Peter David Interview
Originally published in January 2000. I have to give Peter David credit. Around this time there was a big Peter David vs. Erik Larsen war that was being fought both online and within Erik’s Savage Dragon and Peter’s Incredible Hulk titles. I was firmly on the Erik Larsen side and on occasion gave Peter a hard time. Still, I very much enjoyed his run on the Hulk (specifically the Dale Keown/Gary Frank years), Spider-Man 2099 and Young Justice, so I wanted to interview him. I suspected when I sent him the request he would (deservedly) blow me off. Instead he accepted and he’s always been really nice to me in person whenever we’ve met at conventions.
An Interview With Peter David
If you have been reading Marvel or DC Comics you probably know who Peter David is. If you read Star Trek and other sci-fi books, pay attention to who writes certain TV shows, movies, cartoons, etc.. you also probably know who Peter David is. He is all over the place with his written work and has gained a fan following and an alt.fan newsgroup devoted to him. Today he talks to us about the comic titles he writes and his other media work.
Jamie: Will the first year of Captain Marvel stories be earth bound or more in space?
Peter David: A balance of both. I think I’ve actually hit upon a way to do a combination of adventures that is going to be rather unique. Most of the time when you’re dealing with a character who is earthbound but with space roots, it’s an either/or proposition. And while you’re busy doing one, people crab that you’re not doing the other. I’ll actually be doing both: Earthbound activities and visits to far off worlds.
Jamie: Why is Moondragon in the Captain Marvel series? Was there a particular reason you chose her?
Peter David: I wanted someone with no sense of humor to play against Rick Jones and Genis.
Jamie: What villains will be popping up in Captain Marvel? Any chance that Thanos will appear?
Peter David: I’d have liked to use Thanos, but he’s just finishing with an extended stay in Thor. I think if he immediately jumps over to Captain Marvel, it’d be overdoing it. Wendigo is in issue #2, then Drax shows up and his appearance winds up triggering an unexpected series of events. The Hyssta will be back, the Surfer will probably be showing up, as will Starfox. Possibly Terrax. Probably Comet Man, who hasn’t been seen for a while. And Super Skrull would be kinda cool.
Jamie: What’s happening with Dark Horse’s SpyBoy? It got very little publicity.
Peter David: Actually, Dark Horse has been promoting the hell out of it. It’s been heavily publicized in the Diamond Catalogue, in CBG. They did a big push for it at San Diego with promotional material, and there’s a website. The problem is that retailers have given it little-to-no support, which is somewhat annoying. Here on the one hand I’ve got fans always saying I should branch out, work for publishers other than Marvel and DC, try characters off the beaten track. And then the retailers order bare minimum. They don’t order it as they would, say, “Young Justice.” They order it like a low-end Dark Horse book.
Jamie: We don’t hear too much about your own independent title, Soulsearchers and Co. What is going on with that?
Peter David: Claypool Press doesn’t exactly have a huge promotional budget. Look at your own questions: Dark Horse has been promoting the heck out of Spyboy, and you say it gets no publicity. So here’s Claypool which doesn’t even have Dark Horse’s resources, even though ads run for them regularly in CBG. Trying to get the attention of fans and retailers is a full time job. In terms of the book itself, we’re getting up to issue #40. It really kills me: Fans say to me, “Write a humorous book for a small indy publisher, something you have total control of.” And I say, “Soulsearchers and Company. Been doing it for about seven years now.” And they say, “What’s that?” Retailers swear we don’t exist.
Jamie: You would think that Captain Marvel Jr. would fit in perfectly with Young Justice. Why is he not on the team?
Peter David: Too much stylistic overlap with Superboy. But he will become an integral part of the book, at least for a little while.
Jamie: Will there be any line up changes in Young Justice after the Arrowettte story is over?
Peter David: Mebbe.
Jamie: You’ve mentioned that you have a major Supergirl story arc coming up with issues #45 to 50. Can you give us any information on it?
