First-Time Writer Max Wood Is Embracing The Future For Maybe Tomorrow

Maybe Tomorrow cover header image

It’s not easy to be a first-time comic book writer — whether you’ve been a fan for your entire life, or it’s something you’re trying for the first time. But Max Wood put their difficulty level insanely high with their first comic, Maybe Tomorrow, which hits stores on March 13, by throwing a heady mix of different sci-fi concepts into a blender with their own anxieties to craft the book.

“I found that a lot of my struggle was coming through in the characters – my anxieties, attachment style, insecurities, flaws, and more,” Wood told Comic Book Club over email. “It felt super therapeutic. And as I realized that my own baggage was seeping into the story, I was able to harness it more intentionally. It was a pretty fun experience.”

Along with art by David Caval, the new book should appeal to fans of Paper Girls (which Wood credits as an inspiration) for the mix of grounded character dynamics with big sci-fi concepts. For much more on the inspiration behind the book, read on.

Comic Book Club: Can you talk about the inspiration for the book? I know there’s at least a little bit of you in this story.

Max Wood: I love comics. I bought an issue of Amazing Spider-Man from a grocery store spinner rack in the ’90s and never looked back. Through all that time, I’ve had ideas for comics and have messed around with writing, but the medium never really clicked for me as a creator.

But then, over the last few years, I started battling a pretty gnarly depression. I’m out of it now, thankfully, and a big part of getting out was the act of writing this comic. Initially, I just wanted an escape from my doldrums and to challenge myself to achieve a long-held goal. Then as time went on, I found that a lot of my struggle was coming through in the characters – my anxieties, attachment style, insecurities, flaws, and more. It felt super therapeutic. And as I realized that my own baggage was seeping into the story, I was able to harness it more intentionally. It was a pretty fun experience.

One of the things I found refreshing about this book is how it mixes the banal with big science fiction ideas, before ramping up the action considerably in the back half. What was important to hit in creating this world, in issue one? And the pacing?

Thank you! I’m glad you liked that. That’s definitely the tone I was going for.

When I was writing, I saw the job as first, giving life to the characters and taking them on an authentic emotional journey, second, designing a reasonable plot to propel that journey that would also have its own interesting themes and surprises, and third, to build an environment for storytelling that felt sufficiently real and lived in.

I really loved Paper Girls. You have this big, mind-bending battle across time that could easily be the basis for an epic sci-fi saga, but it’s totally secondary to the story of these confused kids who get randomly caught in the action. They want to know what’s going on and play a role in it, but they also have crushes and anxieties and secrets – and that’s what drives the book. I’m a sucker for sci-fi, so I knew that was the trope terrain I wanted to trod, but I get more out of chill slice-of-life stories that go deep on characters. So I shot for a Paper Girls-esque balance of the two.

And I’m glad you mentioned the pacing! I probably spent more time thinking about pacing than any other script element, for better or worse. Elsa Charretier has a great series of videos on YouTube about the craft of comics. In those videos, she says so many smart things about pacing that I tried to keep in mind while writing. And then Daniel really brought it all to life in a way that goes far beyond the script.

You’ve got two main characters who couldn’t be more different… What went into crafting them?

Candidly, as a first-time writer, I found it really hard to adequately differentiate characters’ voices and personas. Everybody just ended up sounding like me.

I took Paul Allor’s Introduction to Writing Comics class through Comics Experience, and that really helped me start to figure out how to anchor characters around unique perspectives. It’s easy to give characters different looks and histories and jobs and relationships – but I found that those weren’t always enough to really differentiate characters’ voices. So for Taos and Azalea, I tried to have them inhabit two different attachment styles – anxious and avoidant, respectively – so that their reactions to all the obstacles they encounter would be pretty different.

I appreciate the fact that both characters are queer, it’s part of who they are, and we move on from there. Overall, do you think there’s been more of an openness in the past few years to having queerness in comics be part of the tapestry, versus the one, defining character trait?

Yes, I do! I started reading comics in the era of the Comics Code Authority, when queerness was considered a kind of perversion. Eventually I picked up on the queer subtext in X-Men and started reading indie comics like Strangers in Paradise with LGBTQ+ characters, and that all felt really great to see… but it was still a bummer to me that it had to be subtextual or subversive rather than loud and normative.

We live in a different world today. There’s a gay Superman! People like Vita Ayala, Steve Foxe, Charlie Jane Anders, Sina Grace, and Tini Howard have written heartfelt explorations of the queer experience in mainstream comics. James Tynion writes extremely deep, thought-provoking ruminations on queerness. It now feels endless, and it should be – because comics have always been such a refuge for people seeking a sense of belonging. That’s why I’m here.

So all of that now exists, and it’s all very inspiring to me. But the story I wanted to tell here wasn’t really about queerness. However, I thought – hey, this is a couple hundred years in the future, there should be a whole lot of queer people. And I realized I could load the cast up with people inhabiting a variety of queer identities for whom their queerness might not feel remarkable in any way or be the source of any kind of struggle in relation to society writ large – because, fingers crossed, by the time 2274 rolls around, people hopefully won’t be forced through ritualized public trauma in order to be themselves.

David Caval’s art is lovely throughout… How did you two end up on this project together?

Daniel’s art is so good. I feel really lucky to have partnered with him on this.

Since this was my first time writing a comic script and no publisher was on board, finding an artist to collaborate with was a struggle. I reached out to a handful of people who had drawn comics I liked, and they all very understandably turned me down. So I started scouring the internet and eventually found Daniel – I think in a Facebook Group for amateur comic creators. I was shocked when I saw his work. It was perfect. He has this kind of retro-futuristic, lighthearted style that can convey a lot of depth and emotion without being self-serious. I immediately reached out, and thank goodness, he was willing to jump in with me.

I really hope people see his work and he becomes a bigger name. Getting his sketches every week as we made this series was so unbelievably fun. I’m excited to read more Daniel Caval comics.

What can fans expect as this series continues?

The art in the remaining issues is really good. I’m excited for people to see how Daniel tackled all the different settings, characters, and situations that come into play.

As for the story, the main characters go on their own journeys and start picking up information about a big conspiracy that threatens the world. But this isn’t a superhero book, so there isn’t that much they can do with what they learn. So they squirm and push and mope and lie and yell and eat fast food. I think it’s pretty fun!

Maybe Tomorrow hits stores and digital retailers on March 13, 2024.

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