Monday, January 07, 2008

Occasional Interviews: Dan Slott On Spider-Man's "Brand New Day"

I had a chance recently to chat with new Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott about "Brand New Day," his first comic book memory...and wheatcakes.

OS: Dan, were you a fan of Spider-Man? Did you read the comic as a kid?

SLOTT: Oh God, I love Spider-Man! My cousin had this comic book collection when I was a kid...back then I didn't know you could even buy comic books, I just thought of his stash as this magic comic collection. And he lent me comics, and that's how I started to read them.

And then I found out that Spider-Man was "appearing" at the 7-Eleven in my home town. It was like I could hear "Ave Maria," I was so excited. And even though I didn't have any money on me, I must have spent like the entire day at the 7-Eleven, choosing the best comic that I would bring up to Spider-Man to sign. Then I rushed home and asked my dad if he could give me any money to buy the comic book, and right then and there he gave me my first allowance, 25 cents.

I camped out early the day of the Spider-Man appearance, even though it turned out like only three people showed up. I wanted to make sure I got there early so I could see him swing down from the skies. I was actually looking to the skies. And then this pick-up truck drives down the freeway, and they've got Spider-Man standing in the back with his arms akimbo. The truck stops and he jumps off and lands in a perfect Spider-Man squat. I was awed and scared to talk to him, but he was really nice.

Ever since then, comics became a weekly habit for me. The comic books I read back then are long gone now -- I read them so much their covers disintegrated. They totally fell apart.

OS: So how does it feel now that you're actually writing the character?

SLOTT: It's still unreal to me. I know the book exists, I've held the pre-production copies in my hands...but there's still that disconnect. I'm just so close to the Dream, you know?

OS: Okay Dan, speak to my blog readers directly and tell them why they should pick up "Brand New Day." Talk to them fan-to-fan, like you were in a comic book store with them.

SLOTT: I would ask them to shake their inner Etch-A-Sketch and just give the book a chance. Imagine the art team that brought you Civil War -- Steve McNiven, Dexter Vines, and Morry Hollowell -- finally reunited. And the happy idiot who brought you Spiderman & Human Torch, She-Hulk, and Avengers Initiative on board on writing chores as well.

OS: Let's move on to the mysterious new superheroine on the block, Jackpot. Now, she first debuted in 2007's Free Comic Book Day issue "Spider-Man: Swing Shift"...

SLOTT: Well, that original FCBD comic actually gave away a little too much of the original "One More Day"/"Brand New Day" storyline -- and had to be edited. But on January 30th, the Director's Cut of "Swing Shift" will come out -- fully restored with the original script.

Now, if you're really interested in Jackpot, you should read Mark Guggenheim's three-part arc in February. A lot is revealed...and questions are answered and raised.

OS: How do these arcs work exactly, in terms of who gets to work on what?

SLOTT: Each creative team gets a turn each month -- one arc per month. So we all get to shine.

OS: Where did "Wheatcakes" come from? I'm referring to the line Peter gives in the first issue of "Brand New Day" to Aunt May: "What, no wheatcakes?"

SLOTT: That's actually a reference to Spidey's first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15. Aunt May tells Peter, "I cooked your favorite breakfast, Peter -- wheatcakes!"

Now what I think is interesting about that issue is that Uncle Ben has only like two lines -- and yet he's probably one of the most important characters in the Spider-Man mythos. Ben's like the Obi Wan Kenobi of the Spider-Man universe. We -- and Peter --only know him for a short time, but he's really important.

OS: What's the coolest thing about working on Amazing Spider-Man for you?

SLOTT: Seeing all of the art as it comes in. Never in my life have I seen such a Murderer's Row of artists stroll right in from the Wizard Top Ten. It's very exciting.

OS: Now, you have a couple of appearances coming up in New York, right?

SLOTT: Yes, I'll be signing copies of Amazing Spider-Man #546 at Jim Hanley's Universe at 4 West 33rd Street this Wednesday January 9th from 5:30-8:00.

Then on Tuesday January 15th at the Comic Book Club live weekly talk show is going to have a Amazing Spider-Man "Brand New Day" event with all four writers: Bob Gale, Marc Guggenheim, Dan Slott and Zeb Wells. Plus ASM Editor Steve Wacker! This will be held at The People's Improv Theater on 154 West 29th Street, 2nd Floor, and admission is $5:00.

OS: Well Dan, I've been following your comic career just about from from its beginning -- Marvel, Acclaim, DC, and now full-circle with Spider-Man. I'm proud of you & I wish you the best of success.


