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Elliott Serrano Presents:









 

Be careful what you wish for ‘cause you just might get it…

What do you get when you take a former Marvel intern with a long history of reading/adoring Marvel Comics, let him cut his teeth on some of the Marvel U’s second-tier characters, then throw him into the deep end of the pool by making him part of the creative team behind the company’s flagship character? Especially hot on the heels of one of the most controversial storylines to have ever occurred in that character’s history? You get writer/comics guru Dan Slott, that’s what.

After some brief exchanges via the Comic Culture Warrior Companion Blog, Dan agreed to answer some questions about everything from his wikipedia page, to discussing the challenges of being a writer for Amazing Spider-Man as part of the ASM ‘collective’, to explaining if having Mephisto annul your marriage makes you younger, to sharing advice for aspiring comic-book writers and to tell us the best book he’s read that you haven’t:

Comic Culture Warrior: What's on your wikipedia page that's terribly erroneous and must be corrected?

Dan Slott: The photos. Oh my God! They're all photos submitted by fans who went to signings. One was taken after I hadn't shaved in two weeks and had just fought off walking pneumonia. The others? Those were taken after I put on my "Spider-Weight". Oy. Since I started work on Spider-Man, most of my time is spent in front of the computer. We're in the last week in January, and this'll be my first time going back to the gym in over a year… That's if I can get my current script done, Mr. Wacker, sir. ;)

CCW: How difficult has it been to sell Spider-man fans on the idea of BND?

DS: Given ONE condition, not very hard at all. That condition: that they actually read it. When people crack open the cover and give it a fair shot, we do pretty darn well. It's hard to go wrong with one of the all-time greatest super heroes being drawn by some of the world's best visual storytellers.

CCW: Peter Parker appears to be younger in BND, is this to say that marriage ages you more rapidly in the Marvel U?

DS: Nah. And Peter's the exact right age in ASM. Really. And to prove my point, I'm going to use some Fantastic Four Algebra:

When Franklin Richards was born, Pete was a Freshman/Sophomore at Empire State University. Through out the late 80's, Franklin stayed 4 and a half. Now he's about 7. That puts Pete in his late 20's.

However, FF Algebra also states that the FF were bombarded by cosmic rays 13 years ago (*see THING #8). And that was when Peter was still in high school. Four years of high school, four years of college, five years out of college… That puts Pete in his mid 20's. So mid-to-late 20's. Sorry I can't be more specific, but FF Algebra is not an exact science.

CCW: How did you score the ASM gig? Did you lobby for it? Was it offered to you by editorial?

DS: Steve Wacker called me up and offered me the job. I've been waiting all my life to get THAT phone call. It was VERY easy to say "yes".

CCW: Joe Quesada has likened the new method of producing ASM akin to producing a television show, with different writers rotating on the title creating 'episodes.' In your view, how different is this as opposed to the traditional method of having one writer/artist team consistently in charge of the title?

DS: Well it's not a constant stream of different guys. It's a rotating team of four guys: Marc Guggenheim, Bob Gale, Zeb Wells, and me.

CCW: Do you find it is easier or harder to write for ASM due to this?

DS: To do what we're doing, to put out a flagship title 3 times a month—a full 22 pages with no back ups—needs a team. Being part of that team makes it easier. We're all reading each other's scripts, taking part in frequent conference calls, and giving each other notes and suggestions. Two weeks ago we had our third Spidey Summit, where everyone flew in (or, in my case, walked) and we planned out all our overarching storylines—trapped in a room—for two days straight.

So… To answer your question, it's harder. But in the end it's worth it.

CCW: Have you experienced any challenges/frustrations with this method?

DS: I think one of the hardest things is juggling the timelines. To keep all of this on track, each writer has to produce two-to-three storylines at the same time, feeding different scripts to two-to-three art teams. And, you have to mentally keep track of the other writers' storylines as well.

Just last week, I read through two Bob Gale scripts, two Marc Guggenheim scripts, looked at art from one of Zeb's issues, turned in a plot for next September, took part in a conference call talking about a storyline for next November, and gave notes on a cover sketch for my second issue this May.

