Dan Slott is the man you know from “Spider-Man/Human Tortch: I’m with Stupid,” the series that finally put the Hostess Fruit Pie stories into Marvel Continuity. You also know him from the critically-acclaimed “She-Hulk” (a focus of CBR’s Pipeline Commentary this week). But you’re about to find out about his zaniest creation in a story so big, so important…that you may have missed it in “Previews,” the ordering catalogue used by retailers. When CBR News asked about this project, Slott was all too happy to tell CBR News about the book and explain the basics.
“Yes! I’ve got a new book coming out in March, it’s called ‘Big Max’ and it’s coming out from a fairly new company, Mr. Comics,” explained Slott. “I’m trying to get the word out to retailers now while there’s still time to adjust their orders before the end of January. This book is one of my favorite comics I’ve ever worked on. And it represents the first time I’ve had a hand in building a superhero from ground up.
“‘Big Max’ is a ‘lost treasure.’ Something I worked on years ago, but never saw the light of day. Ty Templeton was the original cover artist, and now that he’s the EiC of Mr. Comics, he asked me if they could release it. And I was like, “Dear God, yes!’ I’m very proud of the work that the artist, James Fry, and I put into this one! And I’m so happy that people will finally get a chance to see it!”
Sure, Spider-Man used Hostess snacks to beat villains in “I’m With Stupid” and in “She-Hulk,” comic books are a respected medium, but in “Big Max,” Slott is going to go even crazier, if you can imagine that! “This is probably the silliest superhero project I’ve ever done, and for me that’s saying a lot. It’s about the world’s greatest superhero. Who just happens to be… an Ape in a Cape. He’s Big Max, the super simian, the mammal of might, or as we like to call ‘im, The Primate Who Lowers Crime Rate! It’s Silver Age Ape-like fun, but thumping its chest in a modern day way.”
It may be a one-shot, but if the response is good (yes retailers, Slott’s looking at you), then he reveals, “If it does well there’s another story filed away that I did with Ty, along with page by page breakdowns and story springboards for future issues. Due to my Marvel Exclusive, I couldn’t develop them any further, but I’ve talked it over with James and he’s just rarin’ to be both ‘Big Max’s’ writer and artist. And I’d love to see that, ’cause James W. Fry is one of the funniest people I know! As for other media? Hey, with the state of CGI, puppeteering, and other movie-monkey-effects today? I think ‘Big Max’ would make an awesome motion picture spectacle!”
For Slott, this isn’t just about sales: “Big Max” is a project close to his heart and he wants to share it with as many people as possible. “Talk to anybody in the industry, and they’ve all got that ‘one that got away’ sob story. Some comic they poured their heart into that never made it to the stands. For me, that’s ‘Big Max.’ Honestly? I don’t expect a dime out of this. The real reward of putting this book out– is putting this book out! I just want people to meet Max, and follow him and his little monkey-buddy on one of their thrilling adventures! Really! I feel like some little kid jumping up and down and saying, ‘Hey! Look what I did!'”
So, for the retailers, Slott is trying to say: buy the book.
But Slott’s work isn’t limited to “Big Max” and his Marvel titled, “Thing” and “She-Hulk,” are earning heaps of praise, though they don’t do too excellently in sales. Slott thinks about that and explains, “I don’t know. With a book like ‘She-Hulk’ it can be a little frustrating at times. You have sites like Aint It Cool News calling it the best book Marvel’s putting out, magazines like Entertainment Weekly giving it an A+, and yet when you surf the web you see the same kind of comment again and again. ‘I won’t try a She-Hulk book.’
“The nice thing though is that we’re like crack. If someone does try us, they get hooked. And I’m so glad that Marvel is doing their best to offer everybody the first one free! Seriously, if you’ve read all the glowing praise around the net, and you want to see what all the fuss is about, just go over to Marvel.com and check out all of “She-Hulk” #1 for free in their digital comics section!”
But readers can expect both books to be full of surprises in coming months, as Slott isn’t about to ratchet down the excitement and surprises, as he revealed to CBR News. “In ‘The Thing,’ we’ve got a great new cast member joining the title in #4. A return to Yancy St. and a much requested villain in #5. Spidey swings by for a team-up in #6! And in the near future… We’re bringing back the Poker Game! A lot of people have been waiting for that!
“Over in ‘She-Hulk,’ Hawkeye’s ol’ buddy, the Two-Gun Kid, has joined the cast, love is in the air, an old school Avenger is going on trial, and then the ‘Civil War’ hits…
Wait. Major crossover. Major female character. This can’t go well, can it Mr. Slott? “Oh, not much happens. Just a ‘She-Hulk’ issue-ender that people will be talking about for months!” he teases.
With both Thing and She-Hulk being tied to the Fantastic Four, as well as Slott’s experience writing Spider-Man and the Human Torch, it would seem that Slott is defining his own segment of the Marvel Universe, a “Slottverse,” as prolific writer Geoff Johns did at DC Comics. “I admire the hell out of Geoff! He’s one of the best guys in the biz!” gushes Slott. “As for the Slottverse? Well, I think that’s part of the fun of working in comics. Look at anybody doing multiple titles and you’ll see all the fun connections. Me? I’m a big fan of the Kirkmanverse and the Niciezaverse! I just loved how stuff from MTU, Kirkman’s stint on ‘Cap,’ and ‘Fantastic Foes’ kept crisscrossing. Same for all of Fabe’s titles! That’s what’s so cool about Marvel, how it all comes together into this great, big puzzle.”
Something else cool, from the POV of Slott’s fans, is that the scribe eschews the trend and writes a lot of self-contained stories, something he does for very particular reasons. “I have two big goals when I’m working on a comic. First, it should be a full unit of entertainment. At the end of twenty-two pages, I want you to feel that you got your money’s worth– that it was packed to the rafters. And that should include intriguing characters, a good hook, action, and lots of interesting details.
“Second, I don’t want it to be a comic that you read– I want it to be comic that you re-read! It should stand on its own. Even if it’s part two of a three-part story, it shouldn’t just be a bridge to get you from point A to point B. And, if possible, there should be some Easter Eggs hidden away in there, things that hit you the second or third time around.
“Look, I think the trades are wonderful! They’re a fantastic way to get comics into the mass market. And I am blown away by what a great job Marvel’s done on my trades! The design work, the attention to detail, and the production work is second to none! (And on that note, if you haven’t, if you haven’t picked up the TPBs for ‘She-Hulk’ and the ‘GLA,’ what’re you waiting for? They’re gorgeous!)
“But, for me, where my mind’s at when I’m writing a monthly comic– is just that — that it’s a monthly comic. And I’m doing my level best to put books out there that (hopefully) you’ll want to read a bunch of times before the next issue comes out. :)”
With all those good intentions in mind, rumors still persist that Slott plans to take over the world. This may be the result of his plan to include the secret of life in all copies of “Big Max,” but he only says, “Sorry, no plans to take over the whole world just yet,” which is what one might expect a would be tyrant to say. “Though I have set my sights on a section of the Wild West. Yeah, you heard that right, rannies. Now that Two-Gun Kid’s in ‘She-Hulk,’ I’ve staked my claim to ‘im for Marvel’s upcoming Western Month! This is gonna be fun! I’m teaming up with legendary artist, Eduardo Barreto! And together we’re gonna spin ya an all-new rip-roarin’ yarn about the Avenger of yesteryear! (How’s that for a CBR exclusive?)”