Fabian Nicieza has learned a lot in the 30 years he's spent in the comic industry, but when Newsarama talked to him, one of the chief ones that stood out from the Deadpool co-creator is never take yourself too seriously - or others, either.
30 years ago this month, Nicieza made his comic book debut with Marvel's Psi-Force #9, and in the intervening years has created characters like Deadpool, the New Warriors team, Shatterstar, and written some of the biggest Marvel and DC titles, and even worked as a Marvel editor and Editor-In-Chief of Acclaim Comics.
Newsarama cornered Nicieza to talk about his 30 years in the business, how Deadpool has changed him, and how he gets inside the head of the Merc with a Mouth.
Newsarama: Fabian, first of all - congratulations. Last month was the 30th anniversary of your first published comic book - July 1987's Psi-Force #9 with artist Bob Hall. Does it feel like 30 years?
Fabian Nicieza: It honestly doesn't feel a day over 29.
Nrama: For everything you've done behind the scenes and as a writer (especially that New Warriors run), you're best known as the co-creator of Deadpool. How has it been to have that on top of your resume?
Nicieza: It wasn't at the top of the resume 10 years ago. That spot was held with an iron grip by not having co-created NFL Superpro.
But as long as Deadpool wants to continue being a cultural sensation and as long as Fox wants to keep making movies, then it's better than not having it on your resume at all.
Nrama: How has having Deadpool on your resume affected you in your work? You get more meetings with media producers with that, or at least get some free chimichangas from somewhere?
Nicieza: I don't try very hard to get meetings with media producers. I try very hard not to set up meetings with anyone.
I think it's helped a little in some of the non-comic work I do, but the character is so unique in terms of his tone and popularity, that depending on the job, it might not be seen as a positive.
A lot of my non-comic work is corporate branding, government or charity work, and they can lean more a wee bit more conservative than your usual Deadpool story.
Nrama: I credit you with Wade Wilson's personality and banter, from those early New Mutants issues onto his first mini and into the Cable & Deadpool run. You've come back to write him on several occasions - how do you get back in the groove with him?
Nicieza: Oooh, since this is for Newsarama, can I answer it in the form of one of those really, really annoying "list articles" you guys do ALL. THE. DAMN. TIME. now...?
Nrama: Go for it.
Nicieza: Top 10 Ways Fabian Gets His Deadpool Groove Back
10. Place my engorged member in a vegetable spiralizer. Turn handle.
9. Listening to Andy Serkis read every single tweet Donald Trump has ever made in his Gollum voice.
8. Giving in-depth thought to exactly how cuticles are formed. And why.
7. Picture a deep, long, meaningful tongue kiss with Mitch McConnell.
6. Picture another deep, long, meaningful tongue kiss with Mitch McConnell.
5. Remember the time I blew a shot at a three-way. Follow with self-flagellation.
4. Go to Weight Watchers app and check out how many points for a Shake Shack burger. Cry.
3. Call out to my wife to see if she wants to fool around. Hear her laugh. Feel bad about myself.
2. Call out to my wife to see if she wants to fool around. Fool around. Hear her laugh. Feel bad about myself.
1. Why would anyone think the groove ever leaves my brain just because I'm not writing Deadpool at any given time? That groove is my brain. Unfortunately.
Nrama: And are there any personal touchstones, inspirations, or people you think about when writing Deadpool?
Nicieza: Well, waaaaaaay back when, during the time of his first few appearances and his first limited series, I pictured Denis Leary's raspy, edgy voice from the late 80s MTV commercials. Just the tone and cadence, that smart sarcasm and overt anger.
When I came back to write him in 2004, there was no "voice" in mind, and now, I don't know. I haven't written the character since the movie came out and I'm curious if I did again, would it be Ryan Reynolds' voice in my head?
Nrama: For years, some might say that Marvel didn't know the potential of Deadpool. You worked there for decades, as both a writer but also - often overlooked - as a staffer, beginning in the marketing department. How would you say Marvel as a company has changed in its stance about Wade over the years?
Nicieza: I think Marvel as a company, obviously, is attracted by sales. When Deadpool wasn't selling, their stance was relative indifference. When Deadpool was selling, he had forty-seven titles a month. That's how the company's stance has changed.
