Exchanging webs for surfboards.
Welcome back to The DAN SLOTT INTERVIEWS, our series of talks with the writer of Marvel’s Spider-Man on a wide variety of whimsically webby topics.
Here, we leave Manhattan behind for the spaceways …
Silver Surfer has been my favorite Marvel book the last couple of years which is weird because I never dug the Surfer until Slott and Mike Allred got their imaginative hands on him. I’m just not properly wired for cosmic comics. I’m an urban-avenger guy, y’know? But their winking, postmodern take was perfect for me. So in talking with Slott, I wanted to make sure we discussed the continuing adventures of Norrin Radd, Dawn Greenwood and Toomie…
Dan Slott: When I decided to do Silver Surfer, it’s actually become a haven, a place where I can take a break from Spider-Man. I can change gears. And that’s a welcome change, just to say something different, to be something different.
Dan Greenfield: Tell me about your collaboration with Mike and how it works.
Slott: With Surfer, it’s wonderful. I come up with some kind of crazy, far-fetched Surfer idea and I run it by Mike and Mike says, “That’s cool.” (Laughs) Then I write it up and in my head I see it with Allred art. I’m doing my best to give him nice big panels to have fun with but there’s a lot of openness in the story. I want Mike to have fun so there’s stuff where I’ll just go, “Crazy new alien race! What the aliens look like? Have a blast! All that’s important to me is X. All that’s important to me is that this is the planet where they make the universe’s greatest ice cream. The aliens can look like whatever you want but they’re all the same, right?” Or, “Here’s a fleet of Galactus refugees. The only deal is no two aliens can look alike. Have fun.” You know? The art that I get from Mike is never the way I pictured it in my head and it’s always better! (Laughs) It’s the greatest feeling in this world.
Every time I get an email from Mike Allred and I’m gonna click on this thing and see a new page of Surfer art ‘cause I know it’s gonna tell the story that I put in the plot but I know it’s gonna be looking better than I ever could’ve imagined it! And the thing with Laura’s coloring, I’m like, “Aw, man, this is great!”
Greenfield: The coloring is extraordinary on that book. She’s a wonderful colorist as it is but it’s so striking in that book in particular. I love looking at it. I love reading it every time that it comes out.
Slott: To me the fun of working with Mike is I’ll get really excited about an idea and I’ll call him up on the phone and I’ll run it by him and he…He’s just like a big kid!
He gets super excited! I walked him through the opening sequence of Surfer #1 (the previous series) and he just started busting a gut! He’s like, (excited) “This is GREEEAAAT!” (Laughs) Or like when we did that crazy Mobius strip issue (Issue #11)! Oh, my GOD! That was like, so many months and months of love went into that issue! While I’d be working on different Surfer issues, that had one whole section of a white board dedicated to it. I’d keep on trying to make it work and trying to make it work.
Normally I do like a tight breakdown of panels: Here’s what happens — panel, panel, panel. Then I get the art back and then I script. That issue required a third document where actually, like, before reading the plot, here’s Ikea instructions on how to build this. (Laughs) And there was little stick figures and little panel layouts and here’s how this would work. That went to Mike. It wasn’t like treating Mike like a robot ’cause we talked through the basic idea of the concept. The beauty of working with Mike is, he’d get the art in and he’s made adjustments that tell the story better!
When you look at those panels, they all have a subtle bend to them like an arrow, that forces your eye to go the correct direction along the Mobius strip. That’s Mike. Mike added that innovation as a storyteller to make it clearer! So many artists add all this flash and glare and their storytelling’s just confusing. Your eye doesn’t know where to go, it’s not the clearest way to tell it, you don’t get a good establishing shot, whatever! Mike is one of these masters where you can just look at it and you go, “I know exactly what is going on from panel to panel to panel. I know exactly where he’s gonna go.” And it’s all Allred goodness!
He is such a multiple threat as a comic-book artist. He is such a master. I never want to stop working with Mike Allred. I’m just having the best time in the world!