FOR TOMMY: PETER DAVID
David's an old hand at this sort of thing. Currently writing
Hulk, What If and MadroX for Marvel, Fallen Angel for DC and
Soulsearchers And Company for Claypool, he's always seemed to
have his hand in. But what happens when a hot creator's flame
starts to fade? When projects don't get instant fan attention
anymore? And how can you try and recapture that flame?
used to work in Marketing. He's always been one for a publicity
stunt - the more relevant and reincorporating the better.
And now, while his star at Marvel is starting to finally rise
again, his DC book is on the verge of cancellation. But how
much can one man do?
JOHNSTON: The current marketplace only rewards predictability
right now. Top creators doing top name books. Anything else
is ignored or sidelined. So, right now, the only book you
could write that would get the bigger sales is Hulk, the title
you really made your name on. Why bother pitching anything
else to Marvel?
PETER DAVID: Because if ALL I do is exactly what the
fans want from me, then I'm creatively dead-ending myself.
So I have other projects I'm pitching around, trying to set
up at either Marvel or elsewhere. If nothing else, being on
something high profile may make it easier to sell new projects
or even get attention for current ones that are wildly well-reviewed
but still lacking sufficient readership, such as "Fallen Angel."
Do you believe breasts might work for you right now? I mean,
you've got that Mature Readers label, might as well put it
to some use.
PETER: No, I don't think breasts would work for me at
all. For starters, they'd stretch all my sweaters out of shape....
oh. You mean in the comic. Well, I've shown several of my
protagonists, including the Fallen Angel, in the nude, doing
everything from having sex to doing laundry. Not sure what
more I can do beyond that.
That's true, guess I was distracted by the dark and moody
plot twists, dazzling characterisation and ever present intrigue.
I thought it was meant to be the other way around? I was chatting
with someone involved in men's magazines the other day. Discussed
creating a beast that's a cross between Maxim and Wizard.
Is that scary? Or is the fact that there might be a market
for it scarier?
PETER: Let me put it to you this way: A couple years
ago, when Marvel did its Mangaverse books, I did the Manga
version of the Punisher. And I decided it would be funny to
make the Punisher be a female, a geisha type, who actually
punished bad guys. See, the regular Punisher doesn't really
"punish," he just kills. I figured, what if the Manga Punisher
really punished guys in the classic sense: Spanking them as
if they were miscreant kids. Naively, just to see what I could
find on the subject, I entered "Japanese spanking" in a Google
search. To my shock, I got over 600,000 hits, including some
of the most twisted material I've ever seen. I had no idea
there was this whole subculture that was REALLY into bizarre
stuff like pictures of women in Japanese schoolgirl outfits
tickling bound men using feather dusters. So my point is:
If there was a market for crap like that, then nothing the
market might bear scares me anymore. A combination of Wizard
and Maxim? Page upon page of women dressed in scanty superhero
costumes? "Wizchix." It would sell tons.
How can there be a market for that and not. well. Fallen Angel,
one of a stream of titles from DC it seems that fit into no
camp, as you have talked about. Monolith, Capesr Lab Rats,
Bloodhound, the quality doesn't seem to matter. There's no
predictability about the concept of its position in a market,
so the retailers and readers take the easy way out and don't
buy it in any kind of number to assure its survival. And in
a world where Sleeper's relaunch issue sells a whack less
than the last issue of the first series, is there any point
to writing these books as potential ongoing series when you
could just write a 12 issue limited series and not tell anyone
that's what it is?
PETER: You could write a 12 issue limited series, sure,
if that's the length of the story you're telling. But the
stories I have to tell with "Fallen Angel" take up more room
than that. It's not until you get to issue #14, for instance,
that you come to the realization that "Fallen Angel" is, at
its core, an incredibly twisted love story. And revelations
then occur over issues 15-18 that include the origins of,
and real name, of Bete Noire (which, by the way, no one has
accurately guessed.). But it wouldn't have worked as a 12
issue series. For that matter, these days there are books
being launched as *announced* limited series and publishers
are scrapping them halfway through, so really, what's the
point? You might as well write what you want to write in the
way you think best suits it and, as Mel Brooks said, Hope
for the best and expect the worst.
Have your expectations been met of late?
PETER: Well, I'm not sure. I mean, between HULK and
MADROX I'm suddenly getting a ton of buzz, and while people
complacently wait for DC to announce they're cancelling FALLEN
ANGEL, DC is turning around and mounting a promotional campaign.
So I've got a wait-and-see attitude at this point.
More than just a retail poster you mean?
PETER: Oh definitely.
Let's look elsewhere. Fallen Angel/Witchblade crossover....
how long before you accept the inevitable to keep sales up?
PETER: If I could use other recognizable characters
in "Fallen Angel," I'd do it in a heartbeat.
Hell, I'd happily offer my Holed Up characters. But, um, you
might want some surviving characters of yours left afterwards.
So what tricks do you have left in your marketing toolbag.
I mentioned breasts earlier - which is quite normal for me.
Aside from getting Jim Lee to do an issue, what tactics have
PETER: Well, let's see. I was thinking of producing
an original FALLEN ANGEL bookplate and making them available
for free both to retailers who have purchased the trade and
want to make them autographed books, and to fans who have
purchased the trade with the intent of gifting it. I was trying
to persuade DC to post the entirety of issue #14, which is
a great jumping on point, on their website. I was considering
holding a writing contest, inviting fans to submit their "Fallen
Angel" fanfic stories and I would choose one to transform
into an actual single issue of "Fallen Angel." The winner
would be paid page rate, get 50 free copies and a single one
autographed by everyone connected with the book. Stuff like
that. Think any of those might work?
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