Dan Slott can't help but get excited about what he calls the "Kirby cool" concepts he's cramming into his new Silver Surfer comic.
The series, which was announced at New York Comic Con, will launch in March with art by Mike Allred. The premise will see Norrin Radd teamed with a human girl named Dawn, as they travel throughout the cosmos of the Marvel Universe.
But Slott emphasized that this won't be the known Marvel Universe. He's adamant about taking the Sufer into unseen areas of space, stretching creative boundaries with the ideas and characters he introduces in the new Silver Surfer book.
Newsarama talked to Slott about Silver Surfer, how he's fitting this into his schedule with Superior Spider-Man, and why Norrin Radd is teaming up with an unknown human girl named Dawn.
Newsarama: Dan, set up the story for us for your new Silver Surfer series. Who is Norrin Radd as you're writing him, and what sets this story in motion?
Dan Slott: Norrin Radd is a guy from a society where they've already achieved everything they can achieve. They're already at their peak, and they've kind of lost their edge. And he wants to do things and go places. And he wants to see the universe.
He feels like he's in a society on Zenn-La that's reached its zenith and is going no further. But then he becomes the herald of Galactus, and when he finally rebels against Galactus, for his betrayal, he's trapped on Earth.
And along the journey, he's become this cosmic being. This lone sentinel of the skyway.
And what's going to happen in this new Silver Surfer series is he gets a girl on board. An Earth girl. He gets to see the universe with someone. He gets to see it all for the first time.
Nrama: So is this a comic that has a sense of discovery? And is it going to explore different parts of space in the Marvel Universe?
Slott: Oh, like you wouldn't believe. The first time we're going to see this new version of the Surfer is in the Point One Special that's coming out in January. And in that, Mike and I show you not a prequel to what's going to happen, but we skip ahead and give you a kind of Baskin Robbins pink spoon of the kind of adventures you're going to get. So we kind of give you a flash-forward.
You're going to get a "flavor" of what we're going to do in the book by seeing a short adventure.
There's a revelation he has in that short adventure. And what you're going to get out of the Point One is that… this comic is going to go places we've never seen before in the Marvel Universe.
And we're going to see crazy, gigantic, cosmic ideas.
Nrama: So it's not about revamping things we've seen before in the Marvel Universe. You're going new with all this?
Slott: Think about it. Everything we've seen about space in the Marvel Universe, about the nature of the Marvel Universe itself, is stuff we've learned from, like, 50 years of Marvel comics — and 75 if you include Timely. In our world, we know that we haven't seen everything, but through the magic of the Marvel Universe, our spaceships can go anywhere and time travel's possible, so we almost feel, as readers, that we know all the secrets of the Marvel Universe. "Here's the Celestials over here… and here's Galactus there… and the Kree Empire goes to here." I like calling it, like that scene in The Truman Show, where little Truman says he wants to be an explorer, and his teacher pulls down the map and say, "You don't have to, Truman. Everything's already been discovered."
We feel by having read 50 to 75 years of stories that we know everything the universe has, but in the real world, we know that's insane. That's silly.
And what we're going to see in this new Surfer book is, we're going to new places. We're going to see things that the Surfer hasn't seen before. The universe is infinite, ever-expanding, and that means there are so many more secrets and so many more magical things than we've seen.
One of the nice things about all the Marvel books that take place on Earth is that there are so many different flavors, you know? On Marvel Earth, you could have a story with Howard the Duck over here, and with Punisher over there. You could have Frankenstein's monster in that corner, and then over here, you have Spider-Man. Just on Earth alone, we have all these different flavors and all these different kinds of stories.
So now extend that into space! All the stuff you're going to see in Brian's Guardians or Gerry's Nova — that stuff is kind of a grounded sci-fi, like modern-day Battlestar Galactic or J.J. Abram's Star Trek. You know? It's very much in that zone.
But what we're going to see with me and Mike over in Surfer is we're going to go to the Hitchhiker's Guide section of the Marvel Universe. We're going to go to the Red Dwarf and Dr. Who section of the Marvel Universe. We're going to go to places where plants have giant faces. We're going to do things you've never seen before in the Marvel Universe.
Nrama: Yet having a human girl on board makes it relatable, right? Because he has someone like us with him.
Slott: Yes. He's going to have this new character, Dawn. The adventures they're going to have are going to be big, Jack Kirby-style cool. They're going to be out there. They're going to be bizarre. The kind of sci-fi we're going to do is big and broad and fantastical.
But you're right that they're going to be more relatable by having Dawn.
Nrama: Can you reveal anything about Dawn? Will we meet her in the Point One issue?
Slott: When we meet her in the Point One issue, it's when they're out in space. What we're going to get in the opening three issues of Silver Surfer is, effectively, the pilot — how they meet, what cosmic adventure brings them together, and what bonds them.
Nrama: Out of all the humans on Earth, she must be something special for him to be drawn to her somehow.
Slott: You're going to find out they have something very similar in common.
Nrama: You're working with Mike Allred.
Slott: Yes, and when I was developing the book with Editor Tom Brevoort, and we were throwing all these crazy ideas back and forth, we knew we had these three key elements to the book that were going to make it work — this larger-than-life Kirby character, the Surfer, and these strange, weird, cosmic adventures, and this lovable Earth girl. And we were thinking about artists, and who could draw this, and we were throwing names back and forth. And at one point, Brevoort went, "I know who should do this." And I'm like, "Who?" And he goes, "Mike Allred."
