Thursday morning at Comic-Con International in San Diego, Mark Waid, BOOM! Studios' recently-promoted Chief Creative Officer, and artist Peter Krause joined fans in a discussion of their series "Irredeemable," in which the godlike Plutonian rampages through a world he once protected, and "Incorruptible," Waid's tie-in series which sees bad guy Max Damage turn over a new leaf.
Waid began by introducing the panel, which included Krause and woman dressed as Max Damage's protege. "To my left, Peter Krause; to my right, Jailbait."
Waid asked Krause about his start in comics, with the artist saying "I came aboard the Mayflower--I don't even want to say how long ago I went to my first San Diego." Krause credited his wife for supporting him as an artist.
Krause actually came aboard "Irredeemable" after posting an image on BOOM!'s forum, which was noticed by Matt Gagnon. "Our servers are going to crash tomorrow, but that is one place we look for new talent," Waid added.
Waid said he and Krause first met years ago at a Minnesota hotel called the Thunderbird, "the most racially insensitive hotel in America," during a convention. Krause said the hotel "no longer exists in that configuration."
Regarding Krause's recruitment for "Irredeemable," the artist said that he initially declined the project. "I've done a monthly book before, and I know how much work it is. I told Matt, I'd love to do fill ins, etc." The next day, though, several people were laid off from his advertising design client. "Maybe I ought to do this book," Krause decided.
Opening the floor to Q&A, Waid said, "I know it looks like we're terribly unprepared, but for those of you who haven't seen me on a panel--if you ask me the time, I'll tell you how to build a watch."
The first question was about potential spin-offs, Waid said he'd like to do more Gilgamos, "and those will not be full of stupid historical errors," he joked, referring to a recent error in which Waid had the character say that the Trojan horse was built by Trojans.
Asked whether he's surprised himself with where the series has gone, Waid said that "the surprises began on page 3." The writer added that new writers sometimes "plot their twelve-issue epic to within an inch of its life," but it's best to have an idea of where the story is going but let the characters decide how it unfolds. "I didn't know about the bullet, the wax candle, none of that," Waid said.
Waid confessed he does not feel he's good at naming characters. "Scylla and Charybdis, what was I thinking?" When time came to kill one of the twins, Waid said, "Charybdis you can shorten to Cary, so you can give him nicknames. Scylla, no. Scylla died because of a stupid name."
Regarding cliffhangers, Waid said, "I love writing myself into a corner. If I don't know, you can't guess."
He added, "Is it ok that I tell you everything that I did wrong?"
Waid said that, in the "Irredeemable Special," he wanted to make Hornet important even though he was dead and that he loved writing the contingency plan scene. "I had no idea what the contingency plan was," he said. But, now that it's set to be revealed, "if I hadn't told you this, you'd think, man, what an incredible work of genius that he planned out two years in advance!"
Regarding collaboration with Krause, Waid said, "I had originally written a very different opening to issue 3," in which Plutonian watches actors having sex in a "very creepy" scene. The original scene, though, found the Plutonian crushing and letting a woman die, with the point to show he couldn't make contact with humanity. Krause objected, though. "But burn a baby with heat vision, that's ok," Waid joked. He added that bringing up an objection was "a really cool thing to have done."
"I think what you came up with is better, and in a weird way almost creepier," Krause said.
A fan asked about deluxe editions or hardcovers, to which Waid said he's been bothering publisher Ross Richie about hardcovers. "But the trade paperbacks are selling extraordinarily well, and the thing a hardcover does is kill those sales." Waid added that he did expect to see hardcovers at some point.
Waid joked that "Incorruptible" emerged from "Ross Richie calling me up and saying, we have solicitation text due tomorrow and we need another book." But he also said he's "really happy with it," having Max Damage serve as a reformed villain who is "repentant but not apologetic."
The writer referred to Max Damage's absolute unwillingness to break the law. "I liken him to an alcoholic: you can't have just a little bit," Waid said. "He knows there's a line, but he doesn't know where that line is."
Though he had earlier said he wasn't good at naming, "I was unbelievably pleased with Jailbait," Waid said. "Another name I've been waiting to use is Poledancer."
Speaking about the nature of absolute power, Waid said it was probably a bad idea "yet I was the first person to fight against registration in the Marvel universe" during the "Civil War" event. "I feel like it takes some of the wonder away--I don't want to know what it would be like in the real world." He added, though, that "Irredeemable" focuses more on celebrity culture, citing the recent focus on Lindsey Lohan and the idea that a superhero would be able to hear every bad thing about them.
He also mentioned a conversation with Grant Morrison about the Phantom Zone projector, which Morrison described as an ethereal monitor watch people shouting "I hate you, I hate you!" "Why would you want that in your house?" Morrison reportedly said. "We already have it; it's called the internet," Waid said.
"It's way time we start doing crossovers with these characters," Waid said in response to a fan question about "Irredeemable" and "Incorruptible," adding that "one character from 'Irredeemable' will become a regular character in 'Incorruptible.'" He added that Max Damage has an envelope in his back pocket where he keeps his anti-Plutonian plan.
Waid said that, during the first couple issues, Plutonian was the only character he'd developed in any depth. He built some other other heroes' personalities and relationships based on Krause's designs. "Before I started drawing stuff, we did this sort of call-and-response thing," Krause said of discussing early character concepts with Waid.
The panelist dressed as Jailbait handed out samples of Black Alchemy Labs' "Kaiden" scent based on the "Irredeemable" character. "In case I wasn't made fun of enough as a kid, now I have a perfume," Waid joked. He praised Black Alchemy for the line of superhero-based scents.
The relationship between Modeus and Plutonian will be revealed in #17. "I had to take a nine-hour long shower after writing that scene," Waid said. Krause said that the colorist Andrew Dalhouse told him, "I'm going to have nightmares after that scene." Both Waid and Krause said it would perfectly explain why Modeus hates Plutonian so much.