Interview With Scott Lobdell
(April 2007)

The writer of the "Flying Blind" arc talks about his experience on the title and why he chose to have DD regain his sight...

Kuljit Mithra: When I first got in touch with you, you had asked me what DD fans had thought of your FLYING BLIND arc in retrospect. The impression I get (from visitors to my site) is that they didn't like DD regaining his sight, "it wasn't Daredevil" etc. But there seems to be that vocal minority who loved it. I get the impression that you had fun writing it, so what's your reaction to how the arc has been received?

Scott Lobdell: Hmmm. Interesting question. To be honest, if I remember correctly, it happened before the real advent of the Internet -- when most of the response to a comic came in the form of letters sent in to the letter columns. And it was unlikely that I had read many around that time. The reason for this was several fold: I was not very beloved by the editor at the time the letters would have come in... and two, because any letters printed that would have dealt with the FLYING BLIND issues would have been published at the time Sacred Kevin Smith was writing the book. To that end, 99% of any letters had to address Sacred Kevin Smith and his impact on All Things Comic Book. So, in general, I didn't get or recall much feedback at the time.

Now, to be clear, I adore Sacred Kevin Smith and think he is a very talented writer and filmmaker. I call him "Sacred Kevin Smith" only because I am always amused by the comic industry's infatuation with "real writers" -- writers who come in from other media and grace us with their brilliance. It just makes me laugh... as if we are suddenly asked to sit at the lunch table with the cool kids!

Also, before the Internet, when dialogue was sort of one on one, MOST people who were inspired to write letters felt that they were writing directly to the Editor or the Writer or the Artist... it was often very conversational and almost always polite. There was an awareness on the letter writer's part that there was a human being on the other end of the letter. When someone didn't like a story they would often list the things they didn't like and make suggestions on where to take the storyline. Now, it seems to me, that in the days of message boards, there is much more an attack and mob mentality. "Lobdell sucks!" "Lobdell is a loathsome hack!" "Lobdell smothered baby kittens!" It's not enough to not like a particular story... people have to hate me and all my work and any attempts I make to ever run my fingers across the keyboard. It doesn't seem very healthy to me.

That said, there are people who do like me and enjoy my work or elements of my long lived comic book writing career... I was just talking about the ones who love to be critical to the point of getting their freak on! LOL!

Mithra: How did you get the DD writing job... did you pitch the story or did the editor at the time (Tim Tuohy? Jaye Gardner?) need someone to take over from outgoing writer Joe Kelly?

Lobdell: If I recall at the time, Joe Kelly was a little overwhelmed with writing a book that involved a multitude of mutants (some hack writer had just left the X-MEN after running it into the ground after six years of smothering kittens)... and it was already announced, at least internally, that Sacred Kevin Smith would soon be parting the Bullpen and making All Things Right in comics. So Jaye needed someone to fill-in for several issues before that. Because the arrival of S.K.S. had already been postponed several months before that (at the time, Kevin was not as spot on regarding deadlines as he is today), I thought I would come up with a storyline that could be extended should S.K.S.'s arrival need to move once again.

Mithra: Why did you decide to write a Daredevil story where he could see?

Lobdell: I have always been a big fan of Jim Shooter's "Illusion Of Change" rule... that is, we get the IMPRESSION that things have changed forever over the course of an issue, but by the end of the issue, the characters are still had the SITUATION they were in at the beginning of the issue. (That is, Uncle Ben is still dead, Aunt May still needs her medication, Jonah Jameson still hates Peter. Even if, during the story, Uncle Ben seemed to rise from the grave, Aunt May started taking yoga, and Jonah published a long suppressed poem he'd written to Spider-man one night.)

As I was only filling in for x-amount of issues, it was important to me to create an arc where I could "change" the character without really changing him. That is, if the character was blind, I would make him "unblind" for x amount of issues... but I would do it at a price to Matt: He could see, yes, but not as Matt. At one point he had to make a choice: what was more important to him, his eyesight or his self? The moment he became "himself" (officially ending the story in a place where the next writer could take over and never address it again if he or she didn't want to) would be the end of that story.

