Marv Wolfman has worked in the comics industry for many years and has created or worked on many titles for Marvel and DC. Mr. Wolfman wrote DD (issues #124-139, 141-143) in the 70's. He talks about his work and his new company 'Wolfmill Entertainment'.
Kuljit Mithra: In 1974, you took over from Len Wein as Marvel's Editor-in-Chief. Prior to this role, you had been editing Marvel's B&W reprints. How did you break in with Marvel and how did the promotion to Editor-in-Chief come about?
Marv Wolfman: I had been an Editor at DC and at Warren Magazines before coming to Marvel in 1971. I was Editor of the Marvel black and White magazines while Len edited the Marvel color comics, so when he left I just moved over from the magazine line to the comics.
KM: By 1975, you had resigned as Editor-in-Chief and worked on a writer/editor contract until 1979. It was during this time that you wrote and edited Daredevil (#124-139, 141-143). What kind of approach did you feel you needed to make your stint on DD as good or better than the writers before you?
MW: I can't say if I was better or not. I loved the kind of fun stories Stan wrote and wanted to get back to them, but also had a few ideas of my own, like the introduction of The Torpedo, Bullseye, and my favorite storyline which featured computer generated JFK film clips -- years before computers were available to people and two decades before this sort of thing was actually ever done.
KM: Your first few issues introduced Copperhead and Torpedo and some visits by Man-Bull and Death-Stalker. However, I think your best introduction was Heather Glenn. With the departure of the Black Widow in your first issue, why did you feel DD/Matt needed another love interest?
MW: Hard to remember. Sorry.
KM: In issue #128, there is a character (who I call 'Sky-Walker') who is walking around on 'light' and watching the battle DD is having with Death-Stalker. From what I remember, he was supposed to return, but he never appeared again in any of your issues. What were the plans for this character?
MW: The sky walker was going to lead into DDs first real SF story. I felt DD needed something more than I was giving him. I was never very happy with my DD--I never found the thing that made him mine the way Frank Miller did a year or two later. So I was trying to find things to do that interested me and therefore, I hoped, the readers. Ultimately, I couldn't find anything that made DD unique to me and asked off the title. Fortunately, Frank Miller came in after me and rejuvenated the title.
KM: Bullseye makes his first appearance in issue #131, and many people consider him to be DD's best villain. Did you create him, or was it John Romita? I think Romita designed Torpedo as well...
MW: I created Bullseye. I brought the concept to John and asked him to design the costume based on my ideas.
KM: Did you ever envision Bullseye to be such an important villain, as Frank Miller made him to be in future issues?
MW: I thought Bullseye was a good villain which Frank Miller made better. I always liked the idea but never got him to work the way I envisioned him. Frank did.
KM: Uri Geller, the famed 'psychic' made an appearance in Daredevil as well. How much criticism did you get for having him in the comic, since many people consider him to be a fraud?
MW: We received some criticism, mostly from other magicians. The problem was Marvel made a deal with Geller to appear in one of their comics. No writer wanted to do it, and since I was editor-in-chief I felt I had to do it. I made his abilities somewhat bigger than life (this was a Marvel Comics, after all) and handled it like any typical Marvel comic at the time, so whether the real Geller had 'powers' or not wasn't important. It could have been a new character for all I cared. I did like the idea of the Fearsome Think Tank, however.
KM: You wrote in that issue that Geller was able to bend your key (or something to this effect) and you saw it with your own eyes. Looking back, do you still believe he has powers, or is there a logical answer to how he did it?
MW: Of course it was magic. Magic being some slight of hand manipulation. However, he was wonderful at it and I have no idea how he did it since I was holding the key and couldn't feel any pressure as he bent it. I also kept the drawing he made based on mine. There was no way he could see what I drew. Now, I know magicians can do this although I don't know how. I never believed he had powers. I believed he was a really good magician. However, again, since this was a contractual deal Marvel made, I couldn't come out in the letter column and say he did a great trick that I couldn't figure out.
KM: Besides DD, you've written many Marvel comics (and created some too), including Nova, Skull, Tomb of Dracula, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and Blade. When you moved to D.C. in 1980 to become Senior Editor there (until 1987), you created the New Titans, Omega Men, Deathstroke and many more. What were the differences in Marvel's and D.C.'s approach to storytelling and which company was better for you creatively?
