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DF Interview: Mark Waid reflects on his career in comics
By Byron Brewer
From creator-owned properties to digital comics pioneering, few have had the success as a writer of fan-favorite AND critically-acclaimed series as Mark Waid.
These days Waid is everywhere, from Marvel’s Original Sin event to the relaunching of Gold Key fave Doctor Spektor for Dynamite.
Dynamic Forces joins the writer for a look back – and look ahead – at his ongoing career.
Dynamic Forces: So, Mark, how do you go from the fanzine Amazing Heroes to being one of the premiere scribes in the industry?
Mark Waid: You’re very kind. What’s amazing to me is that I haven’t aged a day the entire time. At least, that’s what I see looking in the mirror.
DF: Your comic book writing style was influenced by a Jim Shooter Legion of Super-Heroes tale. True or false?
Mark Waid: True. Specifically, Adventure Comics #369, one of my favorite Silver Age comics and a great, great example of knitting plot and character together while misdirecting the readers away from a shocking cliffhanger.
DF: One day you are writing your first comic story (“The Puzzle of the Purloined Fortress,” Action Comics #572, 1985), two years later you are EDITING the book and many more for DC. Fast rise?
Mark Waid: Ha! Well, technically, it was three years later, and I was only one of a bevy of editors on-staff putting Action out as an oversized weekly for a bit -- an insane amount of work for what ended up not really being worth the effort in the long run. But, still, yeah -- that was a pretty surprising leap up.
DF: Explain, please, the differences between being a work for hire comic book writer vs. editor for a comics company.
Mark Waid: Hrrm. As a WFH freelancer, you answer to whoever’s processing your voucher, where as an editor, you have a lot more direct say in the way the final comic will look and a lot more power to effect permanent change in a series. On the other hand, as an editor you also have a lot more responsibility and probably aren’t paid as well as your freelancers. In the end, which of those roads you pursue really depends on your own temperament and on what fulfills you.
DF: Tell us a little about Thrillbent and your purpose for establishing the website.
Mark Waid: Thrillbent, co-owned by myself and screen/TV writer John Rogers, is our digital publishing imprint. For over two years, we’ve been working with some of the best and most willing-to-experiment in comics today, producing hundreds of free-to-read and pay-what-you-will-to-download comics in all genres, mostly horror and thriller/adventure. Recently, we’ve launched a subscription model that, for $3.99 a month (the price of one print comic), subscribers can deep-dive through our 300+ comics library and read new, upcoming chapters of Empire, Insufferable and many other exciting new series we’ll be launching throughout the summer.
DF: So how has Thrillbent been working out?
Mark Waid: So far, great! But we could always use more subscribers --come and check it out, sample the wares!
DF: How important was Insufferable to Thrillbent, and vice versa?
Mark Waid: Hugely important. Not only was it a good showcase for Peter Krause and I to show off just what digital can do, but we were able to work out a lot of the language and a lot of the techniques early on that many of the other Thrillbent contributors have since picked up on (and in many cases, improved upon).
DF: Can you, or anyone, explain the on-again, off-again success of Daredevil as a book? At points in history (runs by Frank Miller, Brian Bendis, you), it is Marvel’s best book; at other times, it is a miasmic mess. Why?
Mark Waid: Ha. I’m not sure. My theory is simply that it’s a great, simple concept.
DF: Who has been your favorite comic artist to work with (or those among your favorites)?
Mark Waid: Forgive me for passing on this one, as I’m sure I’d accidentally overlook someone and don’t want any hurt feelings. But I sure have been lucky.
DF: Mark, you recently launched Dr. Spektor for Dynamite. Tell us about the book.
Mark Waid: Doctor Spektor--Adam Spektor--is the world’s most celebrated (and richest and probably most arrogant) ghostbuster. A self-made reality-show superstar, he’s made his name taking out vampires, ghouls, witches, and all manner of supernatural menaces with flamboyant showmanship. But as our series opens, he’s finally found the one thing that scares him and alarms him--and given that this is a man who thinks nothing of fighting the undead, you can only imagine how strange this new menace is.
Dynamic Forces would like to thank Mark Waid for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions.
Daredevil #1.50 Signed by Mark Waid
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