Waid, Allred, Samnee & Rivera Discuss "Daredevil"

It's no secret that Marvel Comics' "Daredevil" has been incredibly popular among both fans and critics. Gaining a massive 6 nominations for the 2012 Eisner Awards including Best Continuing Series and Best Single Issue, "Daredevil" continues to impress each month. Written by Mark Waid with artists Paolo Rivera and Chris Samnee, the series has even garnered attention from other comic talent including "Madman" creator Mike Allred, who has a guest issue coming up as a result of a letter to the editor that appeared in "Daredevil's" letters column. Waid, Allred, Samnee, Rivera and editor Steve Wacker got together on the phone to discuss the future of "Daredevil" and tease some upcoming developments for the Man Without Fear.

Moderator and Sales and Communications Coordinator James Viscardi kicked off the call by introducing the panelists and opening it up to Waid and Rivera to talk about the success of "Daredevil" since its 2011 launch.

"With me, they generally lead with 'I didn't know you were still alive, Mr. Waid' and I think that's great," Waid joked about fan reaction. "I have never in my entire career had such critical acclaim for anything. Not 'Kingdom Come,' not 'Fantastic Four' ... it just feels like everybody is on board with what we're doing."

"Same for me," said Rivera. "I had never been part of a book before that had been so well received and so big. It was a first for me to go to a convention and people just knew which book I was on. ... It was really nice to be identified with one character in particular."

Waid noted that things must be different for Rivera since starting "Daredevil," especially on the convention circuit. "For one thing, I draw a lot more Daredevil," said Rivera, laughing. "It was such a great opportunity to be in at the ground level. It was just so nice to get scripts and you're addressing me in the descriptions and you'd ask me for suggestions."

As for intimidation, Waid mentioned there was a fair amount taking on the book. "Oh, god yes. Look at the murder's row of writers this book has had in the last ten or fifteen years," said Waid, recalling his first interaction with Kevin Smith. "I said, 'Thanks dude, I quit writing for like a week.'" The writer further went on to mention it was tempting to turn down the offer to write "Daredevil" due to the high quality of stories that came before, but according to Waid, "the support made it work."

The creators spoke to their favorite "Daredevil" moments, beginning with Rivera.

"There was one moment in particular and one more general," Rivera said. "In particular, I got an email from David Mazzucelli, which said 'Congratulations, you're on the bestseller list.' Overall, I have to say the best treat was to work with my dad. ... Right from the very first page, he was firing on cylinders."

Waid said he had a couple, one of which was sitting down with letter Joe Caramanga and "shooting the breeze about the character." Waid described Caramanga as "the thinking man's letterer." "He thinks about the character, he thinks about that world," Waid said. The other moments were more fan-oriented, and the writer referenced the support for the "Daredevil" #1 audio version, which was Steve Wacker's idea, and getting to sign a copy for a blind fan in braille. "[My girlfriend] had an embosser made up with my signature in Braille so that I could sign copies of #1 -- we have a fan who is sight impaired and it was so cool to sign a copy of 'Daredevil' #1 for him."

Waid elaborated on his favorite moments, mentioning one of his favorite aspects of the run so far has been Paolo Rivera's cover for "Daredevil" #10, which took the artist over 70 hours to create.

The writer also noted he's got some more Daredevil superhero action planned for incoming series artist Chris Samnee. "He'll be happy to know I have more Daredevil and less Matt Murdock," Waid said. "Starting with issue #14, he really starts to kick into gear with his Daredevil skills. Chris is a phenomenal storyteller. Again, collaborative medium. I do full script ... but he also knows it's a guideline, it's just a place to start from."

"The scripts come in and I feel like I've barely had to do anything," said Samnee, who said he was having so much fun, he barely noticed Matt Murdock wasn't in costume for the bulk of his premiere issue. "I was just enjoying the story."

Wacker also praised Samnee, saying that as an artist "in terms of his storytelling, he thinks like a writer. He thinks about pacing the scene, he's thinking about environment" and "editorally, artists like Chris and Paolo solve problems."

Samnee articulated his love of "Daredevil" as one of the books he read as a kid. "He's just one giant jumping color from building to building. He's just a cool looking guy. I think that hooked me as a kid and I've been following it ever since." The artist also spoke a bit about the one-shot he did with Ande Parks and Ed Brubaker and that he "jumped" at the opportunity to work on the book again.

"We are defining a visual language for the character that you don't have to if you're writing Captain America or the Fantastic Four," Waid said, specifically referencing Daredevil's radar sense. "It's fun to keep reinventing that. Paolo did a great job defining what radar sense looked like through his eyes. Chris, without giving anything away, has defined that even further. ... It's more fun to get on the phone with these guys, knock things back and forth and have them come up with things we've never seen before."

Wacker noted Waid gives his artists visual puzzles a lot on his books, which comes from "trusting your artist."

Samnee also praised Rivera's design choice for radar sense. "There's been a dozen different ways that guys have done it," said Samnee. "Everyone has their own way of drawing the radar sense. Paolo just reinvented it. I don't think anybody's going to try another way after this. ... I think it's a brilliant idea."

