Wagner, Matt 1961–
Wagner, Matt 1961–
PERSONAL: Born 1961, in PA; married Barbara Schutz; two children.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, Dark Horse Comics, 10956 S.E. Main St., Milwaukee, OR 97222.
CAREER: Comic book creator, writer, and illustrator.
AWARDS, HONORS: Eisner Award, 1999, for best anthology, for collection Grendel: Black, White, & Red, and, with Tim Sale, best short story, "Devil's Advocate," from comic book Grendel: Black, White, & Red, number 1.
GRAPHIC NOVELS/COMIC BOOK COLLECTIONS
Mage: The Hero Discovered (three volumes), Donning Co. (Norfolk, VA), 1987, single-volume edition published by Image Comics (Berkeley, CA) 2004
(With others) Grendel: Devil's Legacy, Comico (Norristown, PA), 1988.
(With others) Batman: Faces, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1995.
(With others) Batman: Riddler, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1995.
Matt Wagner's Grendel Cycle, Dark Horse Comics(Milwaukee, OR), 1995.
(With others) Sandman Mystery Theatre, DC Comics (New York, NY), 1995.
(With others) Grendel Tales: Devils and Deaths, Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukee, OR), 1996.
(With others) Matt Wagner's Grendel Tales: The Devil in Our Midst, Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukee, OR), 1998.
Mage: The Hero Defined (four volumes), Image Comics (Berkeley, CA), 1999.
(With others) Neil Gaimon's Midnight Days, Vertigo(New York, NY), 1999.
(With others) Matt Wagner's Grendel Tales: Homecoming Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukee, OR), 2000.
(With Greg Rucka) Grendel: Past Prime, Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukee, OR), 2000.
(With others) Doctor Mid-Nite, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2000.
(With John K. Snyder III) Doctor Mid-Nite, book two, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2000.
(With others) Grendel: Black, White, & Red, Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukee, OR), 2000.
(With others) Grendel Tales: The Devil May Care, Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukee, OR), 2003.
(With Bernie Mireault) Grendel: The Devil Inside, Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukee, OR)2004.
Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman: Trinity, DC Comics (New York, NY), 2004.
(With others) Grendel: Red, White, & Black, Dark Horse Comics (Milwaukee, OR), 2005.
(With others) The Vamp: Sandman Mystery Theatre, Volume 3, Vertigo (New York, NY), 2005.
Creator of comic book series, including Mage and Grendel; writer and/or artist for other comic series, including Batman, Sandman Mystery Theatre, Dr. Mid-Nite, Ultimate Marvel Team-Up: Spider-Man and Wolverine, and Green Arrow.
ADAPTATIONS: Mage was adapted into a screenplay by John Rogers, to be filmed by Spyglass Entertainment and Critical Mass Productions. John Wells Productions plans to film Grendel, with screenplay to be written by Carl Lund.
SIDELIGHTS: Matt Wagner's career in comic books has encompassed creating the Mage and Grendel series as well as writing or illustrating stories of established characters such as Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Wonder Woman. "I was first published as a creator-owned guy in the early 80's and then later, I went and did stuff for the big companies," Wagner told Adam Gallardo in an interview for the Dark Horse Comics Web site. "I find that balancing trick just perfectly easy. I guess part of that is I have found such reward, not only financially but creatively, from the two creator-owned series that I have."
The Mage series deals with an ordinary young man, Kevin Matchstick, who undergoes training with a wizard and emerges able to fight a variety of supernatural enemies. The series draws on the Arthurian legends to some degree. Comico published fifteen issues of Mage, which were then collected in three trade paperback volumes as Mage: The Hero Discovered. Wagner, who described the series to Gallardo as "a one-man show basically," drew critical praise for both his art and his words. Peter Coogan, reviewing the second volume for Extrapolation, noted that Wagner "used the archetypes of hero, wizard, and companion … to tell the tale of heroic discovery of self." Coogan added that Wagner's story "started out simply but grew more complex as he worked it out, and Wagner handled it masterfully. His art reflects his growth in understanding of his material and in his ability to present it. Wagner's artwork is pleasing to behold, because besides being beautiful, it tells the story, the true test of comics narrative. His panel composition can be complex, but is never muddled. His pages are full but clear." Christy Tyson, critiquing the third volume in Voice of Youth Advocates, observed that "art and text combine to present a bold, dramatic contemporary world."
Wagner introduced the character of Grendel, a powerful assassin who takes the form of various people, in a supporting feature in the Mage series. Grendel's first alter ego was a wealthy, socially prominent, self-centered young man named Hunter Rose. The Hunter Rose stories are in some ways a commentary on the selfishness and aimlessness of modern young people. After Rose's death, Grendel had several other human identities, including that of Rose's granddaughter Christine Spar, and he also became a malevolent cosmic force not tied to one person. With a spin-off title devoted to Grendel, Wagner began collaborating with other artists and writers. "I thought the only way for me to grow and expand myself was to learn how other people see things," Wagner told Gallardo. Examples of collaboration include the trade paperbacks Grendel: Black, White, & Red and Grendel: Red, White, & Black, which feature stories, originally published in comics, written by Wagner and illustrated by himself and others using only the colors of the title. Some critics have praised the variety of artistic expression offered in these volumes. Booklist contributor Gordon Flagg, for instance, remarked on the "enjoyable diversity" of illustrators in the latter collection, which also provides an "alternative view" of Hunter Rose's story.
Wagner has also brought what some reviewers see as a distinctive approach to other creators' characters. Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman: Trinity, which he wrote and illustrated, provides "a fresh and satisfying take" on these heroes and their interactions, related Steve Raiteri in Library Journal. In Booklist, Flagg noted that this title features "sparse, thoughtful art and clear, elegant storytelling."Wagner, he added, has "a model style."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 1, 2004, Gordon Flagg, review of Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman: Trinity, p. 77; September 1, 2005, Flagg, review of The Vamp: Sandman Mystery Theatre, Volume 3, p. 77; September 15, 2005, Flagg, review of Grendel: Red, White, & Black, p. 40.
Entertainment Weekly, April 1, 2005, Jeff Jensen, review of Mage: The Hero Discovered, one-volume edition, p. 73.
Extrapolation, winter, 1988, Peter Coogan, review of Mage, Volume 2, pp. 367-369.
Hollywood Reporter, January 5, 2004, "Wells Books Wagner Comic 'Grendel.'
Library Journal, November 1, 2004, Steve Raiteri, review of Superman/Batman/Wonder Woman, p. 67.
Publishers Weekly, June 7, 2004, review of Grendel: The Devil Inside, p. 34.
School Library Journal, November, 2005, Melissa T. Jenvey, review of The Vamp, p. 180.
Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 1989, Christy Tyson, review of Mage, Volume 3, p. 120.
Comic Box, http://www.thecomicbox.com/ (July 1, 2006), Michael Nguyen, review of Grendel: Black, White, & Red.
Dark Horse Comics Web site, http://www.darkhorse.com/ (July 1, 2006), Adam Gallardo, interview with Matt Wagner.
Matt Wagner Home Page, http://www.mattwagnercomics.com (July 1, 2006).
PopMatters, http://www.popmatters.com/ (July 1, 2006), Kevin Mathews, interview with Matt Wagner.
Shotgun Reviews, http://www.shotgunreviews.com/ (July 1, 2006), Troy Brownfield, interview with Matt Wagner.