Tony Bedard is a busy DC Comics writer—a busy writer with a sense of humor. That’s what I found out when I recently interviewed him regarding his work on Countdown and the Black Canary miniseries. My thanks to Bedard for his time and some chuckles.
Tim O’Shea (TOS): A few weeks back, I interviewed Jimmy Palmiotti–and we started discussing Countdown. At one point he said: “The best part of the whole project is being able to see the work make such an impact on the whole DC line and be involved with that.” For you, what would you say is the best part of working on the project?
Tony Bedard (TB): Seeing the paycheck make such an impact on my bank account. That, and the chicks. I never got so many chicks when I worked at Marvel!
TOS: Which issues of Countdown have you written so far?
TB: Countdown #49, 45, 40, 36, 32 and 28. Of course, 45 was mistakenly credited to Palmiotti and Gray, but I don’t mind helping their careers along. In fact, I met Jimmy Palmiotti many years ago when we he was a snot-nosed punk starting out at Valiant comics with his penciling pal, Joe Quesada. Not many people know that they both owe their careers to my editorial guidance during those formative years. Now Joe’s running Marvel and Jimmy has his show on Sci-Fi Channel, and I…well…I’m pretty sure I can get you their autographs, if you want?
TOS: With a few issues under your belt, have you zeroed in on a character that’s become a favorite of yours to write?
TB: I think Mary Marvel is my early favorite. I like it when a character’s virtue is tested — when they explore the dark side of their personality and do things they might not be too proud of later.
Reminds me of me in high school. And college. And after college.
TOS: With a logistical challenge like Countdown, are you starting to have flashbacks to your days as an editor at DC? Has your editorial background been helpful in an assignment like this?
TB: I have those flashbacks all the time. I used to assist Dan Raspler back then, and sometimes I think I’m right back there in Dan’s office, with the door closed, giving him one of those foot massages he used to enjoy so much — the ones he said “helped him think.” Yeah.
Countdown‘s a lot like that, only now the foot-rubbing is more of a metaphor and performed during conference calls.
TOS: Scripting behind a Paul Dini story like Countdown–what insight or appreciation have you gained as to Dini’s acumen as a storyteller?
TB: I’ve come to learn that Dini is the third most powerful man in Hollywood and could crush my career like a bug if I displease him. He reminds me of this every time we start a conference call — in those exact words. It’s kinda like the way Mister Terrific is the third smartest man in the DCU? That’s Paul Dini: the Mister Terrific of Comics. (Industry secret: Dini’s “T-Spheres” actually do all his writing while he sips coconuts by the pool!)
TOS: How hard is it to rub people’s feet during a conference call, is this some new unpublicized feature of the iPhone only available with the T-sphere package?
TB: Dude, I work in a shack in my back yard and listen to elevator music for fun. I am officially too uncool to own or use an iPhone.
Hell, I don’t even know how to send a text message! But if a person can certainly kiss ass over the phone, one would think a foot-rub would be no problem.
TB: I grew familiar with her back when I worked on staff at DC and edited books like Secret Files that required me to research a lot of DC characters (in between foot-rubs). I came to like her back then, but the thing that really made the character, to be honest (for once!), was Gail Simone’s run on Birds of Prey. Oh, Dinah was a successful character before then, one of the founding females of the DCU, but over the course of 50-odd issues, Gail broke her down and built her back up into one of the top three martial artists in the DCU and a well-rounded human being you could really relate to. More than most heroes, you could see Dinah as someone you’d want to be friends with and have in your life. And maybe she’d let you dress up in her costume now and then.
TOS: What was it about Simone’s approach toward Canary that really made the character for you?
TB: Gail’s described it in interviews, saying that she felt Dinah had usually been characterized as “Ollie’s wet blanket” — the person whose whole existence seemed to revolve around pulling Green Arrow back from the brink of his own excesses. Gail treated her as her own individual with her own path to follow, with wisdom, chutzpah, and strength. In some ways, Gail did for Black Canary what Miller did for Daredevil back in the ’80s. She’s a major player now, and fully capable of kicking Ollie’s ass if he gets out of line. Gail’s massively talented, and I only hope I did justice to the character she built up so well.
TOS: Looking at the cover of the first issue, am I crazy to think the Canary and Sin on motorcycle shot is a subtle homage to Lone Wolf and Cub?
TB: Yeah, you’re crazy. It’s actually a big protest to mandatory helmet laws. Okay, I shouldn’t kid about that — I’ve gotten emails and message board posts complaining that Sin isn’t wearing a helmet (she does in the actual story). And I honestly do think that if you ride without a helmet, well, that’s about as smart as having unprotected sex. Except, of course, unprotected sex won’t leave your smashed-open skull smeared over 100 feet of asphalt. All I can say is that the cover image is symbolic, not literal, the same way that there’s not literally supposed to be a Green Arrow-shaped cloud in the sky. Both Paulo Siqueira and myself urge you to always wear a helmet when you get on a motorcycle, and to buckle up every time you go somewhere in a car…or put your pants on.
TB: Actually, Green Arrow and Speedy are both a big part of this story, most of which takes place in Star City and focuses on the two great relationships in Dinah’s life: her foster-motherhood of Sin and her will-she-or-won’t-she engagement to Green Arrow. No big Birds of Prey involvement, but some definitely huge turns in Dinah’s personal life.
TOS: Many great artists (including Alex Toth) have drawn Black Canary in the past. Could you point to any one classic style that reminds you most of Paulo Siqueira’s style?
TB: Paulo’s art actually reminds me of Greg Land at the top of his game! And Paulo has a gift for conveying acting and subtle expressions. He makes that little beard actually look dashing and handsome on Ollie, and he draws incredibly real
children. I can’t say enough good things about Paulo Siqueira’s artwork, so I’ll just say that I really, really hope I get to work with him again.
TOS: As a long ago fan of Route 666, I’m curious would you ever consider doing a horror comic for DC?
TB: Of course! I kinda thought that everything I’ve written for them is a bit of a horror…kinda like my answers in this interview, no? But, seriously, I’d love to do something like the Spectre or the Phantom Stranger or Solomon Grundy. In fact, I just wrote a short horror story featuring Aquaman for the upcoming horror anthology due out in October. So there!