  1. yeah, good luck dan...

    i won't be checking in on you, though, unless something happens to make that synapse spark. some kind of BIG something.

  2. I love how they keep yelling, "look at the amazing artists!"

    cause that's all it has going for it. the writer doesn't matter when the plot is editorially driven.

    no offense to slott, but i've NEVER been a fan, and marginally enjoy Avengers: Army Recuriting Propaganda.

    I AM interested in Guggenheim's Jackpot arc... but alas I dropped Spiderman after 15 years of loyal dedication.

    I am not interested in 1970s Spiderman, sorry.

  3. This is why I think most comic book writers should be fired:

    "And he lent me comics, and that's how I started to read them."

    Lent? Lent is not a word. I'm willing to overlook starting sentences with a conjunction, because it's a friendly chat, but not using words that don't exist. Dan, you're a professional writer, for God's sake, have some pride! There are plenty of story tellers who can use English correctly, someone should hire them.

    Anyway, I agree, that sell job sucked, but Dan Slott is allegedly a writer, not a salesman. The best thing they have going for them is the art team, but I don't think killer art is going to make up for fundamentally bad story telling.

  4. Kenny: What?

    When I saw the start of that comment I thought you were going to say "people get into comics by being lent them" (I know I did) "so these continuity-heavy events where you can't pick up a random issue and make sense of it is shutting out all the new readers".

    I don't know who doesn't say "lent". I had to think to work out what you reckon he should have said - "loaned"? A loan is something you pay interest on.

  5. "Rules" of speech are for the WEAK! YOU WILL ALL BE CRUSHED. Mind you, I also think "spelling" is a bad idea.


    Also: I liked the first volume of She-Hulk.

  6. Lent is the past participle/past tense of the word "lend". Really.

    And kenny, can you at least wait until you read my story first before you say it suffers from bad storytelling? It comes out this Weds. :)

  7. Slott,

    Just tell me Justice and UltraGirl will show up in BND ... that's all I want to hear, (even if it's not true).

    - David Gallaher

  8. I really do think the various creative teams on BND are great, and the art does look amazing, but there's really nothing in the preview pages that interests me, and everything I've read from Quesada leads me to believe that the things I want explained won't be explained, since he insists that everything that happened before still happened, which just doesn't make sense to me.

    I'll just be sitting back and hoping for the best. Maybe I will check out the trades, but for now, just like Peter and MJ, it's time for my almost 20 year (or longer if you count the years before I could read and just loved the cartoons) relationship with Spidey to come to an end. I am interested in Jackpot though, so I may have to check out Guggenheim's arc. Good luck though, Mr. Slott. I genuinely hope that your run is awesome.

  9. I think the thing is this: when you are identifying with a character in a bad situation who is there for reasons outside his control (Spider-man can't leave school & neither can you! He lives at home because he's a kid!) it is a lot easier to identify with than a guy in a bad situation who is there because...well, he's a screw-up (Spider-man...lives at home?) Even if it is a realistic cross-section of the comic buyers market, those at-home-livers aren't going to want to be REMINDED of it.

  10. I actually like Dan Slott a lot as a writer, and I can almost hear him whimpering softly as he's asked, time and time again of late, to smooth over bad decisions on the part of his own editorial staff (by the by, Dan, if you're reading this, the scene between Squirrel Girl and Penance is a huge hit in my circle of friends. "I'm deep! I do deep stuff now! Like this!")

    But even Dan Slott is just not enough to get me interested in this. He has been handed a shovel, and told to fill a bottomless pit. He's got a lot of talent, but there is an infinite amount of suck to the post-OMD Spidey titles. He can't make it good; all he can make it do is suck less. :)

    Seriously, Dan, request a transfer to Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man. You could really rock that one out.

  11. So here's where I'm torn. One More Day was just plain old garbage. I bought it 'cause it was on my pull list. Even after hearing all the rumors I figured I'd at least give it a chance. Now I like Slott and I like McNiven on any other book I'm sold but I just hate this editorial direction so so much. Now I understand that sending letters and e-mails to Marvel is pointless if the book is still selling like crack on a stick. I mean I have to drop spider-man right?

  12. i can't relate to a guy with no money and no job who lives with his old aunt and couldn't pop the question to the love of his life (if that's why they aren't married, cause this peter is a pussy).

    nor can i get down with harry being alive, and comics that feel like the 1970s.

