Peter David Interview

Peter David is the popular writer of such titles as Claypool's Soulsearchers & Company and DC's Supergirl and Young Justice. This month, he begins chronicling the adventures of Dark Horse's SpyBoy. Worlds of Westfield Content Editor Roger Ash recently spoke with Peter about SpyBoy

Westfield: Was SpyBoy your idea or did Dark Horse come to you?

Peter David: Dark Horse came to me. They had a fundamental concept called SpyBoy, but what they put forward to me didn't interest me in terms of what they had. I immediately started making all sorts of massive suggestions that made the character a bit more super hero-esque to me, a bit more over the top. What they were developing was a bit more real world, I suppose, and I took it off in a more exaggerated direction. The folks at Dark Horse were extremely amenable to pretty much all the suggestions that I had in terms of wanting to totally change their concept and take it off in a wildly different direction.

Westfield: What can you tell us about the series?

David: Our protagonist is young Alex Fleming. He is the butt of the bully's attention. He's the kid who gets his head shoved into the toilet bowl. He is 15. He's a teenager who is, in short, the guy least likely to succeed. But he keeps having visions of what he could do in given circumstances. It's like he always knows how to handle a situation but cannot bring himself to go ahead and do it. Then his life abruptly changes - takes a severe 180 - with the entry of two things into his life. One, a mysterious female named Bombshell who starts hanging around the house and simply watching him, but disappearing amidst the company of fairly severe explosions whenever he notices her. And the fact that he is intercepted by mysterious individuals who unleash within him a persona that he did not know he had. A persona that is code named SpyBoy. A persona who is ruthless, vicious, utterly self-sufficient, utterly prepared to face down any situation. Once SpyBoy's unleashed, it sets a chain of events into motion that will reveal much about his past that he did not know, the true history of his father's and grandfather's background, and will make him come to realize that the life that he's been leading up until now has, in fact, been a complete and utter sham.

Westfield: What do you have planned for upcoming issues?

David: Essentially, we're going to be starting in the middle of Alex's life. He's going to find himself under attack by a mysterious organization and he's going to be targeted by a rather ruthless individual named the Gourmet. He's a guy who is a master interrogator and torturer and who always is able to prepare the exact recipe for eliciting the information; be it hot skillets, be it blazing frying pans, be it his rather deft manipulation of cutting tools. The Gourmet generally can cook up all sorts of items. In the meantime, we will be introducing other opponents to go up against Spy Boy as he delves into his own background to try and figure out just where it was that he has come from and what his true destiny is.

Westfield: Something that has impressed me with SpyBoy is that you've actually managed to keep it a secret. How did you do it?

David: There was actually a fairly crafty way of keeping it secret: we didn't tell anyone. You'd be amazed how easy it is to keep something secret if you just keep you big mouth shut. It's really no more involved than that. Dark Horse is, relatively speaking, a small shop. You don't have to worry about Joe Intern who's been there for two months discovering that, "ooh, Peter David's working on some project. I think I'll post it on the Internet." This is a closed house. Everybody knows everybody and as long as you can count on everybody to keep it under wraps, form a cone of silence over it, you're pretty solid. I didn't tell anybody. The artist didn't tell anyone. The editor didn't tell anyone. Mike Richardson kept his mouth shut. That's really all you have to do, just not tell people.

Westfield: The art that I've seen for the book looks very nice. How is it working with Pop Mhan?

David: It's interesting. I've never had a chance to work with someone who's quite as clearly manga influenced as Pop is. The closest that I've come is Todd Nauck. Pop takes it one step further. It is really intriguing to see how he visually interprets it and, with each passing issue, I try to adapt my style to suit his because he's got a very different style from anyone that I've ever worked with so far.

Westfield: Any closing comments?

David: What I'm trying to do with SpyBoy is write a series that I wouldn't say is aimed at young readers, but is certainly something that people can feel that their kids can pick up and they don't have to worry about it. Not all of the books that I write fall under that category. Supergirl, for example, is a much more adult oriented book. DC has let me push the envelope on that to the point where it's a borderline Vertigo title. SpyBoy has always been intended as something that'll be fun for older readers but also can be enjoyed by the 10-14 year old males and females.

It's been a lot of fun. When I was a kid, I was a huge fan of the James Bond genre, and what I really tried to do is meld the concept of spies with super heroes. Obviously there's an interest in send ups of the spy genre. Certainly, Austin Powers has proven that. Although, keep in mind that we were developing SpyBoy a year before The Spy Who Shagged Me opened. As a matter of fact, the title of the first issue is The Spy Who Flushed Me. At the time that I titled it, I didn't know that The Spy Who Shagged Me was the title to the second Austin Powers film. I might have wound up calling it something different. I've been trying to put in subtle in-jokes and references to Bond and the entire spy genre, ranging from the fact that the family name is Fleming to copping titles that are essentially take offs on Bond films. In the second or third issue, when SpyBoy goes head-to-head with the Gourmet and finds himself and his rather unwilling partner, Butch, trapped in a gigantic fryer being lowered into a giant vat of boiling oil, ala McDonalds french fries, the name of that story is, naturally, Live and Let Fry.