Glenn Alan Herdling, a former editor at Marvel, talks about his few issues of Daredevil he wrote during Dan Chichester's and Scott McDaniel's run on the title. He also talks about his past writing projects and his views on DD. Thanks to Scott McDaniel for his help for the interview.
Kuljit Mithra: From an interview I had with your friend, former DD penciler Scott McDaniel, I know you graduated from Bucknell University (which you both attended) and got a job as an assistant editor at Marvel. The impression I got from him was that you landed a job that you loved. Was a job in comics something you'd always wanted?
Glenn Herdling: I was a Hulk fan since I was 8 years old. I voraciously consumed any title that the green skinned behemoth appeared in. I later got into the Fantastic Four. But I really didn't become a full-blown comic book fan until college, when most people give them up due to restricted budgets. I owe a lot of that enthusiasm to Scott, who introduced me to the X-Men and to Daredevil. I knew I wanted to go into publishing, but reading comics and creating our own stories in college really solidified my desire to go into the comic book field.
Mithra: What were some of the titles you helped edit and when did you make the jump to writing comics too?
Herdling: I started at Marvel as an Assistant Editor to Jim Salicrup on all the Spider-Man titles. In fact, my first Letters Page credit was on the same issue that Todd McFarlane first started on The Amazing Spider-Man (#298). My editing credits include Nomad, Beavis & Butt-Head, and more custom comic books than you can shake a swizzle stick at (you know those comics--"Spider-Man meets Kool-Aid Man," etc.) I made my debut as a writer in 1989 on a humor anthology called "What The--?!" The story was a parody of the Kraven Saga featuring Spider-Ham.
Mithra: Aside from DD, what other titles have you written?
Herdling: AVENGERS ANNUAL 22
AVENGERS SPOTLIGHT 25
AVENGERS 366 (back-up story), 370, 371
BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD 20,23,26
FANTASTIC FOUR: ATLANTIS RISING 1,2 (Scripts)
FANTASTIC FOUR UNLIMITED 11
IRON MAN 255 (Co-Writer)
MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS 18
MARVEL TEAM-UP 8-11
MIGHTY MOUSE 6
NAMOR 44-50, 52-62
PETER PARKER: SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL '97
RED SONJA: SCAVENGER HUNT 1
RUNE/SILVER SURFER 1
SCARLET SPIDER UNLIMITED 1
SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL-9,10,12,13 (back-up stories)
SPIDER-MAN: FATHERHOOD 1
SPIDER-MAN ONDCP CUSTOM COMIC 1
SPIDER-MAN SAGA 1-4
SPIDER-MAN UNLIMITED 14
STRANGE TALES 1
UNCANNY ORIGINS 2,11
UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL 18
WHAT IF 16,31
WHAT THE--?! 3
Mithra: What would you consider to be your best work?
Herdling: I had loads of fun during my 2-year run on Namor. But I'm really proud of my work on Blackwulf (despite the taunts I now get about it from my co-workers at Wizard). I only wish I had more than 10 issues to tell Blackwulf's tale--the last issues were pretty cramped.
Mithra: What is the most difficult thing for you when you set out to create a story?
Herdling: Turning on the computer. Once I've done that and stopped procrastinating, the rest is pure imagination.
Mithra: You wrote a few issues, DD310 and DD311, during Dan Chichester and Scott McDaniel's run on the title, and also a story in Annual 9. All the stories revolve around Calypso, the Nameless One, and Hellspawn. Can you describe how you came up with this storyline? It's quite different than the typical DD fare.
Herdling: When Todd McFarlane got his writing gig on a new Spider-Man title, he was caught unprepared. He needed a villain--a good one. I had been working on a story featuring Kraven's former lover, Calypso, who returns to assume his mantle. I knew Todd would do the premise justice, so I pitched the basic idea to him. He took it from there. The rest is history. But I wanted a piece of Calypso too, so I brought her back in Daredevil.
Mithra: Was the plan for Hellspawn in Fall From Grace already set out here, or did Dan Chichester use Hellspawn on his own later?
Herdling: I created the character. Scott had done such a great job with the visuals that Dan insisted on bringing him back, and he gave the creature its name. Let's face it, Hellspawn was probably the greatest doppelganger to come out of the Infinity War.
Mithra: Did you do much research on voodoo for the issues?
Herdling: I insist on researching everything I do--almost to a fault. If there's a minor fact in one small panel, I will read everything about it that I possibly can. Marvel fans are incredibly intelligent, and I hate being responsible for No-Prize errors. I think I could probably obtain a degree in oceanography with all the research I did when I was writing Namor.
Mithra: Were you forced by editorial to make your story tie into the Infinity War series?
Herdling: Nope. Editor Ralph Macchio and Assistant Editor Pat Garrahy had pretty much given me an open field. I was worried that my issues would be received by fans as mere "fill-ins" and I wanted to do something special. It was sheer happenstance that I caught the tail-end of the Infinity War, because Dan had already decided that he was not going to participate. I wasn't too keen on the cliche "hero fighting his evil doppelganger" plot, so I thought, "Hey, what if the villain fights the doppelganger because she thinks he's the real Daredevil?" We explored a similar motif in Nomad--when I suggested to writer Fabian Nicieza that we participate in the Infinity War, he almost gagged (Nomad was not that kind of book). However, when I asked if he would consider having Nomad fight the doppelganger of another super hero, he smiled. And so, Nomad fought Gambit's evil twin--which set up a lot of fun a few issues down the road when Nomad met the real Gambit.
Mithra: I never thought I'd see the Nameless One again in DD, so I'm assuming that you read the early Ann Nocenti issues with him in it. Were you a fan of Nocenti's work on the title?
Herdling: I enjoyed Ann's formalistic approach to the character. But she had some pretty big shoes to fill after Miller's departure. I always got the impression that she was just biding time until Miller's eventual return.
Mithra: Who do you think has written the best Daredevil stories? What are some of your favourites?
Herdling: Man, I know this band wagon is pretty full, but in my mind Frank Miller sculpted the ideal Daredevil. I'm not big on re-reading stories--there are too many new ones piling up next to the bed. But I can read "Born Again" over and over and over again. I've been enjoying Kevin Smith's take on the character, but I always think it's sensationalism when a new writer comes on a book and kills off one of the main characters. Miller put hornhead through the paces without sinking to that level.
Mithra: How about artists?
Herdling: Again, Miller...and Mazzucchelli.
Mithra: What should any writer who tackles a DD story include to make it a successful 'DD' story?
Herdling: I've only written two issues featuring ol' hornhead, and it was essentially one story. But the prevailing theme of the book has to be about justice. Whereas Spider-Man is about responsibility, Daredevil is about justice--and the best Daredevil stories are those that remind us that justice isn't always fair.
Mithra: Red, yellow or armoured costume for DD? Which one is your favourite?
Herdling: I think even the creators of the armored costume will tell you that the red togs are the right togs.
Mithra: And finally, what kind of work are you doing these days?
Herdling: I'm currently working at Wizard, managing the new Black Bull line of comics. I am also writing a number of custom comics. In fact, one four-part anti-drug insert just appeared in every Marvel Comic.
(c) Kuljit Mithra 1999
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