Comics For The Apocalypse

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Mark Waid

by Comics For The Apocalypse
June 6th 2021
Every Monday, comic book writer, Samuel George London, interviews interesting guests about what comics they'd take into the apocalypse.Sponsored by ComicScene, this week's guest is comic book writer c... More
Hello. My name is Samuel George London and welcome to Comics with the pandemic. On today's episode. I speak to comic book writer, publisher and thoroughly nice guy Mark, wait about what comics he's been reading during the pandemic. But before we get into it I'd like to get a quick shout out to our sponsor Comic Scene who have a new summer special coming out. This june. The special features strips from the 77 brawler, spacewalk, sentinel wallop and of course the comic scene annual plus a free limited edition print of the cover is included with every purchase to get your copy of the summer special. You must be part of the Comic Scene Comic Club which is available from just £3 a month at comic scene dot org. Now without further ado on with the show.

Hello Mark waid, how's it going? Good sir, Good evening, how are you? I am fantastic and all the better for speaking to you. Um It's it's a real honor to have you on And I was kind of saying before, before we came on air, my my usual question is what you do in the world of comics, but there are going to be extremely low numbers of people who mark wider in the world of comics, but just to give people a flavor, what do you do in the world of comics? March. Sure. Okay, let's see. I mean, I'm primarily a writer, but I've also been a pencil and inker colorist, a Lederer and publisher and editor and editor in chief, Creative creative chief Officer, uh store owner. I've done everything but literally put the staples into the comics. So that's my somewhere in my head is a good time. Yeah, somewhere in my head is this unified field theory of comics now, and I just got to sit down and make sense of it. Absolutely.

I would read that book in a second definitely, maybe that you should, you should write a book like that, that would be fantastic. Um And where can people find you online? Uh Gentlemen, Mark, waiting on twitter, which I don't check terribly often, so you're not gonna get a robust conversation out of there just because we all know what twitter is these days. Um and then weighed Mark on instagram and uh Mark way dot com. Fantastic. And of course all of those links in the show notes, folks, I go click through, follow Mark here there and everywhere and of course go check out his website as well. Um now, um it's been an interesting year. Yes, yeah. Um and so just just to kick things off, how how have you adapted, how do you feel like you've had to adapt to the changing landscape in the past year?

Well, I have to wear several hats because as a writer I didn't honestly didn't have to adapt very much at all because I'm I'm my friends know me as the loch ness monster is the guy you occasionally see glimpses of maybe, but I spent much of my time in my home on a on a more professional level. And also the publisher of Human Rights, which is a european based graphic novel company. They've got the ankle, they've done work with Mobius over the years and they're doing a lot more american work now. So they brought me on his publisher a year ago and uh it was March of last year and I came aboard and I sat down with a crew and I said listen I'm all excited about what we're gonna do and we're gonna go with all this and don't be afraid to bring me any problems. I don't think, I don't think there's anything in comics I haven't seen before. I don't think there's a problem I haven't seen before. And then in an act of an act of hubris like echoed only by car is taking to the skies. I actually said these words. I said in fact I looked problem. Look forward to you bringing me a problem I've never seen before.

That afternoon, one of our editors admitted she had another job. You know overseas. Uh, that was monday on Tuesday half of our back stock got blown away by a freak tornado that hit a truck in Tennessee. And then Wednesday we all know what happened when suddenly someone pulled the switch in the entire country shut down. So there was a lot of, a lot of adapting that had to be done. It's, you know, an office environment is unique and you don't realize what you get out as a publishing company. You don't realize what you get out of the environment of being in an office until it's gone, which is, it seems like, you know, everybody's doing okay, working off zoom and working at home and so forth, we're still doing that. But there's nothing quite compares to the energy that's created by having creative people in a in a shared space, just knocking ideas around, or just that just that energy in general, or just the convenience of being able to knock, knock on a guy's door and stick your head in and ask a quick question.

Uh and so that's been that's been the real place to adapt, is trying to lead a team in incredibly unprecedented times. And I was proud to say, we've we've come out the other side stronger. Uh We, unlike a lot of other publishers, we were very lucky and that we had enough in the bank to be able to say, okay, we're gonna, we're gonna push our entire slate back a few months. We're going to use this time to create a vision and to figure out what kind of publisher you want to be going forward and and refine what we're gonna be doing. And that worked out well for us. So, you know, I don't want to say a blessing in disguise because that trivializes it. And it will also be a hell of a disguise, but it it certainly has. We've managed to make something out of it. So that's been the, that's been the adapting process and then kids here in the States, you know, they've just reopened pretty much everything. Uh, everybody is asking me more, The memorial Day, three day weekend is this weekend.

