Axel-In-Charge: Waid & Samnee on "Black Widow" and the Dawn of the All-New, All-Different Era
“I write for my partners. I write with them and to them. I seek collaborators and co-conspirators rather than employees. I share ownership of the books I do (Hawkeye obviously an exception) with the artists for whom I write as a rule. They make more than me, too, as a rule, and they earn it. Comics are a visual medium; to quote Mark Twain, ‘Thunder is impressive; but it is lightning that does the job.’
It is a high-class problem at all that anyone wants to write critically about a book I write and I understand that, but I find it fatuous at best and disingenuous at worst when any book I write gets referred to as ‘mine.’ These comics result from the work of ‘us.’ One may as well write a restaurant review without referring to the actual taste of a meal, or a piece of music solely by its duration.
“A couple months ago someone on Twitter wrote me that something one of my characters said in my movie hurt him. I’ve gotten hundreds of tweets from people angry about moments in my films over the years, and I just ignore them, or get angry in return. But that one tweet affected me profoundly. The last thing I want to do with my work is hurt someone, especially someone who already feels disenfranchised. That made me think about what I write and what I put in my films, and I will be more thoughtful about situations like it in the future. That is, one honest and vulnerable tweet affected more change in me than hundreds of angry ones.
So, again, it’s easy to be outraged by these tweets. But whatever these angry tweeters are in need of, I don’t think it’s more anger and more rage thrown back at them on Twitter. I actually think that’s what they’re seeking. But what they need is something different. Compassion, maybe? A kind request for boundaries? I don’t know. Maybe you guys have some ideas.”
— Guardians of the Galaxy writer/director James Gunn, in a longer Facebook post on Avengers: Age of Ultron writer/director Joss Whedon’s recent departure from Twitter, which came amid criticism and abuse from fans online concerning storylines from the film.
“When I ask the average person about depictions of women in media, the first thing they mention is female body image, and the sexualisation of women. They then go on to talk about how the depiction of women affects the self-esteem of young girls, because they look into the mirror and find their physique wanting when compared to catwalk models.
My answer to that is usually not the ‘you should love yourself the way you are’ sort of stock reply, which has been bandied around for years, to little effect. Instead, I bounce another question back at the person asking it:
Why the focus on what women look like and what they’re wearing?
Why is the debate about teenage self-image always about appearances, and not about the stories of women as people who have lives, hopes and values?
[…] Using just a fine liner and a sheet of paper, I’ve created girls and women of various shapes, sizes, ages and ethnicities. Sometimes these women are interested in romance, sometimes not, but all of them have the same agency as the male characters do. Which I feel is the important thing. Not so much talking endlessly about a woman’s appearance, but showing that every single character, male or female, can be a well-rounded person with goals and values.”
— Queenie Chan, creator of The Dreaming and artist for Odd Thomas.
“Over the years, when he heard somebody liked other artists more than his work, he was really non-competitive. The thing, though, that I think a lot of people never got about Jack was that Jack wasn’t really competitive with most other comic book artists, because in his mind, they had a different job description. When John Buscema sat down to draw an issue of Fantastic Four — and, actually, nothing I’m about to say is knocking John Buscema in any way, or any of the artists I’m going to mention here — his goal was to do an issue of the Fantastic Four. When Jack sat down to do an issue of Fantastic Four, in his mind his job description was to create a new universe, three spinoffs and take comics to another level.”
Note: The original version of this post misattributed the comment. It’s been edited to correct that, and to provide a fuller quote.
“I, and most of my colleagues, have spent a lot of time discussing red lines since the tragedy in Paris. As you know, the Muhammad cartoon controversy began eight years ago in Denmark, as a protest against ‘self-censorship,’ one editor’s call to arms against what she felt was a suffocating political correctness. The idea behind the original drawings was not to entertain or to enlighten or to challenge authority — her charge to the cartoonists was specifically to provoke, and in that they were exceedingly successful. Not only was one cartoonist gunned down, but riots erupted around the world, resulting in the deaths of scores. No one could say toward what positive social end, yet free speech absolutists were unchastened. Using judgment and common sense in expressing oneself were denounced as antithetical to freedom of speech.
[…] What free speech absolutists have failed to acknowledge is that because one has the right to offend a group does not mean that one must. Or that that group gives up the right to be outraged. They’re allowed to feel pain. Freedom should always be discussed within the context of responsibility. At some point free expression absolutism becomes childish and unserious. It becomes its own kind of fanaticism.”
— Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, no stranger to controversy, talking about Charlie Hebdo‘s Prophet Muhammad cartoons as part of his remarks on receiving the George Polk Career Award at Long Island University.
“As soon as I started getting an allowance, it was for comics. I would just go [to the store]. I didn’t really have a concept of new comic day, I just thought they showed up at any given random time at Golden Apple in LA. I would just show up and was like, ‘Ooh, WildC.A.T.S.!’ It was all that — WildC.A.T.S., Spawn, Cyberforce. I got into it too late to even know that these creators worked on Spider-Man and the X-Men. I just knew that they created the friggin’ Violator. It was huge for me. It got me into comics, straight-up. I think I liked those comics more than I liked X-Men. I just remember being at my friend’s house and he was like, ‘You gotta read this Spawn,’ and I loved it.”