Waid said he wasn't trying very hard to examine the success of "Daredevil" and whether it had to do specifically with genre. "I do think there is an appetite for a broader spectrum of stuff," the writer said. "I don't think we're staging any giant sea change of what people want to see on a specific level." Waid further stated providing a broader spectrum for people to select may be the key.

Rivera further said that "as an artist, it's nice to have that variety of setting but also have that variety of tone," referencing the myriad of locales in the book.

Considering "Daredevil" has been dealing with the terror organizations of the Marvel U, the panelists spoke to their favorite terror organizations. Waid said he had a preference for Black Specter because "they were in some of the earliest issues of 'Daredevil' I ever read,' but if he was going to join any of them, he likes the "head room in the AIM costumes."

Rivera said, "That was going to be my answer!"

"I'm going to have to say the Black Specter, too," said Samnee, "but only because he looks so much like the Rocketeer."

"Mark Waid is choosing AIM because they're 'Irredeemable!'" joked Wacker.

Rivera teased what was next for him after "Daredevil," saying "I'm still going to do some 'Daredevil' covers, whatever Steve Wacker throws my way and then I'm going to try some creator-owned projects." This month marks 10 years for the artist at Marvel.

Waid spoke a bit about bringing many elements of the Marvel Universe to the title. "It's a change-up you don't see very often," said Waid. The trick with finding Daredevil villains are finding ones that are really a threat on a level that they aren't a threat to other characters if that makes any sense," he said, referencing Matt's hypersenses. "That's why Klaw was such a great choice, and that was all Paolo. ... I also want him to travel more. I want to get him out of New York."

"One of those places being Latveria?" said Wacker. "Paolo's talked about the range of the book. I think one of the reasons people think the book is 'fun' is we're mixing things up for Daredevil where he can go to any corner of the Marvel Universe."

Although Waid mentioned the Black Cat was due for a return "provided Matt gets back from Latveria in one piece" but she wouldn't come back until "another old flame comes back to the book in issue #18."

At this point, Mike Allred joined the call, albeit with a slight loss of voice.

In terms of the future of the book, Waid teased that Foggy was not completely wrong about Matt's mental health and dealing with his mental anguish. "Foggy's suspicions may or may not be redeemed in the coming year. The specter of whether or not Matt is crazier than he lets on ... is what drives the second year of the book."

With Allred joining the call, Wacker recalled his surprise at receiving Allred's letter to the editor. "He wrote in out of the blue and I was thrilled because I am a big Allred fan going back to 'Madman,'" said Wacker.

"I remain a letter column virgin," Allred said. "I wrote Steve and he put in the letters column. I was actually at a festival and someone told me that my email had been hacked. After I a while I realized Stephen had published it. ... Then I saw the reactions that people had and that was very gratifying. This is a dream come true."

Waid said that "timing worked out for everybody" and "to go even luckier with it, I'd had a story that I'd been hanging on to in my back pocket for over a year and this seemed like the perfect thing for Mike Allred to do."

"We had to juggle a little bit because we'd already solicited #17," said Wacker who said "we had to move everything out of the way to do it" and they caught Allred at the right time.

Allred teased that he'll be doing "two guest spots" at Marvel, including "Daredevil."

"I have to say, 'Daredevil' is my favorite current title," said Allred. "I don't think [Mark Waid] has ever been given his due, not to the extent he deserves, and I see that happening now." Allred went on to further praise Marcos Martin, Paolo Rivera and Chris Samnee on art duties. "It's really exciting, just as an outside observer, I felt like I had to at least let somebody know how special I thought this title was. To be able to join even in just a small way, sincerely, it's incredibly thrilling."

One of the revealed covers shows Matt and Foggy walking away from each other and Murdock's name crossed off the Nelson and Murdock offices. "Foggy's the one who's always stood beside Matt ... and there is a fracture coming in that partnership and it hurts both of them," said Waid. "What you're going to see is that these are decisions that are very, very difficult for Foggy to make."

Waid, a champion of digital comics, spoke about bringing "Daredevil" to digital comics. "We would love to," said Waid. "It's something we've talked about just recently. Daredevil's powers have stuff tailor made to the stuff we're doing in the Infinite Comics line. I have no doubt that'll happen, but we just have to figure out what that's going to be."

Waid revealed that Mike Allred will be drawing a very special villain for his issue: Stilt Man.

"On the face of it, a very goofy costume and very goofy schtick," he said. "On the other hand, if you were at the bottom of one of those legs being pinned down to the floor of the Hudson River, this would not seem like a silly superpower to you. I'm just saying."

"Leave it to Mark Waid to give Stilt Man his due!" said Allred.

"We've got a Stilt Man ongoing coming out of 'AvX,'" joked Wacker.

To close out the call, Waid and Wacker spoke about whether their perception of the sight-impaired and how they interact with the world has been changed. "Yes, I really have," Waid said, mentioning researching and learning about how the sight-impaired interact with the world using devices we take for grated.

"It's been amazing, the feedback from people who are sight impaired," Wacker said. "It never occurred to me the number of fans that have books read to them or interact with them in other ways. ... So it's been interesting to communicate with that segment of the fanbase. It's stuff you notice around the city, too." The editor further referenced a tour in New York where you experience a tour as a sight-impaired individual.

With that the call wrapped. Stay tuned to CBR News for more on upcoming developments in "Daredevil."

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