Nrama: Just recently you did a Bob, Agent of Hydra story for Secret Empire: Brave New World #2 - if Deadpool is a success story, Bob's continuation as a popular character is a superb triumph. What do you think makes him memorable, and where do you rank him on the characters you've created?
Nicieza: I love Bob. He is the terrified coward in all of us, he just gets to express it with barely a modicum of regret. He deserved his own limited series years before I even got to finally debut him in Cable & Deadpool.
When I originally came up with the idea, Marvel was a little shy about doing "funny books," especially if they felt it might belittle a legitimate "supervillain threat."
I understood their point even back then, but the idea of a cowardly cannon fodder HYDRA agent, panicked in sheer terror that Captain America's shield is going to chip all his teeth after he just found out HYDA doesn't carry a dental plan, is just too good to not do!
Nrama: There was a homage to Bob in the Deadpool movie, but I'm not sure that's the real Bob. Since you said early Deadpool made you think of Denis Leary, who do you envision as Bob?
Nicieza: No one. I don't cast voices in my head too often, or offer actor likenesses to my artists. Ironically, Cable and Deadpool are two that I have!
Nrama: In 1993, Wizard called you the busiest man in comics - you were writing several of Marvel's top 10 books, as well as other titles. How was it to be that busy?
Nicieza: It was exciting and it was exhausting and it really helped my career and it also really hurt my career. Simple answer, right?
Nrama: Any highlights or big regrets?
Nrama: I'm not going to let you get away that easy. Is there a piece of advice 2017 you would give 1993 you in that situation?
Nicieza: "Don't do it just for the money, but do it for the money because the money helps and you'll probably never get to surf as big a wave as you're on right now."
"Use whatever clout you have to fight harder for the oddball projects you feel strongly about."
"Don't lose your hair. No matter what women say, they prefer guys with hair."
Nrama: And what do you think 1993 you would say to that?
Nicieza: "I can't talk right now, I have script to finish tonight."
"But if these oddball projects actually get approved, you'll have to quit your high-paying books."
"I know, they all say that but they're lying! But how am I supposed to stop this maelstrom that is happening atop my head?"
Nrama: Deadpool is a big star now, and some of your X-Force creations are coming into their own now. Are there other characters you created or co-created that you think would do exceptionally well in the spotlight?
Nicieza: I think a non-X-Men focused TV series of a younger Gambit would make a great show. I think if Marvel Studios had decided to introduce a few more "cannon fodder" villains as almost throwaway cameos in their movies, combined with a few of their more prominent villains, then they could have more smartly set up a Thunderbolts movie that would have been as much fun as Kurt Busiek and Mark Bagley's first year on the series.
Ironically, I think many of the pitches I made to Marvel -- and even DC - that they passed on contained some of the most viable concepts that they could have expended to film and television.
Nrama: You came to America from Argentina at the age of 4 with your parents. What would you say to someone who was like you back in the 1960s, moving from another country and into the U.S. and having a passion for creating comics?
Nicieza: I would recommend they pursue a career in math and sciences. And then go back to whatever country they came from, since math and science would be better appreciated there.
Nrama: And what are your big plans moving forward into late 2017 and beyond?
Nicieza: Comics have really been more of a "side gig" for me for over a decade now, but I still keep my fingers in the pie. I have been doing a lot of custom comics work for Marvel and DC over the last couple years which most people don't see (since it's not sold in stores), but keeps me busy.
I also have a new creator-owned digital comic that will be announced pretty soon and should be out by 2018. I'm working with a former partner-in-crime and we plan to have a tremendous amount of fun, which means it should be a lot of fun for the readers, too.
Nrama: Can you say anything at all about that creator-owned comic book?
Nicieza: Not yet. Contracts aren't signed yet, but should be soon.
Nrama:Last question - You mentioned NFL Superpro earlier, which has entered into a weird cult status. If Marvel and Roger Goodell give you the call, are you ready to bring him back for the fall season?
Nicieza: No. I wrote five NFL Superpro stories and I firmly believe that is five more stories than I had in me to tell. It would only be fair of me to allow the next generation of writers the pleasure.