  13. Hokay...

    Let me first say that I'm understanding of and sensitive to criticisms over "One More Day." I wrote a whole post over what I thought of the marriage angle.

    I also understand trepidation over "Brand New Day" and the passionate reader response.

    But I also know that writer Dan Slott & editor Steve Wacker are not hacks, and bring a lot to the table for "Brand New Day."

    And so while there are things like the dissolving (seemingly) of Peter & MJ's marriage, and the mechanics (or metaphysical workings thereof), that are a little hard to swallow, I just have to believe that the team will produce at the very least an enjoyable comic on its own merits.

    And while you might be skeptical of Slott's "Brand New Day," I ask that you be nice to him as he's a really cool guy who cares a lot about comics & his readers. He's also extremely talented, and, as I said at the end of the interview, I am indeed very proud of him.

  14. kevin-

    that's how i feel. i don't want to stop reading spiderman, but i want joe q to know that it's a shitty editorial direction he is mandating and the only way to show that is to stop buying the title.

    i feel bad for slott and company to get caught in the crossfire, but this direction is not something i, nor many people, want, so i gotta help show that with a drop in sales.

    i'll probly just read it in the store.

  15. I keep saying...Marvel needs to quit with these half-ways & have a REAL Crisis. Infinity Gauntlet was such a better story than the actual Infinite Crisis...too bad it was toothless.

  16. Dan Slott, should you check the comments section again, could you perhaps tell us if you have anything in the works by way of a 2008 Great Lakes Whatever special or, dare I hope, mini-series? It was largely thanks to your writing that last year on the convention circuit I asked several artists for portraits of Squirrel Girl and Tippy-Toe...
    Sorry I won't be buying ASM anymore for the forseeable future, but I don't see me being able to enjoy the title no matter how well it is written.
    (Hmppfh, Squirrel Girl would have kicked Mephisto's ass!)

  17. Where's Kenny? Because there's nothing I love more on the Internet than a giant grammar snit by someone who's got their rules wrong. Lent is not a word? Priceless.

    Me, I'm not a fan of One More Day, but I am definitely a fan of Dan Slott — he had me at She-Hulk — so I'll be checking out his portion of Brand New Day.

  18. Dan,

    I'm sorry! I was wrong! I have no possible face saving excuse here! I'm an asshole? Does that work?


    You're right. I deserved that one. Where was I, though? Working on my non-writer job!

    Truthfully, I've never heard the word "lent" spoken except by people who also say, "funner." I would have written that differently, but I'm no writer, that's for sure!

    The lesson, as always, is that I'm an idiot.

    BTW - Dan, I wasn't calling for your job because of bad story telling. I haven't read your work yet and don't plan to, but not because of you in any way. The genre just doesn't interest me. I just have this theory that most comic writers are bad writers and would be fired if comics were run like a real business. That's just me though, and we've already established I'm both an idiot and an asshole. When I said fundamentally bad storytelling, I meant OMD, but I know shit about writing as we've already established, so I messed that one up, too.

    For the record, I think you have a crappy job in trying to sell Brand New Day. I don't envy you. Best of luck on that!

  19. Kenny is obviously a Skrull and wasn't terribly well briefed on multiple meanings of words.

    I'm a fan of Slott's writing in general, and if anyone can make lemonade out of the incredibly idea that is OMD, he can (like Brubaker did with Cap's death), but that doesn't take away the fundamentally bad idea that is OMD.

    I swear, there's a WMD joke there just waiting to get out.

  20. @ Kenny, re: lent not a word. Uh, the OED would disagree with you there.

    And I'm with Mordicai. Dan Slott would seriously have to be dating Tyra Banks, pooping nuggets of solid gold, and churning out Alan-Moore-caliber scripts on a regular basis for me to even LOOK at a Spider title these days. At least until Marvel finds a new editor in chief.

  21. I didn't like One More Day, and I think there were better ways to get to this point, but everything I've seen about Brand New Day looks great, so I'll be picking it up.

