From Birmingham to Gotham City: Six questions with Mark Waid
Thirty-six questions. Six answers. One random number generator. Welcome to Robot Roulette, where creators roll the virtual dice and answer our questions about their lives, careers, interests and more.
Trying his luck today is comic writer, guest lecturer and sometimes keynote speaker Mark Waid. He’s the man behind Thrillbent.com and the writer of such comics as Indestructible Hulk, Daredevil, Insufferable, Steed and Mrs. Peel, Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom, Kingdom Come, The Flash, Captain America, Legion of Superheroes, Amazing Spider-Man, Irredeemable, Fantastic Four and many more.
Now let’s get to it …
1. At what particular point in your career — a specific comic, job offer, convention, etc. — did you realized you’d gone from wanting to be a comic creator to knowing you’re a comic creator?
Easy. When I turned in my second issue of Flash, #63. I’d been convinced I was a fraud and someone was gonna figure that out and stop me from this career, and I was stumbling around, but then I suddenly GOT it mid-page. I remembered an important lesson I’d gotten from Marty Pasko, one of my all-time favorite writers, about how you really have to step inside the characters to make it all work, really think about (as he put it on a page of Action Comics #500, a page I proudly own) “the feeling of the wind in your face, in a way no one else in the world can feel it, or the sound bullets make when they bounce off living flesh.” I was writing about Wally West’s first run, the moment of unbridled joy in him when he realized he could run at super-speed, and–thinking of Pasko’s lesson–I somehow stumbled into this line of narration: “And the only sounds in the world were the roar of the wind and the thunder of my own two feet,” which to this day is probably the best sentence I ever wrote. I understood Wally in that split-second, and I didn’t feel like a fraud any longer.
12. What comic was your “gateway drug” and made you a comic fan?
Dude, I’ve told this story so many times now that alien civilizations can probably repeat it, but for you, a brief recap: Batman #180, the first issue my dad saw at a newsstand after the Adam West TV show debuted, of which I was immediately a huge fan. He brought it home for me and I haven’t stopped reading comics since.
13. Where did you grow up? Tell us something about where you grew up that we may not know.
I grew up all around and in the Birmingham, Alabama area, with lots of time spent in Tupelo, Mississippi, as well. Because my dad was middle-management with Gulf Oil, we moved around a lot as he trouble-shot different refineries–and once my folks got divorced, I lived with my mom for a bit and we moved, like, every week. I skipped two grades, but I still went to 12 different schools in 10 years. So while I was born in Hueytown and while, of all the places I’ve been, I still consider Tupelo “home,” I think the true answer to “where did you grow up?” is probably “Gotham City.”
23. What’s on the desk around your work area (feel free to send a picture if you’d like)?
Left to right: Thrillbent.com business cards, a Diet Coke, a small notebook, a box of graham crackers and that’s it. I need a sleek work space because I have the attention span of toaster.
28. Based on where you live right now, what’s the farthest you’ve ever been from home, and why did you go there?
New Zealand. For two back-to-back conventions. And I would go back in a cocaine heartbeat.
30. What hobbies or interests do you have outside of comics?
I don’t understand the question.