Mark Waid and Peter Krause made waves with their dark superhero tale Irredeemable, and now they’re taking it to the next level with the falling out of a father and son superhero duo in Insufferable. This week the third volume of the series launched on Thrillbent.com, showing Nocturnus and his son Galahad being forced to reconcile long enough to save their city from an onslaught of super villains. The big question, as Waid tells Newsarama, is if these two warring heroes can keep it together long enough to save the day.
In light of this new third volume of Insufferable and the recent announcement that IDW will be publishing it and other Thrillbent titles, Newsarama spoke to Waid about this creator-owned superhero tale, writing a fractured father and son relationship, and how that relationship wasn’t part of the original plan. Along the way Waid sheds more details on Thrillbent’s deal with IDW, what led to him and Krause returning to the superhero genre, and also the connection between Irredeemable, Incorruptible and Insufferable.
Newsarama: Mark, Insufferable is about the fracturing breakup of a father-and-son superhero duo, but this new volume promises something different. Can you tell us what readers can expect with Insufferable, Vol. 3?
Mark Waid: At the end of the second volume of Irredeemable, the father and son with all their baggage find they have to get it together long enough to free their home city which had been taken over and was under siege by super villains. So now in this third volume, it’s two unarmed guys against a cadre of super villains.
Forced relations, as everyone can understand, doesn’t have much in the way of legs. In fact, Nocturnus and Galahad find out very quickly that they don’t work any better together in this new threat than they have in the past. The question then becomes this: what is the biggest threat in the story – the super villains or these two heroes fighting each other?
Nrama: At the crux of this story is their mutual friend Meg. Can you tell us about her role in their relationship, and then specifically here now in Vol. 3?
Waid: Meg is Galahads’ publicist. Once he went rogue and broke off from Nocturnus and went out off on his own, he set-up a vast empire of financial deals such as being a celebrity spokesperson and so he needed a PR person. Meg has the most unenviable job on Earth; it’s really hard to make Galahad look good for more than two minutes at a time, especially when he’s talking… but Meg’s loyal. She’s not infatuated with him, but it’s hard to tell just where her romantic loyalties lie; we’ve been playing with the possibility of a love triangle, and that will come to the surface soon.
Nrama: You’ve written about superhero duos as well as fathers and sons before, but unless I’m mistaken Nocturnus and Galahad is the first that is both for you. What it is about the overlapping of two dynamics here that makes for such explosive storytelling?
Waid: It’s all in the origins of their team-up. Basically, Nocturnus took his son Jared – who would become Galahad – under his wing when he was a young boy, and shortly thereafter the boy’s mother – Nocturnus’ wife – was killed in auto accident. So what came of that was the idea that Nocturnus loves his son as all fathers do, but just because you love them it doesn’t mean you have to like them. That’s compounded by the fact, as it becomes very evident, that Nocturnus is very subsumed in his work as a crimefighter, especially after his wife’s death. In her death, crimefighting became the only way he could relate to his son. At one point they worked like a well-oiled machine, but once you sit them down at the dinner table they don’t have anything to talk about. Neither knows how to relate to the other in any way but crimefighting. So Nocturnus is reaping what he sowed, and he desperately needs to find a way to connect with his son.
Nrama: What I’ve enjoyed about Insufferable so far is that its great on two levels – a superhero story, and just a father & son story like say, the movie Judge in theatres now: father and son who both have the same line of work can’t get along. I don’t know if you have children or not, but that father/son dynamic is potent. How’d you settle on that for this story?
Waid: Actually, them being father and son came much later. Originally they were just a former crimefighting team, and it wasn’t until I wrote the first chapter and reached the end of it that it hit me. I was looking for a punchline moment to end the chapter, and I realized how perfect it would be for Nocturnus to point to Galahad and say “that’s my son.”
I immediately called Peter and ran it by him. I don’t have any kids, but Peter has boys and is very close to them. I have a complex relationship with father figures, and so Peter and I sort of inform each other on Nocturnus and Galahad’s relationship.
Nrama: Speaking of Peter, this is the latest in a string of collaborations. Both of you have a background in journalism and creating stories of superheroes, but what keeps you coming back together – and doing it with superheroes, albeit now with your own?
Waid: In this case, superheroes wasn’t the first thing that came to mind. Initially I really wanted something else for Thrillbent, but then superheroes seemed like what was most in Pete and I’s collective wheelhouse together. Having done Irredeemable with Pete and seeing what he can do with the majesty and power of superheroes along with his subtle human stuff, he is brilliant and I wanted to do more of that.
Nrama: Insufferable is going to be getting another level of attention once the first printed volume comes out from IDW next year. What’s it like writing for the digital audience, and then coming out in print – which in some cases is a completely different audience?
Waid: It’s funny – I somehow assumed going into Thrillbent that it would be much easier for the digital and print audiences to overlap, but sure enough at every convention and store signing I get questions about doing more creator-owned work or working with Peter again.
There’s something about print comics that makes them feel legitimate to a certain set of readers, and I’m fine with that. Me doing digital comics was never about going away from print; doing digital was at first a financial consideration, as until you have a backlog of material it’s expensive to do print. When we launched Thrillbent, we weren’t a player in terms of creator-owned projects and there wasn’t much of a market for non-superhero stuff in print.
Now, finding a print partner in IDW, it’s been great – but a lot of production work. We have to retrofit the comics somewhat for print, and it loses something in the transition in terms of storytelling bells and whistles, but the story is still there.
Nrama: What made IDW the right choice to partner for Insufferable and for all of Thrillbent’s titles?
Waid: Honestly, it was a close call. We were approached by several publishers, all of whom I respect. But what made IDW the right fit was that it was the best deal for all of Thrillbent, which is important for me. It wasn’t just about representing myself and my co-creators, but speaking for everything and everyone in Thrillbent. All of Thrillbent’s comics are creator-owned, and it was important to get a deal that would be best for everyone. And IDW was incredibly enthusiastic about working with us, which was another big part of why we signed. Other publishers would have printed it, but in most cases we would have been a small fish in a big pond. IDW is very much behind Thrillbent’s comics, and they have some very interesting promotional ideas as well as expanding on the digital end of things.
Nrama: So will all of Thrillbent’s titles be going exclusively through IDW if they go into print?
Waid: It’s up to the creators. The first Thrillbent title to be printed was Damnation of Charlie Wormwood, published by Dynamite. Now IDW has the right of first refusal for all Thrillbent stuff; they don’t have to publish it, but they get first look and get to make the first offer. If our creators don’t want to work with IDW, we can work something out.
Nrama: Last question – Insufferable follows up from two previous books you did, Irredeemable and Incorruptible. They’re all creator-owned, all about superheroes, but with a slant and with similarly sounding names. Is this an informal trilogy, or how would you describe them as a whole?
Waid: I like the alliteration, but the way the stories are set up they can’t really work inside the same universe. I’ve sort of cornered the market on the letter “I”; that sounds egotistical, and that’s not what I mean.
I like the motif, and I imagine I’ll do other books down the road in this vein.