  22. I'm going to steal from a comment of my own I posted to another blog,
    in response to the commenter who said, rather melodramatically, that their 20 year relationship with Spidey had come to an end (20? The last 20 years have contained some pretty godawful chunks of continuity, which I'm grateful to have stayed away from; I was a "no Spidey in my comics bag" guy from the onset of the clone saga to the beginning of the JMS run). I've "broken up" with comics before, and have come to have a rather blase' attitude to the whole thing:

    "Well, I’ve given up comics more than once before, which has left me somewhat immune to ever being a drama queen about it again. I can now walk away, rather than stalk or stomp away, with the possibility that I might stroll back, with the knowledge that getting caught up with whatever the status quo might be at that time will be no problem (especially with the fact that anything not immediately obvious can be explained with a simple web search).
    I skipped pretty much the entire clone saga, so for me, it’s not in *my* continuity. Likewise with the first death of Aunt May. A death which I shed no tears over neither my missing it nor it being retconned, because this later allowed for a longer period of “May knows Peter’s secret” as part of the status quo, rather than a few seconds on her deathbed.
    So somewhere down the line, I’ll check in with Spidey again, and sniff around for those story points which might make me toss it back on the rack (Venom, Carnage, anything 90s-ish, cranking back to old status quo situations whose stories have been exhausted) or which might make me give it a try (Aunt May knowing Peter’s secret again, a title called FNSM where Spider-Man deals with stuff in his neighborhood and is well-regarded by the person in the street despite what the Bugle says). Either is equally likely, it’s just a matter of time."
    Quoted from my comment at:

  23. I like Dan Slott's work. Despite OMD, I will check out BND. So there.

  24. The MySpace preview looked great. I'm looking forward to this issue of Spider-Man more than I have any issue of the title since Millar left.

  25. Unless Squirrel Girl is shown beating up Mephisto, even the great and mighty Slott cannot save this abortion. Poor Dan, finally getting a dream gig and having to do it under these circumstances. Sort of how Batman writers in the late 80s and early 90s must have felt.

  26. See, when Dan said a friend lent him some comics, I assumed the friend had given up comics for 40 days and he was looking after them.

    >ducks< ^_^

    I have the utmost confidence that Mr Slott will do his damndest on the book and turn in a fine tale of costumed derring-do. I do think it is unfortunate that there are many factors outside his controll that may make this a toxic experience for him.

    Seriously, people: Its just comics. *Relax* willya?

  27. Good interview. We had about an hour long conversation with Dan on Saturday. Hell of a nice guy.
    Check us out:

  28. This comment has been removed by the author.

  29. Marvel seems to have forgotten what the essence of Spider Man is all about.

    Admittedly, Spidey has sucked as of late and it's very painful to read what they have been doing to him.


    The Premise of this reset/retcon is ludicrous and goes against everything Peter Parker was taught by his Uncle Ben, or that Peter has sacrified over the years.

    Where are the lessons learned?

    Aside from the fact that Peter comes off as a spoilt child who can't function in the real world without his security blanket "Aunt May", he also seems selfish and makes a deal with the Devil (Mephisto is NOT however the Marvel Universes Devil, go figure) to force her to be around HIM, what about Uncle Ben waiting in Heaven.

    Where's the growth in the character? If you want a teenage Spidey, read Ultimate.


    But, I guess that's what Marvel thinks younger readers are: just a bunch of illiterate, spolit, selfish teenagers who wouldn't know good writing from crap. Oh, and they won't recognize stories we published 30 years ago, so let's regurgitate. Otherwise why the weak plot, poor story and basically nothing worth wasting money on.

    If I want pretty pictures with no substance I can buy so many other things.

    Where's the responsibility inherent in his actions? Or the consequences? Is there any morality to this decision, or is Peter just some godless idiot with a me me, whatever I can get attitude?

    Having MJ make the choice first also absolves Peter of actually making the decision: another slap in the face for a character who TAKES responsibility to his core. MJ is back to being brainless and is no longer a anything but a projection of Peter's insecurities and indecision.

    With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.

    I would like to see anyone working on this poor excuse for a story use that line without having all of Spideydom laughing to their face.

    I also agree that Marvel has time and again, slapped loyal and long time readers in the face; their mantra "we need younger readers or we can't survive". Ok, but the larger slice of your sales comes from long time readers and young readers who grow into long time readers, so if we all feel you are just playing with the characters and resorting to gimmicks, which this is, we won't invest ourselves in your chracters or stories. And then you know what, there will be no Spider Man for you to ****-up anymore.

    I've stoped buying after 20 years of support. I won't return until things improve.

    It's sad, having to see Marvel go into their past to find inspiration from older stories. That is a blatant admission of lack of confidence in the writers of today; from what I've read I can feel their pain.

    Hopefully, the sales will suck, heads will roll, and things can really improve. But, wait. It is Marvel after all.

    No offense to anyone who thinks this is a good jumping on point, really you shouldn't cheat yourself...go buy some back issues or find some from a friend, try the library, you'll see what the fuss is all about.