Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Matt Wagner Interview

Normally, I'd be writing a post right about now to pick a new random book to review from my collection, but we have a special treat for you today instead.

If you've been following the blog recently you're aware that we've had a spate of Demon posts over the past week, and we're not quite done with Etrigan yet. I had such a good time re-reading this issue, that after I initially finished I went on-line to check out Matt Wagner's website for some more good stuff. While I was there, I took the opportunity to contact him with a couple of quick questions...and wouldn't you know it, he was kind enough to respond!

So without further ado, here's my two question interview with Matt Wagner.

RL: The Demon seems like such a natural fit for you, as your stories often have mystical elements running side by side the real world. Was your initial Demon mini-series something that DC approached you about, or was this character a favorite of yours previously?

MW: No, I was still something of a young fledgling when the Demon series came about. I had always liked the character and, in fact, had done a painted re-creation of the cover to #1 in Junior High School (long since lost).

I was just starting to get some renown via MAGE and GRENDEL when I happened to meet Dick Giordano at a convention. He invited me up to New York to give DC a pitch for whatever I'd like to approach. I originally took him a re-vamp of Batgirl but they'd already set plans in motion for THE KILLING JOKE and Barbara Gordon's crippling (my plot outline had her running for the Senate, necessitating a new Batgirl).

So, Dick asked me who else I liked in the DC stable of characters (it was kinda understood that I wasn't going to get a crack at any of the REALLY big guys at that point) and so I mentioned the Demon. Etrigan had just been featured in two issues of Alan More's seminal run on SWAMP THING during which Alan introduced the rhyming aspect of his speech. I thought that was incredibly cool and so Dick told me to go back home and come with a pitch for a DEMON mini-series.

I based the story on two incredibly beautifully drawn Demon short stories from BATMAN FAMILY where the legendary Michael Golden provided the art. I used the events of those stories as a springboard for the beginning of my series.

RL: What brought you back to the Demon for a second time with issue #22? Did you have more that you wanted to say with the character that you didn't get a chance to originally? Or was this just an opportunity to have a little more fun inside the DCU?

MW: As much as the situation I just described sounds like something of a dream opportunity for a young creator, the reality was a bit of a nightmare. DC at that point wasn't geared towards working with the new crop of independent creators that were cropping up around the edges of the industry and, honestly, I had no idea how to function within their corporate structures.

I don't want to rehash old problems here but the results were, I felt, a very fractured and overwrought series that didn't live up to my expectations. To this day, the original mini-series is probably the least favorite of all my published efforts...yet I'm continually surprised how many people have a real fondness for that run.

Well anyway, years later, Dan Rasplur was editing a new DEMON ongoing series and called to offer me a one-shot fill-in issue. I saw this as the perfect way to cleanse my creative palette of the grim experiences I'd had on the original series and so I endeavored to make that one issue the opposite of my initial take on the character. Whereas my DEMON mini-series was dark, dour and serious in so many aspects, I deliberately made issue #22 of the current series more of a light-hearted romp (which certainly still had horrific elements). I took the same approach with the verbiage as well; the first series was very word-heavy and the fill-in issue was written as something of a nursery rhyme.

So there you have first foray into comics journalism.

I want to thank Matt Wagner for taking the time and being incredibly kind and detailed with his answers. I met him at a con about ten years ago, and he was nice enough to draw an extra doodle in my Season of Mists hardcover next to his autograph. It's great to see that he's as gracious with his time now, as he was back then.


  1. Wow - nice interview!

    Great questions and Matt's answers are really insightful.

  2. Thanks! It sure was a big thrill when Matt was kind enough to answer my questions. It's not like I'm CBR, or anything like that. The fact that I was a fan for a long time made it even better.

    I fear he may have set up some false expectations for the next time I try this. Maybe I should quit while I'm ahead with my 100% success ratio at contacting creators.