The minute he said Mike Allred, all three of those pieces clicked into place. He can do Kirby cool. He can do these female characters that, you see them and you just love them immediately. And he can do the strangest, weirdest ideas. It all just came together, and it was like, "Oh my God! We're doing a Mike Allred book!"
But then I was incredibly upset because I was like, "We can't get him! He's on FF!" And Brevoort was like, "Yeah, I shouldn't have mentioned it."
And the I was screwed!! I kept working, and I was developing stuff, and I started working on the Point One story, and every shot in my head was, like, how Mike Allred would draw it. And I wrote it that way, because after Tom said that, it's all I could see — the Allred Surfer.
Then at one point, Tom calls me up and he goes, "We got him! We got Mike! FF's wrapping up, and we asked if he'd like to move onto this, and he was ecstatic." And I'm like, "We have Allred??!!!"
Then when Mike got the plot, he read it and he went, "Did you write this for me?" [Laughs.] And I'm like, "Yes!!"
Now, this is the exact book I want to do with the Surfer. I'm working on the Mike Allred Silver Surfer, and it's going to be great.
Nrama: We talked a little about the character and what makes this book a unique take on him, but for you, why did this interest you as your next step in your career after winning over fans with Superior Spider-Man?
Slott: Honestly? Surfer is the first superhero I ever read, growing up, before I bought any comics. I didn't even know where comics came from. I had a cousin who, whenever we'd visit him, he had a comic collection and he'd let me read them. And I thought that's where comics came from. I thought they came from my cousin's basement. [Laughs.] I was, like, 6.
All the main books he followed were war comics and horror comics. He liked Sgt. Rock, and he liked Sgt. Fury. And since he liked Sgt. Fury, he liked Kirby. And he since he liked Kirby, the one superhero book he followed was Fantastic Four. And he thought I'd like superheroes more than war comics, so he lent me some of his FF's to read. And the first ones he gave me — the first-ever comics I read, superhero comics I ever read — were FF #48, #49, and #50. He started me on the Galactus trilogy, which is crazy! Forget starting someone out on pot — here's crack cocaine. Here's, like, the most hardcore drug of comics. You look at FF #48, #49, #50 and #51, and that's like the perfect four comics — the Galactus trilogy and "This Man…This Monster." That is Marvel. That is pure Marvel, straight to the vein.
So it was weird — my initiation to superhero comics was Silver Surfer betraying Galactus.
And when I was in college, and I was writing and drawing my own superhero strip for the school paper, it was a character called the Nuke Surfer, who lived in a post-apocalyptic world and surfed off the after-blast of nuclear explosions.
And when you look at the art, I'm so clearly ripping off Silver Surfer. [Laughs.]
So yeah, I have a strong affection for the Surfer.
And we had one of our Marvel creative summits, and it was one of the summits where we were talking about Infinity. And one of the things on the agenda was, we should spin out more Marvel sci-fi books. Who doesn't have a book? And No. 1 on the agenda was Silver Surfer. Marvel was determined to do a Silver Surfer book.
At the time, I'm working on Superior Spider-Man, and for me, I'm tapped. So I'm thinking, you know, when people start throwing in pitches for Surfer, I just sat there and nodded my head and smiled. You know? My inner voice is going, "do not pitch." You know? "You do not have the time for this; do not pitch."
But when the retreat was over, it was decided that no one really hit it right, and it was something we'd get back to. So it was still floating out there. And I was talking to Brevoort. We were talking to each other about, how do you think the retreat went, after it was over. And he said, "What did you think of the Silver Surfer pitches?" And I'm like, I don't know. And he goes, "What would you do?" We're just, you know… I knew that Tom knew that I had too much on my plate and I couldn't do it. So I thought we were just, you know, chewing the fat.
I'm like, "If I was doing the Surfer, I'd do it like this." And I started walking him through the basics of what I would do if I ever got the chance to do Surfer. And he said, "You know, I pulled one of the writers aside and told him he should pitch that book, just the way you described it." And we started building on that, you know? He was like, if Surfer did that, then he could do this! And then I was like, if he did that, then he could do this!! And before we knew what was going on, we'd talked a couple hours on the phone about the Silver Surfer! And we had this kind of fantasy, unintentionally built.
And then there was this pause on the phone, and he goes, "Write it up."
And I'm like, "What do you mean, write it up?" And he said, "Write it up. I want to edit that book."
And I'm like, "What about Superior Spider-Man?" And he said, "We'll make time. We'll find a way. You'll do it." And I'm doing it. I'm doing it. It's working.
So yes, I know this sounds like a weird change from something like Superior Spider-Man to a book like Silver Surfer. But… Spider-Man was a weird change from Avengers Initiative. And Avengers Initiative was a weird change from Great Lake Avengers. Great Lake Avengers was a weird change from She-Hulk. She-Hulk was a weird change from Arkham Asylum: Living Hell.
So I like to change gears. And I have a lot of different gears on the gear shift.
Silver Surfer is something I look at and say, "I can't wait!" When I work on Spider-Man, I'm stressed. I feel the weight. I feel the great power and the great responsibility that comes with sitting in the Spider-Man chair. I fret and fuss over everything. And when I get to work on Surfer, it's like eating dessert. It's a lot of fun.
I think if people liked my work on She-Hulk and The Thing, I think they're going to have a great time on Surfer.
Nrama: Now wait — that implies there's humor involved in your Surfer, because I remember both those series being more toward the funny side. I mean, you usually involve humor, even in your darker books, but when you compare Surfer to those two books, it sounds like something that is going to lean more than way.
Slott: There's adventure, and weird ideas, and Marvel sci-fi, and great characters to play with.
There's no other way to describe it but… "it's going to be a ride."