Somebody asked me this morning, what are your plans? I'm like, are you kidding me? I can't go out this week. This is the one weekend that every Californian and the state is going to be out doing stuff. You know, uh, they find they're finally free. I'm gonna be the guy who stays inside on Memorial Day week. So that is my plan. That was a long answer to your question. Look at all. That was, that was really interesting mark. Um, and yeah, I know it's been, it's been an interesting year, um, across the, across the board really. Um, it sounds like Humanoids has adapted very well to the changing landscape. And of course there's been a couple of changes as well, kind of with other well known companies such as Marvin, You kind of changing, changing their distribution model as well. Um, what do you think about that? I am pleasantly surprised at the durability that the market is showing in the face of all of these changes in all of these shifts.

I'm you know you could have made a case a year ago that the direct market was going to take such a major hit that it would it would have been hard to recover. You could have made a case you know a year ago that most comic stores and Diamond would have completely gone out of business luckily. You know people found a way and we've lost some stores which is a tragedy. We've also had some stores open which is which is great too. And you know everybody is managing to deal with the fact that D. C. Is now going with a different distributor and now marvel is doing something different themselves. And Diamond doesn't quite as the main distributor for years and years, suddenly doesn't have dC and marvel at their disposal. How are they going to survive as a company? I don't have the slightest idea, I wish them the best but I have no idea how they're gonna survive. And it's just interesting watching from the sidelines and seeing that even with all of this chaos, even with all of this tumult that stores are still opening and still selling comics on Wednesday and still basically doing you know, as okay as they can under the circumstances.

Which I find heartening. Yeah it really is. And shows how how resilient the comics community is, which it was just kind of fantastic to see. Um And uh of course from a from a creative angle it's been an interesting year because of course there's a bit of a kind of a bit of a break really from actually kind of launching and releasing complex that was gave people some time to think maybe like humanoids, it was okay. Humanoids on a personal level though, it's there was a point, I want to say june or july or something, maybe early on when I realized that it was the first month in 30 years that I hadn't had a new comic book out somewhere on the stands that month and it was very sobering. Uh so that way that took some getting used to is the fact that, you know, my workload took a hit like everybody else's. I mean marvel had their moments where they had everybody stand down from some, you know, for a little while while they were grouped and some projects were cancelled and you know, I'm doing more work for D.

C. But that was just getting up and running. So that was that was bizarre. Very much so. And and how do you feel like your your writing process? Has it has it changed at all this past year? It has it has in in ways that I'm still trying to figure out. Um We are we're not in a as a nation as you know as people were not in the post traumatic stress of all of this yet we're still in the trauma phase. And we've people have literally had their brains rewired because of of this. I've been talking to my therapist is a is a notable therapist who spends a lot of time in Washington dealing with Fauci in dealing with a lot of other people. Um and talking to other mental health professionals. I know it's the insidious thing about the last year is that it is rewired our brains to where concentration is harder to achieve where I know just speaking of personal experience and I thought this was unique to me until I talked to doctors and they said, no, no, no, we're hearing this a lot.

Which was that I love to drive. I love to get in the car and go for a drive, go anywhere. But of course, you know, during the pandemic, early days, I didn't get behind the wheel of my car for a couple of months, so I get out of the road as I'm driving and suddenly I'm twitchy suddenly like every noise, every light, every sound is just, you know, can try, you are arguing for my attention and I'm just, you know, I can't, you know, you can barely function. I can't multitask like, like that because I'm not suddenly I'm not used to it because this is a common problem here. Is that all? If you're, if you go from a lifetime, you know, a day after day experience of sensory input that you do just living as one does in the world, and then you go into isolation for a few months with no sensory input. Other than just the occasional tv or whatever, then it messes with your head. So that is again, a very long answer to a short question, but I'm kind of still trying to find my sea legs, to be honest, I'm doing more and more work, getting, getting more and more writing done, but I'm still trying to find the pocket, you know, and it's a struggle.

Yeah, because you're you're process before the pandemic where you were you writing at home when you're writing in an office and I was writing at home, I was I tend to need a very quiet controlled environment when I when I write Mhm. Process where you feel like this. Yeah, no, I was gonna say no, I interrupt you, I'm sorry, but but the process is is just it's just different now. It's the the ability to focus, which has always been a little bit of problem from you have always been the kind of guy who are right for 30 minutes and then and then look for any excuse not to write for a little while um and Fool myself into thinking I'm in control of my time because I'm a freelancer and in fact I'm on the clock 24 hours a day because I've set my life up like that. Um That was it's been the case before, but now it's very odd. It is it is very difficult to to focus and I'm gonna it's a challenge. I'm going to find a way around it. I'm going to find a way to make it happen.

