Right after his wonderful Marvel Fanfare panel at Philadelphia Fan Expo 2023, Dan Slott sat down to chat all things Spider-Man, Marvel, and the woes of avoiding repetition with our very own Tyler Davis. Dan is famous for his work at Marvel comics, having worked on The Amazing Spider-Man for a decade alongside career defining runs on She-Hulk, The Fantastic Four, and more. Check the conversation out below.
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TD: So, Mr. Slott, you’ve had you’ve written The Silver Surfer as well as the Fantastic Four. Your work on She-Hulk defined the character for a generation of people, and you’ve penned more Earth-616 Spider-Man than anyone else. What haven’t you done at Marvel yet that you have to do before you can call it quits?
DS: Oh man, it’d have to be Moon Knight. I’m a huge Moon Knight fan. Back in high school, the Bill Sienkiewicz and Doug Moench run was everything to me. I couldn’t miss a single issue. Nowadays, you can buy like, an essential edition that has it all collected. When I was growing up, they just didn’t exist. Moon Knight had backups in stuff like the Rampaging Hulk black and white magazine. I had to get on my hands and knees and crawl through back issue boxes in weird places around comic stores to get all that. Now I get this sense of anger when I see you can get it all in one spot now! All that work!
I even followed the Dave Sim book Cerebus because it had a parody of Moon Knight in it. I picked up Contest of Champions because he appeared in a tiny little background panel. It’s really hard to have a complete set of Fantastic Four, or every appearance of the FF, or every appearance of Captain America, you just can’t own ’em. But when you’re a kid growing up, you tend to latch onto characters created in your era. It’s like, ‘Oh look, Nova. New hero. I’ll go follow Nova, and then I can have every appearance.’ That’s how I was with Moon Knight. My comic book collection is like way too much Moon Knight. At one point I went to work at Valiant, Don Pearlman, the guy who first drew Moon Knight in Werewolf by Night and Marvel Premiere, was their art director. When I first met him, I freaked out.
I went, ‘You’re Don Pearlman!’ and he was like ‘Yeah’. ‘You co-created Moon Knight!’, and he went ‘I guess I did.’ It meant way more to me than it did Don Pearlman. When I was a college intern at Marvel, I was working in Fabian Niceza’s office. Back then his assistant editor, Evan Skolnick and I were in the office alone one day when Bill Sienkiewicz stopped by the offices to say hi to everyone, and when he popped into ours I was trying so hard to keep it cool.
They introduced me to him and I told him how big of fan I was of his work. The minute the door closed behind him, I started cabbage panting, chanting ‘I met Bill Sienkiewicz’ over and over. This hand came out from nowhere and smacked me upside the head. It was Evan, and he went ‘Don’t ever do that fanboy shit again.’
So yeah, Moon Knight, I’d love to do some Moon Knight someday.
TD: So, your work on Spider-Man has gone on to irrevocably change core tenets of the characters mythos. Out of all the adaptations that have used your work specifically, which of those do you hold most dear?
DS: I’m very weird about this because there are certain things I’ve done in the lore that weren’t really done or overly done by me, and somehow worked their way into the lexicon because I wrote the book for ten years. It always bugged me as a kid that Peter Parker created all these great gadgets and gizmos for the first seven or eight issues, and then he stops. Once he’s got his stuff, once he’s got his web shooters, his spider-tracers, his spider signal, he just kinda stops creating stuff. That kinda bugged me because he was a science whiz. The first time he fights the vulture, he builds that device that disables his wings, but he stops doing that. So, I thought it’d be fun to give him access to all the toys. To have him finally get his dream job and be a scientist in a lab where he’s allowed to follow his dreams and incorporate that stuff into his spider life.
Suddenly, we were building all these different suits and all these different gadgets and different kinds of webbings, and it’s interesting for me to see how that’s been done in other places. You play a PS4 Spider-Man video game, and those special webs he’s using, those come from the comics.You get all these different suits and those come from the comics, and everything becomes part of the mythos. Or, you have him build the suit in Stark’s jet in Far From Home, or using the equipment in Happy’s apartment in No Way Home, and so much of that comes from the comics. It’s weird. Or the fact that you have a Spider-Man who keeps hopping into other dimensions. So suddenly I’m the science and dimension hopping guy.
It’s like ‘What? That’s not Spider-Man! That’s like Fantastic Four stuff. Spider-Man, he’s supposed to be scrounging for a living, trying to get a date, and taking pictures for the daily bugle!’ Suddenly, he isn’t anymore.
TD: The indie market has diversified intensely during the 21st century as independent comics have become mainstream in their own way. Is there any Dan Slott independent work we can expect to see in the future?
DS: Yeah, and it’s frustrating because there are companies that publish creator owned books and have asked if I could do it, but my biggest problem is speed. Even back in my best days, sometimes the time you’re not working is the time you’re working, or when you get an idea and aren’t grinding it out like a job. On other days, you have to, because people need to draw the next pages and solicit the next issues.
