Marv Wolfman is the renowned creator of many notable characters for both DC and Marvel Comics, including but not limited to Raven, Cyborg, Terra, Starfire, Deathstroke, Brother Blood, and Blade.
I was able to sit down with Mr. Wolfman at the Long Beach Comic Expo on 5/31/14 and speak with him about his vast career achievements. I feel very blessed to have had that opportunity, as he is truly a living legend and was the very first comic writer I ever read when I was 9 years old.
1. When/why did you decide to become a comic book writer?
I always loved reading comics and I always wrote my own stories, so it was just something I always wanted to do.
2. You've written and created many notable characters. Are there any characters you'd like to work on one day?
Not that I can think of off the top of my head. I've written all the characters I ever wanted to...except for maybe Popeye!
3. Many of your characters have been on TV or in the movies lately. Which characters would you like to see next in popular media?
I'd love to see Night Force, which is one of my favorite books. I'd love to see Raven [from the Teen Titans] as a young girls' show, younger than she was when I wrote her in the comics. Night Force would probably be great for TV. Also Vigilante or Deathstroke, but in a much more adult fashion. [For those who don't know, Deathstroke is currently on the CW's Arrow, which is geared towards more teen/young adult viewers.--KSR]
4. You were one of the first people to publish Stephen King, with his story "In A Half-World of Terror" in your horror fanzine Stories of Suspense No. 2, in 1965. Did you ever think back then that both your careers would still be going strong nearly 50 years later?
Absolutely not. I sensed Stephen's story was good so I published it, but these were just fan magazines and we were just fans learning our craft back then.
5. You first wrote Teen Titans in 1968. How does it feel to see that the series is more popular than ever today?
I think there is an incredible feeling of joy for a writer or artist to know that what we create for ourselves, that we love, is actually taken by others and loved as well. When the shows are a success it means we do a really good job and that's an incredible emotional journey.
6. You stepped down as editor-in-chief at Marvel Comics to focus on writing. Did you ever regret making the decision?
When I left Marvel as editor-in-chief the job had become about business and not about creativity. It became more about the business side and I wasn't interested in the business side. If the job had stayed creative, where I'm working on all the books, I never would've left, because I loved it. But the more it became about business the more I knew that it wasn't for me.
7. In 2006 you stepped in to write an arc for Nightwing. How did it feel to go back toa character you had originally shaped [in 1984's "Judas Contract" story arc for Tales of The New Teen Titans]?
Nightwing was a character that I really loved. There are a lot of characters I created that I have no problem stepping right back into. I just feel like I'm moving right in again and there's no problem. Nightwing is one of those characters. There may be others, and I can't think of any off the top of my head, that I have no interest in revisiting, but any of the Teen Titans I love individually.
8. In the 90s you wrote the script for the animated series Transformers: Beast Machines. What is the biggest difference between writing comics and writing for TV?
Understanding how much an actor can do with his voice so that you don't have to always write every line; they can create emotions just with their voice alone. The fact that animation moves and comics are still just pictures makes it a very different writing process.
9. You did a novelization of Superman Returns. Do you have any plans to write and publish an original novel?
I'm working on one right now. I love writing novels. I've written several. The Superman Returns was my first novelization and I actually won an award for it [a 2007 Scribe Award for "Adapted Speculative Fiction Novel", given by writers of novelization and tie-in fiction--KSR]. That gave me the interest to do my own and I'm working on it right now.
10. Fans consider you the man who reshaped DC Comics with Crisis On Infinite Earths, most notably by killing Barry Allen (the first Flash) and Supergirl. How did you choose who to save and who to kill?
Barry was DC's decision, not mine. Supergirl was mine...not that I could've done it without their approval, but I felt that since we were recreating Superman that he should be the only character from Krypton. If we wanted to create another Supergirl in the future we could.
11. Tales of the New Teen Titans will be having its 35th anniversary next year. Would you like to get back with artist George Perez to create a special comic for that?
I would love to! I doubt that George could do it because he's got an exclusive contract with Boom Studios now.
I'd love to do it with George but I would also do a 35th anniversary on my own. George and I, of course, did the Games graphic novel last year but he since signed with Boom.
12. Would you do it on your own if DC presented the opportunity?
If DC asked me to do Teen Titans I'd be happy to...as long as they were my version and not the current one.
13. You're known and admired for being very vocal about the comic book industry. Do you have any advice for the up-and-coming creators who might be reading this?
If you're trying to be a writer or artist you're going to have a lot of competition, all of whom are great. You've got to study and work. You've got to improve and you've got to never give up, because there are some brilliant writers and artists out there today, better than ever before. It'll be very hard to break in and you've got to work for it. Never present your worst work or even OK work: only the absolute best.
14. You've inspired an entire generation of comic creators. Who were your inspirations growing up?
In comics Stan Lee, John Boone, Roy Thomas, Bob Kane and a whole bunch of others.
15. Can you tell KSR readers what you're working on now and what's next?
I just finished an arc with Superboy and what I'm working on now with DC I'm not allowed to talk about yet.
16. Thank you for participating in the interview! Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?
I still like comic books after working on them for over 47 years and reading them for about 60, which is strange!
I don't consider what I'm doing to be anything special. It's just my job and the thing I love doing; it's no different from anybody else's job and a lot of people think it's glamorous and I'm just sitting in an office by myself in my house writing with nobody else there.
I love long walks.