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An Interview with David Michelinie, by David "DragynWulf" Wiltfong

ComicBoards Exclusive!

  • Q: What or who inspired you to become a writer?
  • A: Reading. I’ve always loved stories that took me to other worlds, places and times, and as a kid I was a voracious (if somewhat slow) reader. I couldn’t--and can’t--think of anything more enjoyable than creating that kind of magic for other people by making up stories of my own.
  • Q: How did you get your start in the comic business?
  • A: Back in the 1970s, DC Comics (then National Periodical Publications) set up an apprenticeship program, soliciting samples from newcomers who would like to write or draw comics. It wasn’t very successful--I think Marty Pasko was the only person who was ever actually hired through the program. But I sent in some samples and, for whatever reason, they ended up on editor Joe Orlando’s slush pile (i.e., unsolicited manuscripts). Joe’s assistant, Michael Fleisher, read my samples, saw some promise, and sent me a letter saying that I might have what it takes to become a comic book writer, but that they couldn’t work with anyone outside the New York City area. Two weeks later I had quit my job in Indiana and moved to Queens. When I showed up on DC’s doorstep they were so stunned that they felt obligated to give me a chance. Under Joe and Michael’s tutelage, I was writing professional comic books within a few weeks.
  • Q: When we last talked, you mentioned that Bob Layton and yourself had pitched an idea to DC Comics. Have they accepted? If so, are you able to give us any information on what to expect from this story?
  • A: I honestly don’t know which pitch I was referring to then. We’ve sent in tons of proposals, all of which have been rejected or (more often) ignored. Currently we have a Batman proposal in, but the two Bobs (Layton and Shreck) have been playing phone tag for the last several days so I don’t know the current status of that one. All I can say is, watch the skies...or at least the comic book racks.
  • Q: You have worked on Iron Man, Avengers, Marvel Team-Up, Spider-Man; are there any other Marvel characters that you would like to work with?
  • A: I generally find myself drawn to lower profile, secondary characters. There just seems to be more that you can do with them. That’s one of the reasons I enjoyed writing Ant-Man so much. Even the Avengers, when I wrote them, were mostly characters that didn’t have their own books: The Beast, The Falcon, The Vision, Scarlet Witch. So I’d probably get a kick out of writing any of the lesser-known characters, especially those I’ve never written before.
  • Q: With there being various comic companies out already, why make a new one instead of working for one of the established companies?
  • A: Why start a new company? Simple: the old ones aren’t exactly ringing my phone off the hook! I love to write comics, but established companies haven’t shown much interest in letting me do that in recent years. So when Bob Layton called and suggested we make our own comics, I jumped at the chance to do what I love. ‘Nuff said! (Uh, that line isn’t trademarked...is it?)
  • Q: Bob Layton, Dick Giordano and yourself are putting together a new comics company called Future Comics. Your first release is titled Freemind. You’re handling the co-plots and scripts while Bob Layton is the co-plotter and penciller, and Dick Giordano will be the inker. Has a colorist be chosen yet?
  • A: Brett Breeding has done some color guides for us already, and we hope to have him coloring covers if he has the time. Whether he’ll do any actual interior work isn’t certain right now. Digital Chameleon has also contacted us offering their services, so that’s another possibility.
  • Q: What can we expect from Future Comics?
  • A: Good stories. We’ve got three creators--myself, Bob Layton and Dick Giordano--who were trained with the philosophy that the story comes first. If we can add great art to that (and we’ll do our best), that’s a tasty bonus. But solid narrative and strong, believable, unpredictable characters will be the basis for everything that comes out of Future Comics.
  • Q: Iron Man fans would like to see you return to the comic for more than a limited series. Is there any chance that we will see this in the future or have you hung up your armor for good?
  • A: It’s not a question of my hanging up anything. I can’t write Iron Man if Marvel doesn’t ask me to, and the chances of that happening are roughly the same as George W. Bush being asked to join Mensa.
  • Q: What is the comic that you are most proud of your involvement in?
  • A: I am of course proud of my two runs on IRON MAN. When stories are still being talked about by fans two decades after they were written, you know you must have done something right. But I’m pretty proud of a lot of other stuff I’ve done as well. My first series, for example: “The Unknown Soldier” in STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES at DC. I was able to express a lot of anti-war sentiment within the context of adventure stories, without resorting to someone facing the reader and saying, “War am bad.” I was pretty proud of that. At the other end of the spectrum, I was very satisfied with the run of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN stories I did with Todd McFarlane. Not a lot of social commentary there, perhaps, but some darn good entertainment (if I say so myself).
  • Q: What character are you most proud of creating?
  • A: I’d have to split that answer in two: probably the most personally pleasing creation in my oeuvre was a short-lived series for Epic Comics called THE BOZZ CHRONICLES. That was all mine (I still own the copyright), it was completely original without connections to any other characters, and was drawn by an artist (Bret Blevins) with the uncanny ability to reach into my brain and reproduce visuals exactly as I had imagined them. Also, I can’t help but be pleased with the Venom character I created for the Spider-Man universe. Marvel has run that character into the ground since I lost control of it, but whenever there’s a new action figure series or video game based on Spider-Man, you’re likely to see Venom as one of the bad-guys. That means that Spidey-fans still like the character, over fifteen years after he was created. And since the readers are the ones who truly matter, that makes me genuinely proud.

    Thanks for taking the time out to answer these question for ComicBoards.com.
    No problem at all.
    Best Wishes,
    David Michelinie
  • Places to discuss the interview:
    Marvel Universe Message Board
    Iron Man Message Board
    Independent Message Board

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