STUDIO TOURS: Mark Waid

Wed, January 17th, 2007 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Jonah Weiland, Executive Producer/Publisher

As I've mentioned before, in many ways I owe a huge amount thanks to Mark Waid. It was because of his work on "Kingdom Come" that CBR got its humble beginnings. That series inspired me to build a "Kingdom Come" fan site, which eventually grew to become CBR. Since then, I've been a very big fan of Mark's work, including his definitive work on "The Flash" - one of my favorite runs of a comic - his creator owned series "Empire," or more recent work on books like Marvel's "Fantastic Four" or DC's "Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes" and "52." Mark can always count on me as a reader. Next up for the DC Comics exclusive writer is "The Brave and the Bold" with artist George Prez, a series I know myself and many readers are highly anticipating.

I asked Mark a couple of weeks back if he'd like to participate in CBR's newest feature, STUDIO TOURS, and he responded quickly in the affirmative. In fact, he delivered his STUDIO TOUR two weeks early. Thanks, Mark!

Thus far with STUDIO TOURS we've primarily featured artists and a handful of writer/artists. Mark's our first writer only, so it'll be interesting to see how he has his studio set up when compared to his artist compatriots.

Enough yapping on my end, here's Mark.

-- Jonah Weiland

Story continues below

By Mark Waid

The writing at Stately Waid Manor is done in one of two separate spaces depending on my mood that day and/or how much aversion therapy I've developed to any one keyboard in my house.

Most of the heavy-plotting and research-intensive work is done upstairs, in what would be - in the home of a normal grown man - the master bedroom. It's a relatively large studio - about 15' by 20' - and while these photos don't give you the scope, I'll show you the parts that spend the most time in my line of sight as I sit here pondering how best not to screw up next week's "52" script. (All other walls not pictured are windows overlooking - if this makes you feel any better - one of the noisiest and most traffic-congested streets in all of Los Angeles.)

The desk:

1. From left to right, best Bat-wishes from the Dynamic Duo; a copy of "Batman" #180, the very first comic book I ever read, and the grail I can look to for reaffirmation whenever I have a bad work day; and an interchangeable frame through which I rotate whatever old cover gives me a smile that week. Lately, it's been "Batman" #199. Before that, it was "Superman" #199. Next, it will be something that's not numbered #199. It will probably be "Flash" #174 or "Teen Titans" #14, the two best comics covers ever. Go look them up. I'll wait. It might also be a 8x10 glossy of Warren Ellis glaring an expression of judgmental disdain severe enough to negate gravity.

2. The 19" swivel monitor for the Dell Dimension 8300 housed under the desk. Programs used on a regular basis: Microsoft Word, Firefox, Adobe Photoshop, Windows Media Player, and Temptation Blocker, a freeware program that locks me out of selected applications for a pre-set amount of time so my online porn addiction doesn't get in the way of my deadlines. As much. You'll note the desk area itself is pretty streamlined. I didn't clean up just for you guys; I prefer a sleek, uncluttered workspace. Since I can't listen to music while working without getting distracted, there's no sound system; I get by with top-notch desktop speakers when I need to hear something.

2a. My own personal Jesus-on-a-dashboard, a PVC of Mr. Terrific looking down over me as I work. Man wears his credo on his shirt. Gotta admire that.

2b. Steve Wacker loves you all. Well, not you. But you.

Pictured: A Canon LiDE 60 scanner used primarily to make disturbing monitor-desktop images. Not pictured: a Mustek 11x17 flatbed scanner (highly - and justly - recommended by Barry Kitson) that is slower but can accommodate original art pages.

To the right: one of the Reference Bookshelves, this one creaking under the weight of science textbooks, old "Who's Whos" and "Marvel Handbooks," and various dictionaries.

To the left of the desk:

3. An overstuffed spinner rack straining to contain one copy of every comic I've ever written. Yes, even "Spider-Man Team-Up" #1 and, yes, I'm still giving refunds.