A few days ago I got an e-mail from the office that was titled "ASM #548". And my first thought was, "Holy ****! What do I owe for #548?!" It took me a moment to realize that was the issue that had just come out. That's how jumbled my personal time-stream is. Seriously, this would be a lot easier if Bob Gale would just loan us one of his spare DeLoreans!

CCW: Given a choice, which do you prefer, being the sole writer on a book or sharing duties with others?

DS: I love being part of this team. I'm learning a ton of stuff working with these guys. And, also, I think if any ONE writer tried to produce three issues of Spidey a month, they'd go nuts!

CCW: Typically, how does the ASM 'collective' team of writers and artists work together? How close knit is the collaboration on plot/storyline?

DS: The overarching stories are a big team effort. The individual arcs and issues are done by whoever's sitting in "the big chair" at the time. That's when they get to shine, and those issues will reflect that and have that writer's "voice."

When you're not in that chair, you're still giving notes and suggestions. You're there to give as much support as that writer wants or needs. I'm proud of some of the bits I've given to the other writers. And I'm very grateful for some of the gems they've tossed my way!

CCW: Joe Quesada has admitted that the idea of bringing back Gwen Stacy in BND was bandied about, but ultimately rejected by many in the Spidey offices. Were you for or against bringing Gwen back? Why?

DS: It's comics. Everyone gets a "mulligan". Everyone gets that ONE time when they walk into a room and everyone else says, "Aren't you supposed to be dead?" And, sure, later you find out that they had a secret trap door, an evil twin, a robot double, or whatever. But here's the thing:

Gwen already had 4 chances! There was the clone. The identical looking cousin. The genetically-altered-and-aged-illegitimate child. And the alternate-House-of-M-reality Gwen. That's it. Four chances at the brass ring. The end. Phffft! No more for you! Stay in the darn ground already!

Now Harry, on the other hand, that's only ONE he-really-should-be-dead-but-he's-not scenario. That's a no-brainer. Doc Doom pulls that off ALL the time. Jean Grey does that in her sleep. If I get to be the guy who writes that story, I know a zillion ways how Harry's back—a zillion down-to-earth ways that are endemic to Spider-Man's world. All it takes is a little creativity and an open mind.

CCW: Who would win in a Spidey-themed 'quip-off', you or Brian Bendis?

DS: Stan. ;)

CCW: Outside of ASM, what's your 'dream assignment'?

DS: That's tough. Either Marvel Team-Up, Fantastic Four, or Moon Knight.

CCW: What was the first idea you ever pitched that was accepted?

DS: The story I wrote for MIGHTY MOUSE #10.

CCW: Rejected?

DS: I made a blind submission to Marvel while I was still in college. The submission had three Spider-Man springboards. One was about Mysterio taking over a S.H.I.E.L.D. satellite and using it to create widespread panic on Earth by making massive illusions.

I can't remember the second pitch. But the last one involved Pete & MJ going to one of Wonder Man's movie premieres. Someone's killed in the projection booth, and everyone sees the murder take place as giant silhouettes on the flickering screen. While trying to solve this mystery, Spidey and Wonder Man have to team-up to stop a super villain. And, of course, there's a very Scooby-Doo-ish ending where the bad guy gets unmasked. (I later cannibalized this idea and wrote it AS an issue of SCOOBY DOO for DC.)

I still have that original rejection letter. It's been a great motivator.

CCW: What do you think is the greatest challenge the comics industry faces at this time?

DS: Previews and spoilers. Fans know too darn much about ANY issue of ANY comic days, weeks, and months before they come out. It's SO hard to surprise anybody when they already know what's on the next three covers.

CCW: What advice do you have for aspiring writers/artists who want to break into comics?

DS: Stop. I've got enough competition as it is. Do you see how much Bendis and Geoff Johns write? If we get two more of these guys, it's curtains for the rest of us!

CCW: What do you do to get 'in the mood' to write Spidey's adventures?

DS: Wake up. I'm ALWAYS in the mood to write Spider-Man!

CCW: What exciting things can we expect in the world of Spider-man over the next few weeks/months?

