14 January 2013

Promoting Peter David’s stuff

Fellow comics fans will probably know that Peter David, self-proclaimed “writer of stuff” recently had a stroke. While on Christmas vacation at a Disney park, no less. The good news is that he is recovering, but he still has a long way to go. His wife has two posts up (here, here) about how you can help him, mostly by buying his books, especially those from Crazy 8 Press.

For those of you who are not comics fans, let me introduce you to Peter David, and tell you why you should buy his stuff. Not just because he’s had a medical emergency, but because he’s a damn fine storyteller.

First thing you should know about Peter is that he is prolific. He works in comics, books (lots of movie novelizations and media tie-ins), columns (“But I Digress...”, being reprinted on his blog), screenplays for movies and television (including a couple of Babylon 5 episodes), and probably more I don’t know about. In other words, he has stuff for you even if you’re not a comics fan.

Second, David’s work is often laugh-out loud funny, irreverent, and with a healthy dose of pop culture references. For instance, here’s a mash-up of Doctor Who and Billy Joel he wrote (the words are a bit hard to make out in the video; the lyrics are here):

But there is always, always, a serious and emotional core in his stories. Sometimes, David has complained people pay more attention to the laughs than the serious stuff. But I’m convinced he wouldn’t have the audience and writing gigs that he does if he just wrote gags.

I first got to know Peter David’s work in The Incredible Hulk. Now, everyone knows the Hulk: green, dumb, and the strongest one there is. So imagine my surprise when I saw the character reborn as grey, smart, no longer the strongest there was (Ben Grimm finally beat him one on one... momentarily), and working as a Las Vegas bouncer named Joe Fixit.

I loved it because the whole dynamic of the book flipped. Bruce Banner had always been the one the one whose life was getting messed up by the Hulk. Now, the Hulk had a life that Banner could screw up.

I loved this story arc. Since then, I have followed Peter David’s work with interest, He’s one of those people that, when I learn he has a new project out, I at least check it out.

The green Hulk eventually returned, he did so an an unexpected way. Playing with the idea that Banner had a multiple personality, David played with a story arc of the struggle between Banner, the grey Hulk, and the green Hulk... all co-existing in Banner’s head, so to speak. This battle culminated in The Incredible Hulk #377, one of my favourite single issues, where the three personalities were joined into the new Hulk: green, but smart, but incredibly unstable.

David often explores the science of psychology through his comic characters. He used the Hulk to examine multiple personality disorder; Strong Guy in X-Factor, chronic pain; Jamie Madrox, the Multiple Man, the nature of souls and decision making.

I’ve since loved his take on creating an all-new X-Factor, some of his Star Trek novels (particularly Vendetta; Vastator of Borg... what a great idea to make something that had been a joke into a scary threat), Spider-Man 2099 (a character he revisited in Spider Man: Edge of Time video game, which he wrote) and more recently, Fallen Angel. I’m behind on the work he’s done lately with X-Factor and other comics and books... I must get caught up!

I’ve done a little bit to help support Peter by buying Pulling Up Stakes, Part 2. (I’d already bought Part 1.) It’s a vampire novel that is very conscious of the traditions of the “vampire slayer” and Twilight genres, and stands both on their head.

I was able to meet Peter David at Con-Version, an SF convention in Calgary, a long time ago, and tell him a little about how much I appreciated his work. I’m pleased to do so again publicly, and hope that maybe one or two of you find as much enjoyment in his writing as I did.

Get well soon, Peter. I want to read more of your stuff.

External links

Here is how you can help Peter
How to Help Peter version 1.0 and some housekeeping notes

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