May 1, 2017


Peter David

By Brian Jacks


Peter David's name pops up all over the place.  He is currently the regular writer for three monthly books: Supergirl, Young Justice, and Captain Marvel.  David also recently completed the novelization of the upcoming Spider-Man feature film.  Slush spoke to him about adapting the film and what his fans can look forward to in his other projects.

What is the creative process involved in writing an adaptation of a film?

Well, keep in mind that the average script is 120 pages long.  If you just write "He said, she said," you've got a 120 page manuscript when you need over 300 pages.  The main thing that you look for are scenes that can be fleshed out or added and storylines that can be augmented.  In the case of SPIDER-MAN, I added a framing prologue and wrote an entire sequence detailing a five year old Peter Parker's arrival at Ben and May's home after his parents died.  In short, you try and take a movie story--which is told in very visual terms--and try and convert it into the more literary requirements of a novel.

What type of rules and limitations were you under?

When adapting, obviously you can't change the story or the dialogue (with the sole exception in my experience being "The Return of Swamp Thing," for which the script was so awful that I took a chance and made wholesale changes. Fortunately the producers liked my book better than the script.)  I'm also under the rule that I can't talk about plot details, so...sorry.

Was it difficult writing an adaptation of something you hadn't seen?

Not "difficult," so to speak, but you have to make some decisions blindly.  I'll describe how a character is saying something based on my interpretation of the dialogue.  The actor might wind up saying it differently.  I'm guessing.

It seems to me like it'd be difficult to make a novel out a film that relies pretty heavily on special effects.

Why?  It's far easier to create pictures in a reader's head than show them.  For instance, a viewer of a movie that's FX heavy might say, "Oh, THAT doesn't look real" or "That's obviously CGI."  In a book, all words are created equal.  If I can describe it, it's "real" for the reader.

I understand you can't reveal plot points, but how closely does your book follow the film?  Are there any differences?

No differences.  Just additions.  Plus some in-jokes for readers.  For instance, I have Aunt May and Uncle Ben, upon first learning of the existence of our hero, reacting thusly:  May incredulously says, "Spider-Man?  SPIDER-MAN?"  And Ben replies with a shrug, "Apparently he does whatever a spider can."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like you'd have to deal with a lot of red tape with this project.  You have Sony Pictures, Marvel Comics, and Ballantine, the book's publisher, to deal with, right?

Yup.  Fortunately this one's been a very smooth ride.  It wasn't a nightmare the way, say, BATMAN FOREVER was.  That one I kept finding things wrong with the script and explaining the plot holes, and then getting revision pages in which they found the same plot holes and solved them differently, so I had to ditch what I'd written and incorporate their changes.  Made me nuts.  This one was relatively painless.

How long did it take you to write it?

Few weeks.

Have you seen the film yet?


Is adapting films to novels something you'd be interested in doing in the future?  Marvel has quite a few films coming out in the near term.

Depends on the property.

Switching topics here, do you have any comments regarding Marvel raising the price of your CAPTAIN MARVEL comic by a quarter?

I'm not happy about it.

Can you give us a sneak preview for CAPTAIN MARVEL?  What will we be seeing in the coming months?

Hopefully the book itself will keep coming out.  We have some major shocking developments regarding Marlo.  Captain Marvel, who's been feeling his way much of the time, is going to start taking a stronger hand in the title, and revist old haunts.  The Magus is going to show up.  Genis' mom, believed dead, is going to show up.  I'm going to resolve the murderous Jackie Shorr storyline in a very unexpected way.  And there's a scene in issue #32 that's probably going to get more comment than anything I've ever written.

Same question for YOUNG JUSTICE.

We have a two-issue crossover that's part of a story arc which runs through Robin, Impulse and Superboy.  We're also having an election for Team Leader, which will occur in issue #46.  Fans are able to vote, just like in the old days with Legion of Superheroes.  Following that we have a four-issue storyline that really shakes things up as a cast member is killed.


Major stuff is happening in Supergirl, as the quest for the Earth Angel heats up, Mary Marvel joins the cast, our main villainess is revealed, and it all builds toward a major climax in #75. 

What else can we look forward to from Peter David?

Soulsearchers and Company (Claypool Comics) continues with wild and wacky adventures for our psychic investigators as a couple of our characters get engaged and all hell breaks loose...literally.  It looks like there will be another limited series of "The Haunted" from Chaos.  My novel career proceeds apace, with June seeing the publication of the revised and improved KNIGHT LIFE, July has the paperback edition of SIR APROPOS OF NOTHING, and August sees the sequel to Apropos, THE WOAD TO WUIN.  And my bowling is starting to improve.

Chaos Comics
Claypool Comics

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