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Sunday, March 27, 2016

Peter David reveals DC's "Big Plans" for 1990's Atlantis Chronicles

Among the DC fandom community, Peter David is best known for his work on 1994's Aquaman v5 ongoing series (first 47 issues). David also contributed a notable amount of work to the 1989 Star Trek ongoing series (also published by DC comics) and a brief stint in the Action Comics Weekly (1988) anthology series.

Amazing Heroes had a chance to catch up with Peter David at The Texas International Comic Convention, Houston’s Comicpalooza, on May 24, 2015. For the life of me, I couldn't catch the name of the interviewer (and an internet search yielded nothing) so all apologies and if you know the name of the interviewer please leave a comment so I can credit them properly.

As per the usual disclaimer, this is a transcript of an audio interview. Anything in square brackets '[ ]' are my own comments and meant for clarity (or me trying to fill in words I might've missed).

Amazing Heroes: You worked on Atlantis Chronicles with Esteban Maroto, great experience?

Peter David: Oh! It was fantastic. I *loved* writing Atlantis Chronicles - I had so much fun with that series. And what's really killer is that I was at a DC Christmas party or something like that, and Jenette Kahn and Paul Levitz were raving to me about Atlantis Chronicles because they loved how it was turning out. And Jenette said to me "we're going to give this book the [Moore & Gibbon's] Watchmen treatment. we are going to collect this as a trade paperback, we're going to put out merchandise, we're going to make sure that everybody loves this comic book" which they then proceeded to do nothing with. Atlantis Chronicles remains uncollected some thirty years later, which ROYALLY pisses me off.

David: When I wrote Atlantis Chronicles, I wrote it full script. And the script was translated for Esteban Maroto, who only speaks Spanish, by his daughter. So in the first issue I decided to have it be that the reason Atlantis sank was because of a meteor strike - which a number Atlantean scholars believe is what happened - so I described that the meteor was drawing closer and closer. And at one point, around page 30, I said "Panel 1: the meteor has drawn closer and for the first time we can now see the face of the meteor - it's craggy surface and exterior" now when I said 'face' I meant front/surface. We got the pages back, and to my astonishment, Esteban Maroto had drawn a death's head skull face onto the meteor. and I'm looking and going "holy crap there's an actual face!" and the closer it got, the more clearer it was that there was this giant death's head skull coming at you. And Bob Greenberger, who was my editor on it, said "do you want me to have art corrections change it?" and I looked at it and said "No,... y'know what? I like it" and this was my reasoning: if a meteor is coming toward you, and it's an ordinary meteor - you might have hope that you're going to survive. If a meteor is coming towards you, and it has a giant death's head skull - you're done - that's it - don't read any continue stories. Y'know - you're gonna pack it in. 'Cuz if a death's skull is coming at you, your ticket's gonna get punched. and so we left the death's head skull in there.

death's head meteor (Atlantis Chronicles #1 - 1990)

...and I wound up thinking "y'know there should really be some freakin' reason that a meteor with a death's head skull is coming at them" and I wound up then developing the entire story line in Aquaman [v5, 1996] that explained that it was not a meteor but a gigantic spaceship. Which made sense to me.

AH: Why did it take so long for you to end up on Aquaman? It was such a huge gap between that mini-series [Atlantis Chronicles, 1990] and you finally taking over the Aquaman [v5, 1994] book...

David: There was initially resistance because the editor of the series completely misread issue 7 of the Atlantis Chronicles and thought that I was portraying Aquaman's birth as an immaculate conception, and that I was basically putting forward the notion that Arthur was a Jesus figure - which wasn't anything that he was interested in. However, the guy who was writing the Aquaman series before I was, uh, apparently wasn't writing anything that was very popular and people weren't interested in reading it. Someone at DC said to him "For God's Sake, go talk to Peter David". I went out to lunch with him and he told me about his concerns and I immediately said "No, it wasn't an immaculate conception, Atlan the wizard was there. He had SEX with her and that's where Aquaman came from. I'm Jewish. It doesn't really occur to me to write Jesus Christ references into my books, it's not really part of who I am as a writer." And that immediately eased up the editor. Number one, I think he felt badly that he had come to that conclusion and number two, he felt much more relaxed then about the prospect of my coming onto Aquaman. I then started the series with doing a 4-part Time and Tide [1993] and then from there went into the ongoing Aquaman series. I had a lot of fun with it. 

Was it all a dream? Peter David sets the story straight...


Again, I want to reiterate that this interview was NOT conducted by me and all credit goes to Amazing Heroes Interviews / Rolled Spine Podcasts for interviewing Peter David and asking the intelligent questions. I highly encourage you to check out the full audio podcast in which David discussed his early work at Marvel Comics (Spectacular Spider-Man, Mark Hazard: Merc, and Incredible Hulk) and his relationship with Image comics. Peter David also has a personal blog you can follow.

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