At the Talking Deadpool Panel at New Jersey Comic Expo on Saturday, November 18th, Ivan Cohen hosted Marat Mychaels, Scott Koblish, Stuart Moore, and Gail Simone.
Mychaels said he was present at “Deadpool’s birth” working with Rob Liefeld who said he wanted to start drawing “Spider-Man with swords”. Mychaels does a “parody book” of Deadpool and Winnie the Poo, he said.
Koblish has been working on Deadpool for about 5 years, he did the “wedding cover” and has an arc on Despicable Deadpool coming up. He’s working with Gerry Duggan at the moment. Moore has worked on a number of Deadpool projects over the years. He wrote Deadpool the Duck, and “Golden Age Deadpool”.
Simone wrote Deadpool back in the mid-2000s. She was contacted by Joe Quesada to schedule a phone call for the next day, and lay awake wondering what the phone call would be about about since she had only written Simpsons comics up to that point. Quesada said he wanted to make Deadpool “laugh out loud funny again” and asked her to pitch for it. She had never read a Deadpool comic, and had to get “up to speed” to do a pitch. She didn’t know how to do a pitch, so she wrote a big, long dialog piece, but somehow that worked ok.
Apparently, people at the office thought her pitch was hilarious and were photocopying it to take home and read, she said. Simone was allowed to do what she wanted on Deadpool, she said, and got away with a lot. She worked on the book for about a year and a half. But Scooter, coming up in the second Deadpool movie, is definitely from her work.
Mychaels was asked if he originally thought that this many years later the character would still be so popular. He said, “Not really, because in the 90’s the character kind of died out”. Deadpool was “cool looking” and people liked the “smart ass” aspect, but “no one thought he was going to be this!”, Mychaels said. A few years later, things started picking up steam, and comic conventions have contributed, with so much Deadpool cosplay.
Asked if there has ever been “push back” on things he wanted to include in the comic, Koblish said occasionally, particularly when trying to include known figures, but putting “glasses and moustaches” on people has helped, like when sneaking the Bee Gees into the comic. But very few things have ever been “nixed”.
Moore said that he was not allowed to “make DC jokes” in the comic. He tried to put ones in about Infinite Crisis and Zatanna, both as footnotes referring to fictional comics, and that was actually nixed.
Asked how much of her “super detailed pitch” ended up in the comics, Simone said she’s not sure, though she thinks they used a lot of it. People weren’t paying too much attention, meaning that she managed to do an entire issue about masturbation. There’s nothing better than being told to make something “laugh out loud funny” and then just being allowed to do it without too much oversight, Simone said. She loved doing the cover where it’s “raining panties” of all kinds, with a villain with a panty fetish. Everyone knew she was making fun, and it was “amazing”.
Simone described Deadpool as a “walking cancer” and yet he’s “upbeat”. A writer said to her that he’s “Bugs Bunny with a machine gun”, but she personally does not agree with that. She thinks his humor comes from a place of tragedy. She reflected that her sister is a librarian, and there were some children who went into a foster system when their mother became terminally ill. Her sister learned that one, an 8 year old, loved Deadpool, and he was having big problems. She asked if Gail would come and talk to him.
When Simone heard the story, she went around a convention and got donations and items for the child, then went to have lunch with him, and some of the gifts were to be used as a rewards to help him “down the road”. She asked the child what his favorite thing about Deadpool was, the child said, “No matter what happens to him, he keeps trying”. That was keeping the child going. Even getting a pair of Deadpool shoelaces made a big difference to him. Since that time, the child and his brother were adopted, and things are going better, but during a dark time, Deadpool made a huge difference in his life.
Deadpool is “hilarious”, doing off the wall things, but for her, it’s a place of tragedy that makes the humor “more valuable, and the stories stay with me longer”, Simone said.
Asked if really young readers are fans, Moore said he’s sold books to 13 year olds, if their parents are with them. The movie has popularized Deadpool, of course.
Koblish said Deadpool was also in a Lego video game, and very funny, which created young fans. When you’re drawing a smiley face, you “ascribe identity” to it, and in the same way, Deadpool has basic face shapes on his mask, so readers can transpose themselves, Koblish explained. He’s a “jokey tabula rasa”, which kids may identify with, Koblish felt.
Moore said that when he’s written Deadpool, he’s usually done so from the perspective of another character, like Howard the Duck. He’s then a “foil”.
Simone says it’s just “different takes”, and she prefers the “darker humor”.
Moore said that he “comes alive” when he’s being a hero, and when he has the costume on.
Asked if there’s any type of humor that doesn’t work for Deadpool, most panelists said “no”, they haven’t been able to “break” him yet by going too far.
Moore said there’s nothing “exclusionary” about the humor. He noticed that there’s some humor that doesn’t work, like Howard the Duck’s high-brow humor. It’s not that Deadpool couldn’t be high brow, but it didn’t quite settle.
Simone likes the self-referential and fourth wall stuff to be “minimum”, but that’s just her personal taste.
Asked how Deadpool moved from being just another villain to being his wild self, Mychaels said that Joe Kelly really brought that to bear.
Simone said she often picks villains and characters who haven’t been seen in awhile, as a writer, but with Deadpool it was particularly fun to take villains who weren’t being seen and playing with them.
Moore said he gathered rogues from Howard the Duck lore that weren’t very used, but he generally likes to use characters who are “down and out” and not popular, whether in Agents of SHIELD or other stories.
Koblish likes creating characters, and working on the 2099 universe, he enjoyed that aspect. He likes to draw things that he never thought he’d be drawing. He use to draw comics as a kid, and he’s kind of glad he’s not drawing the things he wanted to do when he was younger. If he got those wishes now, he thinks that he wouldn’t enjoy it.
Mychaels says that drawing obscure characters is fun, because you’re not intimidated by your comic artist heroes having drawn them before you.
There are some stories he wouldn’t necessarily throw Deadpool into the middle of, Moore said, like a 9/11 story. Some stories might feel trivialized by that. Simone said it’s about context, and almost anything can be done if the context is right.
Moore told his “Golden Age Deadpool” story, and said that Marvel did a ‘Who Will Wield the Shield” crossover where various characters were competing to be Captain America. He was asked to do a parody version of it, and was asked by Steve Wacker to write a “Golden Age Deadpool”. Because Deadpool’s last name is Wilson, Moore decided he’d be Woodrow Wilson’s nephew. He decided he should talk in “buy war bonds sloganeering” mixed with Hip-Hop. It seemed like a great idea until he tried to write it, and it was clearly a terrible idea. It didn’t work at all. But Joe Quinones’ art was wonderful, he said.
Asked what’s coming up in Deadpool comics, Koblish said that the character’s going through “the grinder” having a lot of his life of the past 5 years “taken away”. The action is “going up” while his “mood is going down”.
Koblish said he’s working on a cover that will feature 300 Deadpools, so that should take a while.
Simone is currently working on the Wonder Woman/Conan crossover with brand new “villainesses” drawn by Aaron LoPresti. She’s also got Crosswinds at Image with Cat Staggs that has been optioned for TV. She’s also working on more Red Sonja for Dynamite that hasn’t been announced yet, a DC project, and an all-ages project that hasn’t been announced yet, too.
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