Dan Slott Talks SPIDER-MAN Hitting the 'Big Time,' Part 1

As announced this past Sunday at Comic-Con International: San Diego, Dan Slott is the new sole writer of Amazing Spider-Man. And he's just as excited as you'd expect.

After nearly three years of "Brand New Day," where Slott shared writing duties on the thrice-monthly Amazing Spider-Man with Marc Guggenheim, Bob Gale, Zeb Wells, Mark Waid, Fred Van Lente and Joe Kelly, the former She-Hulk and Mighty Avengers writer will be anchoring Spidey's adventures solo. Starting with November's Amazing Spider-Man #648, the title will move to a twice monthly schedule with 30 pages of story per issue, along with the rotating art team of Humberto Ramos, Stefano Caselli and Marcos Martin.

The story arc starting in #648 is called "Big Time," with Peter Parker — not Spider-Man — finding success with a new career and new girlfriend. Slott also hinted at the Comic-Con Spider-Man panel that our friendly neighborhood hero might be using a new costume (or costumes) and high-tech crime-fighting gadgets.

"Big Time" could also apply to Slott himself, now the sole writer of one of Marvel's flagship titles for the first time. In the first installment of our two-part interview with Slott, Newsarama talked via phone with the writer about the inspiration behind "Big Time" and looked back at "Brand New Day."

Newsarama: Dan, I was thinking about this before our interview — Ren & Stimpy #6 back in 1993, with Spider-Man vs. Powdered Toast Man, was that your first time writing Spidey?

Dan Slott: No, the first time I wrote Spidey I snuck him into New Warriors Annual #1 where he did a back-up with Speedball. That was the first superhero story I ever wrote for Marvel.

Nrama: Before we get too much into what’s coming up in Amazing Spider-Man, let’s reflect a bit on “Brand New Day.” Do you have a favorite of the stories you wrote?

Slott: I had such a great time working on all of them. One of the fun things, and we’re kind of keeping it going with this new run, is I get to work with so many different guys. And not a dog in the bunch. Dear Lord, I got to start off with Steve McNiven. And then go straight to Marcos Martin. Working with each different artist has been such a fun experience. Marcos is the one I guess I have the most fun working with — it feels effortless. Everything just kind of flows together, and it’s fun. It’s playing. When I was doing stuff with John Romita Jr., like “New Ways to Die” and Amazing #600, there felt this huge level of responsibility, like “Oh my God, I’m writing for John Romita Jr.! I can’t screw up!” Or with the Steve McNiven art, it was “Oh my God, I’m the first guy out of the gate! Ahhhhh!” I had fun working with Barry Kitson for the Spidey/FF story, it was a joy working with Mike McKone on the Molten Man two-parter. Every single one’s been a blast.

Nrama: Not asking you to single anyone out, but what story arcs from the other writers did you really like?

Slott: Joe Kelly’s Rhino stories. Those were brilliant. And I really liked Mark Waid’s two-parter with the Shocker. And Fred [Van Lente]’s Sandman two-parter. And Zeb [Wells]’s Lizard story. Marc Guggenheim’s done-in-one story with Flash Thompson was one of my favorite done-in-ones out of all of Marvel in the past few years. It was just so strong, and solid. One of the best guys in the room, because so much of this was people bouncing ideas back and forth in summits and e-mail chains, was Bob Gale. There are so many stories that came out from other writers that had beats and bits that Bob threw out, or that Bob helped tighten. Bob helped everybody get better. My favorite of Bob’s was the two-parter with the other Spider-Man and the big fight with the Enforcers at Coney Island. It was a real honor to be with these guys. And a real learning experience, to be part of the team and get to see everybody’s scripts come in, and read them in their raw forms, and then see how they progressed and evolved, and watching the whole process of people go through different drafts. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

Nrama: Keeping up that pace and coordinating so many different people must have been daunting.

Slott: Working on it was crazy. You couldn’t have done this without Steve Wacker. You couldn’t have done this without the guy who got 52 up and running over at DC. We needed that level of scheduling and craftsmanship as an editor. Making all the moving pieces work, and keeping everything on line. It’s a grueling job. Him, and his assistant editor Tom Brennan, and Joe Caramagna, who letters and composits the book — if you zip by Marvel on a Friday night, they’re the last office to leave. Sometimes going past 11 at night. It’s crazy. To make sure that this thing all came together, this three times a month Spider-Man, and that you got your books out.

Nrama: Moving towards the upcoming stuff, how long have you known were going to be the sole writer on Amazing Spider-Man? For a while, right?

Slott: I’d say about a year. Everybody was really cool about it. We all knew that we were going to about 100 issues. It is a grind. The book does well. You’re getting three issues a month placed really high in the rankings. I’m sure Marvel would love for us to keep going, but it’s hard. At one point we knew we were going to drop down to two a month. As that got closer to happening, I took a lunch with Steve and pitched him — I said, “I’d like to do a different Spidey monthly book over here when you guys make the switch to twice a month. Maybe Marvel Team-Up or a new Peter Parker: Spectacular Spider-Man, or something else. Steve said he thought that was a good idea except he had one better, and he asked me “how would you like to stay on and do Amazing twice a month? And I did not see that coming. I was like, “Well, yes sir! I would like that very much!”

Nrama: An easy decision, I’m sure.

Slott: Yeah. It kinda meant I had to clear the plate of everything else, because this is now my job. So that’s when I knew I was leaving Mighty Avengers.

