Matt Wagner is an artiste extraordinaire. If you don't know who he is by now...well...shame on you! He is the legendary creator of Grendel and Mage and is one of the most acclaimed storytellers in comics. His other works include a long and highly acclaimed tenure on Sandman Mystery Theater and various takes on several DC Comics characters. Reporter James Chan cornered the man during a recent visit to the Baltimore Comic Book Convention. Enjoy!
Blazedent(BE): You're new book Batman and the Mad Monk just came out recently. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Matt Wagner (MW): Well, it is the sequel to my previous Batman series Batman and the Monster Men. It was originally planned as a 12 part [maxi] series but since it featured two distinct villains, DC liked the idea of breaking it up into 2 different series. [The series] can basically be described as Batman Year 1.5. It's how Batman first starts encountering a class of villains that will eventually be called super-villains as opposed just the normal thugs and gangsters that dominate Gotham's crime scene.
BE: What can we expect from the series in the next couple of months?
WM: Batman's sense of control over his mission and sense of purpose being somewhat shaken by the forces that don't make sense to his analytical mind and it will ultimately bring him a stage of realization that maybe things aren't quite as clear cut as he expected and maybe this might take longer than he expected and a lot of fun pulpy elements leading up that the realization.
BE: What is the current status of the Grendel film?
WM: The Grendel film is set up at Warner Bros. under John Wells production. They have two young writers giving them a pitch on the treatment right now. That's pretty much where it stands now.
BE: Will you be able to have some input on the script?
BMB: I certainly will see the script and I will be able to put in my comments. I don't have any contractual control but the tenor of comic book movies has changed a whole lot in the last several years, to where now instead of trying to fix the comic, they try to make it feel like a comic. I take great hope in the fact that both sin city and Hellboy, which were also Dark horse auteur, oriented comics were such an incredibly faithful translation once they made it on the screen.
BE: When someone asks you if you are a writer or an artist, what do you say?
MW: I say that I am a storyteller. I tell stories weaving those two elements together. I don't think that I am the greatest writer and I don't think I am the greatest artist. I think I am good a melding those two elements together.
BE: If you had a choice of any writer you wanted to work with, who would it be?
Matt Wagner (MW): I don't know. I have worked with very few writers over my long career. I have worked with a lot of artists, I written for a lot of artists. I have worked with less than a half of dozen writes so I don't know. I am at a stage right now where I am not really looking for a writer to work with. I am content to writing my own stories for now. I would like to work with more artists, as always.
BE: Who then are your favorite artists to work with?
MW: I have worked with too many [artists]. The [Gredel] black, white, and red series (Both red, white and black, and black red, and white) had 20 artists a piece, so that's 40 artists just in that series, not to mention the 40 issues of Grendel before that. There is just too many to pick. It's like comparing apples to oranges. They're all fascinating stylists and that's why I like to work with them. I like to work with people that have a definite style and voice in their artwork. I like many different voices.
BE: You have been in the business for 20 plus years. Is there anything you haven't done that you would like to tackle?
WM: Oh, sure. I see no end in sight. Next year's Grendel's 25th anniversary so I am going to be doing a lot of stuff with Grendel and there is more stuff I like to do with DC and their big icons. I've always had more of a connection with DC's characters than with Marvel's and DC seems content to let me keep playing with their big characters so I will keep doing that for a while. I have a variety of other non-mainstream projects that I am internally developing. I picture doing those in my mid 50's; I am in my mid 40's right now.
Matt Wagners Batman and Mad Monk issues are currently in stores and you can find out about his many projects from his official website www.mattwagnercomics.com
- James Chan