A few weeks ago, we had the chance to talk to comic icon Mark Waid about the re-birth of Empire, digital comics and Thrillbent.com, and the preponderance of dark and gritty comic book adaptations.
This time, as we sat down with Waid at the New York Comic Fest, we discussed his exit from the Hulk series, what he’d add to Kingdom Come, how he’ll feel if the Daredevil TV series goes “dark and gritty”, the Amazon/Comixology deal, his experiences as the co-owner of a brick and mortar comic book shop and his take on the comic press.
Den of Geek: I asked you this about Empire last time, but I also want to ask about Kingdom Come: if you had a chance to write it again, would you make any changes?
Mark Waid: Yeah. I would find more humor in some of the situations because my one regret about the way I approached Kingdom Come is that it’s very, sort of bombastic, over the top, dramatic, but there’s not any real moments of humor in it. I think that in a 180 page story you can find some, even in the darkest situations.
Thoughts on the Amazon/Comixology deal so far? Just as a competitor and as somebody who actually works with them.
I mean, as a competitor, it’s not… look, I salute them. I still love the Comixology guys and I still think that they’re great guys and I still salute everything that they’ve done and continue to do, but Amazon scares the crap out of me. You know, as a publisher and as a comics guy. Because, you know, the strong arm tactics that gives Amazon… we’ve seen. We’ve seen the strong arm tactics it gives them on Hachette Publishing and then now on Warner Video… Warner DVDs this week and stuff.
I can’t imagine that they’re gonna be happy selling, you know, Amazon’s gonna be happy selling digital comics at the same price as everybody else is selling digital comics. They’ll want those prices down and when those prices come down, that money does not come out of the publishers so much as it comes out of the creative people and their royalties. So, I think that’s… I just think that’s a very dangerous precedent.
With The Hulk, do you want to come back to it at some point, do you have more Hulk stories to tell?
I have more Hulk stories I can tell, it’s just that we ran into a situation by which, I would love to get more caught up on Daredevil, and with Thrillbent and launching the app in the last few weeks and re-launching Empire, just something had to give. And, Gerry Duggan is taking over for me and he’s gonna do great. I mean, I’ve talked to him, I know what his plans are and I think they’re terrific. So, I think it’s in good hands.
Any other Marvel characters or any other characters in general that you haven’t really had enough of a chance to work on?
It’s funny, there’s not… we talk about this a lot at Marvel, especially. Where else is there to be that I haven’t been? And I think, you know, I wouldn’t mind taking a stab at Iron Man one of these days for a little while. I wouldn’t mind taking a stab at… I’d love to take a shot at Doctor Strange at some point. But I know that there’s plans in the near future for these characters, so I just kind of have to wait my turn. Um, those are the ones that come immediately to mind.
And, you know, at DC I don’t… like, the toys in the toy box — and this is not meant as an insult — it’s just like, the versions of the toys they have in the toy box right now are not the versions of the toys that I’m really comfortable with, so I don’t really feel any connection to those characters.
Do you think that they’ll come back around at some point, just go back to the classics?
Maybe, hard to say. I’m sure if there is enough of a fan demand, they will. But we’ll just see, you know? I don’t know.
What annoys you, if anything, about the comic press?
(Laughs) That’s a good question.
You know what, I like this. I like being able to have a conversation. I like being able to do a vocal interview. When I agree to do an interview with a comics site and I get a list of five questions that are sort of generic questions, like, “Tell me why I should buy your book?”, and stuff like that. Well first off, those are dull questions. And secondly, you’re sending me a list of questions and I have to type the answers — I’m doing your homework for you. You know? Yes, sometimes email is more advantageous and it’s easier for me to get to, but at the same time, you know, I’m doing most of the typing. So that bugs me a little bit.
And of course, anytime that rumor control gets out of hand, that’s annoying as hell.
Well, like Daredevil, before the Marvel Now re-launch.
Everyone thought you were off the book.
Right, they thought I was off the book. Well it got reported as… It became fact very quickly, which is ridiculous. It was never that way. There is a reductive nature to the internet and it’s not limited to comic book news sites and stuff, it’s everybody. There is a reductive nature of it, by which anything that’s said very quickly gets reduced down to the next. Reduced, reduced, reduced to the point where rumors with some sense of nuance to them just become fact. “Alright, well now that he’s left Daredevil…” wait, no, I haven’t left Daredevil!
Exactly. What are some things that you’ve observed at Alter Ego on the brick and mortar [side] of retail that have troubled you about the comic book business?
It’s still that idea… I know we can’t have full returnability for comics. We can’t, because otherwise, people would just keep ordering millions of comics that they’re never going to sell. But it’s hard to take chances. I mean, it’s really hard to be such a full service store that you can literally have one copy of everything that comes out on Wednesday — you’d go bankrupt if you were a smaller store. Because what fans don’t realize — not that they should — but what they don’t realize is that they’re buying your comics at that point. They’re literally buying comics that I have bought to sell to them and if I don’t sell them, I personally eat the loss. It’s not like it goes back to the companies. So, once I’ve put that investment in, you know, I’m in for it. It’s just hard for me to experiment with, you know, “Gosh, I hope people… I’ll buy 3 copies of this new Image comic hoping people will like it, if they don’t, I’m out of a lot of luck”, so, you know?
The Daredevil show, will it bum you out if it gets dark and gritty?
No, it is what it is. And I suspect that it will be very dark and gritty, and you know what, that’s okay. I won’t take it personally. He’s a good character and the great thing about Matt Murdock is he’s a really elastic character, so you can do any kind of story you want to with him. It would be nice to see touches of what we’ve done in there if that happens, but if it doesn’t, I don’t take it personally.
Mark Waid is the co-storyteller (along with Chris Samnee) on Daredevil from Marvel Comics and he publishes Thrillbent.com. Waid writes comics like Empire (with Barry Kitson on art) and Insufferable (with Peter Krause on art) for that site.