DC Comics taps into Parkite Doug Wagner’s talents
Ryan Summerlin November 25, 2011
Park City resident Doug Wagner has been writing comic books for the past six years.
He wrote the new Dynamite Comic crossover pairing of "Witchblade" and "Red Sonja," as well as a large fantasy-game based "World of Warcraft" graphic novel that was done from the perspective of the Horde, which most people view as the bad guy.
He is the originator of the "ICE" series, which is about the hero Cole Matai of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency that is published by 12-Gauge Comics.
Wagner’s latest project is "Sinister Imitations" for DC Comics.
In the story, The Justice League investigates the rumors that The Flash is going bad.
The difference between this comic and the others is the fact it won’t be found in any book stores. Instead, it will be found in selected boxes of General Mills cereals.
Also, Wagner’s book isn’t the only comic that was written for the company’s breakfast-food campaign. Three other authors were recruited to write other one-shot stories as well.
"GM called me five months ago and said they wanted me to write a story that featured the Flash and they needed it in a week," Wagner told The Park Record. "They didn’t tell me what they wanted the Flash to do. They just told me they needed a 24-page story that is appropriate for all ages."
Apparently, the company was happy with Wagner’s story because they printed 5.3 million copies to be stuffed into boxes of Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Cocoa Puffs, to name a few.
"My wife has been running around trying to find my issue," he said with a laugh.
Wagner enjoyed the project.
"When you’re doing anything that is licensed, there are always a lot of editors who are touching the story, but they’re all trying to do what’s best and what will fit the need for the campaign," he said. "It was still really fun."
Ever since he was in elementary school, Wagner liked the power of words, he said.
"When I was five, I wrote stories for myself, because it was like playing with toys for me, because when kids play with toys, they’re creating stories."
He didn’t begin thinking about writing for a living, until he picked up and read an X-Men comic when he was 12.
"What I liked about it was the fact that it was about the outcasts of society who still tried to be good people," he said. "That was a new concept for me as a kid, because when I heard the word ‘outcast,’ I thought it always meant bad people of society.
"Then I looked around and realized I was an outcast because I wasn’t playing outside, but writing stories for myself," he said with another laugh. "When I hit 17, I went to my parents and said, ‘I want to be a writer,’ and they said, ‘That’s a horrible idea.’"
So, Wagner created a backup plan.
"I didn’t go to school to get a writing degree," he said. "I went to school for computers. I did that for a while, but I still wanted to find a way to be a writer."
Wagner would pitch his comic-book ideas to various publishers in the business, and was turned down many times.
"The comic book industry is probably the hardest industry to get into and most companies, such as DC Comics, do not accept unsolicited work," he said. "I got hundreds of rejections and being persistent and professional is one of the toughest things I had to do during those times. I felt rejected and insulted, but I had to distance myself from those feelings.
"I even sent one editor the same proposal four times and he finally wrote me back and said, ‘Please, do not send this to me again.’"
Wagner got his break when a friend started 12-Gauge and came up with the concept of a teen assassin for a story called "The Ride."
"He wanted me to write the first issue for him, and I said I would," Wagner said.
The comic, drawn by Brian Stelfreeze, known to some as the artist for "Batman: Shadow of the Bat," was a success and kick started Wagner’s career.
After six years of creating characters that range from teens to old men and border-patrol cops, Wagner relies on old legends to help him come up with ideas.
"I go back to Homer and listen for the Muses, because all the characters I create have to be different," he said. "Something whispers in my ear and tells me what the characters are supposed to be and then I go from there."
The hardest part of the career is finding new projects, said Wagner, who is considered a freelance writer.
"When I get called for a project, I dive into it headfirst and just put all my time and effort into it and don’t think about trying to find the next job," he said. "You can’t do that when you’re living one paycheck at a time. I’ve since learned I need to find where the next meal ticket is coming from."
Regardless, Wagner loves the outcome of every story he writes.
"When I finish a story, I can’t go to sleep because I’m so happy and proud of what I’ve done," he said. "Then to know that my story is being distributed in a cereal box is great.
"When I grew up, Cracker Jacks and cereals all had prizes in them and I couldn’t wait to go home and see what the prize was," he said. "I didn’t really like Cracker Jacks, I just cared about the prizes."
For more information about Doug Wagner, visit www.shocknoggin.com