CBM Talks With Mark Waid About SHADOW WALK
Comic book writer Mark Waid talks with CBM about his work with Legendary Entertainment's Thomas Tull, Max Brooks (World War Z) and artist Shane Davis on Shadow Walk.
There are comic book writers and then there are great comic book writers. Mark Waid's name is definitely associated with the latter. Teased at this year's SDCC and NYCC, Shadow Walk is a graphic novel from Legendary Pictures, the film studio most around these parts would know from their role in the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy and Man of Steel. Legendary's founder, Thomas Tull, is a confessed fanboy and not only does his company make superhero movies, they also make their own comic books and graphic novels. The Tower Chronicles has a devoted following, Frank Miller's Holy Terror made a splash and there's an exciting upcoming serious with Grant Morrison also in the works. The next title set to debut is Shadow Walk from Waid, Tull, World War Z scribe Max Brooks and Superman: Earth One artist Shane Davis. Legendary has worked with some impressive names in the comic book industry but when you think of Legendary, you think of movies and thus the natural assumption is that these titles are really just film treatments and storyboards for a movie. I asked Mark Waid if that assumption is a just one and few other questions during our chat. Check out the official description for Shadow Walk and then read the interview below.
Official Synopsis: "As I Walk Through The Valley Of The Shadow of Death... Is the Shadow of Death a metaphor or could it actually be a real place? Three separate paranormal incidents over the last century, in a valley near modern day Iraq, seem to give credence to these claims. But when satellite photos taken over the area hint at a dangerous new energy source, the U.S. decides to send in a Special-Ops team to locate and extract it before it can fall into enemy hands. Led by John Raines, a deadly soldier who has been rotting in Guantanamo accused of allegedly killing his entire platoon after entering the very same Valley years prior, they head into dangerous territory to battle a roster of demonic creatures with little chance of survival. Armed with with two arcane artifacts as their guide and protector - they will find out once and for all if the road to Hell has just opened up on Earth. Written by Mark Waid (Daredevil, Kingdom Come) from a story by Waid, Max Brooks (World War Z) and Legendary producer, Thomas Tull, this high-quality graphic novel is designed and penciled by Shane Davis (Superman: Earth One), inked by Mark Morales (Siege) and colored by Morry Hollowell. (Wolve rine: Old Man Logan)"
Mark Julian: Lets start with the experience you had working with Legendary to make a comic book.
Mark Waid: When I got to Los Angeles and sat down with Thomas [Tull] in a room for the first time, I braced myself for a big-shot executive who was going to try and tell me how to write comics. But instead, what I learned is that Thomas is humble, he's smart and a good story-teller. We got to be friends pretty quickly on this project because he made it clear that this wasn't a movie treatment disguised as a graphic novel. He wanted me to tell the story in a medium that made sense to me and to do it in a way that works best for a graphic novel.
MJ: The premise for Shadow Walk is incredibly intriguing. How does the tone and direction for that book compare to writing something a little lighter like your recent run on Daredevil?
Waid: It's a little darker but there's always a core of humanity. My feeling is that I don't care whether I'm writing Incredibles, Daredevil or Shadow Walk, there's obvious differences in tone but I don't do cynicism well. I don't write cynically. So even in its darkest hours and the most gruesome and horrific moments of Shadow Walk, there's still a spark of hope. It's not just gore porn, there's a story being told.
MJ: Just how involved was Thomas Tull in the story and Max Brooks as well for that matter?
Waid: Thomas was really involved, especially in the initial pitch. Some of his ideas didn't work well in graphic novel form but he was perfectly willing to let that go as long as we were hitting the story that we wanted to tell. And Max, god bless him, not only was he key to helping figure out the characters and the overall story. A good sounding board in that respect, he also went off and created this incredibly detailed, long, bible; something of a document that created tapestry and backstory and mythology for this realm which isn't actually used in the story but was very helpful as a foundation stone for certain touch points in the novel. It really helped me get a sense of what this place could be and what might be living here and what might be encountered along the way.
MJ: How did working on this project compare to working on something with Marvel or the work you do at Thrillbent?
Waid: The biggest difference is just the elbow room you get to write. I've never written anything long-form this way. Even with my own stuff at Thrillbent, it's in very discreet chapters, in very small chunks. At Marvel or DC, it's 20-22 pages a month and then you're out, you have to build to a cliffhanger- there's a very rigid structure to it. Whereas something like this, Legendary literally said make it as many pages as you want, just tell the story and let us know how long it is. And that gave me a lot more flexibility when it came to pacing, and character reveals, etc. Not having to worry about where the page spreads fall or where the ads go, none of that stuff existed.
MJ: We've touched on this previously but what would you say to someone who remains skeptical about the project and says, "I'll just wait for Legendary to make the movie'?
Waid: When Thomas first set me down and hashed out the way he saw the story, the very first scene he described was a great scene in a movie and a terrible, terrible scene in a comic book. Essentially, it was just a bunch of people setting around a conference table. Would have been great in a movie but in comics, that's not visual, it's not interesting. And instead of balking, Thomas immediately said do it in a way that makes sense for a comic, do it the way that's best for a graphic novel. Again, this isn't a movie treatment disguised as a graphic novel. As it was told to me, the intent was just to tell a damn good story and if we decide to make a movie out of it later, maybe we will and maybe we won't. But just tell a good story.
MJ: One of your other collaborators on this project besides Tull and Brooks is artist Shane Davis. What was it like working with him for the first time?
Waid: Great. Shane's real gift is taking all these elements of mythology and folklore and creating visuals for things that are the predecessors to zombies, the predecessors to vampires and even the predecessors to plague and pestilence and all the other horrors mentioned in folklore. Shane's work is so- for a guy that's so soft spoken and mild-mannered in real life, you'd have no idea these kinds of demons were rolling around inside his head. He's awesome.
MJ: Before I let you go, I have to ask since this is comicbookmovie.com after all, what was your favorite comic book movie of 2013?
Waid: If you would've asked me a week ago I would have named something else but give me Thor: The Dark World. I think that movie rocked.
Shadow Walk arrives in your local comic book stores on November 27 and ships out from Amazon on December 10.
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