Mark Waid on Flash, Crossover and Top 3 Comics
Earlier this week, Publisher and Editor in Chief of Humanoids Mark Waid, guested on Samuel George London’s Comics for the Apocalypse Podcast. A Podcast that delves into the inspirations and machinations behind People in the World of Comics.
Mark Waid has had a stellar career working on numerous titles, namely the Flash and most recently as an editor for Donnie Cates’ Crossover, but it’s his new venture as Publisher and Editor in Chief that had host London so intrigued. How Waid navigates the changing landscape pre-Covid 19 and now is the new normal as the borders to start to open up again.
Mark Waid: “I have to wear several hats because as a writer, I didn’t honestly have to adapt very much at all because my friends know me as the Loch Ness Monster as the guy you occasionally see glimpses of but I spend most of my time in my home. On a more professional level, I’m also the Publisher of Humanoids, which is a European based graphic novel company. They’ve done work with Mobius over the years and they’re doing a lot more American work now.
“So they brought me on as publisher a year ago and it was March of last year and I came aboard and I sat down with the crew. And I said, “listen, I’m all excited about what we’re going to do and where we’re going to go with all this and don’t be afraid to bring me any problems.” I don’t think there’s anything in comics I haven’t seen before. I don’t think there’s a problem I haven’t seen before and then like Icarus taking to the skies, I actually said these words, then that afternoon one of our editors admitted she had another job overseas.
“That was Monday. On Tuesday; half our back stock got blown away by a freak tornado that hit a truck in Tennessee. Then Wednesday, we all know what happened when suddenly someone pulled the switch and the entire country shut down. So there was a lot of adapting that had to be done. An office environment is unique and as a publishing company you don’t realize what you get out of the environment of being in an office until it’s gone.
“There’s nothing that quite compares to the energy that’s created by having creative people in a shared space, just knocking ideas around or just that energy in general, or just the convenience of being able to knock on a guy’s door and stick your head in and ask a quick question. Trying to lead a team in incredibly unprecedented times (is challenging – sic) and I am proud to say, we’ve come out the other side stronger.
“We, unlike a lot of other publishers, were very lucky in that we had enough in the bank to be able to say, ‘okay, we’re going to push our entire slate back a few months and we’re going to use this time to create a vision and to figure out what kind of publisher you want to be going forward and refine what we’re going to be doing.’ And that worked out well for us. I don’t want to say it’s a blessing in disguise because that trivializes it. But we’ve managed to make something out of it. So that’s been the adapting process.“
When asked about how the Comic Book Market is reacting to distribution models changing, Waid has a positive outlook out the ebbs and flows of what makes the Comic Book Industry a truly unique beast.
Mark Waid: “I am pleasantly surprised at the durability that the Market is showing in the face of all of these changes and shifts. You could have made a case a year ago that the direct Market was going to take such a major hit that it would have been hard to recover. Luckily, people found a way and we’ve lost some stores, which is a tragedy, but we’ve also had some stores open, which is great too.
“Everybody’s managing to deal with the fact that DC Comics is now going with a different distributor. And Marvel’s doing something different themselves while Diamond who, was the main distributor for years and years, suddenly doesn’t have DC and Marvel at their disposal. How Diamond are going to survive as a company? I don’t have the slightest idea. I wish them the best but I have no idea how they’re gonna survive. It’s interesting watching from the sidelines.”
Seeing and witnessing the changes in the industry, Waid isn’t immune to the changes in his own creativity. His own structure. A thing which has changed dramatically over the past 12 months. While he admits that multi tasking has been the true road to his success he comments on his own writing process and where it’s at.
Mark Waid: “I tend to need a very quiet controlled environment when I write but the process is just different now. It’s the ability to focus which has always been a little bit of problem for me. I’ve always been the kind of guy who writes for 30 minutes and then look for any excuse not to write for a while. I would fool myself into thinking I’m in control of my time, because I’m a freelancer and I’m on the clock 24 hours a day, because I’ve set my life up like that.
“But now it’s very odd. It is very difficult to focus. It’s a challenge. I’m gonna find a way around it. I’m going to find a way to make it happen. I don’t feel burned out so that’s good. It’s just a matter of reactivating as the world begins to get back on the proper axis which I think my creative process probably do as well.”
