@’s by Legendary Entertainment Writer
Mark Waid & Artist Shane Davis!!!
AMBUSH BUG (BUG): Hi Mark and Shane. Can you tell me a little bit about this new project you have for Legendary?
MARK WAID (MW): We’re here for a graphic novel called SHADOW WALK.
BUG: OK. And what is SHADOW WALK?
MW: The concept started with Thomas Tull and Max Brooks, who came to me about a year ago in San Diego and said, “we’ve got the nugget of an idea. You have shown a facility for writing big action epics about faith, about the power of religion, is this a world you’d want to play in?” When I heard their pitch it really was, and without giving too much away, the basic pitch is there is a place that we can’t specify at this point, but we’ve all heard of it. Every school child has heard of this place, but we don’t believe it exists. It’s a thing of mythology, except we’re going to find out that the American military has known for a while that it really does exist. The reason nobody believes this is because nobody has ever come back out of it and lived, and now one guy has. The first time in history, one guy has come out of it alive. That means that he knows stuff, he’s seen stuff. We need to tap his brain, we need to see what’s in there, and we also need to get in there fast because we have to get in there before the Russians, before the Chinese, before the North Koreans.
BUG: Plant the America flag.
MW: Plant the American flag, also pull out of there something that shouldn’t exist, scientifically cannot possibly exist, and yet does exist. What the government has done is pull together a team of, and this is the part that I love, they pull together a team of science nerds and religion nerds. That the science heroes and religion heroes have come together, not your Navy Seal team, not your Army Rangers, but instead men of science and men of faith who were chosen specifically for psychological profile and chosen for what they can bring to the table. This one knows about mythology, this one knows about the occult, this one knows about cutting edge science of the twenty-second century at this point. What happens when we put those guys together? That’s the mission. We’re talking about a one hundred some odd page graphic novel coming out probably some time next year.
SHANE DAVIS (SD): One of those guys, I have to add, knows about survival and pulling triggers. That’s all I’ve got to say. Yeah.
MW: So that’s what we’re here for.
BUG: This project, do you know when it’s going to be available, when it’s going to be out?
MW: That’s a Legendary plan, we don’t know anything about that. Hopefully next year.
BUG: Alright. So, I just spoke with Max, and he did say, he was talking about all the history and all the technical stuff that he is bringing in to this. Where does that start and stop as far as your contribution to this story? Did he come up with that premise or how did that work?
MW: He came up with a ream of paper’s worth of notes and backstory and character analysis of which I was told use whatever works for the story, you can use as little or as much as you want. At first, I wanted to use it all because it was amazing, but that would have made an eight thousand page graphic novel.
SD: A lot of it was backstory...
MW: Yeah, a lot of it was backstory on things that made all of the places and people in it visceral to my mind.
MW: That doesn’t necessarily have to be on the page. With that said, there were places we went away and diverged from what Max came up with. By and large, I would be an idiot to not use that as a resource. Whenever he’s a room, he’s the smartest guy in the room.
BUG: One of the things that I admire about you as a writer is that you’re able to shift the tone of your stories. All your stories, you can read a whole series of different issues you’ve written, and you couldn’t tell it’s a Mark Waid story.
MW: I take that as a compliment, thank you.
BUG: Good. That’s what I meant it as. Is there an approach that you took with this story in particular that you’re going with?
MW: It is a little darker and more solemn than most of the work I’m known for, but there’re still the light moments. There have to be. Otherwise, it becomes a plodding tome of despair and anger. The tonal shifts and the lighter moments you get out of the combination of the characters because these are people who really, they certainly would never be friends.
MW: In a lot of ways, some of them think the other ones are idiots for what they believe in, so I said putting these different ideological philosophies together, you get lighter moments out of that, and then somebody gets hit in the head. So, it becomes, “ahh, that’s funny,” and then all of a sudden, “oh a demon, oh my God.” So, the back and forth.
BUG: Shane, what’s it like working with Mark? What’s the collaboration been like so far?
SD: The collaboration of the whole process of SHADOW WALK has been great. I basically was given a small premise of what we’re doing. I wasn’t really given all the backstory of stuff at first. The first thing I did was tackle, well this is the problem the team’s going to have, and then I built the things that you would need the team to have to go in. I always looked at it, and I think one of the first things I said was, “these guys are the,” I can’t think of the name of the Russian dog they shot into space...
BUG: Oh, Laika.
SD: Yeah, Laika. These guys, they may not make it back but when they die, we’ll know what killed them and what adrenaline was in their blood, and maybe even what they say before they died. Of course, they don’t know that, but they were going to be. First thing is, I saw this is opportunity to have as many crazy environments in one book as possible, which is a very unique thing for this graphic novel, I think. It won’t ever feel like you’re in the same place, it’ll always be changing. With that, I brought up climate, things like that, and the suits. At first, I said, “OK, here’s these biosuits that’ll monitor their well-being and adapt to their environments, the weaponry for what they’re going to be fighting“, which led me to design these beautiful creatures. Honestly, I came out with concepts of, it’s weird, what’s the most horrible way you could kill somebody type scenarios, and it’s like, “I’ll let you build a monster out of that.” The engineering of this has been really crazy, but a lot of fun in a lot of sadistic ways, I think.
BUG: Well, it looks like you’re being called away. Thanks for taking the time to chat.
MW: Thanks, Mark.
BUG: Look for more news on SHADOW WALK from Legendary Entertainment as it develops over the next few months.
Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/reviewer/co-editor of AICN Comics for over ten years. He has written comics such as MUSCLES & FIGHTS, MUSCLES & FRIGHTS, VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, WONDERLAND ANNUAL 2010 & NANNY & HANK (soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He is also a regular writer for FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND & has co-written their first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in late 2012 as an 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark has just announced his new comic book miniseries GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK from Zenescope Entertainment to be released March-August 2012. Also look for Mark's exciting arc on GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-80 which begins in August 2012.
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G