DS: This week we're releasing SPIDER-MAN: SWING SHIFT DIRECTOR'S CUT. Back when SWING SHIFT was released as last year's Free Comic Book Day issue, we had to do some last minute changes. Originally SWING SHIFT was conceived as an all-ages romp in the upcoming BND continuity. It was going to be a way for readers to meet a lot of characters and places in the new set up—a fun sneak peek.

But when it came time for the issue to leave house, we all realized that we were spoiling too much of how ONE MORE DAY was going to end. So at the eleventh hour I had to do some serious script corrections—knocking the whole issue into a continuity no man's land. I understood why it had to happen, but I was still kind of bummed out. Now, with the SWING SHIFT DIRECTOR'S CUT, we got to put ALL the original dialogue back! And, as you can see in ASM #547, that version is DEFINITELY in continuity. So I'm pretty stoked about that.

Along with the restored script, there's also going to be a number of goodies in the issue—including Tom Brevoort's "Spider-Manifesto". That's worth the price of admission alone. It's a treatise Tom put together—a kind of Jerry Maguire-esque mission statement about the character and world of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. For Spidey fans, this should fall somewhere between the Magna Carta and the Bill of Rights.

Also this week, if you missed the boat on BRAND NEW DAY, or are in one of the markets where ASM #546 sold out, Marvel's releasing a second printing of our first issue—with a lovely varient cover taken from Steve McNiven's interior art.

And the week after THAT, the NEXT arc of BRAND NEW DAY begins… with the arrival of the much-talked-about JACKPOT! AND the sinister schemes of MENACE! Marc Guggenheim brings his A game in an action-packed script! And Salvador LaRocca provides some of the slickest Spidey art on the planet! It's gonna be sweet!

CCW: The Initiative?

DS: This week, Chris Gage and I are really putting the Initiative through the ringer! Expect some severe casualties—and for some of the cast members to leave the book in very permanent and grisly ways!

CCW: Any projects in the works you'd like to give us a 'heads up' on?

DS: Dude, Spider-Man and the Initiative are my LIFE. That's it. Right now, the biggest project outside of that, is trying to figure out when I can sleep. ;)

CCW: What are the chances of seeing a Dan Slott She-Hulk Omnibus?

DS: Ooh! That'd be cool! They made one in France, and I got a copy of that. Très bien! And I understand that the NEXT arc of SHE-HULK is going to hard cover… So now that that's happening, this would be the perfect time to send Marvel an e-mail or two saying that you'd like a SHE-HULK OMNIBUS to shelve alongside your other HCs. Oh! And everyone should pick up Peter David and Shawn Moll's run on SHE-HULK! It's got action, adventure, and everyone's favorite gamma-gal bustin' heads for bounty! I'm glued to it each and every month!

CCW: What's your favorite piece of non-comics related memorabilia?

DS: When I was in high school I was a big fan of ELRIC and all the Michael Moorcock books. One day my school's library set up a suggestion box. They said that students should put in the names of local authors, and if enough people wanted any one writer in particular, they'd tried to get them to speak at the school. This was in London, and I knew Michael Moorcock lived in the city, so I stuffed the box with hundreds of pieces of paper—trying to put each one in different fake handwriting styles and with different pens—all saying that they wanted Michael Moorcock to speak at the school.

And my plan worked! They thought half the student body wanted him to come, so they booked the auditorium. And only me and five of my friends showed up! He was very nice about it. He looked at the giant empty chasm and only six of us sitting there—and he said, "Why don't we move this to a smaller room?"

Long story short: I got to spend some quality time with Michael Moorcock. I'd been to one of his signings in the past, and got a very typical signature in my copy of ELRIC. But on that day, he wrote a more personal inscription in my copy of RUNESTAFF. I still have it. It's a nice note by one of my idols wishing me all the best with my writing.

CCW: Best book you've ever read that others haven't:

DS: After that, I really should say, "THE RUNESTAFF" by Michael Moorcock, shouldn't I?

CCW: Best CD you've heard that others haven't:

DS: Ookla The Mock: Super Secret.

CCW: This is some great stuff to know! Thanks for your time!

E.R. Serrano

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