DVD Review: The Write Environment – Comic Book Series Special Edition (G Johns, M Waid & M Wolfman)

Posted by on August 19, 2009 in Comics, Interviews, Video games | 0 comments

I have to admit that it is a real treat to be given the opportunity to review this particular installment from The Write Environment, hosted by creator and writer Jeffrey Berman, given that I recently returned from my second year at Comic-Con. 

Here are a few highlights from the interviews with comic book legends Geoff Johns, Mark Waid and Marv Wolfman, who are featured on The Write Environment: Comic Book Series Special Edition DVD. 
Hands down, Johns may have the coolest work space of all of the interviewees in The Write Environment DVD series. He utilizes a hydraulic desk, choosing to write either standing up or sitting down. And there is an entire wall behind the desk filled with amazingly organized and labeled boxes full of comic books; every issue in his collection is carefully housed in an archive sleeve. I admire such thoughtful storage, and openly admit that I plan to improve upon the pop culture archives in my own home office using his method. 

Of the many enlightening facts that you will glean from his interview, I was surprised to learn that Johns’ introduction into the comic book world was less than traditional; he started out as an assistant to director Richard Donner (Conspiracy Theory, Lethal Weapon). 

Johns is a very disciplined writer, as he is able to write an entire comic in one week from start to finish. Die-hard comic book fans are familiar with Johns because he is responsible for the rejuvenation of the Green Lantern and Hal Jordan. This talented young writer has established himself with a very impressive body of work for both DC Comics (Blackest Night, The Flash, Infinite Crisis, JSA, Superman, Teen Titans) and Marvel (The Avengers, Ultimate X-Men, etc.). 
“I give good cliffhanger.” Waid delivers the best line from all three of Berman’s interviews. 

His work space actually feels more like an extra bedroom with memorabilia-lined shelves than a regular home office. Truly, one of my favorite aspects of this DVD series is that we are invited to peek into the personal spaces of these beloved writers. 

In addition to being a renowned writer in the industry, Waid is a both a teacher and a visual thinker; he believes that you have to be able to write a wide variety of voices and empathize with the characters. In his interview, Waid elaborates about the relationship between the artist and the writer, which is a very collaborative effort. 

Waid’s stellar career began with The Comet and he wrote The Flash for eight years. Many regard the apocalyptic graphic novel Kingdom Come as Waid’s Watchmen. He also penned issues and series’ of Captain America, Fantastic Four, Impulse, Justice League, L.E.G.I.O.N. and X-Men, among many others. The most current Mark Waid comic is Irredeemable.

Wolfman’s home office resembles your neighborhood comic book store; warm and jam packed with more back issues than you’d ever have time to page through. He is the first to admit that clutter drives him crazy…and yet his bathroom resembles an eBay stockpile of original comic book related toys!

Wolfman finds dialogue easier than story and structure, and works from a strong outline. He always starts with characters, loves writing comedy and horror because both appeal to emotion. 

Marv Wolfman co-created Teen Titans, and many feature films have been based upon his work (the Blade trilogy, Bullseye in Daredevil, the novelization of Superman Returns). A few of Wolfman’s characters have also been featured on the small screen (Lois & Clark, Smallville). While Wolfman also wrote issues of Batman, Doctor Strange, Spider-Man and Superman, his notable titles include Crisis on Infinite Earths, Nightwing (a character which he created) and The Tomb of Dracula
Listening to these three gentlemen discuss their characters and stories, it is obvious how much respect they all have for their predecessors and peers, as well as the craft. It is fascinating to discern the varying styles of each writer; for example, Mark Waid enjoys writing cliffhangers with no idea what the resolution is, whereas Geoff Johns prefers to have a 2 year plan in mind while creating his stories. 

Comic Con originated as a gathering to celebrate the art and enthusiasm for comic books. And while the current focus of the convention overwhelmingly leans toward the promotion of feature films and television shows, the artists and writers who continue to create comic books will never be overshadowed by the temporary landscape of these other mediums. The writers interviewed on this DVD and their vast contributions to the comic book community serve as an important reminder to embrace our tactile childhood memories; acquiring and holding first issues and playing with action figures are indelible experiences that Johns, Waid and Wolfman clearly understand and appreciate. 

I highly recommend that aspiring comic book, graphic novel and general entertainment writers order a copy of The Write Environment: Comic Book Series Special Edition from Amazon or The Write Store. This rare glimpse into the minds and worlds of these writers is well worth your $19.99.

If you’re interested, I also reviewed the first round of this fantastic DVD series, which featured television showrunners/writers: Doug Ellin (Entourage), Tim King (Heroes), Damon Lindelof (Lost), Phil Rosenthal (Everybody Loves Raymond), Sam Simon (The Simpsons) and Joss Whedon (Dollhouse). 

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