Welcome back to CBR's weekly look at DC Comics' hit series, "Wednesday Comics." Presented in a broadsheet format (14 inches by 20 inches), the 12-week series features 15 strips written and illustrated by Eisner Award winners like Kyle Baker, Dave Gibbons and Kurt Busiek. And with DC icons Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman standing tall beside lesser-known characters like Adam Strange, Metamorpho and Deadman, there is truly something for everybody.
Every Wednesday, CBR News presents a new interview with the creators bringing this unique title to life. This week, it's yet another Eisner Award winner, Brian Azzarello, who has re-teamed with his "100 Bullets" collaborator Eduardo Risso for a Batman strip in "Wednesday Comics."
Azzarello has scripted the Dark Knight on several occasions, including a six-issue run on "Batman" with Risso from issues #620 to #625. He's also worked with Lee Bermejo - who is drawing the "Wednesday Comics" Superman strip written by John Arcudi - on last year's bestselling graphic novel, "Joker" and the "Batman/Deathblow: After the Fire" miniseries for DC and WildStorm.
Additionally, DC Art Director and "Wednesday Comics" editor Mark Chiarello is back, and he tips his hat on who he'd love to see contribute to a second series of "Wednesday Comics," and reveals what projects he's working on next.
Chiarello also shares a panel from a Plastic Man strip he commissioned as an insurance policy against someone not getting him a "Wednesday Comics" page on time.
Q&A WITH "WEDNESDAY COMICS" WRITER BRIAN AZZARELLO
CBR: Did Mark Chiarello have to make a pretty tough pitch to get you to board "Wednesday Comics," or was it a no-brainer?
BRIAN AZZARELLO: It's definitely the kind of project that you just can't say no to.
Was it your idea to contribute a Batman strip?
No. He's who Mark wanted Eduardo and me to do.
Did you even consider a "100 Bullets" strip?
[laughs] Yeah sure, but for which newspaper? Then at the same time, is "100 Bullets" actually worse than anything that's in the newspaper as far as content goes?
You've written Batman before. Do you have a notebook of Batman ideas you have tucked away for projects and opportunities like this, or is your "Wednesday Comics" strip something completely new?
No. I wrote this specifically for "Wednesday Comics." I wanted to do something like the old "Dick Tracy" stories. That was our template, I guess, when we were doing this - those old serialized strips. But that's like anybody else working on "Wednesday Comics." You can almost look at each one and say, "Oh, I know what he was looking at."
Are you a big Dick Tracy fan?
Yeah, I've always loved Dick Tracy. I used to collect them all as comics. And I've been buying the collections that Fantagraphics has been releasing too. But I've got to stop buying. My house is covered in books. It's awful. They're piled up higher than the bookshelves.
You've got a "Batman/Doc Savage" one-shot coming in November. What about a possible Batman/Dick Tracy project?
[laughs] No, no. Actually, you know, Batman has all of his villains. Well, it's just Dick Tracy and his villains but cranked to 11.
Dick Tracy really wouldn't be able to slink around too well in Gotham, what with the bright yellow jacket and hat.
Well, what's with the yellow oval around the bat on Batman's chest? Why don't you just paint a fucking target on your chest?
"100 Bullets" concluded very recently, and you're back with Eduardo Risso on "Wednesday Comics." You must have picked up not long after you wrapped "100 Bullets?"
Yeah, we really didn't stop working with each other. We finished up "100 Bullets," then we took a month off and boom, we were right at it again with this one.
What is it about Batman and the backdrop of Gotham City that suits you and Risso so well?
I think Eduardo's style really compliments the way I see Batman. We almost see him the same way. He's a shadow.
Working with Risso so much, your knowledge of one another must have really helped in telling the story.
Of course. I see things the way he draws.
When you were considering pages, did you have an idea of what you were going to get from Risso?
Yes and as a plus, I had the confidence to know that if I'm putting 15 panels on a page - because it's a larger page - it's not anything that he can't handle.
How about in terms of your own pacing? Is "Wednesday Comics" a difficult format for storytelling?
I looked at doing really specific beats about what's going on. This is this. This is this. This is this. Essentially, the way I approached this thing was I looked at it as writing two pages each week. So I will have told a single issue story when this is all said and done.
Have you been reading "Wednesday Comics" from week to week or are you trade-waiting?
No, I read it every week. I'm really digging it. When the first issue came out - I don't really follow when things are coming out or anything like that - I was flying to Los Angeles and I'm on the plane and I'm reading a book. All of sudden, I look up and I see the guy in front of me is reading the Superman strip from "Wednesday Comics." And I was like, "Oh shit." I knew it was going to be in USA Today and it was that Wednesday but it was still really cool. I'm on a plane and this guy is reading a Superman strip in the newspaper.
