Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Midtown Book Club: Matters of Life & Death with Dan Slott

The last Friday of the month can mean only one thing: payday!  Whoo!  Let's party!  Hmm?  That's not it?  Oh... did you mean the book club thing?  I see.  There's that too.  So, it's also time for Midtown Comics monthly book club.  I was actually very psyched for this one because they were putting the spotlight on one of my current favorites: Dan Slott's Amazing Spider-Man.  The book we were discussing was the trade of Matters of Life & Death.  A very meaningful story that marked a turning point in Peter Parker's career as Spider-Man.

If you've ever been to a book club at this Midtown Comics before (or read one of our posts about them), then you know they have a particular format they usually stick to; however things didn't quite start out as they usually do this month.  To start, the special guest, Dan Slott, was stuck in traffic due to the protests currently happening on Wall St. and in an even more disturbing twist the Dunkin' Donuts they usually have refreshments from Ran Out of Donuts!  Don't ask me how a Dunkin' runs out of donuts, it's beyond me... maybe the protesters bought them out earlier.  Anyway, we started the evening a few minutes late.  Once Dan arrived, he made up for his tardiness in spades and literally jumped right into his presentation.

Dan rushed in and was talking to the crowd before he even put his bag down.  Normally the hosts from Midtown, Zoe & Thor, are the ones who have questions prepared and will run the show for the evening, but in this case their guest was prepared with a special treat for everyone.  Rather than making it a question and answer session, Dan went right into an in-depth, behind the scenes look at his creative process.  In fact, he jumped right in before our two hosts even had a chance to introduce themselves.

He actually swung into the store this way.  It really does beat NYC traffic.

The book we were discussing is the collected trade of Amazing Spider-Man issues number 652 through 657, plus the special issue number 654.1.  The stories herein truly contain some of the most emotionally charged pages from the past year, but our discussion focused on one in particular.  "In Memory of Marla Jameson" was the issue immediately following the conclusion of Revenge of the Spider Slayer, in the climax Mayor J. Jonah Jameson's wife is killed saving his life.

Dan read through his original notes to artist Marcos Martin as we went through each page of the completely silent opening ten pages.  He shared his experiences between his initial impressions and what was actually interpreted by Martin.  Dan also shared with us that he still writes in a style called "The Marvel Way", which involves the writer only writing an overview or storyboard, but not actually scripting the book until the art is completed.  This used to be the way required by Marvel editors and that's how it was drilled into Dan's writing style, but since then this style has been largely abandoned even in Marvel's own offices.  Dan shared very high praise for the many "gifts" that Marcos delivered with his work.  

One page in particular was the one in which Peter is having a nightmare and reliving the fateful night his uncle Ben was killed.  While Dan's notes described the scene taking place in the hallway and being a rather basic re-telling of the scene, what was actually interpreted and delivered was a page truly out of a dream:

Dan went on to discuss his current cross-over event Spider Island and how his creative process started and has continued throughout.  There were lots of really interesting insights shared and we all got a great view into the mind and creative process.  All of this, plus he then went on to take questions from the audience!  I was really impressed with how much thought Dan had clearly put into this, and as a fan I felt that he really appreciated us.  It was a great night overall and a great addition to the Midtown Comics Book Club series.  Can't wait for the next one, see you next month!

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