But as a reader how has all of this changed his outlook on comics and the medium as a whole? Which comic books is Mark Waid finding comfort in, in the face of the post-Covid world?
Mark Waid: “From this past year, I’ve had a bunch of standouts just narrowing down to a few. I want to say that one of my favorite new books that’s come out is called Jonna and The Unpossible Monsters from Oni Press and I’m a little biased because it’s from my Daredevil collaborator who is now an artist writer.
“I’m glad that Chris has found his muse and the book is fantastic. It’s about a, you know, a little cave girl who goes out and deals with these gigantic impossible beasts and I’m not doing it justice by saying it but it’s a beautiful looking book. I would encourage people to go look for it.
“Another one is a book called Crossover from Image Comics by Donnie Cates which I’m a little biased on because he asked me to be his editor on the book. I’m really just enjoying the book. I just want to make sure that I’m clear that I’m not pimping my own stuff but it’s the real world and then one day, something happens years ago, opens up a pocket over Denver, and every superhero and every super villain you’ve ever heard from just suddenly has their big crisis. The beauty of this is Donnie’s not really working with analog care, like all quasi Superman or quasi Batman.
“He’s actually using creator own characters with permission from other people so when he says Crossover it really is a book that involves a lot of Donny’s creator owned characters. There’s a bunch of Image Comics characters in there from different people and the Powers team from Bendis. It’s a fun book. It really is like an industry wide crossover and I think he’s done well by pulling that off. It’s a lot of fun to read.
“Donnie is the heir apparent to grant when it comes to the big idea and he’s really pulling it off. Another one is a comic book from Ahoy called The Wrong Earth. It’s a franchise. And if you’re not familiar with it, it is essentially a parallel worlds story where the Worlds End up crossing over into one another.
Ever the avid writer and editor Mark Waid hasn’t removed his finger from the pulse when it comes to what’s new and current in the Comic Book Industry. When asked by Comics for the Apocalypse host, Samuel George London, about other books that comic book fans should check out Waid gave a detailed view on not only what he’s reading but also why people should check them out. Adding to the impressive keen eye Waid keeps on comics as a whole.
Mark Waid: “There are a couple other books that have really caught my attention recently, that are both surprises to me. One of them is Flash, which you would think I would be predisposed to like after writing flash for 10 years and 100 issues, but what you have to understand is if you’re a comic creator and you do a long run in a book, and then you leave the book, you have no ill will toward the people who come after you.
“I like Josh Williamson who did a long run of Flash before. I like him a lot but it’s like seeing an old girlfriend on the street, people don’t necessarily read the books once they’ve left them because there’s a weird emotional connection there. That said, a writer named Jeremy Adams has been doing Flash for the last few months and, on a whim, I picked up his first issue and I loved it. I loved it full stop.
“I really like what he’s (Williamson) doing. It’s a crazy sort of quantum leap take on time travel with Wally West going back and forth through time with the Speed Force and I don’t want to give away too much but, you know, getting to see Impulse again… that was fun. Seeing other speedsters? That’s been fun too. It really feels like it’s a nice call back to the things I love most about that character.”
Rounding up this thirty minute podcast episode, Comics for the Apocalypse’s Samuel George London asked one simple question that closed out this episode. One about balance. Specifically, time management. How does Mark manage his time so expertly when he has so much on his plate? As a publisher, writer and an editor, where does Mark Waid’s time management balance come from?
Mark Waid: “I mean in an ideal world, what I’m doing is I’m taking a day for writing and a day for publishing business, but it never works that way. Stuff is on fire, no matter what so it really is a case of me for 15 hours a day, just sitting in one chair, and moving from computer to computer and platform to platform and there’s a zoom meeting too and I got to get a script in at three but there’s something to review at four o’clock.
“It’s hectic sometimes but its comics. Look, it’s still a dream job. Everybody in comics knows that if you get frustrated with your job in comics, if you start to get angry or upset or bitter about being in comics then go watch a guy shovel asphalt for half an hour and come back to your desk. It’s a pretty choice job you got here so it’s challenging to go back and forth but I like the activity of it. I like the fact that, since I get bored easily, that I can kind of pinball back and forth all day.”
Listen to the full Mark Waid episode here or by subscribing to Comics for the Apocalypse on Apple Podcast, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts from.
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