Many comic lovers dream of being able to write their own stories for their favorite superheroes. For Let’s Make a Deal co-hosts Wayne Brady and Jonathan Mangum, that dream has officially come true, with the pair co-writing a story for this year’s Amazing Spider-Man Annual, available for purchase today.
“On my checklist of ‘This is cool s— that would be awesome to do in your life,’ up at the top was definitely meeting Stan Lee, which I’ve gotten a chance to do and either being in a Marvel show or movie, or getting a chance to write a Marvel story,” says Brady, a lifelong comic fan.
Mangum and Brady’s comic writing debut sees them drawing on their own experiences as comedians and improvisers.
“’What if Spider-Man lost his funny mojo? Where would he go? How would he get it back?” says Brady of what fans can expect from their story. “Spidey is used to making things up on the fly. So he goes to Jonathan and myself to maybe take that to the next level.
With Brady and Mangum swinging into comics writing, EW spoke to the duo about their favorite heroes, their experiences writing a Spider-Man annual, and who they’d like to write next.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You guys are both comic book fans. Was Spider-Man always one of your favorite heroes?
JONATHAN MANGUM: Growing up [Spider-Man] would be one of the first ones you get exposed to. It’s Batman, Spider-Man, Superman, the trifecta of superheroes. Spiderman always had a sense of humor, which was always really cool to see. Batman could not tell a joke to save his damn life.
WAYNE BRADY: A lot of kids sync up with Spider-Man [because] unless you are the superstar jock in school, junior high and high school is not a cake walk for many of us. When you see Peter Parker, who is bulled in hallways, get power and actually do something about it, it strikes a cord. That’s something brilliant in the creation of Spider-Man. Spider-Man is the bullied kid who got a chance to stand up to the bully. As a kid I really, really liked Spider-Man because of that fact. While this kid was punching me in my stomach for my lunch outside the elementary school cafeteria, Spider-Man could wrap him up in webbing, hang him upside down, say something really funny, and embarrass him in front of everybody. It was a little bit of aspirational kid wish list in there too.
Everyone has something they want to see in a superhero story. What did you guys definitely want to write about when you first came on board?
BRADY: For something like the annual, which had to be a quick pop, the aim was that maybe [we] could have a fun story that was on topic with Spider-Man and on topic with my and Jonathan’s sensibilities. When we came up with the idea of Spider-Man taking an improv class that just seemed like a no brainer. It fits.
MANGUM: You can totally see Spider-Man signing up for an improv class. It just seems like something he’d do.
BRADY: Especially with improv being in the zeitgeist. This isn’t years and years ago when people didn’t know what improv was and it was relegated to a teeny, tiny, corner. Jonathan and I get a chance to do improv every day on Let’s Make a Deal, and then myself, and Jonathan as well, being on Whose Line for all these years. People are very familiar with the art form. It just makes sense that with Spidey mouthing off as much as he does that he would go to an improv class. It’s kind of an in-joke that’s an out joke to get to everybody else as well.
It’s funny that Spider-Man has definitely been saving the day enough that everyone kind of knows what his catchphrases or one-liners are, and are point out, “You’ve said this before.”
BRADY: That’s what happens to you in this day and age of social media. There is no mystery anymore. The fact that Spidey has been around and does his thing, it makes sense to us that the public would be at a certain point, that they’d turn comic-jaded. He has to get to up his funny game.
Considering that this the first time writing a comic for both of you, what was that experience like?
BRADY: It was actually fairly easy in the sense of we knew what the story was, then the rest was easy to follow. We just treated it like we were writing dialogue for a sketch or for a short movie. When you see it put up with the panels, that’s a completely different thing. Jonathan handled the dialogue duties. I did story work. Watching it develop bit by bit from [us saying] “Hey, what if he said this” to actually seeing a panel with Spider-Man saying those words was so cool.
MANGUM: Going from writing scripts to writing comics was different. If you’re writing a script you might say, “Spider-Man jumps to the ceiling, he lands on the floor, he takes the swing, and he dodges.” You don’t realize that’s four panels. You might write all that in one panel not realizing [that] there has to be one action per panel. It’s a little bit of a learning curve.
Now that both of you have written an Amazing Spider-Man comic, what other heroes would you guys want to write for?
BRADY: I’d love to take a crack at a Guardians of the Galaxy story. Star-Lord, especially the way he is written in the movie is just a ridiculously funny character. There’s a lot of room for humor, especially when the stakes are so high. They’re flying around chasing all manner of aliens and trying not to get killed. It reads like a very funny space opera. I’d love to get my hands on that. There was a [Marvel] series called, What If, [which was] basically alternate reality versions. Like “What if Rick Jones would’ve become the Incredible Hulk? I would love to do a What If story. That’s a title that is right up our alley in terms of being able to be funny and come up with a scaled version of what reality could be in the Marvel universe.
MANGUM: I always loved the Incredible Hulk as a character. You get this nerdy scientist who turns into this beast. Just the fact that he had so much intelligence to start with and then he gains this power, but loses [that intelligence].
The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 is currently available for purchase in comic book stores and on Marvel.com.