Mark Waid on Teaming Colbert and Spider-Man
by Vaneta Rogers
Date: 25 September 2008 Time: 12:35 PM ET
Stephen Colbert Joins Spider-Man
Move over, Barack Obama and John McCain. Stephen Colbert is running for president, and he's got Spider-Man on his side.While "Colbert for President" signs have been popping up in the background of random Marvel comics lately, the publisher has announced that Colbert himself will show up working side-by-side with Spider-Man in October. "Well, it's kind of a team-up," laughed comic book scribe Mark Waid, who wrote the eight-page story that will appear in Amazing Spider-Man #573. "Let's put it this way: Stephen Colbert thinks it's a team-up. Spider-Man keeps telling him it's not a team-up. "Without giving away too many of the surprises," Waid continued, "essentially what's happened is Stephen Colbert has been convinced by J. Jonah Jameson that the people of New York don't love him enough to swing the election. And he needs New York as a state, so he throws his suit and his tie into a trash can and stalks up from an alley proclaiming, 'Stephen Colbert no more!'" Laughing again, Waid acknowledged that the scene pays obvious homage to the now-classic image of Spider-Man throwing his costume in a trash can in "Spider-Man No More," a story from Amazing Spider-Man #50. The iconic cover image by John Romita was also featured in the movie Spider-Man 2. "And so the rest of the story is him running across Spidey and being inspired by Spidey to get back on the horse and to embrace the philosophy that WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT POLITICAL RESPONSIBILITY," the writer said with another chuckle. And although the story does fall within regular Spider-Man continuity, Waid said there's nothing outlandish since it's only eight pages. "We're not going to change the fundaments of the Marvel Universe. There's not a Secret Invasion touch there. We're not going to go into space. It's not anything like that," said Waid, who is one of several regular writers of the thrice-monthly Amazing Spider-Man series. "But it involves Jonah, it involves Spidey, and it involves a long-time Spidey villain who is perfect for the story." The eight pages will feature art by another veteran comic book creator, artist Pat Olliffe, who's drawn Spider-Man characters for years. "I joke that half the people who Pat draws already look like Stephen Colbert," Waid said. "So this turned out perfect. He's like spot-on model." Waid, who is a veteran comic book writer of well-known titles like Kingdom Come, The Flash and Fantastic Four, said that despite his years of experience writing comics -- and Spider-Man in particular -- he struggled with making sure Stephen Colbert came across just right even though he watches the show "faithfully, religiously." "It's not like I had to do any research. I've watched him so much that the voice is located inside my brain," said Waid, who also serves as editor-in-chief at the comics publisher Boom! Studios. "But it was hard because the show is essentially a monologue. So to have to put him in a position where he's having an actual conversation with J. Jonah Jameson and to have him having an actual conversation with Spider-Man, even as quippy as they can be, that was a different voice to have to slip into. To have to keep the sort of pompous, overblown Stephen Colbert persona alive in dialogue rather than monologue is a much harder thing to do than you would think." Waid said he wasn't sure he had the voice right until he wrote one line: "They say a man is defined by the moments which define him." "When I wrote that, I thought, I've got the language. I got it," he said. While the script had to be submitted to Colbert's team for approval, Waid said there wasn't a lot of back and forth. "One of the most thrilling and exciting moments of my professional career happened with this," he said. "I've done licensed work before, so I was completely prepared for Colbert's camp to come back and go, 'this is great, but can you put the Silver Surfer in it too?' Or, 'this is great, but can you put Doctor Doom in it on page five?' And instead, the only note I got back was, 'No notes! Go with it!' That was the best part. That was worth it right there, just to get a note from the Colbert camp saying, 'No notes; we're having a geek-gasm; we love it!'" The writer said it was rewarding to get such enthusiastic approval because he had to turn around the story quickly. "I got a call out of the blue from [Spider-Man editor] Steve Wacker a very, very short time ago, saying, look, we know this is really short notice and we've got to get moving on this immediately," he said. "And when it was made clear to me that it was an in-continuity team-up, I like that. It wasn't just one of these 'Spider-Man meets the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders' one-off giveaway that shows up in your Sunday paper. It's a real Spider-Man story. So that was pretty exciting." In fact, Waid said the word "exciting" to describe the process of making this story several times. "I'm pretty stoked about it," acknowledged the writer. "It was a blast. It was just so much fun. And Steve Wacker was a great audience for it. We would talk about jokes and stuff. "And he was very forgiving of the fact that I couldn't come up with a title I liked," Waid continued. "I couldn't decide between, 'Lo, There Shall Come A Candidate,' or, 'This Man, This Candidate.' So instead, I just did, 'Lo, There Shall Come This Man, This Candidate,' because it sounded like a very Stephen Colbert thing to say." Asked if, after all these months of campaigning, Colbert had any chance of winning the contest for the presidency in the Marvel Universe, Waid let out a huge laugh and said, "It's possible! I'm not sure how he's weighing in on this whole AIG/financial collapse crisis, and that may be the turning point, so we'll see!"