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The Spencerview Part Three: Nick Spencer Answers Readers' Questions

Written by Christian Hoffer on Thursday, April 14 2011 and posted in Features

Nick Spencer answers all of your burning questions!

Nick Spencer is the Eisner Award nominated writer of Morning Glories, Iron Man 2.0, and T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents, as well as the recently announced Cloak and Dagger miniseries and co-writer of the Ultimate Fallout miniseries. Over the course of the last year, Spencer has experienced a meteoric rise through the comic book industry culminating in a Marvel exclusive contract and multiple Eisner Award nominations.  Nick graciously spoke with the Outhouse about his career, his Marvel contract in parts one and two of his interview.  In the final edition of a three part interview, Nick Spencer answers all of your reader questions!

OH: Do you have time for some reader questions?

NS: Hit me! Let's do this!

OH: Jude Terror asks "What do you think about the rapidly decreasing time between the time that a indy creator is beloved by the Internet and the time that they sell out and start getting detractors?" There's been a big difference between the time Brian Bendis took to become a big writer versus you or Jonathan Hickman.

Cover to Forgetless TPB
: Jonathan Hickman's career is someone whose career was exploding right when my work was getting picked up. He's someone that I get a lot of advice from and am good friends with.

You're right, the trajectory has changed and things happen a lot faster because of the Internet for the most part. It's become a thing where these little unsung creator books can become Internet sensations overnight and hype can build very quickly. It has changed a lot but at the same time what hasn't changed is that you have to produce at the end of the day. Your story has to resonate whether you've been writing for one year or ten. No ones going to buy your stuff based on what you used to do. It's all about what you can deliver in those twenty-two pages.

When you're plotting and scripting and outlining, you have to treat it as if it were the first and last book that someone can ever read from you. You can get obsessed with your career path but at the end of the day you have to focus what's right in front of you.

OH: Jude also asks "We know you've hung around on comic book fan forums in the past, and now you're a big time writer at Marvel. Being familiar now with both sides of that relationship, what have you learned about the perceptions of Internet fans and the reality of the industry?"

NS: I think more than anybody that I came up through the whole fan culture. I was very much a part of that and it's something that I'm proud of.

I love that I was a fan before I was a writer. It's the modern equivalent to the old letter columns. You can go through them and see that Geoff Johns and others were writing letters. It's the same sort of thing. The people who are part of the industry now were readers and fans first. We're just the next generation of that. I think over the next few years, that'll grow exponentially. There's some talent out there who are hanging out on those messageboards and putting together their pitches.

OH: How long before you're editor in chief at Marvel?

Cover to Existence 2.0 TPB
: [laughs] No interest! I would never want to be on the other side of that desk. I look at how difficult it is to deal with me at times and then I realize that there's a hundred other writers like me out there that they have to call in a day and chase for pages and lockdown on story points. Editors are doing the Lord's work.

It's not a job that I would ever want to do but they do it really well. Axel Alonso is fantastic. I got to be in my first real conference call with him not too long ago. I really like the way he thought and how he went about things. There's a guy who knows a thing or two! He has some big exciting things planned for Marvel. I'm thrilled and honored to be part of it!

OH: Finally, Jude Terror, our webmaster, asks "Can you give an exclusive Outhouse spoiler? Even if it's one that you make up?"

NS: Even if I make it up?! Let's come back to that one!

OH: SilverPhoenix asks "The comparison between Lost and your Morning Glories has become inescapable. After seeing what many people called the downfall of Lost in its last Season and a Half for not being able to balance the mystery and story, how important is it for you to keep readers interested in your book, while deciphering the overall mystery that surrounds it?"

NS: To be honest, I'm a fan of that last season of Lost. I personally enjoyed a lot about the last season of Lost and thought the finale had a lot more rewarding character payoffs than most endings of stories like that. At the end of the day, that's what matters the most about those stories. You think you're in it to find out why the polar bear is there, but you're really in it because you care about Jack and Locke and Kate and Desmond. You want to find Hurley to find love, whether you realize it or not. You want to see the characters get the endings you think you deserve. If I explained to you what the cylinder is in Morning Glories but I don't explain how it matters to those kids individually and together than I came up short.

That said, like anything, you watch those things and you take notes. I certainly have watched my share of Lost and BSG and those great long-form mysteries and you take notes on what you think worked and what didn't. What I can say is what I'm most excited about Morning Glories is I know what the payoff is and I know what the final story is and I know how it all ties together. I think we have some things that's rewarding on both a plot level and a character level. The endgame of this book is something that will resonate on both a character and a concept level. I hope that by the end of this, we give all the expected answers but that it's clear that we knew the answers back when we introduced the various mysteries. And also that you've grown to care for these characters and their journeys and how their stories played out.

