Why kill off Sidmonson in
the first issue? Especially after the build-up of the Black
Hood's presence in the Impact universe?
Surprised you - didn't it? The desire to do the
unexpected and a way to illustrate the basic nature of my BLACK
HOOD which was described in the proposal as, "There is no
Hero - only the Hood." Also - I wasn't too thrilled
about having other creators messing with my characters and story
before I was able to present it myself in the first issue of
BLACK HOOD. This is a case of me needing to learn to
"play well with the other kids." And it was a way
to wipe the slate clean and have a "no baggage" to
start on the series. After all the elements fell into place
- killing Sidmonson became the perfect solution and allowed me to
make fun of the passť PUNISHER take on heroes that was very
popular at the time. It was a way to give the fans exactly
what they were anticipating and then turn the premise on its
head. By the way - the name Sidmonson was my sideways nod
to my friend Walt Simonson.
Some people tried to keep
some "throwbacks" to the older versions of the
characters in the books (example: Joe Higgins/Shield, Jason
TROY/Fly), yet the Black Hood series had none of that. Just
a personal decision?
When Mike Gold selected me to re-create the BLACK HOOD I asked
for some old comics as a jumping off point, since I had virtually
no exposure to the character other than two issues of the
Archie/Red Circle version by Gray Morrow. And I hadn't seen
those issues for years prior to being offered this gig.
Mike told me he'd rather I remain ignorant, that I should start
from scratch and create a book I'd like to work on for three
years minimum. So I took the name "BLACK
HOOD". From that I decided I had to have some
character wearing a hood and went on from there.
What kind of research did
you do on the Black Hood before beginning the writing of the
I mainly spent a good deal of time attempting to be 12 years
old. I was trying to remember what my head had been like at
that age. To some extent I was successful. And the
effort ended up warping my outlook for at least several years
Is there any particular
reason the Fox's visuals were changed? I ask because he had
an entry in the Who's Who that pre-dated his Black Hood
appearance, and the visual on the entry was identical to the MLJ
Yeah - I changed him. Just like with the BLACK HOOD, I
started from scratch. I have a memory of either Mike Gold
or Paul Kupperberg telling me about that single image in the
WHO'S WHO - and telling me to, "ignore it."
Did you get to pick the
artists that worked on Black Hood? If not, who did?
Mike paired me with Rick Burchett for this project, for which
I am eternally grateful. Working with Rick was a high point in my
career. But you have to understand that I've always worked on my
own projects -most of them have been created by me and owned by
me. Most have been produced out of my company, INSIGHT
STUDIOS. I am accustomed to taking control and running my
projects. BLACK HOOD was only a slight exception.
With Mike's permission and Rick's cooperation I exerted control
over the final art on the issues and even collaborated with Rick
on the costume designs. Rich used to joke when he was asked
why BLACK HOOD was turning out so nice that, "Mark makes me
draw things over!" That only happened a few times, because
Rick was pushing himself as hard as I was pushing myself to make
BLACK HOOD an exceptional comic book. But Rick's drive for
quality began to slow his working speed and we were soon aware
that it was only a matter of time before deadlines would be a
problem. Rick is a true professional and he gave me plenty
of warning. I tapped Neil Vokes, Tim Sale and Damon Willis and
Mike Chen for aid and assistance. And I suggested Leo
Duranona and Dave Rawson and Pat McGreal for the annual.
Heff Munson was working with me on the TARZAN books around that
time and was running our office at INSIGHT. These are all
top people who I was already comfortable working with. When
Rick let me know that he couldn't continue on the series I was
not happy. But I understood his situation. Fortunately I was able
to convince DC to allow Peter Snejbjerg to work from Denmark on a
monthly title (largely based on the idea that a guy with two
"j"s in his last name had to be good). It was our
intention that Peter would be the new regular artist. As it
turned out - after all the approvals and arrangements - Peter's
first issue ended up being the final issue of the series.
The final issue of the
series was very possibly the most important as far as
understanding the character. A couple questions about that
By the time Impact was
nearing the end of it's run, it had all but disappeared from the
newsstand shelves. And yet the final issue was important,
as I said before. Any comments on this little piece of
Well - I'm still frustrated about the way IMPACT withered and
died. It was an important idea, comics aimed at new,
younger readers. I'm also frustrated that BLACK HOOD was
canceled due to the other titles selling poorly. Up until
the announced end of the line, BLACK HOOD was selling very
respectable numbers - numbers that the industry would be bragging
about these days.