It has nothing to do with with my love for the medium, my love for the characters. So that's good. I don't feel burned out. That's good. So it's just a matter of of re acclimating and I think that you know, as the world begins to get back on the proper axis, I think my creative process probably will too. Yeah, I hope so. Um and maybe you might might bounce back stronger as well because that's often the case, as you said, we're kind of in this trauma face still, we're still trying to wrap our heads around what on earth has happened for the past year. It's really discombobulating. Um But yeah, hopefully we'll all come back stronger and and I think perhaps different perspectives and and it might be good for storytelling. Yes. Absolutely. I mean I hope story, yeah, I mean stories are nothing without conflict and That's all. 2021, there's one big ball of conflict, so yes.

Mhm. Absolutely. Uh now moving moving away from kind of work and things like that. Um how's your reading been this past year? It's like everybody is more than ever. I have become, you know, I've always been a reader, but boy now I've got my nose and everything and uh you know, but I still follow comics, I still, you know, do my Wednesday. If I'm not doing my Wednesday fiscal visit, I will pick up some digital books and uh but I'm, you know, I'm still following the books I've always followed and find that there's been some terrific new books this year. Fantastic. And what are some of your standouts from this past year? From this past year? I've had a bunch of standouts, look just narrowing down to a few. Uh I want to say that one of my favorite new books that's come out is called Jonah and the um possible monsters from Oni Press. And I'm a little biased because it's from my daredevil collaborator, chris Hani, the artist who is now an artist writer because artists realized they don't need writers and so suddenly there off making their millions were sitting here looking for looking for work.

But that's why I say that with a big smile on my face. I'm glad that Chris has found his views. Uh and the book is fantastic. It's about a you know a little cave girl who goes out and deals with these gigantic, impossible beasts and I'm not doing it justice by saying it, but it is a beautiful looking book. I think we're up to issue three and I would encourage people to go look for it. Yeah, no, it's a really good looking book and really interesting story from the sounds of it and uh yeah, it's going it's going right onto my um reading pile. Um, so yeah, I appreciate the nudge on that one. What else is interested you? Another one that I'm again a little biased on is a book called crossover from Image by Donny Cates, which I'm a little biased on, and he asked me to be his editor on the book and he doesn't really need an editor on this. Donny is create our own. But I will look at your scripts and, you know, change fix your commas, and change your spelling. Uh, so it's, you know, my work here, my contribution to this book is uh, minimal, not out of any disinterest.

I'm really enjoying the book, I just want to make sure that it's clear that I'm not tempted my own stuff, but it's, you know, the concept is, you know, it's our world, it's the real world. And then one day something happens years ago opens up a pocket over Denver and every superhero you've ever heard from, and every super villain you ever heard from just suddenly has their big crisis right there in the middle of the city, destroying it and they're still there. And and the beauty of this is Dani is not really working with analog care, like, like, you know, all quasi superman or quasi batman, he's actually using, create our own characters with permission from other people. So when he says crossover, it really is a book that involves a lot of Donnie's created their own characters. Uh you know, there's Iridium, they're irredeemable characters in there from our insufferable characters from there, from some of my books. Uh there's a bunch of image characters in there from different people. Uh The Power's team from Bendis venice's Power's Book to showed up.

It's a fun, it's a fun book. It really is like a Universe White Industrywide crossover and I think he's done well by pulling that off. It's a lot of fun to read, that's fantastic. And yes, again, being added to my reading pile, what a great concept. And it, it takes somebody like Donnie to actually kind of come up with some of the outlandish like that and try and pull together everybody's characters. Donny is the, the heir apparent to Grant when it comes to the big idea and he's really pulling it off. Um, Another one that I'm looking at is a book called from Ahoy called The Wrong Earth. It's a, it's a franchise. They did a book called the mini series called The Wrong Earth, they've done a sequel now they're in the middle of called The Wrong Earth night and day and if you're not familiar with it, it is essentially a parallel world story where the world's end up crossing over into one another. The one world has a character named Dragon Fly man who is very, very much an Adam West batman character in the very stilted and very, you know, old fashioned stuck up, you know, it's sort of you know, can't be take on that character and then his analog on another planet is very dark night sort of take on the character called Dragon fly and when the two of them end up accidentally falling into one another's Earth's and having to adapt to being in, you know, you're the Dark Knight and Adam West world and hear the animal Air Adam West in the Dark Knight's World, it really became fun.

And writer Tom Pierre has really built something out of that Jamal illegal works on that as well. It's really that one. I'm really digging a lot. It's a lot of fun. That's fantastic. Yeah. That's actually come up a few times on the podcast. That's nice. That's good to hear. Yeah, which is which is great. I mean, it sometimes appeared on so sometimes I I asked some standard questions and I asked what's what's the most underrated comic and Wrong Earth? Seems to it seems to appear a couple of times on that question because because we like people are thinking that yeah, just needs more more of a spotlight on it because it's fantastic. Um take really a couple other books that have really caught my attention recently that have both been surprises to me actually. Uh one of them is Flash, which you would think I would be predisposed to like after writing Flash for, You know, 10 years and 100 issues or whatever back in the day. But it's what people don't, what you have to understand is if you're a comic creator and you do a long running a book and then you leave the book, ah you have no ill will toward the people who come after you.

