Now that this new Spider-Man direction is rounding the corner of the half-year mark, we contacted Gale to talk not only about his upcoming issues -- including this week's issue #562 where the web-slinger is fighting a "duplicate Spidey" -- but also about how he and his cohorts piece together their stories and try to achieve the goals of the redefined series.
Newsarama: Bob, as Amazing Spider-Man's thrice-a-month run approaches a half year, I'd like to first talk about some of the processes. Looking at this two-issue story stuck in front of a one-issue story that's followed by a three issue story -- how do you guys decide whose story is going to go where? Is it a case of someone coming up with an idea and the editor just putting it next in line, or do you plan out what goes where according to the overarching story?
Bob Gale: Oh, we plan everything out. We've had a couple of Spider-Man summits, as we call them, where the editors and writers and Joe all sit down and kick around the things that we want to do, and then [editor Steve] Wacker puts it up on a bulletin board trying to figure out what issue will be which.
NRAMA: The stories end up being a lot of different lengths. How do you guys come up with how long each writer gets for his storyline?
BG: Everybody will sort of say, "Well, I think this is a three-parter" or "I think this is a two-parter," or whatever it is, like even a one-off issue, and we just lay it out like that. It doesn't always work that way when you finally get to writing it. With my three-parter with Freak, I thought I was going to be able to encompass everything that I did in #558 in the three issues, but when I got to writing it, it was too much. So I said, look, I need an extra issue. And everybody said OK. Everybody's flexible.
NRAMA: So you have to share.
BG: Yeah! We have to share. But the thing that's great about it is that the stories are dictating how long they ought to be instead of some artificial, "Well, it has to be six issues because that's the right length for the trade." We have two-issue stories or just one-issue stories. And then we have a couple five- or six-parters coming up. It's story driven.
NRAMA: If you plan everything together, where did the idea of this two-part story come from?
BG: Well, we had our original Spidey summit back in December 2006.
NRAMA: This story was born that long ago?
BG: Yep. And everybody was just spit-balling this, that and the other. And I said, "I want to create a character called The Bookie, who just takes bets on all the fights that are going on in the Marvel Universe."
NRAMA: It makes sense that someone would do that in a real-world setting, doesn't it?
BG: It does. It seems like there should be a character like that. And everybody climbed on board and thought it would be a really interesting character. So Dan loved the idea so much, he put him in [the Free Comic Book Day issue] Swing Shift, and so it was always in the back of my mind that we should do a story that focuses a little more on The Bookie. So this two-parter has a lot to do with The Bookie.
NRAMA: And this week, we get Spider-Man fighting another Spider-Man, right?
BG: Yeah! You'll have to read the issue to find out what that's all about.
NRAMA: Marvel is teasing in house ads about the Clone Saga. It's not a clone, is it?
BG: Oh, I can answer that one. There's no clones. It's not a clone. It's not a Skrull. And in fact, when people get the book, they'll see there's lettering on the front that says, "No, it's not a clone or a Skrull." [laughs]
NRAMA: There are still some bitter readers out there over some of that, you know. [laughs]
BG: Oh yeah! When I signed on to do this, I said, OK, there are two things for me to sign on to this, when I was talking to Joe [Quesada]. I said, "We can't bring Gwen Stacy back to life, and no clones." And he said no one was doing those. [laughs] So I signed on.
NRAMA: This two-issue story features the Enforcers too, right?
BG: Yeah! In #563, the Enforcers are kind of hanging out in The Bar With No Name, so we get a real barroom brawl when Spider-Man shows up. And then Overdrive returns in #564. He's the villain in that. And Overdrive is from Swing Shift too.
NRAMA: And we just spoke to Phil Jimenez and Marc Guggenheim about the new Kraven they created who will be showing up in Issue #565. That's a lot of new villains in just a few issues, isn't it?
BG: One of the goals when we first sat down was to expand Spider-Man's rogues gallery, which we all thought was a good idea. As much as I love Doctor Octopus, for example, I don't know that I have an idea to tell a new Doctor Octopus story, because there are so many great ones already. So the idea of creating our own villains gives the writer an extra added advantage because nobody can compare our stories to the way somebody else wrote a similar story about that villain -- there aren't any! [laughs] But really, it's also just meant to round out his villains gallery and get some new, fresh stories written about new villains.
NRAMA: It seems like another thing you guys are doing is building Peter's life. Right now, the poor guy was just fired from his job. Plus he's still getting used to his new apartment and roommate, police officer Vin Gonzales, along with a few other new relationships. Was that another one of the goals, to develop Peter's life outside the costume?
BG: Oh, yeah. 'Cause it's not just about the Amazing Spider-Man; it's about Peter Parker. When I was a kid reading Spider-Man, that's what made Spider-Man compelling. Not just that he had superpowers, but he was just this kid that screwed up sometimes and got sick and had personal problems. That what made Spider-Man different from everybody else. So yeah, that was absolutely the mandate. Bring back Peter Parker's mixed up life.
NRAMA: Along with the ongoing story of Peter's life, there are a few other subplots continuing through the series, including J. Jonah Jameson's troubles and the mystery of the Spider Tracer Killer. Will this story feature those?
BG: Those aren't in these issues, but we start another subplot that you'll see show up later. I don't want to spoil it, but it will start in #563. And we have a lot of big things coming with J. Jonah soon.
NRAMA: How was it working with Mike McKone on these two issues?
BG: It was great, but you know, with this project, it's not as collaborative as it would be if we were on an ongoing together. I sent Mike the scripts, and he drew these great pages. They're beautiful. But there wasn't a lot of collaborating going on. I'd love to do that with him sometime because he's really talented. He came up with some cool layouts, and he's got this really cool gimmick where he uses an image of a spider as the outline of the panels in a couple of pages -- just insert panels, and it's a neat little touch.
NRAMA: You know, it's shown up on a few online message boards that there might be someone shown smoking within this storyline, which is a bit of a departure from what we've seen from Marvel lately. Did you want to address that issue?
BG: I thought a character should be smoking, and I asked permission to do it, and I got permission, and it's in there. When it's out there and everyone sees it, they're going to say, "What's the big deal about THAT?" It's much ado about nothing.
NRAMA: Then after this two-issue story, you're doing a one-issue story with Marc Guggenheim and Dan Slott in #564. You're all three writing this issue together, right?
BG: Yeah. #564 is what we refer to variously as the jam issue or the Rashomon, if you're familiar with the movie Rashomon?
NRAMA: Yeah. Kurosawa?
BG: Yeah. And it was kind of Steve Wacker's idea to say, "Hey, let's do something with everybody working together." So we came up with a story shown from three different points of view with three different writers doing the three different chapters. Marc does the Spider-Man perspective, I do the Vin perspective, and Dan does the Overdrive perspective.
NRAMA: It's already done, right?
BG: Oh, yeah. It's finished.
NRAMA: How do you think it turned out?
BG: It's really nice. I think there was a little skepticism about it at first. We were all saying, "Is this going to work? Is this really going to work?" But it turned out really nicely. It's a neat little one-off issue that's really cool. And Paulo Siqueira did the artwork, and he's great. So yeah, it's a great one-issue story. That's the nice thing about this run is that the story is really driving the issues, and in this case, we can take an issue and do something different for the readers without worrying about the trade or about some strict story length. It's all story driven, which is what comics should be, I think.Click here to discuss this story in the Marvel Comics forum, or posts your reponses below.