"historical recap" in issue 12 planned to appear at
that point in the story, or was it something you did because of
the cancellation of the line?
I got word that the series was canceled shortly after I had
begun the script for issue 12. IMPACT was promised a three
year run, "no matter how bad the sales were." This was
supposed to be due to the need to keep the trademarks
active. Cancellation also occurred shortly following our
second summit, where we made our plans for the second year.
DC spent a great deal of cash and effort bringing together all
the creative teams. So I was caught by surprise when the end was
announced. I talked to Rick and Peter about it and decided
the only fair thing for the readers was to give them some
closure. I started over on the script for issue 12 and the
result was what was published. Peter did a beautiful job
and I was satisfied that I was able to end the series with the
quote that had begun my proposal.
You mentioned not being able
to get through the first 3-year story arc. What did you have
planned for Nate?
Quite a bit, actually. My proposal had plots for the
three years. We moved into a new house last year and I'm
not sure where the proposal is now. It ran a hefty number
of pages and if I find it anytime soon I'll try to include some
of the info. In general, I recall that I intended Nate to
have a very long flirtation with the Hood - sometimes he would be
the BLACK HOOD and then other periods would pass where someone
else would have the hood. The first year was all set-up,
introducing characters, concepts and antagonists. We were
planning to start paying off on some of this in year two.
What was your thoughts on
Crucible, especially seeing that your character was the main guy
in the series?
My memory is a little vague on this. What I do remember is
that since BLACK HOOD was considered a sales success, the
editorial team was seeking a way to keep it going. The
plan, as I remember it, was to use CRUCIBLE to reinvent and
relaunch IMPACT with three titles. I had helped plot what
became CRUCIBLE at the second IMPACT summit. (I think Mark Waid
attempted to kiss me at one point for a suggestion I made.) When
I heard about the changes in the wind, I went to New York and
made a bid to write all three of the new versions of the revived
IMPACT books. I wasn't impressed with CRUCIBLE as it turned
out. But I thought it would allow me to start fairly clean
with the books. DC had a fair amount of interest in my
proposition - but they countered by asking if I'd care to put the
energy into developing my own line of comic books. That sounded
more interesting and I then spent the next year or so developing
the LIGHTING LINE of comic books. It never made it into
print, but a tremendous amount of work was done - much by IMPACT
guys like Rick Burchett, Peter Snejbjerg, Damon Willis, Neal
Vokes, Tim Sale and quite a few others. In less turbulent
times than the early 1990s, the line would have been launched,
since we had strong interest from several publishers, including
Do you think Crucible was
the way to go to "save and fix" the Impact line?
I think the idea of a relaunch was needed. We had to
create an event, a big event, so that we could attempt to grab
some attention. But there was way too much else happening
at the same time in the comic industry. I also think that long,
continued stories are NOT the way to attract new readers.
CRUCIBLE was not originally developed to relaunch the line and
was warped into that role.
Did you have plans for any
projects with Impact AFTER Crucible (had it succeeded)?
I was offered the chance to write a new BLACK HOOD
title. But a new editor was interested in directing the
title, giving me plots, characters, cross-overs, events.
None of that appealed to me and I passed on the offer. I
don't even know if there was a BLACK HOOD title in the
relaunch. I didn't want to see what they were going to do
with the character.
What are your thoughts on
WHY Impact was canceled?
I wasn't on the "inside" - so much of what I can say
is as unfounded as what anyone might come up with. But from where
I was sitting it looked simple. Mike Gold was in a contract
dispute with DC at the time and IMPACT was his project. I
was aware from talks with folks in the DC offices that Mike had
at least two active adversaries in the offices who invested
energy in blocking his success. (This kind of activity
still boggles my mind.) This combined with poor sales to
pull the rug out from under the line. As to why sales were
poor - partially I believe it was timing. Comic shops were
busy alienating their customers with "collector's
items" and they certainly had not yet come to realize that
they needed younger readers to grow into an older audience.
It was apparent going into IMPACT that the titles would be odd
for many comic retailers. Market reports were telling us
that the general public would respond very well to the IMPACT
titles. We were just having a great deal of trouble
punching through the 1990s IMAGE buzz to create any, well,
To contact Mark, go to his website, http://www.InsightStudiosGroup.com