We looked at things like the last issue of Y: The Last Man. The last issue of Y is not about what happened, it's about Yorick and what happened in the aftermath of everything he's been through. Its one of the most moving comics I've ever read. My goal for those last issues of Morning Glories, as far away as they are, is to give you that same emotional connect and same amount of feeling while at the same time making the answers to those mysteries real jaw droppers and satisfying in their own right. We're swinging for the fences.

OH: What of your work, if any, would you recommend to someone who hated Lost and why?

NS: I have a hard time recommending things to people with shitty taste. I dunno, Ernest Goes to Camp? [laughs] I'm just kidding around! Make sure you put in there that I wasn't being serious!

Cover to Shuddertown #1
I think that not everything that I do is a long form mystery. The Jimmy Olsen Special is just a lot of fun stuff. Existence 2.0 is a self-contained story even though Existence 3.0 starts spinning off into something bigger. Secret Avengers is all self contained. You don't have to pick up all four....although you should. Those are stories that don't rely on long-form mysteries and WTF moments and flashback storytelling.

Telling those big stories and telling them unconventionally and leaving you in the dark and ending on shocking moments are what interest me, though. Some of that is just in the same weave as Lost. I like keeping you guessing and keep your head spinning. I get excited and enthused when people saying "WTF?" and saying that they don't understand what's going on. That's where you're supposed to be at and that's what I like. Some stuff that I'm doing this year is like that, some stuff isn't. I don't want to get locked in and have people think I can only write one sort of thing.

But give Secret Avengers a shot. If you're into more straight-ahead, conventional storytelling, give that stuff a shot.

OH: How do you not lose your identity of Nick "Amazing Indy Creator" Spencer while you're working for Marvel?

NS: It's funny because I have been thinking about that a lot. When I started doing Marvel, and this Secret Avengers run in particular, when people read that they'd see little pieces of me. This is true of the Iron Man 2.0 tie-ins too.

I wanted to do a little bit at my first year of Marvel that shows that I can do summer blockbusters. I wanted to show that I could do straightforward quasi-traditional superhero stories. I love that stuff! I turned in the script to Secret Avengers #13 and its very Capra-esque. It's very earnest and it comes at you with patriotism like a sledgehammer. It's not subtle. And then there's something that I'm working on really intensely that's a big announcement coming later on this year that also is a straightforward new-reader friendly story.

You write this stuff for a while and you realize that it's completely different than you've been doing for the last couple of years. But then there's stuff for Marvel that will people will think that it feels like one of my books, like Iron Man 2.0. This is one of the things that I want to show, that I can do both. I want to show that I can do distinctive stuff but also do broader reaching stuff and find ways to marry the two and take what works for one and put it into the other. As a writer, that's what I get excited about.

Every two months, I sit down and write goals for myself. That's why all of my books have been so different from each other, even the superhero stuff. If you took my names off of Jimmy Olsen and T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents, I hope that people wouldn't know that they're written by the same person. There are certain tics and mannerisms that you can see in my stuff but for the most part I like to keep trying new things. I never feel like I'm writing a Nick Spencer book. I'm always trying to write different types of books. I'm still new enough at this that I'm learning things at some extent and see what sticks. As long as you come with enthusiasm and a desire to tell the best story you can, things will work out for you!

OH: Let's head back to that spoiler question...

NS: I got nothing, man! This is on the spot wittiness and I just don't have it. Ummmmm.....let's see, well I can give you a vague hint at one. Right now, in the Iron Man 2.0 Fear Itself tie-in, which starts with issue five, I'm introducing a new character to the Marvel universe that I think is going to have some legs. I had a blast writing him...and I just realized that that's not as scoop because I wrote it on twitter. Sorry, Outhouse!

OH: Well, it's an exclusive to people that aren't on Twitter.

NS: That's right, so it's a semi-exclusive!

OH: Last question: What are your thoughts on Xavier's first round defeat to Marquette in the NCAA Tournament? [Editor's Note: Spencer was a graduate of Xavier University in Cincinnati]

NS: Ooooooooo, low blow, man. [laughs]. I'm an Xavier guy, I'm used to overperforming and eventual heartbreak. That's just our way. I'm old enough that I can roll out of bed the next day somehow and keep going. But, some day....some day....

Nick Spencer's Infinite Vacation #2, T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents #6, and Iron Man 2.0 #3 are available now whereever comic books are sold.  Spencer's Morning Glories #9 hits stores April 27th.

Written or Contributed by: Christian Hoffer

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About the Author - Christian

Christian is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Christian is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.


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