Muncie marvel: Famous comic book writer now a Hoosier

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MUNCIE, Ind. (Nov. 2, 2015)-- From blockbuster movies to hit TV shows, comics rule the world of entertainment. But would you believe the man who wrote some of the most famous comic books is a newfound Hoosier?

Every week, Mark Waid sits in his Muncie office and pens a new comic for millions of readers all over the world.

With more than 3,000 books under his belt, you've probably read something he's written: "Superman," "Batman," "Daredevil" and even "The Avengers."

"Five pages of 'Avengers' this afternoon. Five pages of 'Princess Leia.' It’s a miracle that I can keep it straight,” he says as he shows us a few of his recent comics on display in a magazine shelf in his office.

His workplace is the small living room of a house he recently bought. The two-story home needs to be renovated, he tells us. But it's just a short walk from his home, which is important. His desk-- he doesn't have one. He sits on a tan-colored recliner with a laptop on his lap. This is where the magic happens.

"We’ve got some plans. We have some plans for the idea that the Vision may not be the good guy that we think he is. We have some characters named Warbringer coming up. That’s one, a massive, massive Marvel comics villain coming and to throw down on 'The Avengers.' Uh, we’ve got a few things coming up.”

Waid didn't always live in central Indiana. He actually grew up in rural Alabama reading, what else, comics.

He gets a bit emotional talking about his childhood and experiencing a loneliness many kids do.

"I don’t really have much in the way with family guidance. And I kind of feel like a kid who is adrift. I don’t know who cares about me or what I’m going to do with my life. Should I run away from home? I didn’t know."

Comic books were an escape for Waid-- a place where he felt safe.

"I was always the little kid and so I got picked on. But these super heroes were somebody I could look up to," he remembers. "They fought bullies and they fought bad guys. I really fell in love with them."

At 15 years old, he saw his first "Superman" movie with Christopher Reeves. He remembers feeling like Superman cared about him. That is what he calls his life changing moment.

"January 26, 1979. I remember it exactly. It will always be circled in my calendar every year as the day that I figured out what I wanted to do with my life.”

Fast forward to now and Waid is a heavy weight in a multi-million dollar super hero universe. According to Comic Chron, comic book sales in North America have already reached $423 million this year.

Sometimes, Waid's story lines come right from the streets of Muncie.

"I may have made an allusion to a meth lab found in a certain big box retailer yes," he laughed.

He's talking about the backpack meth lab found at a Muncie Walmart in March. It inspired Waid's "Shield" comic about a janitor who finds a dangerous backpack in a school.

Muncie is also inspiring his "Archie" comics.

“I feel very much like as I drive around Muncie like I can see Archie and his gang out here. I can see Veronica and Jughead and Betty hanging out.”

So how in the world did Waid get to Muncie in the first place?

"A girl!" he said, laughing. "It's always a girl!"

That girl is Christina Blanch. The two met at a convention about five years ago. He was living in Los Angeles. She was working on her PHD at Ball State University.

"Mark moved here and we really like Muncie. It's a very warm. It's growing," she said.

Now the couple co-owns the Aw Yeah Comics store on North  High Street. Together, they're fighting the forces of a growing digital world to keep stores like this one alive.

With signings, events, and a local celebrity as a boss, assistant manager Kyle Roberts admits he still geeks out every now and then and so should Muncie residents.

“I think they’re very lucky. Muncie doesn’t usually get opportunities like this," said Roberts. “Muncie needed something like this.”

Blanch said there is still value in a comic book store.

"You can go to Amazon or whatever and get a comic book. But if you don't know about comic books there's really nobody to ask there," she explained.

And that's important, as superheroes are evolving into more diverse characters. The stories, however, will always remain the same.

"You don't give up. You have integrity. If you believe the world needs to be different, fight for that," said Waid.

So how much longer will Waid keep writing those fantastic stories that give us hope for humanity?

"Let's just assume that if I'm allowed to write comics, they'll probably find me on my death-bed with a keyboard in my hand."

Waid's next big comic is "All New All Different Avengers." It comes out on Wednesday, November 11.

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