Written by Nick Kazden
"Hi my name is Mark Waid, I've written everything."
Comic veteran Mark Waid returned to Wondercon this year to moderate his own panel and talk about his 33 year-career in comics. The prolific writer who is still juggling Avengers, Champions and Archie just brought Black Widow to a close on Wednesday.
The man who writes everything was stumped quickly when the first question asked how he differentiates between similar characters on the page. Waid said you have to focus in on how the characters use their abilities. In Waid's eyes, Wally West is a bit more flamboyant than Barry Allen, so you just have to find ways to characterize their physical appearance when they appear together.
Anyone who follows Waid on twitter shouldn't be too surprised about this, but he confirmed that Superman is indeed his favorite character. Not only that, but he even said his 2004 story Superman: Birthright is his favorite book of his backlog. To this day, he loves when fans tell him they thought Superman was boring until they read Birthright. While Waid made a few cracks towards Zack Snyder at the DCEU, even joking that he expects to hear from DC on Monday morning about his comments, he happily answered fans who were seeking advice on writing the Man of Steel.
"The trick to writing Superman, is you don't write about the powers; you write about the man inside. What is it like to live in a world where everything is paper machete, glass and cardboard. If you sneeze, you might knock a building over. How lonely does that make you feel when you can't jump into a pickup basketball game? You can't even help friends move because if you accidentally pick up a coach with one hand you're outed."
His love for Superman is so intense that in 2009 he created Irredeemable, a character that essentially answers the question 'what would Superman be like if he was a jerk?' Waid says he hasn't had any conversations with director Adam McKay since it was announced he was hoping to adapt the series into a feature-film but he did say that conversations between the director and Boom! are still on-going and that it sounds like the producers have a solid grasp on the material without trying to change too many things.
Asked if he had a fan-cast in mind for Plutonian, Waid quickly named Jon Hamm before saying "but we'll never get him."
Waid had nothing but praise for his collaborator Chris Samnee, who just helped bring Black Widow to a close. Waid said the script for Black Widow's first issue was about two pages long after Samnee requested they do a story that feels like an extended James Bond intro. Originally Waid wanted to leave the book completely textless, but he was worried fans would think of it as a printing error instead of an artistic choice.
He was particularly excited to talk about Champions, calling it a blast to work on. He and Humberto Ramos have been trying to work together again ever since their run on Impulse together in 1995 and this was their golden opportunity. Champions, as Waid mentioned, isn't really a book about "punching super villains," instead it tries to focus on understandable social issues. But Waid is quick to point out he makes sure the team is never really able to solve the problem. He doesn't want any of the characters to come across as people on white horses coming in to solve another culture's problems; he wants them to serve as inspirational figures who push people into thinking about their surroundings differently.
While it might not be the reason people expect, Waid joked that he does have an ulterior motive behind writing Champions.
"I think I'm the only human being in the world who likes Cyclops so my goal by the end of issue 12 is to make you all love Cyclops."
He even described the finer bits of storytelling for aspiring writers. In Waid's opinion, young writers tend to overcrowd the page. Writers should aim to feature about five panels per page with about 25 words per panel on average. Otherwise, Waid says the reader will just process everything as a wall of text. Additionally, Waid spoke about the importance of characters and moments over plot. He brought his point home with an allusion to James Bond. No one remembers the plot of any of the movies, but they remember the moments that make their "blood rise" and the character interactions.
"So if I learned anything in 33 years, that's what you want in a story and the plot is just something to hang all that onto."
As for his dream project, Waid had a quick response. "Someday I will get a crack at DC's Captain Marvel, the one who says 'Shazam,' that one is in my sights."
Many thanks to Waid for even directly mentioning Bleeding Cool in the panel (albeit not on the friendliest terms). Thanks for making my first panel as a member of the press only slightly more awkward than it had to be!