Comics Icon David Michelinie Talks About Some of His Comics Creations And How Cool Elric Is!

With Joe St.Pierre

To me, David Michelinie is easily in the pantheon of the greatest comics writers of all time. He wrote epic runs on IRON MAN, AVENGERS, and the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. He was also involved in the creation of some truly memorable characters in the Marvel Comics Universe, including CARNAGE, the TASKMASTER,  SCOTT LANG (ANT-MAN), JIM RHODES (WAR MACHINE), and perhaps most notably, everyones favorite wall crawling villain, VENOM!

My very first job as a penciler was written by the man himself–you can imagine how intimidating that was ;)–We also worked on my favorite SPIDER-MAN job at Marvel Comics together, which included VENOM and CARNAGE. Dave has already scripted a story with one of my own creator-owned characters, CRICKET in THE NEW ZODIAX.


Joe: Lets get into some of the characters you created throughout your career. I remember an ad in the 70s for a character you and Bob Layton created called SORCERER, right? Did SORCERER ever happen? Whats the story behind that?

Dave: That went on forever. I believe we were going to do this graphic novel for a publisher in Michigan, but Bob got very busy and the publisher wasnt happy with the delays. We finally bought out the publisher and took the project to Marvel and they were going to produce it. But once again it didnt get done and we revamped it when we started Future Comics. The character DEATH MASK became the final version of SORCERER.

Joe: Really? Great that you got to use the idea eventually.

Dave: Yeah. Hes an American Indian mystic who worked in Vegas. Bob wanted to call him Seneca Blackstone because of the Seneca Indian tribe, and Blackstone the magician. I suggested How about Seneca Saint Synn?”, because I love that Saint/Sin dichotomy. So we were going to call the book SAINT SYNN, but there is a character out there called SYN by Peter Gillis, so rather than get into a legal hassle, we changed it. Bob came up with DEATHMASK, which I hated, because a death mask is the mask you make of a dead person. But as it went along he became one of my favorite characters, because I came up with the idea of WHY its a death mask: its funneling not only the energy from another dimension, but a personality. An evil personality is riding along the energy. As Saint Synn uses his powers the personality begins to take over a little bit more of him, so its kind of like an ELRIC story.

Joe: Yes we could probably talk for an hour about how awesome ELRIC is (laughs). Especially since you and I had talked previously about how that was your influence when you were developing CLAWS THE UNCONQUERED for DC as well. For me that sounds like a great idea.

Dave: Oh I was so influenced by Moorcock, because we had CLAW THE UNCONQUERED, then there was a series I had created called STAR HUNTERS, which was headed by Donovan Flynn, we had STARFIRE, who was a female sword and science character, and I was going to do a Moorcock shtick like his Eternal Champion (a concept found in Michael Moorcocks work whereby all of his heroes were essentially other-dimensional reincarnations of one another). I was gonna put
all three of them and JONAH HEX together as part of the same hero and then bring them all together in a graphic novel or something. But I never got a chance to do that. Thats how much I was influenced by Moorcock.

Joe: Wow. CLAW THE UNCONQUERED would’ve been a totally different book, going in that direction.

Dave: Oh yeah, sure. If you’re going to steal–I mean, be influenced–it might as well be by the best!

Joe: I enjoyed FREEMIND and I love the concept of METALLIX, where many people wear the same costume.

Dave: Again, thats a great example of collaboration. Bob (Layton) came up with the name METALLIX, and he wanted it to be like an IRON MAN character with liquid armor. I took it and said, Why dont we do something different? Why dont we make it one suit of armor, then weve got a CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN type of group, and each one has an ability. The armor enhances that ability. Thats what happens when you get two creative people together, and they start talking; you get lots of stuff to write about.

Joe: I know a bunch of friends of mine are going to want to know about the TASKMASTER, and I think well have enough material after that. So we ALL love the TASKMASTER and want to see moreOh, you know, I wanted to ask you about VENOM too, shoot. Okay, lets talk about TASKMASTER real quick.

Dave: OK, his name is TASKMASTER, next?

Joe: (laughs) OK onto VENOM!

Dave: I was just kidding! You can talk about TASKMASTER. I just make jokes, not always funny ones–blame my personality.

Joe: TASKMASTER. Again, one of those ideas where one says Why havent we seen this before? Because this is so. obvious. an idea, but also so great, once you see him in manifest. The guy who trains the henchmen for all of the aspiring world dominators of the Marvel Universe. So, was it just you saying Why hasnt this been done before?

Dave: Thats exactly it. When I went to Marvel and started working for them, I wasnt that familiar with the Marvel superheroes universe, and I saw two things that I didnt understand. One of them was Why do all these second-string villains, who almost always fail–where do they get the money to buy their guns and stuff? And that led to JUSTIN HAMMER, who finances these guys for a part of the take. Then TASKMASTER is exactly what you said; all these costumed nameless goons, where do they come from? Is there something in the Yellow Pages, like Goons R Us? So I came up with the idea of the TASKMASTER, who had, at the time, what I thought was a unique element: a man with photographic reflexes. Where he could see something done, and then he could do it himself. I wont say they stole my idea, but in the second season of HEROES (the TV show), they had a young woman who did that. She could see something and she could do it on her own, and I wondered if any of the writers were AVENGERS fans.

Joe: Oh if the writers who worked on HEROES hadnt read comics, I think the world is spinning backwards or something

Dave: tomorrow will be yesterday. So anyways, I wanted to make him a little different from other super-villains, so I had him training the henchmen to fight superheroes, instead of fighting them himself–though he usually ended up doing that anyway, of course. So thats where those two characters came from. I saw something that I questioned, How does this happen? Where does this come from?and I came up with an idea and turned it into a character.

Joe: Do you see TASKMASTER as a spice character or do you see him as a guy who could carry his own comic book?

Dave: I dont know what theyve done with him. I usually dont keep up with characters that I created when I no longer have control over them. Even if someone comes along and tells great stories, theyre not stories that I would tell and he would be doing things that I would never do, so it would be painful.

Another character, Scott Lang (ANT-MAN). I never got to do him as much as I wanted to. HE could have certainly survived at least a miniseries, maybe once a year or something. He fit so well into the superhero milieu. But TASKMASTER? I dont know. As I wrote him, TASKMASTER didnt really have that much variety in his motivations. Now, I could write him once a year at least and give him something new to do, but I dont know–I would have to put a lot of thought, and maybe make alterations to his situation to make him a monthly character.

Joe: Well said. And these characters are just the tip of the iceberg! Its always a pleasure chatting with you!

David Michelinies story featuring CRICKET of the NEW ZODIAX is a stretch goal for the NEW ZODIAX Vol. 1 NEW EDITION, available through Kickstarter right now!

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