Talking Comics with Tim: Matt Wayne

[caption id="attachment_12654" align="alignright" width="180" caption="The Brave and the Bold 24"]


Matt Wayne's latest work for DC comes out this week, The Brave and The Bold 24, featuring the "first meeting of Static and Black Lightning" (as detailed by DC here). Given that Wayne was a Milestone editor back in the mid-1990s, this marks a return to some old friends for the writer. In addition to discussing his comics work, we also discuss his career in animation in this email interview.

Tim O'Shea: You're shifting Brave & Bold gears, as you wrap up a stint writing the DC Kids Brave and Bold, you will be writing the non-kids line The Brave and The Bold 24, where Black Lightning and Static team up for the first time. With two heroes with similar powers, did you enjoy getting to show their differences in this issue?

Matt Wayne: Sure, any team up's going to have that aspect to it. For instance, my next episode (Menace of the Conqueror Caveman!) of the Batman: Brave and the Bold show [to be replayed this Thursday, June 18, according to IMDb {check those local listings}] will pair Batman and Booster Gold, and they're both gadget guys. The differences between the two need to come out in the course of the action, or it's not a good team-up. There isn't much in life that's more entertaining than putting two toddlers in a wading pool and watching them compare belly buttons. But if anything can top that, it's hero team-ups done right!

O'Shea: Writing the team-up with Static is going back to your comic book writing roots, given that you were an editor and writer for the original Milestone. How good does it feel to have these characters back (albeit incorporated into the DC universe this time)?

Wayne: It's great. To this day, I'm amazed that so many comics fans who read everything never cracked us until after the Static cartoon, but since then it's been pretty much inevitable. Dwayne McDuffie's had some of my favorite Milestone characters appear in his bestselling run on Justice League of America, which is something I would not have predicted in 1998. Two things, really. This isn't exactly vindication, but at least now when I say that I used to write these world-class comics as a boy, more and more people know what the heck I'm babbling about.

O'Shea: Have you been pleased with the re-introduction of the Milestone characters to the present day continuity? Do you hope to get to do more work with the Milestone characters in the near to long term?

Wayne: I would drop better paying work to write the Milestone characters. In fact, I have.

When editor Joey Cavalieri called I had just come to realization that I couldn't possibly story edit a cartoon show, freelance on other shows and write monthly comics at the same time. But I had to do it; passing up the first Static-Black Lightning story would be something that I'd always regret. So I gave away writing an episode of my show, finished my last Batman: Brave and the Bold comic, and wrote the Static-Black Lightning issue of Brave and the Bold in about a week. Writing a Milestone comic was what the 1994 Matt hoped he'd be doing in 2009. I love the Howard Porter art.

O'Shea: You wrote an episode of Batman: Brave and the Bold (Journey to the Center of the Bat!) Cartoon Network series, which gave you a chance to write the Errol Flynn-style Aquaman (my favorite take on the character). After years of the grim and gritty (do I have two hands or one?) Aquaman, would you say it was liberating to get to work with this version of the king of the seas?

Wayne: It was James Tucker and Michael Jelenic who chose that Aquaman persona, and I have to say he's the most fun to write! I even put him in two of the comics.

Let's face it, grim and gritty wasn't anything new by the time Aquaman got his bad manicure anyway. Maybe there are still stories to tell with that version, but a show like B: B&B isn't the venue. And whether or not we like it, the show needs to succeed as a show and not the Official Guide to the DC Universe. This Aquaman is a perfect fit.

He's not an idiot, by the way, he's a swashbuckler, and has been consistently portrayed that way by all the writers on the show. Continuity between shows, or between comics and the shows, that's just a tidbit to me as a viewer. I'm much more interested in enjoying the story that's actually happening right now, and when continuity gets in the way of that it becomes an enemy.

O'Shea: How hard is it to juggle your creative projects, given that you work in both TV and comics?

Wayne: So hard that I had to admit to overcommitting myself just a minute ago. But I've been writing and editing for a living full time for 17 years now, and after you've had a few lean years you learn to love chaos. When I need inspiration, I think of Jack Kirby and the thousands of hours he put in at his kitchen table. Who am I to own a desk? Some kind of crybaby?

O'Shea: By no means are you DC exclusive in your work, am I right that you are currently working on Marvel's Super Hero Squad?

Wayne: I am the story editor of record. It's a blast to be working with the Marvel characters! Especially on something funny. And it's a good counterpoint to some of the other stuff Marvel's doing now, and will be doing later this year. I don't know what I'm allowed to say just yet.

O'Shea: What else is on the writing horizon for you, be it for TV or for comics?

Wayne: Mostly Super Hero Squad, but I'm also doing an animated direct-to-video for Warner that hasn't been announced. It's an action property that I never thought I'd be doing, and not a DC Comics license, although there have been comics. And I suspect that the day draws close that Dwayne McDuffie and I finally get around to publishing The Road to Hell, our funny graphic novel. It has no action, just jokes and a smidgen of gore. Which also makes for a nice change.

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