Mark Waid Interview

Did you submit proposals for the series you wrote/co-wrote, or were you just told this is how it is, so write it?

The latter.  I was a tyro.  Only once I took the book over as sole writer was I allowed to chart my own direction.

When it gives Grant Miehm credit as the writer (legend of the Shield), and you as the scripter, did he give you the story, and you just fleshed out the things they said, or was is co-writing?

I simply dialogued the pencils using his plots as a guideline.  I had no input into the actual stories (sadly).

So, what did you find wrong with it?

I honestly don’t remember, other than I never thought the protagonist was particularly sympathetic.  It’s hard to justify stealing a multi-billion dollar piece of equipment from the U.S. Army….

You wrote two of the Golden Age Shield back-up stories in the Impact Annuals. Were you given free reign on what to write for these stories?

Yep.  They weren’t Eisner award winners, that’s for sure, but at least there was some thematic unity.  Plus, I’d just seen HAVANA with Robert Redford and was influenced by its portrayal of the last days of pre-Castro Cuba.  And “Lucky” Jackson was named after Elvis’s character in VIVA LAS VEGAS.  I went through a period where any time I needed a new civilian character name, I’d take one from an Elvis movie.  Thankfully, I grew out of that.

The artist listed on those stories is “Turner Allen.”  Alan Kupperberg was the Comet artist who went by “Turner Alan,” but says he doesn’t really remember doing the Shield stories.  Can you shed some light on that?

Oh, that’s absolutely him, though I have no idea why he used a pseudonym.  Maybe he thought he was a character from an Elvis movie.

What did you think of Tom Lyle’s Comet stories (he wrote 1-6, 8)?  Any changes you think should have been made in the early going?

Not in Comet per se; to the minds of myself and most others involved, what doomed Impact as much as anything else was the lunkheaded decision to blatantly market it “for kids.”   Kids want to read what their big brothers read; they don’t want to read stuff pandering to them.   Once Jim Owsley took over editorially, we made strides to “toughen up” the imprint somewhat, but it was too little, too late.

When you took over as writer, did you decide on a new direction for the character (Comet), or did you follow where Tom had already planned and layed out?

I hope I’m not doing Tom a disservice by misremembering, but as I recall, I really just went off in my own direction, no slight to previous stories.  In a very real way, COMET was my prototype for FLASH.

Did the impending cancellation of the Impact titles cause you to do things you hadn’t planned? (such as…oh, I don’t know, killing off the Comet)

Such as killing the Comet, yes.   Or writing, like, some of the worst comics ever (CRUSADERS #7-8 were a train wreck) just to achieve some closure and set up IMPACT: PHASE TWO.

Did you find it harder to write the team book, and try to fit into the continuity of the other books, or was it rather simple (considering you worked on Comet and Shield anyway)?

I don’t really recall it being a problem; editorial coordination on those books was always pretty strong.  There were only two glaring editorial blunders I remember; one was giving some villain (I forget who, but you can tell me) her own trading card when she ended up never actually appearing anywhere, and the other was partly my fault–no one edited out a joke I made in the IMPACT WHO’S WHO in the “Web: Silver” entry.

Who was your favorite Impact character?

The Comet, hands down, but I was prejudiced.  By far, the best BOOK we had was THE BLACK HOOD–well-written, well-drawn.

Did you get a say in who the artists were on your stories?

Not a one.  C’mon, LOOK at some of those later issues.  I’m smarter than THAT…!

Was there a particular title/issue of your Impact work that you are especially proud of?

Two things come to mind; the final pages of the last issue of THE COMET and the text pages I wrote for the first two issues of JAGUAR and THE FLY.

Crucible.  Who’s child was this?  Was this something you helped plan, or was the basic story given to you by Jim Owsley (Priest)?

The basic story was given to us by Owsley, who was then and remains one of comics’ best writers no one knows.  The original proposal as we hammered it out has quite a bit that never came to fruition and/or was changed once the plug was pulled on the relaunch.

Rob Conners was a left-wing activist troughout the time Tom was writing it, but when you took over, it was more action, and those general overtones seemed to disappear.   Was this a conscious move, or just a move to get more interesting stories?

Neither; just didn’t fit in with the direction I wanted to go.

Did you have any plans for the characters for after Crucible, if the miniseries had been successful?

(NOTE: the answer was given to the interviewer in the form of photocopies of three titles that never saw the light of day–The American Shield; Wrath of the Comet; and Mask of the Black Hood, all written by either Mark Waid or Brian Augustyn)

Mike Gold vs. Jim Owsley.  Can you compare/contrast their editorial styles?

Gold ran a pretty tight ship, but all of us to this day question some of the charter assignments he made.  Owsley, as I used to say, put the “lazy” in “laissez-fair,” which was generally great; like Brian Augustyn in FLASH, I wrote it, he printed it; there were no amateurs in that mix.

If you could choose, what would be the one thing you would have done different with Impact?

As I indicated above, for the love of God, I wouldn’t have “kiddified” the launch, particularly given that the VERY SAME WEEK the Shield #1 came out, so did MAGNUS, ROBOT FIGHTER #1.   That’s right–we were up against the Valiant launch, and they (rightfully, I think) kicked our asses.

What would be on your personal favorites list of your career?

IMPULSE, far and away, and FLASH for the most part, even though I probably never should have come back for a second tour of duty.

Thanks, Mark

No problem.