Interview with Dan Slott
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Interview With Dan Slott, Comic Book Writer
Summer 2002

Many readers of this page may have no clue who Dan Slott is, but after reading my interview with him, you will, as I do, appreciate his work. Dan has written stories for the Looney Tunes series for DC comics off and on since its conception, collaborating mostly with David Alvarez, the wonderful cartoonist who currently draws the stories. Two of his stories, "Snow Way Out" and "Fwanken-Tweety", have been published in a collection of the best Looney Tunes comics adaptations from 1941-1998, Bugs Bunny and Friends: A Comic Celebration.

A list of Mr. Slott's writing credits for Looney Tunes:

LT #13: Foghorn in "Mr. Marm" (miscredited)
LT #20: Bugs in "Bohemian Bugs"
LT #25: Speedy & Daffy in "Raiders of the Lost Art" (co-written w/ Dana Kurtin)
LT #25: Sylvester & Tweety in "Sense and Insensitivity" (co-written w/ Dana Kurtin)
LT #26: Sylvester & Tweety in "Psylvester" (co-written w/ Dana Kurtin)
LT #44: Slyvester & Tweety in "Fwankentweety"
LT #47: Wile E. Coyote in "Snow Way Out"
LT #49: Foghorn in "Tree for All"
LT #50: Speedy & Sylvester in "Mystery Bait"
LT #51: Road Runner in "Coyote Commando" (miscredited)
LT #52: Sam & Ralph in "Shake Well Before Ewes"
LT #57: Road Runner in "Claws & Effect!"
LT #59: Road Runner in "Tanks But No Tanks"
LT #62: Foghorn in "My Little Chick-A-Dope"
LT #65: Road Runner in "Bird's Eye View"
LT #70: Elmer in "Reach Out and Bugs Someone"
LT #75: Daffy Duck and EVERYBODY in "A Hare Gone Conclusion" (special feature length 75th issue blowout!)
LT #89: Bugs in "You Can Count on Me"

and a special Chuck Jones tribute story, "One for the Road" which will appear in LT #93.

Special thanks to Dan Slott for taking the time to talk about his experience in doing stories the great Looney Tunes series. The Looney Tunes characters are in great creative hands! Below is a list of questions I asked him, and his very interesting answers.

1. How and when did you become involved in the comics business, and the Looney Tunes series particularly?

Dan: Katie Main (a Looney Tunes Editor from a long time ago) approached me about writing some stuff at the San Diego Comic Con back in '93. Back then I was the writer for Marvel's Ren & Stimpy comic, and was enjoying a nice wave of hype and buzz-- when it came to humor writing. (Boy, it sure is nice when THEY come to you... Sigh...)

2. What other series of comics have you written/drawn for?

Dan: Well, like I said before, I was the writer for the first two years of the Ren & Stimpy comic. I've also worked on Scooby Doo, Pinky & The Brain, Animaniacs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Disney's Aladdin, Earthworm Jim, Superman Adventures, and a slew of superhero books. Right now, I'm one of the writers for DC's Justice League Adventures comic (Issue #6 is still on sale! Plug, pluggitty, plug, plug, PLUG!)

3. What is your favorite Looney Tunes work? I can tell you my favorite that you've done: "Snow Way Out" with the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote.

Dan: Thanks. That one was a hoot, wasn't it? David Alvarez totally sold every gag in that story! He is a cartooning GOD! All must bow down before him! (And he's a really nice guy to boot!) My favorite, just because of the sheer effort it took from everyone involved and how well it all came together-- is LOONEY TUNES #75! It was a big, blow-the-doors-off story that involved PRACTICALLY EVERY LOONEY TUNES CHARACTER that EVER locked horns with Bugs Bunny! By the time that issue was finished, everyone involved knew EVERY bit of Bugs Bunny continuity backwards and forwards. It was like we had all come down with "Rabbit-itus"!
The hardest part about that issue, for me, was coming up with NEW spins on ALL of the old Bugs Bunny gags. Phew! But, for the final product, it was sooooo worth it!

Above: how many Bugs Bunny villains can YOU identify? from LOONEY TUNES, issue #75 "Who Killed Bugs?!"

4. Who is your favorite character to write about?

Dan: My favorite Looney Tune character, without a doubt, is Foghorn Leghorn. Especially when he's paired off against Egghead.

Above:from Looney Tunes issue #62: "My Little Chick-a-dope". Foghorn sends Henery Hawk on a wild goosechase to find out what a chicken is...this scene with the Wackyland Dodo is only one of the bizarre happenings. for example, Henery also brings Foggy a stealth bomber plane!)

5. Do you write a script for the artists to draw from, or do you create a rough storyboard of drawings, or even draw some of the panels? I've heard of it being done either way, curious to read how you and your colleagues do it.

I just write it out. And then David Alvarez works his magic! I swear to God, he makes my job SO easy! I could just write down the most tired gag in the world, like: "And then he gets hit by a pie." And David would not only sell it-- but make ME look a comic genius for writing it! That man is brilliant! All hail David Alvarez! (Did I mention yet how much I enjoy working with David? Just checking.)

6. How do you come up with funny gags and ideas for your stories? So much of today's comic book output is serious, and there are not near as many cartoon-related comics as there were in, say, the 1940's, 50's, and 60's, when 'funnybooks' were most popular...it's good to know that there are some folks still keeping the art of funny comic books alive. Do you have to think more like a comic-strip artist or a cartoon director?

