Inside Wednesday Comics: Mark Chiarello Interview

September 4th, 2009 by | Tags: , , , , ,

Ahhh, there is nothing like a press pass and a big pile of business cards to make a socially awkward nerd feel bold.  This year at San Diego I stalked creators like a panther, if a panther were near-sighted, walked on two legs, and kept nervously grabbing at its own chest to make sure its press badge hadn’t been stolen.

Despite all of this, many creators seemed happy to speak with me.  One such kind soul is Mark Chiarello, who I spoke to briefly and who agreed to an email interview about Wednesday Comics.

Find out about the future of Wednesday Comics and the possibilities for Wednesday webcomics below the cut.

1. Now that Wednesday Comics is coming to an end, how would you describe the reaction to it?
Are there any reactions in particular that especially surprised or pleased you?

The reaction from readers and bloggers and reviewers and fans (not that those things are mutually exclusive) has been phenomenal! I always stay far, far away from reviews and such, but in the case of Wednesday Comics, the vibe was SO great, that I didn’t mind seeing what people had to say.

2.  Obviously a project that involves this many people and has such a demanding schedule takes a lot of organization.  Were there any moments when it was touch-and-go as to whether Wednesday Comics would come together in time?

Yeah, there were a few instances where I lost a lot of sleep.  Doing a weekly book is pretty rough, but when you consider that we were dealing with 15 writers and 15 artists and almost as many colorists and letterers, it was like stress headache SQUARED!

There was one especially bad week about halfway through the run when I actually fired one of the artists (who is a very good friend), and I was preparing to call a second artist (also a very good friend) that same day to fire him too.  Fortunately, they both chained themselves to their drawing tables and it all worked out ok.

3.  I interviewed Eric Jones at the last Wonder-Con, and he explained that he thought of himself as a story-teller first and an artist second.  I’m a writer, not an artist, so while I understand the concept, I don’t have a practical sense of what that means.  As the art director for DC comics, and the mastermind behind books like Solo, which gives artists a free hand, I think you might the best person to explain the concept.  What is it that distinguishes art that works as a single frame from art that tells a story?  When reviewing an artist’s work, what makes you think, “This one can tell a story.”

Easy. Comics are about one thing: telling a story. Whether you’re the editor, writer, artist, colorist or whatever, it is your job to tell a clear, engaging story. You might be the greatest artist in the world, who makes brilliant, beautiful pictures, but if those pictures are not in direct service of the story, you’re just showing off. Of course it helps if you can draw really well, but what we look for is what you choose to put in a panel and what you put in each subsequent panel. There’s got to be a clear reason for every choice you make as a storyteller.
Look at the great comic book artists: Alex Toth, Jack Kirby, John Romita Jr, Tim Sale, Darwyn Cooke, they all wrack their brains when they’re laying out a story. That stage of laying out your story in little thumbnail form is what separates the men from the boys (or the women from the girls!).

4.  Webcomics are growing in popularity, and Wednesday Comics has shown that many professionals at DC are very good at telling stories one page at a time.  Could Wednesday Comics be translated into an ongoing webcomic form?  Why or why not?

I would LOVE to see that, wouldn’t you? That was originally part of the initial concept behind the project, that the stories could be repurposed online, but I don’t know if that’s moved forward. That falls under a different department’s purview.

5.  Wednesday Comics 2?  Is it a possibility?  (Please say ‘yes’.)

Jeez, let me catch my breath first!  We just sent issue #12 to the printer yesterday. Although, I have to say, I’ve been running writers and artists through my head, just in case…

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2 comments to “Inside Wednesday Comics: Mark Chiarello Interview”

  1. Mark chiarello, God bless you.

  2. […] Publishing | DC Comics Art Director Mark Chiarello talks briefly about Wednesday Comics. [4thletter!] […]