Defalco Talks Clone Saga

tom_defalco_1_576Spider-Man writer Tom Defalco recently did a long Q& A answering some Clone Saga related questions over on the Spider-Girl board. Here they are in a cut and paste. And check out DeFalco’s new picture on the DC comics website. Makes me sad and happy at the same time. 

Quite awhile back someone sent me a bunch of questions about the CLONE SAGA and here are my responses…

1. Whose idea was it in 1992/3 to bring back Peter Parker’s clone – who we all presumed dead since twenty years then?

I believe the original idea came from Terry Kavanagh. I think he discussed it with Howard Mackie. They or Terry later pitched at Spider-Man Creative Conference—where all the Spidey writers and artists were gathered together—and Danny Fingeroth was intrigued enough to bring the idea to me.

2. During the clone saga the 4 to 5 regular Spider-Man books were very strongly connected to each other. Storylines were often started in one of the books continued in two or three other books and ended in the fifth book. Considering each book had a completely different team of artists this must be a very complicated way to work out consistent stories. Can you describe the typical process of creating a story in this time, how the teams worked together and what had to be done to avoid mistakes and contradictions in one story?

In those days, the writers—Howard Mackie, Todd DeZago, Marc DeMatteis and me—would meet once a month with editors Danny Fingeroth and Eric Fein and we would plot out the next month’s story in detail. If we needed new characters, costumes, locations or whatever, Danny would assign an artist to design them…and they were given to all the artists when they received their plots. Danny ran a well-oiled machine.

3. It is often said that at the time of the clone saga marketing got more and more in control of the stories and their direction. Is this correct and how did you feel about it in respect to your creativity as an artist?

Marketing started to get involved around the time of Marvelultion—when I was removed as editor and chief and replaced with five other editors in chief—and Maximum Clonage was the first result of their tinker.

4. What is your opinion on today’s comic books.

I think most of them move too slllllllllllow to hold my interest. I also miss subplots and seeing the characters walk around without their costume.

Is it still that the marketing has all the saying or has something been learned from the 90ies?

I don’t think marketing’s say is the problem. I just wish they could help establish new chains of distribution into the mass market. I also think the industry has lost touch with its readers. The movies are all aimed at the mass market and focus on tight stories, big action and personal angsts. The comics are all aimed at an imaginary comic book fan and the material seems mired in character bits and scenes where the characters just stand around and talk.

Is there still a place for creativity?

There is always a place for creativity! You’ll find it in all the comics that you, personally, can’t wait to read each month!

5. When was decided, that Peter Parker had to be reestablished as the real Spider-Man as fast as possible?

Bob Harras took over as editor and chief and felt that the clone saga had gone on much too long. As for Peter Parker being reestablished as Spider-Man—contrary to popular belief–that was always the plan!

Why this fast drawback and how did you personally feel about it?

I agreed with him.

5. As I understand it, originally Harry Osborn was designated to be the Mastermind behind the clone saga. Who had this idea, why was it changed and why had it to be Norman Osborn who rose from the dead?

I don’t know who came up with Harry being the Mastermind, but we planted early clues in the clone saga that pointed at him. I think then-editor Ralph Macchio and Bob Harras thought Norman was a better choice and gave us our marching orders.

6. As one cause why Peter Parker had to return as fast as possible it was often mentioned that the concept of Ben Reilly could never work with the same supporting cast as Peter’s. (Because everybody would recognize Ben as Peter Parker). So the complete cast – created over 30 years – would have to vanish… I wonder, why Ben wasn’t introduced to (for example) Robbie Robertson as Peters long lost cousin or stepbrother. (Ben did the same with Peter concerning Jessica) Was this ever an option?

Many options were considered. When we first began the project, I planned to eventually spin Ben off in his own title—kind of like I did with Thunderstrike and War Machine—but comic books sales were in a tailspin by the time we finished the clone sage so that was no longer an option. (Sales were falling across the industry because Marvel had decided to distribute its own comics. This led to a massive upheaval that almost destroyed the entire industry.) 

7. Concerning Jessica Carradine. Personally I found it a wonderful idea to put Ben Reilly in a relationship with the Burglar’s daughter. Unfortunately it had to end all too soon and Jessica disappeared. Before that – had there been any further plans for her? 

No, not really.

Could you imagine, to bring her back in Spider-Girl?

I no longer think about who I can bring back in Spider-Girl…but I wouldn’t mind bringing back Spider-Girl.

8. For many years you were the one and only writer mentioning the clone saga (in Spider-Girl). What do you think why all other artists (and editors) never touched this subject?

I think they wanted to create new stories and weren’t all that interested in old ones.

9. Since a while Dan Slott writes Amazing Spider-Man and he brought back the Jackal and Kaine into the Spiderverse. Did you read those stories?

No, I haven’t. 

How do you feel about this return of some main characters of the clone saga.

Since I haven’t read the stories, I have no opinion.

10. Last but not least: Many people wonder about Judas Traveller and the Scrier. They seemed to be very mysterious and mighty beings and at the end of the clone saga they were “unmasked” and lost a lot of their appeal. Are you able to tell us what the original plans for those two characters were?

I don’t think there were original plans for either of these characters—or none that I knew about–so I had free reign when I “unmasked” them.

11. Anything you’d like to say to the German/Austrian/Swiss fans who still are interested in the clone saga?

I hope you liked the story and thanks for being there!

12. Do you have any question about us or the book? Please feel free to ask.

Can I get a copy?

(3) Comments

  1. Mike 13

    Tom's first run on ASM is fondly remembered by me... but his second stint after the Clone Saga... ugh... not so much. Loved his Spider-Girl though... :)

  2. Rodrigo

    The clone saga is one of best Spidey stories ever. Full of misteries, spin-offs and doubts. Really miss that time.

  3. spideytracer

    Absolutely love Mr. DeFalco! Him, along with Mr Roger Stern, are in my opinion, the only two writers in the last thirty years who totally understand who Peter parker really is, and both these guys are seriously underrated and overlooked. Wish these guys were still writing in the spider-universe.

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