asked how they might perceive a lawyer like Matt Murdock working with the D.A.. "I give it a sheen of reality and people think I know what I'm doing. Elektra is showing up in issue #6 and I have a big Bullseye story -- I want to introduce another big, bad new villain who is a serial killer focused on creativity," Soule teased as the panel closed.