Comfortably, I can do two comics and change a month, and if we start building up to a special thing like Spider-Island and need an extra miniseries I can start doing that. Then it starts getting too big and I call up my buddy Chris Gage and ask him to script an issue for me. Usually when you see a Chris scripted issue, it isn’t because I’m sitting at home playing Fortnite. That’s me writing a double sized issue for the next month and writing two other backup stories you haven’t seen and an upcoming FCBD issue. I’m working at full capacity all the time, and sometimes Marvel needs me to do the equivalent of a fifth issue and that’s when Chris helps out. I’m eternally grateful for having someone I can be that comfortable having a writing relationship with.
TD: So it’s been fifteen years since Brand New Day, ten years since The Superior Spider-Man, and five years since Go Down Swinging. Is there anything you wish you could go back to from that time frame and add on to that the writing pipeline hadn’t allowed for?
DS: Your always going to have clunkers, and you’re always going to have your hits and misses, especially when the book comes out two, sometimes three times a month. It’s a grind, and it’s scary. I’ve had this talk both with Nick Spencer and Zeb Wells. There have been problems that I’ve had on the books where the community working on Spider-Man have helped out. I’ve had people reach out to me and ask how I was doing. Guys like Gerry Conway and Roger Stern, and all these writers of different eras have reached out and helped me at times deal with those problems.
One of the unique things that I’ve had is that I’ve had this crazy schedule of Spider-Man two, sometimes three times a month. Both Nick and Zeb have reached and asked how to do it because people don’t realize that you’re working with different art teams, who all go at different speeds. So that means when you have a guest star like Zeb does with Ed McGuiness, he needs to be fed three or four months head, maybe even five or six, so that script is written way ahead. Or, like when I’ve worked with Marcos Martin, and he needs more time, so I’m writing out his story for way out. So parts one two and three are all written out of order, because I’m also writing for Humberto Ramos who can draw an issue and a half in a month. He’s a different beast. Like ‘Oh my god, he just finished chapter two and needs more pages to draw, and he needs them now because he’s Humberto Ramos, and he’s a machine’.
I’m that way with Bagley too, because Bagley is so fast. He’s so good, but he is so fast. In my mind, he’s like Michael Myers. Like, I turn around and he’s there halfway up the block. Then I’m walking ahead slowly and he’s suddenly there in that hedge and pops out demanding more pages. Everything he turns in is just gorgeous, and just so fast. So you have to feed multiple artists, at the same time, on multiple stories that you have to keep track of. You know how they are all going to line up, but your writing chapter one and two of one story, and then writing chapter one of the story that starts in three months, and everything is gobbled up together. If you can’t keep track of that sequence, and if you can’t keep track of where all the subplots should be going, it starts getting very daunting.
So yeah. sometimes it feels like you’re only doing two issues a month. Everyone sees two issues a month, but you’re really doing anywhere from four to five. Then those months come up, and then you get a chance to catch your breath. It’s all madness, it’s crazy. I think both Nick and Zeb have done an excellent job of getting into that zone, but I also know that it’ll burn them out, as it does everyone, and then the next Spider-Man guy will step up.
I feel bad. It might be better for the emotional health of Spider-Man writers if they go back to one issue a month of Amazing. It would definitely make the writers happy, because I am in pure bliss writing sequentially on Spider-Man. I don’t have to write issue #12, then jump back to #9. I’m just writing one then two then three for Mark Bagley, who’s taking a once in a lifetime break for Lucigeno to come in and do Spider-Man #11.
Correction, he’s not taking a break. He wrote a short story in The Amazing Spider-Man #31with me, and he’s doing some other stuff you’ll see. No one’s taking breaks, you’ll see, it’s Marvel.
TD: If you could Superior any antagonist from across mediums and genres, who would you choose?
DS: Doctor Who and the Master. I would do that in a second. They did something similar in an episode entitled ‘Power of the Doctor’ recently, but it felt weird. It didn’t feel like the way in which I would have done it. For the most part, I don’t like repeating stories I’ve already told. So like, even though we’re coming up on the tenth anniversary of Superior and are doing this new Superior Spider-Man #0, which will lead into things that celebrate ten years of Superior Spider-Man, you’ll see that we’re doing something new in a very interesting way.
TD: Perfect segway into my last question. Outside of everything you are doing with Spider-Boy and Mark, what’s in store for the future of Dan Slott at Marvel?
DS: Well, we announced Superior, and there is something coming up that’ll be pretty obvious when people figure it out. I’ll also have a story in the upcoming Marvel Age #1000 with Mike Allred. Outside of Marvel, I’m finally getting to do one of my dream jobs and am writing one Doctor Who Special a year. The first will come out in October.
TD: Thank you so much for your time Dan.
DS: Of course, and thank you Comic Watch!
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Catch more of Daring Dan Slott’s work coming up soon on June 21st with Edge of Spider-Verse #3, which will showcase the origin for the mysterious Spider-Boy. Then tune back in on July 5th for the finale to an absolutely electric arc in Spider-Man #10.
Philadelphia Fan Expo 2023: In Conversation with Dan Slott
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