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WAITING FOR TOMMY - HEIDI MACDONALD
By Richard Johnston

RICHARD: Hypothetical situation. Bill Jemas is unfairly catapulted from President Of Publishing at Marvel and you find yourself in his chair. Okay, it's an extreme hypothetical. Remake the industry, as much as you can to your own image - what does it look like?

HEIDI: Ah, the hypothetical seems to come true since we started this interview. In reality, old Bill really wasn't that far off in his goals. Where he missed the mark was in actually producing material for different audiences. As I think you might figure by now, if I remade the industry there would be kids comics that were marketed to kids, teen aged comics marketed to teens, women..well you get the idea. Comics have universal audiences in other cultures that are comics-accepting. The fact that this isn't so in America is not because of our biology, or educational system, or Grand Theft Auto 3. It's because, as I alluded to above, people in comics on every level from executive to retail, only want to produce the material they like.

I would also market humor comics to people who like to laugh. It used to be that Mad Magazine was the best selling American comic. Nothing else even came close. Arguably, the most successful comics of all times are humor comics - namely daily comic strips. People like to laugh, and they like to read funny comics about funny little adventures. When you look at the genres that are the kiss of death in American comics, your mind really boggles.

RICHARD: Ever read Viz Comic? Could something like that work in the US?

HEIDI: The English Viz, right? I haven't actually seen it, but I've heard about it. The cost of launching a magazine is really huge, especially with all the costs associated with producing comics, which are very expensive for editorial. It would need to be more underground, like Vice magazine. But I've always said anyone who puts out whatever MAD Magazine is for the 21st century will have a big hit on their hands.

If I ran the world, I would just try to create appropriate material for the audiences I was really trying to reach. Bill had the right idea with Wal-Mart and so on, but I don't know how welcoming the material they put into the Wal-Marts really was.

I dunno, I guess I've been here so long that I'm immersed in the group think, just like everyone else. The comics industry is making a comeback, but it isn't really a "big" comeback. Everyone in the industry always sits around and has "the talk" about how to fix comics. And it's the same talk year after year after year. It's endless. When I was at Vertigo, for the first time in my career, I stopped having the talk, and just tried to enable the best material I could, with varying results. The LCS (local comics store) system of comics really can't be "fixed." It can be improved, and the companies can produce comics that get casual, peripheral readers excited and into stores. But that is still going to be a long process.

RICHARD: We've seen how the internet has changed comics and comics journalism - but how has it changed you?

HEIDI: Well, I was always ready for the internet. When I was a kid, I read some science fiction stories about being able to send electronic messages and tap into databases, and I thought, that's cool, I can't wait for that! Whenever I read anything about what was to be the Internet I was all for it. Here in New York, I was walking around today and I passed a public net access station on the street, like a phone booth, just like in Neuromancer, from 1980. It's finally here! The power of the internet, of course, is that it's constant, non-stop information access. And you can change what people think with one story, at times. I have to say, I'm really very comfortable with that level of pressure and immediacy. It suits my temperament perfectly, so if anything, the internet has enabled me to focus of my energies into something that's very intuitive to the way I think. Plus, it also enables me to achieve another one of my goals, namely the ability to spend all day googling for pictures of Bruce Campbell.

RICHARD: No need, Heidi, no need.

Heidi MacDonald writes for Comicon. Rich Johnston writes Lying In the Gutters. Bruce Campbell is looking nervous.

Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

The Waiting For Tommy Archive

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