“Religion, Philanthropy, and Daredevil: A Conversation with Ann Nocenti- Part 3”

matts-hair-leonardiFN:  “So, in terms of this passion that you have for… I don’t know how to put it… social justice, I guess…”

AN:  “Yeah, social justice for sure.”

FN:  “Do you think that fed in at all to editing and writing X-Men when that was in its heyday in the late 80s, too?  With its themes of tolerance and social justice?”

AN:  “I’m a pretty gentle editor.  As an editor, I feel it really is important to let the individual voice shine through.  Working with Chris Claremont, Chris Claremont had his personal fascinations which had to do with interpersonal relationships.  I think he was way ahead of his time in comics for giving women huge roles in all his stories.  I don’t know if that fits under the rubric of social justice stories…

When you’re an editor I just think you pick good people and then you get out of their way.  If you pick good people all you have to do is be a sounding board for them and nurture them and shepherd them but you never, ever, ever want to get in the way of someone’s voice because then you have generic comics.

People will be like, ‘Chris Claremont’s characters!  They talk too much!’  I’m like, ‘Well, that was his style!  And it was always interesting talk so, what’s your problem?’ (laughs)

When you look at the last ten years in comics, how women are finally coming into comics and there’s Gail Simone’s Refrigerator, Alyson… Bechdel’s (I think her name is) Bechdel Test.  Could the female character in the room be replaced by a lamp?  If so, you’re not writing a good female character.  Chris writing the X-Men in the 80s, the female characters were stronger than the male characters!  That’s absolutely legendary in my mind.  To be working with someone who basically wanted to make the female as rich and deep and proactive, if not more so, than the males in the comic… for me, he was way ahead of his time and I didn’t need to tell him anything.”

FN:  “I agree with you.  And the results speak for themselves, right?”

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AN:  “They’re great comics!  My job was to do the standard, Aristotelian-y things:  is there a conflict, what does the character want, is there an underlying theme, are the characters being used in an active way… I have a checklist as an editor.  Let’s say ‘we have the Beast walking into a room here, well, why don’t we have him walking into the room multitasking, reading and bouncing onto the ceiling to change a lightbulb?’ Your job as an editor becomes to be a backup brain, to go through the checklist and then instinctually make sure it’s a fun story.  A lot of editing is using your instincts like, ‘Do I want to turn the page?  Do I want to read what happens next?’  If you’re falling asleep reading a script, that’s a problem.” (laughs)

FN:  “Do you have a favorite Daredevil writer?”

AN:  “When I left comics I was doing journalism and film and I was teaching in Haiti, then I went off to Hollywood and I was making films… I sadly did not keep up on comics.  When I went back to comics and started doing Green Arrow and Catwoman and Katana, and I did the convention circuit for 2-3 years, I would kind of wander artists’ alley and buy especially indie comics.  I felt like indie comics needed my help, in terms of supporting the artist by buying their work, listening to unique and new voices out there.  When you write a comic, you do your homework, you try to read a bunch of stuff that writers have done before you and then you go from there.

One of the things people always say about Daredevil is it’s the book that has the most consistently great writing on it going way back.  I remember reading Roger McKenzie’s stories when he first took over Daredevil and loving them, certainly a lot of the Frank Miller stuff.  You basically don’t look at that stuff too closely because you want to do your own thing, you don’t want to be overly influenced.  Some day when I have an extra month of time or a vacation I’ll bring some of these comics with me so I can catch up on everything I’ve missed.  It’s exciting, there’s so many good comics out there.”

FN:  “Have you seen the new Daredevil show on Netflix?”

4517368-clldpsrAN:  “Yeah, yeah, I loved it!  I saw the first season and thought it was fabulous.  Now I’m getting a lot of calls about ‘When is Typhoid Mary going to be in it?’  It will be interesting to see what angle they take on her… I have no idea, it’s mostly just fans that are curious.  I’m so out of the loop I’ll be the last one that knows if something like that happens.  It’s not like the TV people call up the old comic book writers and say ‘Hey, guess what?  We’re going to bring in Typhoid Mary in!’ You kind of find out when all the fans do.” (laughs)

FN: “Is that the same thing with collected editions, when they reprint your stuff?  Do you find out when we do?”

AN:  “Yeah, I never know anything before.”

FN: “You just hopefully wake up one day and find a royalty check, right?” (laughs)

AN:  “More like you wake up one day and finally notice that you’ve got mail at the post office and you go down there and then are like ‘Oh, those old stories!’”

FN:  “Thank you so so much for your time, and can I say God bless you for what you’re doing!”

AN:  “Thank you, God bless you for what you’re doing!”

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