Dan: I can't really say if there's a definite process. I just try to keep the characters in character, put them in a situation I can mine for gags, and make sure I've got a good end joke to go out on. Something I learned from my pal (and comic genius) Mike Kazaleh, is that you HAVE to give the characters room for reaction shots-- have to treat them like comic actors and give them their "takes", "double takes", and moments to "mug" to the audience.
A lot of writers forget to do that in humor comics. And its a shame, because it really gives guys like Mike and David a chance to shine. It's not going over the cliff that makes Wile E. Coyote funny. And it's not when he hits the ground. And it's not even that MOMENT when he realizes-- OH NO, I'M GONNA FALL! It's THAT MOMENT RIGHT AFTER when he looks right at US, as if to say "Pity me." or "Here we go again." or "I'm never going to GET that bird, am I?" or even "You know... I'm doing this all for your amusement, you sick bastard." THAT'S WHEN HE'S FUNNY!
Oh, and before I forget, the MOST important step in all of my stuff is running it past my "Think Tank" and hearing their opinions. I've got these poor, noble, magnanimous friends who put up with listening to ALL of my ideas! I can't come up with a stray thought without calling somebody up and asking, "Is this funny?" or "Does this work?" or "What if I did THIS instead?". Their feedback is invaluable! So a massive tip of the hat to Tom Brevoort, Manny Galán, Ty Templeton, James Fry, Mike Siglain, Harvey Richards, and Toby Rushton!

7. Does DC or Warner Bros. tell its comics staff on Looney Tunes what characters to write about, like "Hey, we need a Bugs story this month and a Sylvester the next", or do you guys have free reign of the series? That is what made the original films so great, the fact that the creators were left alone to be creative.

One of my old Looney Tunes editors, Dana Kurtin, would call me up and say, "We need a Sylvester and Tweety story." But, for the most part, I'd have to say I've got a lot of free reign. It all depends upon the individual editor. For example, Katie Main WOULDN'T let me do the "Snow Way Out" story because she didn't think Wile E. Coyote should MEET Playboy Penguin. I had to save that one until the editorial office changed over to Dana's hands. And Heidi MacDonald let me do the freakishly bizarre "My Little Chick-A-Dope" story... which, I don't think ANYBODY else would've let me do. And the current editor, Joan Hilty is SO fantastic... she let me do a VERY non-PC gag that... well... it would sound almost perverse if I wrote it out here... just check out LOONEY TUNES #75, PAGE 7, PANEL SIX to see what I mean. HOO BOY!

above: a rather off-color gag from issue#75: page 7, panels 3-6

8. Do the LT comics sell well, to your knowledge? To be honest, I think they are much better than any of the old classic era comics by Dell/Goldkey, and they're much more entertaining than some of the modern animation projects at Warner Bros. The reason I ask about their popularity is because I have a hard time finding them here in Texas at all. Whenever I'm in any other state, (New York and Pennsylvania both seem to have them at every news stand) they're all over the place, but not even the comic stores have them here in Fort Worth.

The little known fact about Looney Tunes comics is that they do GREAT abroad. There are tons of foreign countries that don't care one bit about Batman, Spawn, or X-Men... but they LOVE Looney Tunes! DC comics will be publishing LOONEY TUNES till the end of time! Because no matter HOW they sell here, there are a ga-zillion foreigners who can't get enough of them.

9. Any plans for the future, like how long this wonderful series will continue, or anything of note in future issues? You mentioned a chuck Jones tribute...what's that like?

The Chuck Jones tribute story will run in Looney Tunes #93. Looney Tunes is scheduled so far in advance that that was the earliest possible issue it could be slated into. I wrote it just a few days after Chuck Jones passed away. It's a six page love letter to Chuck's legacy. Chuck Jones was a legend that will never be matched.
A much larger tribute will probably appear in Looney Tunes #100. But I felt it was important to do something immediately. And I am SO appreciative to editor Joan Hilty for rescheduling #93 so David and I could have a forum for our overly-sentimental piece.

10. Of the classic Warner Bros. cartoons, which particular short or series of shorts is your favorite, and why? I can tell that Chuck Jones' work is an influence. Which of his works is your favorite?

It's a toss up between "Duck, Rabbit, Duck" and "Duck Amuck." In one, the comic timing is spot-on-perfect! You just won't see any better! And in the other, imagination is allowed to run wild in the most amazing ways! I know you're supposed to say your favorite Chuck Jones' cartoons are "One Froggy Evening" or "The Dot and the Line"... and I'm not knocking those-- they're both amazing! But the patter in "Duck, Rabbit, Duck" and the free-form lunacy of "Duck Amuck" just floor me EVERY SINGLE TIME! Thank god we live in a world that had Chuck Jones in it!

11. Any other comments? Say anything you think needs to be that I haven't asked!

You know... If you look at my rambling answers... I've probably said too much as it is! Anyone who's made it through this non-stop babble-fest... Give yourself a gold star. You've earned it!
TTYL!
Dan


Article © Dan Slott and Matthew Hunter. Looney Tunes:© Aol/Time Warner Inc., (comic book images © DC Comics)