MW: There were no differences in creating stories or characters at Marvel or DC. If I was left alone I created what I enjoyed, which meant some good stuff as well as some turkeys, I'm afraid. I think the record of my work indicates I created a lot of characters (probably more than any other writer of my generation) for both companies because I was generally left alone to do so. Both companies were fine to work for, however I receive creator royalties from DC when they use my characters in TV or for toys, but receive nothing from Marvel.
KM: You have also worked in T.V. and animation. Transformers, G.I. Joe and even My Little Pony are some of the shows you have written. What's the biggest difference in technique when writing for T.V./animation as opposed to comics?
MW: Generally, comics allow you to write what you like and most TV animation is writing what toy companies want. However, I've worked at enough shows now to have been allowed to write some really fun stuff. I'd love to work in movie animation because no expense is spared to make the project look really strong. I'm currently writing, co-story editing and co-executive producing a show called Pocket Dragon Adventures which allows me to have an incredible amount of freedom. The stories are fun and hopefully, when the show premieres in September, 1998, it'll be a hit.
KM: Are you involved with the new Blade movie?
KM: How important are creator rights to you?
MW: Very much. I believe and always have believed creators should get a percentage of their creation, and I think they should be able to maintain control of their creations. I should have not only been consulted on the Blade movie, but my name and Gene Colan's should be listed as creators and we should both be getting a percentage of Marvel's take. We should also have been asked if we wanted to write the comic book tie-ins which I wasn't. Except for the editor of Spider-Man Team Up (where I'm writing the Blade/Spidey crossover) the editor who handled the rest of the Blade material refused to offer it to me. As a publicity tool alone Marvel should have insisted Gene and I write and draw it. Instead, because this one editor didn't do it Marvel is telling the creative community that Marvel doesn't care about the creators of their books, so why should we care about you? I know this isn't the case -- Marvel does care, but that's the message they send when they ignore the creators as this editor did. By the way, I didn't ever expect to be asked to write the movie--for all my TV work I haven't had movie writing experience.
KM: Some of your more recent work has been on D.C.'s Night Force and A Man Called A-X, which you both created. With the industry the way it is right now, I believe both of these titles are canceled or soon to be canceled. What do you think the industry needs to boost sales and make newer titles last for more than 12 issues? Your issues of DD had a total circulation of about 300,000. The circulation of DD now is hovering at 50,000.
MW: In the 70's and 80's both companies sought to maximize their profits by going to direct sales route, something I was always against. I believed in the comic shops as ONE place to sell comics, but not the ONLY place. They should have kept up their efforts to find newsstand and alternate means of distribution while expanding the comic shop market. The problem with comic book shops is you are only selling to people who already go to comic book shops. And as people give up comics (for whatever reason) we don't add in new readers. We MUST have comics available where new readers will happen by them and be attracted to a cover. My fear is that since we've abandoned the newsstands for the most part it may be impossible to return to them. This means the companies have to find other ways to get their comics to the public, and I'm not confident they will. I have specific ideas how to make comics for the mass market, but I have to admit I'm not going to give them away here. I'd love to partner with a publisher who wants to try to do comics which will reach the widest possible audience instead of the smallest.
KM: Another project you have is your company (with Craig Miller) called Wolfmill Entertainment. Your first offering is called Pocket Dragon Adventures. What is it about, and what is your interest in the children's market?
MW: Pocket Dragon Adventures is based on the art of Real Musgrave, a wonderful artist who lives in Texas. Craig and I made a deal with Real to create a show around his art. We created the characters, the setting,and the comedy/action approach to the storylines. The Pocket Dragons live in a mythical 12th Century England and have wild, wacky adventures.
I have always been interested in this kind of market. My very first fanzine as a kid was a funny animal magazine called The Foob. I always have done humor comics (I won several awards for my work in CRAZY Magazine). I spent four years working for Disney doing Disney Adventures Magazine, and it'salso my belief if you don't get kids interested in fantasy and adventure at an early age, they won't grow up to buy our comics later on. We need to encourage as many comics for the young readers as we can, including writing and drawing comics as a financial LOSS if need be. Without new readers coming in, we're only going to lose more of the readers we currently have.
KM: Are there any comic projects in the near future?
MW: Very little, though I'd love to do more. I'm doing a two part Hannibal King story for Marvel (for the same Editor who hired me to do the Blade/Spider-Man story) and a three-part Dracula story for Dark Horse with Gene Colan. Other than that I don't know.
(c) Kuljit Mithra 1997
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