Peter David: Matters with Carnivean are going to come to a head, leading to confrontations between the three Earth Angels, and a showdown between Carnivean and God with most unexpected results.
Jamie: You also let it known publicly that this story could be used for a major company event. Has there been any development on that yet?
Peter David: No, and I haven’t been pressing it. I’m still shellshocked after “Sins of Youth.” If I’m just able to go ahead and tell my story and be left alone, I’ll be a happy camper.
Jamie: I have to wonder, was the decision to turn Supergirl into an angel an attempt to get some religious comic readers to try out the title?
Peter David: No, it was an attempt to give the book a unique and different tone and feel.
Jamie: Do you plan on keeping Supergirl an Angel for the rest of your run?
Peter David: That would be telling.
Jamie: Are you at all worried about Supergirl’s future with the Siegel’s Superman and all related characters copyright ownership legal situation?
Peter David: I try not to worry about things over which I have absolutely no influence whatsoever.
Jamie: What is your opinion on the Copyright Termination going on with the Siegel’s and now Joe Simon?
Peter David: Well, I figure writers have little enough protection. If the law is designed in a way that they’re able to use it legitimately to their advantage, go right ahead.
Jamie: When the Image founders put out a press release talking about ‘Holding Back’ their better characters for creative controlled work you blasted them. Now that this seems to be happening all over again but with a new set of big name creators, do you still feel the same way?
Peter David: I didn’t blast them for “Holding Back” their better characters for creative controlled work. I blasted them for putting out a press release so badly written that any reasonable reading of it made them look like complete assholes. I also said that friends and business made a volatile mix, and that they should either hire or appointment someone to be the single spokesman. In the subsequent months and years, Image (a) admitted that the press release was not well worded, (b) forced out founding members, and (c) hired a single spokesman. In other words, everything I said was true…but oooo, I “blasted Image.” Gimme a break. As for Gorilla, shock of shocks, their publicity statements and press releases have been flawless. So what’s to complain about?
Jamie: Is there any chance you will join Gorilla/Image with your own creator owned series sometime down the line?
Peter David: I have my standards. I would have strict requirements for joining Gorilla. First, they’d have to ask me to join. Second…uhm. No, that’s pretty much it. But they haven’t asked. Never heard boo from them, actually. I figure they probably feel that the last thing they need when launching a new imprint is to have some loudmouth schmuck as a loose cannon associated with them.
Jamie: With all your writing in comics and other media you must be a very busy man. How long does it take you to write an issue and how do you write it?
Peter David: Most of the time, Marvel style. Takes a few hours to write a plot. A few more to write the dialogue.
Jamie: Your writing often uses many popular media references/jokes. Do you think they’ll ever be a time where the audience won’t find that stuff funny anymore?
Peter David: I don’t necessarily use it for humorous effect. I use popular media references to give the stories–which frequently have a very unreal feel to them–some degree of reality. As for jokes, I don’t think it’s necessarily that what I write is funny. It’s just that so many other books have little-to-no humor in them that my stuff is a contrast. I don’t say that to knock other writers: Whatever works for them, more power to them. But there’s plenty of funny lines and situations in, say, the average “Spenser” novel. No one says, “Whoa, do your read those hilarious Spenser books?” The average Indiana Jones movie has tons of hysterical bits occurring at even the most serious of moments. People don’t consider those comedic. But throw a few gags into a comic and people think the whole book is humorous. Usually I use gags to set up something serious. Hopefully that will never go out of style.
Jamie: Something you wrote must be coming out soon. Any comic titles, books, TV shows, movies, etc.. you can tell us about?
Peter David: More New Frontier books, the three books in the Centauri Prime trilogy. A short film that Bill Mumy and I are working on. Berkley Books is rereleasing the Psi-Man books under my own name in the genre of SF, which is how the damned things should have been released in the first place. That should be enough to keep folks happy.