io9 Discovers Mark Waid's Awesome Arsenal Of Scifi Gadgets

Illustration for article titled io9 Discovers Mark Waid's Awesome Arsenal Of Scifi Gadgets

Mark Waid is best known for creating the Kingdom Come graphic novel with Alex Ross, but his more recent run on Brave and the Bold has been of the best comics from DC lately. He's one of the quickest people to label himself a comic book nut, and his house is full of memorabilia. He ran down to his local comic book shop to pick up the JLA Trophy Room Kryptonite set, only to find the release date was pushed back. How will he repel Superman now? We caught up with Mark at the Y: The Last Man party in Los Angeles, where he revealed to us his deepest and darkest shame as a science fiction fan.


When you were young, did any particular science fiction inspire you to get into writing?

I'm sort of embarrassed to say... well, I'll just lay all my cards on the table here: Isaac Asimov's stuff. Isaac Asimov's science fiction stuff which was, in retrospect, is juvenile and clunky and has much better ideas than style. But, I didn't care about style then I was 12 years old. The cleverness of the mysteries, they don't hold up very well for me as an adult, but as a kid that's the stuff that sparked my imagination.

Do you have a favorite science fiction book of a film?

I honestly think that, even though this is fairly recent, The Matrix was the greatest science fiction movie I've ever seen, and I've seen them all.

Did you like all three?

The other two made my head hurt. I went in cold not knowing anything, completely cold, and it just blew my mind. Going back, I'm a big fan of Phillip K. Dick. Always have been. I'm a big fan of Alfred Bester, and I know a lot of his stuff is out of print now, which kills me. Those formative guys from the 50s and 60s, and any of those guys that Harlan assembled for Dangerous Visions, J.G. Ballard... all those guys are just phenomenal.


And Alfred Bester wrote for comics too, right? Didn't he write Green Lantern?

That's right, he wrote Green Lantern for awhile. He did some pulp stuff before the comics, but he didn't really become big until the 40s and 50s during his run in comics.


What are you writing these days?

I'm currently writing The Brave and the Bold at DC Comics, where I just finished up a run on The Flash. I'm also doing a lot of work at Boom! Studios where I'm the editor in chief.


That's right, and they're based out here in Los Angeles. What titles have you worked on there?

I wrote a miniseries called Potter's Field which came out last year, and I'm working on some more creator-owned stuff for them next year. In the meantime, that's my night job. My day job is the full-time editorial gig. I started there in July of last year, and I couldn't be happier. It's after 20 years of writing, it's cool to flex different muscles editorially because I'm finding that while I'm teaching new writers to do their stuff, it's forcing me to flex muscles that I hadn't used for awhile. Or to sort of articulate things in a way that I only know instinctively.


So were you a fan of Y: The Last Man?

Absolutely! I've been reading Y since the beginning, ever since Brian was a little kid with a stick and a hoop and a crown hat coming by my house going, "Mr. Waid! Mr. Waid! I want to grow up to be just like you!' No, I've known Brian for 10 years or better, and I've been reading his stuff all along. I couldn't be happier for him.


So you follow his work on Lost?

Definitely, and although I know it's a big room with a big group of writers, I can sometimes see flashes of Brian every now and again with the humor.


Do you think anyone could do a good film or television version of Y: The Last Man?

I think if they took enough time with it they could, if they didn't try to cram it into a 90 minute movie, sure. But we'll see... it doesn't matter whether it's faithful, it just matters if it's good or not.


What upcoming comic book films are you looking the most forward to?

Well, Dark Knight. That's the one that's going to rock the house. That's the one that's going to be amazing. Iron Man looks cool, but I was never a huge Iron Man fan, although it's inspired casting. Perfect casting. But Dark Knight... if they can get under the eclipse of the Heath Ledger story, will do really well for them. What I've seen ahead of time looks phenomenal. I just don't think you can say "Why So Serious?" anymore.


Is there any comic book property that you haven't worked on, but would love to?

From Archie Comics to DC Comics to Marvel Comics, I've written pretty much everything, but the one thing I haven't touched is Captain Marvel, the Shazam! version. Some day, at some point in my future, that's somewhere on the line.


Everybody who gets their hooks into it knows it's a great property, it's just that nobody has found a way to translate it. I don't know that you can write it for 40 year old fanboys, I don't know that there's an audience for it there. But it's the perfect young adult property, and it's just waiting to break out. He doesn't have to come from Krypton, and he doesn't have to train for years and years or become a scientist, he just says a magic word. When I was a kid, that's all I wanted.



I completely adore the Shazam characters, especially Mary Marvel, but he is so right — that NEEDS to be written for the YA audience and really focus on those characters as kids with powers. That's what I loved so much about the stories when I was reading them in the 70s where they'd have new stories and old 1940s stories all together in one 100-pager. Not to sound all, "back in my day," but this is a property where I think DC has repeatedly stumbled mostly because they don't understand the core of the appeal.

The repeated attempts to shoehorn the Marvels into grown-up DCU just don't work because what's great about them is the crazy surrealist kid stuff — like Mr. Tawny and the Sivana family.

It did work FANTASTICALLY well in Kingdom Come but that was because Waid and Ross stuck to the idea of Billy as a young person first rather than as Captain Marvel.