Before I begin with the next installment of Before They Were Stars, I’d like to say something about Danny Donovan, the subject of the last installment. He took it upon himself to showcase it to execs like Joey Q (EiC of Marvel), Bill Rosemann (Your Man @ Marvel), Bill Jemas (president of Marvel Entertainment) and many more. I’ve personally thanked him, but I wanted to thank him over this. Thank you, Danny Donovan.
Marvel decided to do the Revolution, jump starting almost all of their X-titles with a new creative team. One of these books was Cableand it was given to the hands of Robert Weinberg and Michael Ryan. Cable, whose sole mission in life was now completed, needed a new direction. Bob promised it would get one, and that promise was achieved. He took Cableto a whole new level. Eventually, Marvel decided they wanted to close down Cable. But the fans, which loved the new wave that Cable was taking, petitioned to keep Cable going. They got what they wanted, but Bob and Michael were eventually taken off the book. Many fans were outraged, but Bob told them that Bob has come back to do a creator owned book for Marvel called Nightside with artist Tom Derenick. They did well enough for a sequel to be made later this year.
BEFORE THEY WERE STARS: ROBERT WEINBERG
Tom Toner: As an accomplished novelist, why move into the comic book genre?
Robert Weinberg: I've always been a big fan of comic books. I've enjoyed them for most of my life. Like most writers, I enjoy challenges and writing new types of material. So, when I was offered a chance to write comic books, it seemed like a good idea. I'm glad I did since I've enjoyed writing comics a great deal.
TT: I believe you didn't, but did you do any comics before Cable?
RW: Actually, my first comic book story was published by Innovation in Masques in 1992. The story was titled The Crushing Death and Mark Evans illustrated it.
TT: How did you land the job as the Cable writer?
RW: A few years ago, I got an email from Pete Franco who mentioned he was an assistant editor at Marvel and had read some of my novels. Pete liked my work and wondered if I'd be interested in writing some comics. I called the phone number he gave me and talked to Mark Powers. It wasn't until then that I learned Mark and Pete edited the main X-titles. Originally I was slated to write a horror mini-series featuring the X-Men. Then, when it was decided to bring in a whole new batch of creators on the books for the Revolution, I was offered Cable. As a fan of Nate's adventures for years, it was an assignment I couldn't turn down!
TT: Did you get any say as to artist wise for Nightside?
RW: When the series was first okayed by Marvel, Mark Powers made several suggestions to me about who could do the art. However, I'd already worked with Tom Derenick on a few fill-in issues of Cable and liked his art so much that I suggested that maybe Tom could work on Nightside. And that's exactly what happened.
TT: We know the first comic you did, but what about novel. What was the first novel that you got to work on?
RW: My first published novel was The Devil’s Auction, which appeared in hardcover in 1988 and was reprinted in paperback in 1991. The paperback's been reprinted several times since but unfortunately is out of print at the moment. Story wise, the novel is similar to Nightside, with the hero dealing with werewolves, a golem, and a group of powerful sorcerers in modern day Chicago.
TT: Having been a reader of your novel, The Black Lodge, I just have to know why you opted to do Nightside on Sid's sister, Sidney, instead of continuing the story of Sid?
RW: Actually, my initial proposal for Nightside featured Sid Taine, the hero of my novel, The Black Lodge. However, the people in charge at Marvel felt they preferred a female lead instead of a male one.
TT: Damn them, Sid was the perfect hero.
RW: So I changed Sid to Sydney, his sister. I do have another novel planned for Sid if I ever get time to write it.
TT: Did you have any influences in your writings? If so, did you ever get to meet them? How was it?
RW: Two of the major influences on my writing were Sax Rohmer and Robert E. Howard. Rohmer created Dr. Fu Manchu, and Howard created Conan. Both writers were long dead before I started writing, but in their work they showed me how to write vivid stories with strong plots and lots of action. So I owe a lot to them.
As to more modern influences, I've always acknowledged my debt to Dean Koontz.
TT: Ah yes, I believe one issue of Cable had his name on that cover. Please continue.
RW: Dean has been a good friend for 20 years. I don't see him very often but we keep in touch by the phone. His advice on how to write has been invaluable, as has his equally important advice on how to deal with editors and publishers. Dean's two books on how to write are must-reads for anyone interested in becoming a professional writer. And his novels are perfect examples on how to tell a story just right.
TT: Thanks for taking the time from your busy schedule to answer these questions. Got any final words?
RW: I appreciate all the fan support I've gotten for my comic work so far, and I hope to continue to earn their support in the future.
TT: Keep an eye out later this year for the sequel to Nightside.
Before They Were Stars #3
Written by – Tom “2TUM” Toner