meet comic book writer supreme
What excited you creatively when you were given Doctor Strange?
at that moment, it was simply a new place to play. I’d written Doc as part of the Defenders, where he was mostly a superhero who did magickal things, and I liked the idea of getting deeper into the magick stuff.
How much did your own interest in the occult shape the stories you were telling?
I had no interest in the occult at that moment. But I decided that, if I were going to write a credible Sorcerer Supreme, I should learn some stuff – and I found out that I liked what I was learning, so as each issue unfolded, I was more and more conversant in the art of real magick. Now, trying to incorporate real magick into a comic was tricky because I wasn’t writing a treatise, but it crept in wherever it could, and the themes moved from big spectacular comic book concepts to big spectacular magickal concepts in comic book format.
There were some mind-frying ideas in your stories. Who were you writing for? Kids? Or the counter-culture?
Comics in those days were still under the Comics Code, which mandated that anyone from six to 60 could read them – and therefore, people who wanted to deal with subjects like magick, and drugs, and God, had to be oblique. That said, I was definitely writing for anyone who could appreciate a magickal world, whether they were six or 60. Doc went places that no one else did so his comics had that unique extra dimension (so to speak).
What was your take on Strange himself?
He was a guy who had retained a lot of his humanity (minus the egocentricity), but he (a) had a lot on his plate, and (b) knew a lot more than anyone else about his chosen field, so sometimes he had to be reminded about the humanity. again, if the avengers missed a menace, the FF could pick up the slack, but there was no backup for Doctor Strange; all that weight was on his shoulders alone.
We’re finally about to see Doctor Strange on the big screen. What does the movie need to get right to honour the comic strip?
It’s gotta be kozmik. This ain’t mandrake the magician. Frankly, I know next to nothing about the film, but Benedict Cumberbatch is a great choice, because Strange has to be smart, and the trailers look suitably out there, and marvel really seems to have gotten this whole movie thing under control, so I’m very hopeful that the film will live up to the comic.
Now that’s a good cape. No, not the thumb!
Eeh, he looks a bit like that Benedict Cumberbatch. One from our secret lightbulb cam.