A 15 years ride: An interview with Doug Wagner

Back in 2004, comic book store shelves received a new story about cars, crime and hot chicks called The Ride. It did well, so well it got more series and spin-offs. 15 years later The Ride has a new series: Burning Desire and C506 had the opportunity to talk with its writer: Doug Wagner (Plastic, The Hard Place, Batman: Arkham Origins).


Collectible 506:  With what comics, series, cartoons, etc. did you grow up?

Doug Wagner: Oh, man. You’re really going to force me to date myself, aren’t you? I started really young with comics, probably around 5 years old. I adored Casper, Richie Rich, and the Flintstones. It wasn’t until I was around 8 years old that I discovered superheroes. I started with buying random issues of Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, and Avengers, but I wasn’t a diehard at this point. If it looked cool, I’d pick it up. One fateful day, I ran across X-Men 133. It changed my life forever. From that point on, I was a comic book fanatic. X-men was my top book, but I also started reading Teen Titans, Batman, and Alien Legion. Those four books were my obsessions.


As far as TV series and cartoons, I grew up loving the original Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica TV shows. I was and still am a huge Sci-Fi fan, which wasn’t a popular thing to admit when I was young. My weekly cartoon habits were Looney Tunes, ThunderCats, and Silver Hawks. I never missed an episode of any of them… even reruns.

C506: What has changed in the industry from 15 years ago when The Ride was released until today?

DW:  Honestly, everything. It’s exciting and intimidating all at the same time. To stay relative in this industry you have to constantly strive to be better than you were the day before. That’s scary, difficult, and frustrating. But, there’s some sick part of me that enjoys the struggle.

Add into that equation, there are fewer comic book stores and more competition for the entertainment dollar. In the past 15 years, EVERYTHING has gotten better – movies, TV, video games, and even comics. Superhero movies have dominated the entertainment landscape. TV has arguable evolved to a quality that might be better than theatrical releases. Video games are simply unbelievable, and I believe comic books, especially creator owned, are getting better by the year. In 15 years, it’s become incredibly more difficult to stand out amongst all the amazing entertainment options. Which in turn means The Ride has had to continue to evolve as well. I’m doing my best to put out the best material we have yet, but wow, the competition is fierce. I love it!

More and more companies joining the game

C506: What has changed in you (personally, creative process, ideas, etc.) since 2004?

DW: You have no idea. I constantly strive to become a better person, friend, and writer every day. I believe I’ve come a long way in all of those areas since 2004, but who knows, I could be deluding myself.

As far as craft, I’m a bit obsessive about writing and comics. I force myself to take time out of every day to focus on becoming better. That includes reading work by others, reading a book on writing, and reading over some of my older work and figuring out how I could have made it better. I just hope I’m better now than I was 15 years ago. Oh, for the love of the muses, please let me be better!!


C506: What is the character, team, series, etc. You have always wanted to work with and you haven’t done yet?

DW: Easy. X-Men. I don’t know if that particular dream will every come to fruition, but that’s the one book I’ve wanted to write since I was a kid. There is no other piece of fiction that has had a bigger impact on my life. When I picked up that X-Men 133, I was in a dark place as a teenager. I had just lost my dad, moved to a new city, and just felt utterly alone and hopeless. That single book changed all of that for me. If I ever got the chance to write the characters that saved my life… mind blown.

X-Men_Vol_1_133 (1)
Doug’s life changing comic book

C506: What can we expect from Burning Desire?

DW:  What’s really fun about this particular series is there will be a main story running throughout the series and a standalone backup story in each issue. So, this isn’t as easy of a question to answer as usual.

The main story is what we’re referring to as “fetish noir.” It’s an action crime story set amongst a cast of very unusual characters. There’s a one-armed angel, a guy that wears bunny ears, a woman covered entirely in spandex, and a character that wears a unicorn onesie at all times. It’s going to be an action romp powered by love and weirdness. The creative team behind Plastic has come together again to bring this one to life – Daniel Hillyard, Laura Martin, and Ed Dukeshire. I love working with these nuts!

The backups are completely different. Not only from the main story, but from each other as well. These will have something for everyone – horror, action, sex, drugs, and violence all mixed with a ton of strange. Each backup is drawn by artists that you wouldn’t normally put together in a book – Adam Hughes, Chris Brunner, Cully Hamner, Tomm Coker, and Doug Dabbs. I’ve seen the pages. These artists did amazing work. I’d buy it even if I wasn’t writing it.

the-ride-burning-desire-1-of-5_2676dde875 6ed6798f66

C506: Any plans to adapt your work to other media like Movies or TV?

DW: I let my agent worry about that kind of stuff. I write comics. I love writing comics. All I want to do is write comics. If at some point Hollywood wants to adapt one of my strange little stories into something great, I’ll be here.

C506: What future projects do you have?

DW: I have a few projects in the works, but nothing I’m allowed to discuss just yet. I can tell you 2020 is going to see the most work released by me ever. I do get a little too excited about all the new books I’m working on, but I can’t get ahead of myself. Right now, life is all about The Ride.


We appreciate Doug giving us some of his time for this interview.

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