Comic book author uses Yorktown as home base as he brings superheroes to life


YORKTOWN, Ind. — In the world of comic books, Mark Waid is unquestionably a star.

Now, the Alabama native, who has written at least 1,200 of them, is also a Yorktown resident.

“The beauty of the job is, I’d do this for free,” he said recently, seated behind a desk on which a caped Superman model stepped into thin air, while a bag of smoked almonds waited to supply energy to see him through another marathon writing session.

Friendly, 50 and bespectacled, Waid has loved comic books his whole life, discovering them at age 4 or 5, his imagination piqued by television shows like Batman.

“I was caught up in it right from there,” Waid said. “I never stopped reading comics.”

Having “played around” with them as a kid, he had a Superman script published in 1985 and then joined the staff of DC Comics as an editor.

“It was a boot camp for the writer in me,” he said, noting it taught him every aspect of the comic-book business. “Other than putting the staples in the things, that’s all that’s left for me to do.”

The centers of the comic-book world are New York City and Los Angeles, the latter being where Waid worked the last 10 years.

So, what brought him to Yorktown last June?

His girlfriend, Christy Branch, whom he met at a Chicago fan convention, is working on a doctorate at Ball State University. Living with a commuting relationship at first, they opted instead to buy a house here, a not-uncommon relocation where, thanks to computers, an artist like Waid can live anywhere he pleases.

These days, he freelances for DC and Marvel comics, the biggest names in the business. After knocking around a story idea, he will produce a script in a week, and in the past has even been known to do some of his own artwork.

Comics he has written for include The Hulk, The Incredibles, X-Men, The Flash, the critically acclaimed Kingdom Come series and, though it seems slightly out of place in that company, Archie.

“I have written a wider range of well-known comic characters than anybody alive,” he said, simply.

Meanwhile, one of his comic book projects, the detective series Potter’s Field, has been optioned for television.

“There is exciting stuff happening,” he agreed. “If that takes off, great. If it doesn’t, I still have a great day job.”

His favorite character to write, though, is the classic of classics.

“I would love to say I work 9 to 5, but not a chance,” he said as Impulse, a gray cat named after a comic book character he created, silently padded along the carpet, weaving between his feet. “These days, it’s 9 until I fall asleep. … I don’t leave my desk.”

“Anything I ever do with Superman is always my favorite,” he said, pointing out the bright yellow door to his office, one modeled after the door on the Man of Steel’s Fortress of Solitude.

Whoever he is writing, it takes a little mental adjustment.

“You really have to work from the inside,” Waid explained. “You have to know why they do what they do. You have to put on the suit, so to speak.”

You have to put in the hours, too.

“I would love to say I work 9 to 5, but not a chance,” he said as Impulse, a gray cat named after a comic book character he created, silently padded along the carpet, weaving between his feet. “These days, it’s 9 until I fall asleep. … I don’t leave my desk.”

Adding to his work these days is the fact that Waid, who studied journalism and physics at Virginia Commonwealth University, is taking his beloved comic books into the digital age.

“It sounds kind of egotistical,” he said, forthrightly, “but I am kind of leading the charge. … There will always be print comics, but I’m making the transition to digital as well.”

Placing an iPad before a visitor, he barely touched the screen before it erupted in deep color, the action images of a superhero looking far sharper than they could with ink and paper.

As with any publication, one could download a veritable stack of comic books to the electronic device.

“I can take a bunch of them on a plane,” Waid said.

There is a whole generation of kids who didn’t grow up with comics who could be turned on to them digitally, which wouldn’t hurt future sales a bit.

“Apple sells more iPads in an hour than the totality of people who buy print comics these days,” Waid added.

Nevertheless, after nearly a half-century as a fan and 25 years in the business, he still likes comic books in whatever form they take.

How does he pass his Saturdays, the one day he takes off from work?

“I’m probably reading comics,” Waid said with a laugh. “There’s a part of me that will never grow up enough not to buy comics.”


Information from: The Star Press,


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