4. Another of what seems like about a thousand bookcases in the joint (all of which are this same austere white; again, it's a pretty homogenous dcor). These particular shelves house all the various comics-based novels and related prose works I've collected over the years. Sharp eyes may spot Lowther's 1942 Superman novel, Byron Preiss's "Weird Heroes" collection, and bizarre non-comics work by comics pros such as Mort Weisinger's "The Contest," William Moulton Marston's "The Private Life of Julius Caesar," and (wait for it) Michael Fleisher's "Chasing Hairy," which took me 27 years to find and yet will easily take me another 27 years to read.

5. The start of an unbelievably long line of "Kingdom Come" memorabilia.

To the right of the desk:

6. A three-page sequence from "Flash" #0, drawn by Mike Wieringo and Jose Marzan, Jr. - the scene where the adult Wally West meets his ten-year-old self and tells the boy that no matter how rotten his young life seems or how hard the days are to get through, when he grows up, every wish he's ever wished for will come true. It's hands-down my favorite sequence I have ever written because - and I say this in all sincerity - I often dream about being able to travel back in time and tell young Mark Waid that same thing.

7. A closer look at the bookcase directly underneath reveals, among other baubles, figures of Blackhawk (in both sucky and non-sucky incarnations) and the Unknown Soldier;

8. The Composite Superman, my all-time favorite villain;

9. and a dead-bang perfect Fortress of Solitude door that I built out of Legos one afternoon. Don't try to hide your jealousy with contempt.

Downstairs is the den, where my networked Dell laptop allows me a change of scenery when I have the urge to sink into the recliner rather than sit attentively at the desk. Again, you're not getting the scope of the room from the pictures; it runs about 25'x15', but a lot of that is windows and empty space. (If you worked at home, you'd want lots of empty space, too, I promise you; I've lived in much smaller places, and cabin fever gets to be a real problem.) The far end, not pictured, is where the Bowflex gathers its dust; this end is, yes, pretty much a shrine to DC Direct, I realize that. And, yes, on a shelf at lower left are custom-made figures of Kid Eternity (favorite Golden Age hero) and of the Composite Superman (him again), so stop rubbing your eyes. This is always the first room in the house that visiting comics creators show their wives. ("See, honey? See how much worse our place could be?")

A few cherce bits, starting with an amazing mask of "Empire's" Golgoth crafted by Matt Geuther of maskmasters.com. This one's one-of-a-kind, but he does others, and they're astounding. Buy things from him.

Yes, the Batphone beep and flashes red on incoming calls. That's what Batphones do. And, yes, it's controlled by the switch hidden inside the bust of Shakespeare. Tom Peyer graciously humors me by answering "Yes, Commissioner?" when I call him on this line. Geoff Johns does not. Beneath: a phone book nicked from my favorite Southern Illinois town.

More earthquake bait. Top right, as much of the 1966 Ideal Toys Utility Belt as I've yet been able to assemble over the years (oh, grapping hook, why must you elude me so?). Further right, Beppo the Super-Monkey, which was a gift from Peyer and, if you're looking to ransom something, is as prized a possession as anything else in this entire house.

Some other highlights:

10. the Juggernaut as imprisoned in the Ruby of Cytorrak, my best contribution to the original Onslaught story;

11. Kandor's Superman Emergency Squad, ready for action; and

12. Robby Reed's H-Dial. So far this month, it's transformed me into Giantboy, King Kandy (twice), and Grant Morrison.

Lastly, immediately visible from the chair: The garage...

...and the hangar.

Not pictured: the closetful of dead hookers, the hundred Drawerboxes full of DC comics, the cat who has no genetic capacity for love, anything resembling human companionship, and the life-sized wax figure of Alex Ross.

Thanks for the tour, Mark.

Before we finish up this week, I need to include a little programming note that is long overdue. I owe a huge thank you to Jim Demonakos, organizer of the Emerald City Comicon in Seattle, WA, who originally inspired me to begin this series on CBR. I should have thanked him weeks ago, but the crazed holiday season had my mind not firing on all cylinders, but now I get the chance to do so properly. Thanks, Jim.

Next Wednesday - "Fear Agent" and "Exterminators" artist Tony Moore!

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