ALSO... One thing that has always intrigued me over the years, is the whole question of Nature vs. Nurture. Would Matt Murdock have become DAREDEVIL if the circumstances of his life had been different? Would he have put on the suit if, say, he got all the heightened senses from his accident but not the blindness itself? Would his entire life had been different if, say, after saving that Blind Man on the street that day, he picked up his blessing of his powers without the curse? And, he never had the CHOICE to be able to see, it was taken away from him in the moment of the accident. So how interesting would it be if Matt WAS given a choice -- you can have everything you were up until this moment, or you can have your eyesight, but you can't have both! Those seemed like very profound story elements to explore! Who WOULDN'T want to?!

I thought it was interesting and clever... it intrigued me. So that's why I pitched it.

One thing I'll say too, is, I feel badly that I accidentally stepped on Kevin's intended storyline, which was to give Matt back his eyesight. If I had known he was planning on doing that I would never have pitched my take. (My job, after all, was only to keep the seat warm for him.) Because of the hush hush nature of MK at the time, though, I was flying blind during my pitch. Continuity being what it is today, though, maybe someday Kevin will be able to write that story as he sees it -- and if he does, I will be the first person in line to buy it!

Mithra: Were there any other ideas that you were considering?

Lobdell: Probably. Anyone who has spent four minutes with me knows that I have more ideas than a room full of rocking chairs -- though I have no idea what the means. Alas, for the purpose of this interview, I genuinely don't recall what any of them were. You have to remember this was nearly ten years ago.

Mithra: You've already talked about knowing the book would be relaunched, but had you wanted to do any more DD work?

Lobdell: As I said, the relaunch had been discussed and moved again and again several times as the art and writing teams were preparing to hit the ground running. To that end, I was prepared to write the book for as long as I was needed. Which, turned out not to be very long, because A] the editor at the time when I left the book kinda loathed me as I was pretty contemptuous of his editorial skills and was not shy about sharing my opinion. And B] If I remember correctly, the editor was eager for me to wrap up Flying Blind so he could insert another writer into the series. [This turned out to be the Chichester/Weeks "Just One Good Story" issue -- Kuljit]

I would either have kept Matt as Laurent story going, taking him from France -- probably losing all contact with SHIELD and have him make his way across Europe meeting EXCALIBUR and THE ORIGINAL INVADERS back in 1942 and maybe even the Marvel version of FRANKENSTEIN and DRACULA...? All the while getting flashes that he wasn't Laurent -- he was someone else entirely. Who knows, it could have been fun! It certainly sounds fun to me!

Mithra: Did you feel shortchanged by Marvel because of the different artists and then the Marvel Knights announcement?

Lobdell: Not at all. I got to work with Cully Hamner and with Tom Morgan -- two very different and very talented artists! How could I possibly feel short changed? (In the ole' days, the most important thing to do on a monthly book was to hit the deadline and get it out on the stands. Period.) Over the years, there has sort of been a new editorial policy that seems (to me) to be "It will be published when we get it right and not a moment before!" If that means one or two months or two or three years between issues, so be it. But as someone who had been writing comics for ten years at the time, I had been used to working with a multitude of different artists month to month and sometimes page to page (LOL!) (In fact, one of my earliest works was HEIR APPARENT, an EXCALIBUR graphic novel that has a very very tight deadline when it was assigned. The only way to make it "work" was to create a story that had multiple chapters so that it organically allowed the story to have multiple artists.) As far as the Marvel Knightsness of it all, as I've said, I was bought in at the time knowing the arc was, at some point, going to have to end in order to accommodate the relaunch. So no, far from feeling short changed, it was fun and an honor to write one of Marvel's mainstays after six years of mostly mutant-centric stories.

Mithra: Was there any particular reason why there were different artists on the arc (Hamner & Morgan). I do seem to recall that the arc was solicited as 4 parts, then it updated to 3, but ultimately it came out as 4.