— Say Anything frontman Max Bemis, talking with Comic Book Resources about the ’90s Image comics that inspired his new BOOM! Studios series Oh, Killstrike
“If you get yourself into a grind with event after event, sooner or later, you’re going to be only artificially propping up the sales of your books, and your line itself. Only the event is what’s driving people, not the individual characters, and you’re being forced to add more and more things in just to attract attention. The bigger win for us is to be able to rotate the crops a little bit. Replant the land, grow strong characters, and that way, when we build something else out of it, we have a much stronger base from which all these other stories can be told. And if you look back in DC’s history, and even comics history, most of these characters that exist today, that are all now traveling in a group setting, in every event, from one event to the next — they travel as a traveling sideshow, almost — that wasn’t the case when they were introduced. Every character existed and breathed in its own right, and when they crossed over, it was special. What we want to do is make those individual things special again.”
– DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio, talking with Comic Book Resources about the company’s post-“Convergence” plans
“It’s a little bit of me trying to say out loud, the reason that Spawn looks and feels the way that it does, which is slightly different than some of the better-selling books right now at Image, is because it was started in 1992, and those trappings were put in there intentionally at that time. I can’t undo the blueprint. It’s a superhero book, and it’s always been a superhero book. That’s what it is. It’s not that I can’t do non-superhero books, or I couldn’t do a comedy book, or a true romance book, I just have chosen during that time not to. It’s not for lack of ideas or skill, I’ve just chosen not to. If people like it, some people may say, ‘Oh, it’s a change of pace for Todd. I didn’t know you could do all of this stuff.’ To me, it’s not really different than saying, ‘Draw a circle or draw a square.’ They’re both different shapes. I can do both of them, I just have been drawing a circle for so long. But it didn’t mean I couldn’t draw a square any day of the last 20 years. I could have. That’s not what Marvel and DC did, and when we left, that wasn’t what we did. We did our thing, and people then could say, ‘Well, you could have done it in the last 20 years,’ and the answer is not really, because that really wasn’t the footprint and the identity of what Image was at that point.”
– Todd McFarlane, discussing his upcoming Image Comics miniseries Savior
“I’ve been such a jerk. (Your pull quote.) I used to look down my nose at stores that would order only Marvel and DC Comics and only enough to sate their Wednesday customer base, and now I get it. At Aw Yeah Comics, we’re far more diverse than that, but even still, there’s only so much money we can spend because there’s only so much money our customer base — not just our regulars, but even our potential customer base — has.”
— writer Mark Waid, on what being a retailer has taught him about comics, in an interview with Comic Book Resources announcing that he and partner Christy Branch are reincorporating their Indiana store Alter Ego Comics as Aw Yeah Comics Muncie
“People clamor for Black Panther or Luke Cage, and the incredible response when the Static show was announced — that wasn’t just black fans going ‘yay, about time.’ That was fans going, ‘yay, about time.’ Everyone knows diversity is good. We want black superheroes, we want female superheroes, we want Latino superheroes. That makes things better. And they don’t have to be sidekicks or buddies, they can be rock stars themselves.”
— Reginald Hudlin, in an interview with Comic Book Resources, discussing the Static Shock live-action digital series, and the desire for diversity in superhero-comics adaptations
I’ve always thought there’s a beautiful eloquence of having a connection to something that was designed 50, 60, 75 years ago, that is essentially undiluted. They don’t need to be over-altered for the sake of upcoming generations. They don’t have to be unified.
If you have to always make characters younger because, ‘well, young people won’t connect with older protagonists,’ well, that is such horseshit.”
– Alex Ross, lamenting the desire of some publishers to remake superheroes for a modern audience, in the same piece in which he says he’s learned not to get too attached to certain depictions of characters: “If you start thinking that your version of a thing is the most popular, beloved version, then when they go a different way, as they have with their version of Superman today, it breaks your heart.”
“You know, I don’t regret my mistakes, but I don’t know that I liked them. I certainly don’t want to publicize them. I did draw my very first comic book, and that was a mistake. I am not a good artist. I spent three months and I was going to write and draw a comic book and I worked on this thing and it was terrible. I sent it to the distributor and they were like, ‘This is not of professional quality, we will not distribute this.’ That was a mistake, but I learned from it and it led to me realizing that drawing comics is a fool’s game. I think it led to good things.”
— The Walking Dead co-creator Robert Kirkman, recalling his “favorite mistake” in a brief Q&A with Playboy. Of course, “I think it led to good things” may be a bit of an understatement.
“To any writers or artists out there trying to decide how best to include a colorist into your creator-owned project: give them a stake in the project and include them as much as possible. The excitement that inclusion generates in someone that’s usually on the periphery of a project will increase their dedication and enthusiasm for the project and enhance the end result.”
— The Wicked + The Divine and Young Avengers colorist Matthew Wilson, discussing the differences between coloring creator-owned work and work-for-hire.
“What keeps this industry alive is creators doing their own work. Once you change a costume or origin enough times, it’s a dead body — you’re just electrocuting it and keeping it sort of shambling on. There is a lot more creator-owned stuff now, and some of it I look at and go, ‘Oh, that’s his pitch for a TV show. That’s his pitch for a movie. That’s him saying oh, this kind of thing sells.’ I didn’t do that. My one piece of advice to people who are saying “‘I wanna do it, but DC and Marvel pay so well …’ is that in between your big paying gigs, just find time just to do one comic! It doesn’t have to be a 6,000-page epic! It doesn’t have to be Hellboy! Ten years down the road, when you’re scrambling for work or drawing some book you hate, at least you did something when you had fire in your belly that’s really you.”
“I thought that the way Warner Bros. announced the slate of DC movies could have been handled better. I think that someone like Grant Gustin, who has just launched an iconic character like The Flash, to record-breaking numbers — numbers that far surpassed Arrow‘s numbers […] I think that he should have been given a wider berth than two episodes before another actor was announced to play his character. […] I thought that it was shitty that all of this stuff got announced the morning that the ratings — the spectacular ratings — of the second episode of The Flash came in.”