So when I got out to Los Angeles, I stopped in at a comic shop - I was out there for an event -- I did Meltdown for the Hero Initiative and a "100 Bullets" party. So I go to Meltdown and it was there and I pick it up and one of the guys who is working was like, "I don't know if it's going to sell. I don't know what we're going to do with this thing or even how we're going to rack it."
And I came back on Friday and it was gone. The thing just blew out the door like a hurricane. So he didn't have to worry about it.
["Wednesday Comics" is] really great. It seems to be one of those things that really cuts across readers with very particular tastes. I think the project, as a whole, just appeals to everybody who reads comics. It really scratches that nostalgia itch.
Q&A WITH "Wednesday Comics" Editor Mark Chiarello
CBR: When visiting the various forums and message boards where folks are discussing "Wednesday Comics," I've noticed a popular pastime is playing "What creator and/or character do you want to see featured in next summer's 'Wednesday Comics?'"
A second series hasn't been agreed to yet, but if it were, do you already have a wish list forming in your head of who you'd like to have involved? Or what heroes and villains you'd like to see featured?
MARK CHIARELLO: I'd love to see a Creeper story. It would be awful neat to try and get Steve Ditko to do something. Ditko doing a Creeper story would be incredible.
I'd love to see a Martian Manhunter story. I loved what Darwyn Cooke did with Martian Manhunter in "New Frontier" and also what he did with The Question in his issue of "Solo," so I'd love to see either of those two characters done by Darwyn. Talking about creators I'd love to see do anything on a second series, Darwyn Cooke is certainly one of them.
And actually, I can spill something here that's kind of fun and not give anything away because it's not tangible yet, but I came into work one day last week and there was a message on my machine from Harlan Ellison saying how great the series was. "I just love the series" and "Man, you really did good." And as an incredibly big Harlan Ellison fan all my life, it was just wonderful. It was just really, really wonderful to get that message on my machine but my logical brain went to, "Man, it would be awfully cool to get Harlan Ellison to write a strip."
Who would you like him to write? Anyone he wants?
Yeah, whatever he wants. He is the 500-pound gorilla in the room so whatever Harlan wanted to do would be okay with me. He was really good friends with Julie Schwartz so it would be kind of cool to touch a character or a series that Julie was really a force on. That would be kind of a neat connection.
[CBR note: Long-time DC editor Julius Schwartz oversaw the Silver Age re-interpretations of The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman and The Atom and also edited Batman and Superman during his 40-plus year career.]
Does playing this game and coming up with the next 15 creative teams make you want to do a second series of "Wednesday Comics?"
You know, I keep saying to everybody, "No, I could never do it. I'm just so exhausted from the first one." But then you start thinking and putting your wish list together again and it's like, "Wow. We could amp this even more. And do even crazier stuff."
A good example is, because I'm a very smart person, I had an insurance page written and drawn just in case somebody didn't come through so I could plug it in. And it's a Plastic Man page written by Evan Dorkin and drawn by Stephen DeStephano. And it's just gorgeous and I'm just really sad that we're not going to be able to use it. But if there is a second series, I would definitely have those guys doing a Plastic Man strip.
Might we see it in a "Wednesday Comics" collection?
I'd like to put it in the collection but it's a hard question because if there is a second series, I wouldn't put in the collection, I'd put it right in the second series.
Another suggestion I read was giving creative teams one shot at the full center-spread, on a rotating basis, so they could really stretch out and deliver something special.
I have a big plan for that but I can't spill it yet. [laughs] Just let me say that Wonder Woman would probably be in that center spread. That's all I can say.
Would you consider other changes to the format in a second series? Maybe single panel stories like "The Far Side?" Or playing around with the length of some strips?
Oh, absolutely. I sort of equate it to the first Star Wars. You know, "A New Hope." They built the Star Wars universe and then the second film, "Empire Strikes Back," had a completely different feel and it built on the first movie but it took it even further. And I think that's the only way to keep fans interested. Only an idiot would do the exact same thing so you'd really have to unfold it even more.
Do you know what you're working on next after "Wednesday Comics," besides your regular duties as DC's Art Director?
Yes, I have two really cool projects. I have one, and I can't give you the complete details, but one that Chip Kidd is writing. I'll be editing that. And Lee Bermejo is writing and drawing a hardback that I can't give you too much information on. His work on the "Joker" hardback and the Superman installment for "Wednesday Comics" has really made him into a fan favorite.
So you can't tease what character he's working on?
No, not yet. The guys in PR will kick my ass.
"Wednesday Comics" #7 is on sale now from DC Comics. Be sure to check back next week when we discuss Kamandi with Dave Gibbons and join us in the CBR forums and discuss which creators you'd love to see in a second series of "Wednesday Comics." Mark Chiarello wants to know!