Interview: Peter David: A Hulkcentric (mostly) Conversation
by R.J. Carter
Published: May 27, 2003
As I sit and type this, it's the 26th of May. A holiday for most Americans. No one is working, everyone wants to just kick back and relax. So, since I'm working on all this Hulk stuff for The Trades, I thought it would be the perfect day to call up and pester Peter David, former Hulk scribe and author of (among many other things) the novelization of the Hulk movie. I didn't even realize until after the conversation that today was Peter and Kathleen's second anniversary. But he spoke with me anyway, which just goes to show what kind of guy he is. Mazel Tov, Sir and Madame!
You were handed the reins of The Incredible Hulk at a time when nobody else wanted the property.
Well, pretty much.
Did YOU want the property?
Not especially. The Hulk is probably the last character I was interested in writing. However, it was an opportunity because nobody else was offering me any work. I'd been fired off of Spider-Man, and my attitude was, 'Well, maybe I can make it last for six issues or so, and we'll see what happens.'
After you found out it was yours, what were your immediate plans for the character?
Essentially, the concept of doing a storyline that would result in a merging of the personalities was something that I conceived of almost immediately. I really felt that the way that the Hulk's history--particularly his childhood growing up was depicted--was indicative of someone who was suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder. That would certainly have explained why it was that all the previous attempts to cure Bruce Banner of his affliction didn't succeed, because they were all aimed at the external problem of him transforming into a large green monster. None of them were aimed at the internal problem of what he was suffering.
So I knew at that point that, eventually, if I was on the book long enough, I would do a story that led to the combining of several different personalities via hypnosis, which is how they treat multiple personality disorder.
When did you know that people were beginning to sit up and take notice of your version of the big green guy?
When sales started going up. That was pretty much at the very, very, very tail end of the McFarlane run. Ironically, the issues that Jim Purvis drew sold more than the Todd McFarlane issues ever sold.
Did you get to do everything you planned to do with the Hulk before you were pulled off of it?
No. I had several years more worth of storylines planned, and what I essentially did was--in my last issue--I collapsed them down all into the one issue. I had Rick describing things that happened in the succeeding years, which essentially were all the storylines I was planning to do, just summarized or described.
Do you think you're done with Hulk?
I think it's extremely unlikely they would put me back on it. Marvel is all about moving forward. I think that they would perceive my coming on to Hulk as some sort of massive step backwards.
Did you work at all with the scriptwriters for the movie? Were you more "contributed from" than "contributing to?"
No. I don't know that the plot owes anything to me. The plot very much focuses on psychological underpinnings of the Hulk, but I can hardly lay claim to being the first person to explore that territory.
There's nothing in the Hulk movie that we can point to on a one-to-one basis and say, 'Oh, that came from a Peter David story' the way that we can point to Spider-Man and say, 'Oh, well this came from Amazing Spider-Man #121 or #122' or we can point to the Daredevil movie and say 'Oh, well this is obviously inspired by the Frank Miller work right down to the fact that they took dialogue.' The Hulk movie is more of a going back to the source material and doing their own take on it.
Have you seen the movie yet?
Any opinions on the screenplay that you adapted?
When I read the screenplay for Spider-Man, I thought, 'This can make a great Spider-Man movie.' With all deference to Sam Raimi--who, I thought, did a terrific job--I think a number of people might have been able to pull it off with equal facility.
When I read the screenplay for Hulk, my attitude was, 'This could make a great Ang Lee movie.' It's really tailored towards Ang Lee's sensibilities; the occasionally, almost ephemeral attitudes; the almost dream-like quality of a number of aspects of it that were evident in such films as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. I don't know that anyone but Ang Lee could really pull this off.
Since Hulk, you've been keeping busy with Captain Marvel, Supergirl, Young Justice, Soulsearchers & Company... Two down, one's been restarted after some sort of a "contest," and one just keeps quietly plugging away regularly, so you're still quite busy in the comics industry right now. If given the opportunity, is there any book out there that you haven't been on that you'd like to take a swing at?
The dream project that I would love to work on would be The Phantom meets Tarzan. That would be a good kick to do. That, and I wouldn't mind writing Doc Savage. Doc Savage traditionally sells for shit in comic books, but, nevertheless, I'd certainly like to take a whack at Doc and the crew.
Is Fallen Angel tied at all to the Supergirl series? There's been a lot of speculation about that.
I would rather people speculate than give any kind of definitive answer. There's much in the world of the Fallen Angel that is not what it seems, so if I spell things out it takes away some of the fun.
Do you ever think we'll see Linda Danvers again under your helmsmanship?
I don't know. As far as I'm concerned, people are welcome to pick up Fallen Angel and try and determine whether that's Linda Danvers or not. But for me, it's 'Don't ask, don't tell.'
Moving outside the realm of comics: Will we be seeing a third installment of Sir Apropos anytime soon?
Well, gee, I hope so. It should be coming out in August. That's Tong Lashing, and it essentially sends Apropos to a far-off Asian land--except that such things as Asia don't exactly exist there. I couldn't really make up my mind to send him to China or Japan, so I essentially just combined the two into one country called Chinpan. He gets pulled into the entire culture there. It's kind of a wondrous place for him as he really tries to come to terms with his sense that his life is very limited--that there's things that he should be doing or could be doing that he's not.
Is this a wrap-up to the whole series?
There is some degree of personal growth and resolution; but, there is certainly room for continued adventures if I'm so inclined, and if I have a publisher.
Any other new projects--comics or novels--waiting in the wings?
The second King Arthur book, the sequel to Knight Life, will be coming out in July. It's called One Knight Only.
I have a play that is an original drama--Truth and Other Lies--that was optioned by producers in Los Angeles, which we're currently trying to get mounted, so we'll see what happens with that. That's nice, because it's something of a stretch outside of the comic book, fantasy realm. I feel like I've got to try and break beyond the boundaries that are inflicted upon you by writing within the genre.
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