Lobdell: I don't remember why the different artists... I can only assume that, as is Marvel's wont (even today, from what I hear) artists were rarely even assigned a story until it was already late. "Here, you have three weeks!". Everyone who knows Cully knows what a great and dedicated and creative artist he is... and so it was probably just decided editorially at the time that in order to give him time to do his best work, they would slide in another artist. I am sure that was probably frustrating for Cully, but certainly no reflection on him.

The whole four issues to three issues to four issues -- if I recall -- was a function of Tim replacing Jaye on the book. Jaye loved me and loved the notion of exploring how much Daredevil was tied into his blindness. Tim did not love me and wanted me to wrap up my storyline as quickly as possible and didn't much mind if the door hit me on the way out! (LOL!) I think he made some kind of editorial edict that the arc would end with the third issue (the better to bring in his new writer and put a thumbprint on the series before MK) but it was later explained to him that four issues had already been solicited at the time. And in those days, Solicitation Was King.

Mithra: I also seem to recall hearing that the Claudia Dubois character was supposed to be the Stilt-Man's daughter... was that true?

Lobdell: Me too. I vaguely remember that. It sounds like something that would have intrigued me at the time: Not only is Matt not Matt, but as Laurent he winds up falling in love with the daughter of one of his oldest enemies. That sounds fun -- and gives him one more reason to feel ambivalent about giving up Laurent to return to Matt.

Mithra: What have been some of your favourite Daredevil stories? Do you even have time to check out the current DD comics?

Lobdell: One of the very very very very first issues of a comic book I ever read cover to cover again and again and again and again was KING-SIZED DAREDEVIL 1! It was a super villain team-up issue where GLADIATOR and STILTMAN and ELECTRO and the OWL and THE FROG (I think that was his name) all teamed up to take down DAREDEVIL! (I think El Matador was there too! Oh, wait -- was the Purple Man in it too?! I could Google it and pretend I have total recall and impress you, but I won't! LOL!) Man, how cool was that -- a pile on on a blind super hero?! And Gene Colan to boot! Man did I love that book. Sigh.

Certainly Frank Miller at his comic-loving best is still something to get excited about some twenty plus years after reading the original Elektra run. (In the days before comic book stores caught on, I had to buy my stash of comics at the 7-11 in Poughkeepsie, several blocks from college. I would remember that when a new issue of Daredevil would come out, I wouldn't even crack it open... I would take it back to the college coffee house and lay it flat on a table, and I had a single sheet of white paper with me. I would turn the page and place the white paper on the opposing page of the comic so I would not be tempted to read ahead! LOL! Frank Miller was that amazing! Sometimes every panel on every page would just grab you by the throat and shake you until blood popped out of your eyes! Man were those heady days for comic book readers.

Regarding current stuff, I will shamefully admit that today's comic books -- by and large -- do not seem directed towards a reader/fan like me.

Mithra: While you are better known for your team books, like X-Men, one story of yours that I enjoyed was the Black Widow arc you did for Journey into Mystery. Do you prefer this type of espionage (SHIELD etc. like Flying Blind) or team books to write?

Lobdell: Without sounding like I'm copping out, I pretty much enjoy every story that I write (Yes, even the bad ones that turn out falling way short of my expectations for a particular story or arc)... the act of creating is almost always fun. And the requirements that come with juggling the wants and needs of twenty-odd mutants living in one house are different from the espionage stories are different form the lost years of a Slayer are different from two teen detective brothers and on and on. So, yeah, I loved writing the X-MEN and I loved writing all the other books. (That doesn't seem very hacky, does it?! LOL!)

Mithra: And finally, you seem to working in a variety of media now... what kind of projects are you working on currently?

Mostly I seem to be immersed in feature writing at the moment -- with a movie about to go into production in several weeks! How exciting is that! But with t.v. season approaching I will probably concentrate on pitching one or two new pilots.

I am, of course, still writing the HARDY BOYS for Papercutz, and am also planning on releasing a handful of new titles over the next few years through my own imprint. I'll be happy to talk about them as they become ready!

(c) Kuljit Mithra 2007
Daredevil:The Man Without Fear

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