Nrama: It’s not even that much less than three times a month, because it’s twice a month, with 30 pages of story.

Slott: The issue size is going to increase, from 22 pages of story to 30 pages. Sometimes that’ll mean a full 30 page issue, and sometimes it’ll mean 22 pages and a backup. I can be doing anywhere from 44 to 60 pages a month. And when we do the backups, they’re going to be tied-in and integrated to what’s going on in the lead stories or the upcoming stories. Like, there might be stories that build up to what’s going to happen in the next arc, or they might be stories that delve into a character story deeper, or it might look at something that’s a ramification from the big story that happened two weeks ago.

Nrama: We know the main art team is going to be Humberto Ramos, Stefano Caselli and Marcos Martin on a rotation, but is that going to be the same for the backups?

Slott: We’ll see. Right now, I already know before Stefano’s arc starts, he’ll have an 8-page preview. A whole new story that builds and leads into his arc. For example, the first issue will be the normal price, but it’ll be a 39-page lead feature by me and Humberto, plus an 8-page story with Paul Tobin, setting up Spider-Girl. It’ll play off events that happen in the lead feature. Then Humberto’s very next issue is a full 30-page issue. And I know that Marcos’s first two issues are 30-page issues.

Nrama: So in what ways is this a distinct change from what came before, and not just “Brand New Day: Part Two”?

Slott: You’ve never seen me on a flagship book by myself before. In my entire career, I have never been the guy in the big chair for anything. With She-Hulk I had to follow what other people were doing in “Avengers Disassembled” or in Civil War; some big thing could happen there and I’d have to flow with it. Or when I got to do Thing it wasn’t, “here’s carte blanche on the Thing.” It’s, “hey, you get to do a book with the Thing, and oh, by the way, he’s a millionaire, because that’s what’s happening now in J. Michael Straczynski’s Fantastic Four. And no book danced between the raindrops more than Avengers: The Initiative This is the first time I get to make it rain and bring down the thunder. And that’s really exciting.

Nrama: What are some of the things you can do a sole writer that you can’t do as part of a team?

Slott: Sometimes you’d be working on a story in Brand New Day, and this is when you’re working on any story, sometimes the characters surprise you. When you’re working on a book by yourself, you get to go, “I’m going to explore this more.” But when you’re working on something that’s a big group effort, where we have to get these issues out three times a month and plan far into the future, it’s more your job to tell your story, do it well, and effortlessly pass the baton to the next guy. So you can’t suddenly go, “I feel like going for a sprint!” You have to be part of this tightly woven team. It’s fun to be more agile and maneuverable like this, where in the previous one, we had to keep that train on the tracks.

Nrama: A key part of “Big Time” is that Peter Parker has a new career and a new girlfriend, and I don’t expect you to give anything away about the specifics …

Slott: (Laughs) No! No, I won’t.

Nrama: But conceptually, what was the inspiration behind going in that direction?

Slott: When we started Brand New Day, we really wanted to put Pete in an underdog position and work his way up. Before Brand New Day, we’d seen him living in Avengers Mansion, and being in this kind of cat-bird seat, up until the Civil War. We thought it would be fun to really knock him down to where he was struggling and scrapping. I’ve wanted to do this for a while — have Peter Parker live up to his potential. We all know he’s this genius. This is a guy who came up with one of the strongest adhesives when he was a sophomore in high school! And a delivery system that could spray it in many different forms. Just whipped it up like that! This is one smart guy. And his Spider-Man life has really been taking him away from any chance of taking advantage of all of his gifts as Peter. When you think of all that he could have achieved if he wasn’t Spider-Man — the person he could be now, if he wasn’t running off and constantly having these adventures and following this path of power and responsibility. But on some level, his Peter Parker powers have a Peter Parker responsibility. He owes it to the world, to give them everything that Peter Parker can give them.

Nrama: What this run really seems like is a very progressive take on Spider-Man — not looking back. You’ve talked about a new costume, new gadgets. It sounds like it's very much moving forward.

Slott: Oh, totally. This isn’t going to be Peter Parker living in Avengers Mansion again. Or him living off the good graces of Tony Stark. This is going to be very much a self-made man. That’s something we haven’t seen. We haven’t seen Peter Parker succeed like this. A lot of times when you’re working on something like this you look at, “what are some of the tenets of the character? What’s some of the stuff that seems to be set in stone?” And that’s the stuff you look to break. “What’s the rule we can break?” With this one, you look at one of his classic taglines, “wealth and fame, he’s ignored.” Well, forget that! Let’s throw that right out the window! He’s always going to be Peter Parker. Let’s see Peter Parker with some success under him. On the same level, he is Peter Parker. So even if he’s succeeding over here, he’s gonna screw something else up over there. He’s never gonna stop being Peter Parker. That’s what it really comes down to. Peter Parker is us. We all have special gifts, and we all are individuals, but we all screw up. And screwing up doesn’t stop no matter how old you get. None of us ever reaches a point of perfection. None of us walk around being flawless, and not screwing up at all. That’s the humanity of Peter Parker.

Check back on Monday for Part 2, as we talk more with Slott on the new Amazing Spider-Man art team, the Hobgoblin, the Scorpion, what other villains we might be seeing, Spidey's ever-important supporting cast, the role of Mary Jane in the comic, and a whole lot more.

 

What do you think Peter Parker's new BIG TIME career might be?

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