This one’s pretty simple: They asked me. Done. Have a nice day!
Well, all right, there’s a tiny bit more to it than that.
In 2008, I was living in Las Vegas. One day, an email from David Gabriel popped up on my screen.
A little backstory: When I worked in the comic book business at Diamond, David was one of my main contacts at Marvel. He and I were roughly the same level on our respective org charts, and together we worked to hash out Marvel’s presence in Diamond’s monthly and quarterly catalogs to the book industry. Given that Diamond always wanted information earlier and more complete than Marvel preferred to provide, it could have been a contentious relationship, but David and I got along really well and managed to laugh about the inevitable screw-ups.
I had left Diamond more than three years prior and was surprised to hear from David. I didn’t even know he had my personal email address!
Since departing Diamond, I’d kept tabs on the business, so I knew that David was now a VP at Marvel. What on earth could he want from me?
I opened the email. All it said was: “Want to write a Wolverine book for us?”
Now, here’s where I make a confession: I am not a big Wolverine fan. In fact, I’m not much of an X-Men fan at all.
I know, I know — sacrilege to the religion of comic book fanatics. What can I say? I was a DC kid, and all that mutant stuff seemed like a lot of pointless sturm und drang to me.
I emailed David back and said something like, “Are you sure you have the right Barry Lyga?”
What transpired was this: In May 2009, the first Wolverine solo movie was coming out. Marvel wanted a middle-grade novel on the shelves to help introduce kids to Wolverine. I couldn’t imagine how there could possibly be a child on the planet who didn’t know who Wolverine was.
But I gotta admit — it sounded like fun.
At first, they wanted me to novelize the first time Wolverine worked with the X-Men (from Giant-Size X-Men #1, Fanboy fans!), but then decided that I could just basically do whatever I wanted.
I started to think about mutants. And mutant powers. And how they were clearly (in the early days, at least) a metaphor for adolescence. Gee, what a coincidence that the powers develop right when you hit puberty, when you feel alienated and ill-at-ease in your own changing body.
One problem: The project was a crash project, which in publishing lingo means “This should have been done already — hurry!!!”1
“We need this written in a month,” they told me.
I said it was impossible, that I would need six weeks.
They hemmed and hawed and agreed — “but not an hour more!”
So, right before Christmas of 2008, I started writing. And, man, it just poured out of me! Marvel wanted it in a month, right? And I told them six weeks, right?
Well, I wrote the damn thing in three weeks.
Some people called me a sell-out for writing Wolverine: Worst Day Ever. Whatevs. It was some of the most fun I’ve ever had writing. I got to take little digs at Professor X. I got to create a breakfast cereal and a reality TV show for the Marvel Universe. In short, I had the opportunity to let my child’s id take over and run rampant through a superhero universe…with the permission of the people at Marvel…
And I got paid to do it!
You can call it selling out. I call it living the dream. And, yeah, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.
- I have no idea how many people Marvel approached before they got far enough down on the list of names that they saw my name. But maybe that’s why it was running late. I dunno.↩