An interview with writer / artist Chris Wozniak

 

How did you first become involved with 2099?

 

Chris: I believe that Stan Lee asked for me to be the artist on the book he was writing, Ravage. And I don't know how that came about; I think there had been some other pages I had done for the editor and Stan saw them and asked for me to be the penciler on that but it didn't work out, I don't know why. I wound up getting some of the Spider-Man 2099 stuff.

 

Did you have a lot of communication with the writers of your stories : Evan Skolnick, Ben Schwartz.

 

Chris: Evan I knew from the office. Evan actually worked at Marvel. Ben, I have a very vague recollection he may have worked in the office, but I could be wrong. This is back in the days when there were a lot of editors and assistant editors giving each other writing assignments. There was such a demand to get things out. This was before the crash. Some guys in Editorial were saying things like "we can't print blank pages," so that will give you an idea.

 

Did you have a lot of communication with the inkers of your stories :Chris Ivy, John Lowe

Chris: I was good buddies with John Lowe. If I am not mistaken, I got him his first inking gig. He had come up from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. There was a small community of comic book creators there; Richard Case, Mike Weiringo, Kent Williams, George Pratt, Dave Johnson...they all had studio space in that area. John was also there and he came up to New York looking for work. My assistant had run into him and brought him over to me. He had already been to DC and Marvel but had struck out. So my assistant brought him over to my house, and John and I got along immediately well. If am not mistaken, I brought him to Joey's office with me the next time I went in and John wound up getting work from Joey. He went on his own from there and took off. Now he's the Dean at Savannah College. They have the only Sequential Arts program in the country I think. Chris Ivy I only knew vaguely, but knew he was a real good inker. I don't think the stuff we did was necessarily spectacular, but that's more my fault than his. He was a real good inker.


Do you recall why two of your stories were not published?

 

Chris: I know one of them was an inventory, so it was never meant to be published. In those days, whoever was regular on a comic book was expected to get it out every single month. Of course for 99% of artists that's impossible. It was regular practice to back log inventory stories to make sure if an artist burnt out or broke or toe or something then they would have a book in the can so the publishing schedule wouldn't get thrown off.
 

The inventory story I wrote I know was something like that. We threw something together, and I can see looking at the art now it was one of those stories that was drawn straight to ink with just a little rough penciling. The other story if it was not published, I can only assume it was also an inventory. The one by Ben I don't remember even drawing. That gives you an idea of how quickly these were done.

 

How did you come to write the ‘Lost Hope’ Spider-Man 2099 story?

 

Chris: I'm not the world's greatest comic book artist but I write better than I draw. At that time, I really wanted to get away from drawing because I was doing so much so quickly that I was burning out. I think a lot of guys were. It depends who you talk to. Different guys have different levels they can tolerate. Mine wasn't too high. Anything in monthly publishing is grueling because there's never any respite. As soon as you finish something, the next one is already late. I just remember thinking, "a writer gets paid the same as an artist. I can write four books a month easily, but drawing one a month is difficult," so I pitched some stories. I wrote, if I am not mistaken, a Hulk 2099 as well but I could be wrong on that. But with the Spider-Man one I pitched the plot to Joey. It was probably 3 or 4 paragraphs. He read it, liked it, and I went home and fleshed it out some more.

 

What do you recall about the plot/story of ‘Lost Hope’?

 

Chris:  It connects to the flashback [of Mr. Sims, the first human test subject from Spider-Man 2099 #1], its that guy's story more fleshed out from his perspective. From what I remember they turn the guy into a monster, he falls to the floor and seems to be dead and they move on. They toss him into a disposal unit that they have for these things, but it turns out the guy is not dead, just a mutated monster. I wrote that he was mentally incapacitated after his transformation, not able to fully grasp everything that is going on but he still had emotional feelings left over from his previous life. He's looking either for his wife or love interest and trying to reconnect with her. That's his motivation. He's been separated from her, he doesn't understand why and he's just trying to get back home to her. From everyone else's perspective, it seems like there's a monster stalking this woman, and Spider-Man intervenes to save her. It has that tragic monster ending, where the monster dies misunderstood. He's either allowed to die or even possibly killed by Spider-Man as a mercy killing. Something along those lines. I know it was a tragic ending for sure.
 

From the art style, I can tell you this story was drawn straight to ink. You draw a stick figure circle and then pick up the pen and the brush and you kind of finish it out. The mark of the books that were super, super rushed. I only did a few jobs like that. I know I did at least two Star Trek comics like that and this is in that same style. I am not that great as a penciller and I am much worse at inking. In those days we were just trying to get the things out. I am sad to admit there were times when "that will do" was the policy. That wasn't my intention when I first got into comics but that's what it became right about then.
 

 

 

Your stories introduced Mutagen, a new villain for Spider-Man 2099. How was the look of the character conceived?

 

Chris: How he came to be...it was just something that Evan scripted up. I didn't do a separate design for him, I just created him on the page as I drew him. It was Evan's concept that he wrote into the script, and visually I just did my thing on the fly.

One thing I do remember about the character that is really strange. This was very soon after the Image exodus. There was a lot moaning and complaining amongst creators that they wanted more ownership over characters they created. Guys were leaving in droves. I remember Malibu had a creator owned line and they were offering creators something like half ownership. Marvel was losing some heavy hitters, so Marvel started offering creators partial ownership of new characters. Marvel actually gave me a contract saying I own 21% of a Copyright, not the Trademark of the character. Mutagen is the only Marvel character I own anything in. Of course that means absolutely nothing. A Copyright is just ownership of a single image, like a sketch or something. A Trademark is the real ownership of the character. That's the concept of the character. It was Marvel's way of paying lip service to people who were looking to bail to either Malibu or Image, and it was a patented ploy on Marvel's part to placate creators who didn't understand Copyright Law.

What recollections do you have about working with editor Joey Cavalieri?
 

Chris: Joey is a really really nice guy. He was very easy to work with and that was always the case. Joey I knew from DC. He's just a nice guy. He's not a taskmaster by any stretch of the imagination. He's a good guy. He's a nice enough guy that if you do work for him you'll not put him in a bind.  

 

Favorite / Least Favorite of your 2099 work?

Chris: That would be my inventory story on both counts. Art-wise it was so rushed that I don't care for it, but generally speaking any story I write is going to be pretty decent. I have a much easier time writing than I do drawing. Drawing has never ever been an easy thing for me to do, even now. But I do remember liking the story I wrote, thinking it was a good solid comic book story.

 


 

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