I mean, I like josh Williamson who did a long run on Flash before me. I like him a lot, but it's like seeing an old girlfriend on the street. Like it, you don't people don't necessarily read the books and once they've left them, because there's a weird emotional connection there that said, a writer named Jeremy Adams has been doing Flash for the last few months and on when I picked up his first issue and I loved it. I loved it full stop. It really felt very much like it was totally how I approached the character back in the day. That doesn't automatically make it good. I'm not saying it's good because it's like what I did, I'm not saying that at all, but I'm saying that it was felt very familiar to me and it felt very uh you know, I could really sink up with with the book. I really like what he's doing. It's a it's a crazy sort of quantum leap take on time travel with Wally West, going back and forth through time with the speed force and I don't want to give away too much, but you know, getting to see impulse again, that was fun. Uh seeing other speedsters.

That's that's been fun to. It's it really feels like it's a nice call back to the things I love most about that character that's fantastic. Um And it's it's great when you kind of get that feeling, isn't it? That this this feels familiar but different and it's good. It feels very in the same spirit as, as I tend to approach the flash that um and then I don't know if you've been reading the other history of the DC universe, you've been reading that? I haven't. No, it's fascinating. It is it's by john Ridley and it's a take on, you know, back in 86 I guess, 86 87 D. C. Did a book called history of the DC universe where it was illustrated text taking you from the beginning of time to the end of time, all through the DC universe, all through its fictional history. And john has approached it with the same illustrated text format, but it's the other history. It's told from the point of view of the characters who are more underrepresented.

It's being it's told from the first issue, I think, was told from the point of view of Black lightning. So it's very much john Ridley's own experiences as a black man and how how he perceives history. Uh The next issue was Catanha, a japanese woman and her point of view. So essentially, you're looking at the D. C. The history of the university, the lens of inclusivity through the lens of race, through the lens of of eyes that are different than your than your typical dc heroes. And he's not afraid to, you know, get political with, he's not afraid to get a little dark with it. He doesn't do anything that diminishes the DC characters. He doesn't do anything that makes them less than lesser than. But boy, it's uh it's a really interesting take and I'm digging it that sex and it's so good to have your eyes opened a little bit, isn't it? Something like that? And again, you know, it's gonna have to be something that I'm gonna have to add that.

I ever great, highly regrowing reading list. That's fantastic Mark. Um Now, one last question that I wanted to to ask you was, how do you balance being a publisher, writer and sometimes an editor as well? How do you balance all of that? Are you just able to put on different caps, like at a whim or That's kind of what I have to do? I mean, in a in an ideal world, what I'm doing is I'm taking a day for writing and a day for publishing business, but it never works that way if stuff is on fire no matter what. So it really is a case of meat for 15 hours a day, just sitting in one chair and moving from computer to computer and platform to platform and there's a zoom meeting at two, but I've got to get a script in at three, but there's something to review at four o'clock and the guys looking for a verdict on his pitch by five o'clock and it's it's okay. I mean, again it's frustrating and it's hectic sometimes, but it's comics, look i it's still a dream job.

It's still, you know, if I everybody in comics knows that if you get frustrated with your job in comics, if you start to get angry or upset or bitter about being in comics, go watch a guy shovel asphalt for half an hour and come back to your dad. You know, you're just a pretty choice job you got here. So it's challenging to go back and forth, but I kind of like the activity of it. I like the fact that I get bored easily so it's easy to, it's nice to things kind of pinball back and forth all day. That's amazing, truly, truly inspiring Mark And uh yeah, thank you for for sparing the time to, to fit us in a very much schedule a well. Um Mark waid, thank you so much for sharing your comics for the pandemic. As I say it, it really has been an absolute pleasure and an honor. Um, and uh yeah, hopefully when comic cons get back up and running our paths may cross um, at one of those in the future, I look forward to that.

Thank you very much. Mark, you take care both for now. Thanks again to Mark for being on comments for the pandemic. It was an absolute pleasure if you enjoyed the shape, please leave a refreshing Itunes or whatever podcast service you use as not only with them and know that you liked it, but believe that it helps make other people aware of the show as well. If you like, check out Mark's work or follow him on social media. Those links are in the show notes, along with our our own links, the various areas of the internet. Speaking of which if you haven't already be sure to visit comic scenes website at comic scene dot org for Comic News, the Comic Club and lots of other fun, sequential art stuff. And finally, as long as the apocalypse doesn't come to pass in the next week, I'll see you next monday. Bye for now. Mm hmm.

Mark Waid
Mark Waid
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