Everyone is talking about this career-spanning interview with writer/BOOM! EIC Mark Waid at AICN. In a comics media drowning in promotional interviews, the long, in-depth interview is a thing of the past (or a TwoMorrows publication) but this one pulls out the stops, and Waid spells out his version of some of the most colorful comics incidents of the past decade, like…Crossgen:
[Mark Alessi’s] idea of creative guidance was to; quite literally, scream until he was red in the face that there wasn’t enough detail on the page and that he wanted to see every single blade of grass, Goddamnit! He’d punish guys who drew perfectly well without his help by focusing on some detail or another on one of 22 pages–some face that somehow wasn’t exactly what he saw in his head, whatever the hell that was–by berating them at the top of his lungs and then sending them home for the day, “and don’t come back until you can draw it right!” That, people, is art directing at its finest. Despite his inappropriate behavior, which was deservedly notorious, there were some damn good Crossgen books put out–but I swear to you, none of them were issued by Crossgen so much as escaped FROM Crossgen.
And…the Jemas Years at Marvel:
Bill Jemas, along with Joe Quesada, gets and deserves all the credit in the world for making Marvel Comics vital again for the 21st century. And Joe was always very supportive, is very supportive, of my work. Bill, on the other hand, handed down marching orders pretty much out of the blue to Brevoort that he didn’t like our direction, and he dictated to Tom a whole new concept for the FF–which was to take the “Fantastic” totally out of the series. First off, said Bill, the whole family had to move to the suburbs. Immediately. No explanation necessary. Reed was to be a wacky, scatterbrained inventor who kept coming up with cool stuff (like “waterless fish tanks,” whatever those were) that had no commercial applicability, meaning the family was living check-to-check. Ben was working construction. Johnny was a fireman, and–and this is the best one, please sit down for this–Sue was a beleaguered secretary who would go invisible every time her boss was looking for her. No, no, no, not a super-spy; that would make too much sense. No, a secretary. Oh, and their “super-villain arch-enemy” was the suspicious neighbor next door who thought there was something weird about these people. Gladys Kravitz.
And, the one you’ve been waiting for…the Crisis years:
The biggest challenge was actually, wisely, kept from us by Steve [Wacker, original editor on 52]. EIC Dan Didio, who first championed the concept, hated what we were doing. H-A-T-E-D 52. Would storm up and down the halls telling everyone how much he hated it. And Steve, God bless him, kept us out of the loop on that particular drama. Siglain, having less seniority, was less able to do so, and there’s one issue of 52 near the end that was written almost totally by Dan and Keith Giffen because none of the writers could plot it to Dan’s satisfaction. Which was and is his prerogative as EIC, but man, there’s little more demoralizing than taking the ball down to the one-yard line and then being benched by the guy who kept referring to COUNTDOWN as “52 done right.”
But there are also some happy moments:
I really enjoy teaching and I love working with new talent because–and I mean this honestly and truly–it’s just as important to me to learn from them as it is to pass along what I know about craft.
See, that’s what it’s about. It’s about teaching craft. It’s about being able to explain to newcomers what’s unique about the medium and how best to use its strengths and how to avoid its weaknesses, because I don’t care how big your Hollywood budget is, there are still things that comics can do that no other medium will be able to do–not the least of which is hand the pace at which a story is absorbed over to the reader totally, making comics a subtly but truly interactive experience in a way not often defined.
While many may see the interview as yet another act of bridge burning by Waid, the truth of the matter is that the production of ANY comic book, movie, TV show, or other collaborative widget is a story in itself. Sometimes the stories are real soap operas. Sometimes everyone holds hands and sings “Kumbaya.” In 15 years or so, all of this will be fodder for long interviews in whatever iteration of TwoMorrows exists then.
Bonus: Savage Critic has a rather hilarious cartoon up about the interview.