Demythify: A Debt I Owe Peter David & How To Help Him Rehab In Peace (Young Justice, X-Factor, Star Trek)
by John Babos on January 7, 2013

Thanks for popping by and checking out my weekly Monday Demythify column.

We have a special edition this week dedicated to writer Peter David. I’ll be sharing with you information on how you can help him today plus I will also explain the debt I owe him and the literary journey he has taken me on in my life.

As reported over the holidays, fan favorite comic book writer, novelist and cross-medium scribe Peter Allen David, loving referred to as PAD by his fans, suffered a stroke recently. He is recovering and has started rehabilitative therapies to get back to full strength. Following that initial update, Peter’s wife Kathleen updated fans on his prognosis.

To directly be kept up to date with PAD’s recovery journey visit his official website. His wife and daughter have provided updates since the holiday incident.

Peter has a long road ahead to regain full mobility. But as I recently said to my own father who battled a health scare recently, thank God this is happening to you in 2013 rather than in 1973. The medicine and therapies available today give a greater chance for a full or close-to-full recovery from stroke and other health afflictions.

On the good news front, Peter’s wife provided the following positive Facebook update yesterday:

    “Peter David WALKED! A few steps but they were real steps! He says his leg felt strong again.”

This column will include information on how you can help Peter with his peace of mind as he goes through his recovery. However, before I do that I’d like to share with you my literary journey with PAD, the debt I feel I owe him, and dispel some myths about writers.

Bear with me as it will all make sense, but I have comic book artist-writer Rob Liefeld to thank for introducing me to comic book writer Peter David. In 1988 I was frequenting my local convenience store and a comic book cover for DC Comics’ Hawk and Dove mini-series’ second issue caught my eye. This was artist Rob Liefeld’s second professional comic book issue, as Hawk and Dove #1 came out the month before. I was captivated by the cover and the interior art. Rob’s pencils were beautifully paired with writer-inker Karl Kesel’s inks for that series.

Having enjoyed Liefeld’s Hawk and Dove, I followed him to Marvel when he took on New Mutants as penciller with its 86th issue in 1989. Then between 1989 and 1991 I became the biggest X-Men fan you could imagine. New Mutants morphed into X-Force. Marc Silvestri, Whilce Portacio and Jim Lee had been pencillers on Uncanny X-Men and a new X-Men series launched with a shiny new #1 by writer Chris Claremont and artist Jim Lee. During this time, I also encountered a quirky book called X-Factor that had undergone its own relaunch of sorts with X-Factor #71 in 1991. Writer Peter David and artist Larry Stroman brought quirky writing and stylized art to a series that held its own alongside the fan favorite X-books I mentioned by the industry’s top flight artists in Liefeld and Lee.

X-Factor was fun, dramatic, action-packed and witty. A genre-bending fun ride. All thanks to Peter David. They were a group of government salaried super-hero mutant agents. Their adventures sometimes crossed over with the X-events that the 1990s were known for, but it still was a series that marched to the beat to its own drummer. PAD left the series in 1993 and returned in 2005 to one of its lead characters in Madrox the Multiple Man. PAD spun X-Factor off into another new direction: as Marvel Comics mutant private investigators. Quirky genre-bending is a hallmark of all PAD writings.

PAD wrote several other comic books since the early 1990s including an acclaimed run on the Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man 2099 for Marvel and later books like Aquaman, Young Justice (a new take on Teen Titans with an even younger team) and Supergirl for DC Comics. He has done a lot more for the Big Two and other publishers. For a full bibliography check this out.

In the late 1990s, after I started in my career and realized I had some spending money after being a poor university student before that, I popped into a book store’s science fiction section. As someone who was familiar with the original Star Trek or TOS (The Original Series) reruns, but was a HUGE fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation (TNG) I was blown away by the whole Star Trek prose section the store had. It was four long rows of ST including novels and hardcovers. I was looking for an entry-level spot for ST narrative, and picked up the first four mini-novels of a Star Trek series called New Frontier written by an author whose name caught my eye on the cover, Peter David; the picture of Spock on the first book helped too. ;)

I just LOVED the story of the new soon-to-be Starship Captain M’k’n’zy of Calhoun and the TNG TV guest stars who became core characters in the series that took place on the U.S.S. Excalibur: Commander Elizabeth Shelby (played by Elizabeth Dennehy in TNG’s episodes The Best of Both Worlds Parts 1 and 2), Ensign Robin Lefler (played by a then unknown actress named Ashley Judd in TNG episodes Darmok and The Game) and Doctor Selar (played by Suzie Plakson in TNG’s The Schizoid Man episode). The cast was rounded out with some characters from PAD’s young adult Starfleet Academy novels as well as some new characters. I was enthralled and happy to be in at the ground-level of this series and see what happened to these TNG guest stars as they took on a new mission for Starfleet. In addition, using Admiral Edward Jellicho (played by Ronny Cox in TNG’s Chain of Command Parts 1 and 2) as a foil for maverick Captain Calhoun was a nice touch. TNG fans had really grown to dislike the character on TV as he replaced Captain Picard for a time on the Enterprise and made life hell for first officer William Riker on TV.

From there I picked up other of Peter David’s Star Trek novels like Imzadi, Imzadi 2, Q-Squared, Q-in-Law, Vendetta, Before Dishonor, The Captain’s Daughter and others. At the same time, I also started reading the Star Trek novels of Michael Jan Friedman, Greg Cox and so many other greats. This was the heyday of Star Trek prose under the editorial leadership of John Ordover with Marco Palmieri and Margaret Clark. In fact, Marco’s later stewardship of Star Trek Deep Space Nine (DS9) novels, post-TV series finale, remain some of my fave Star Trek prose alongside PAD’s New Frontier series.

So as you can see, Peter David was my gateway to reading actual prose and sci-fi prose at that. I owe PAD a debt for expanding my mind and my fandom. Today I am a voracious reader of prose from sci-fi to mysteries to politics and so much more.

PAD has also written for TV including Young Justice, Space Cases, Ben 10, Babylon 5 and more.

With comic books, if the series has PAD’s name on it, I’ll try it. I may not always stick with it as not all stories appeal universally to everyone, but PAD’s consistent quality has earned my respect and my initial interest.

In terms of novels, I admit, I have been more inclined to purchase PAD’s work on established pop culture properties like Star Trek or his movie adaptations. However, he has stretched farther doing creator-owned work like the Sir Apropos of Nothing series, the Hidden Earth series and the Knight Life series.

That gets us now to how you and I can help Peter David rehab in peace.

As former Star Trek prose editor John Ordover, a colleague and friend of PAD, has noted:

    People have a tendency for whatever reason to think writers are automatically multi-millionaires or something. That is simply not true. Peter makes a solid middle-class living and lives in solid middle-class circumstances and the medical bills (despite insurance) are mounting up quickly. Please do as Kathleen suggests…

With that said, how you can help PAD and his family have peace of mind during his recovery is pretty easy and a win-win for you too. Peter’s wife Kathleen has made this appeal:

    Now HOW YOU CAN HELP

    Even though we have health insurance we have co-pays and the like. And since this stroke fell at the end of the year, we have all the new co-pays to deal with (I can honestly see those of you who have had to deal with this nodding your heads). And there are things that the insurance company just won’t cover (more head nodding). So we are at the beginning of what is going to be a very expensive year even though we are only 4 days in.

    The most direct way is to buy his books from Crazy 8 Press (via ComicMix) or from Amazon or Barnes and Noble websites. These are books that he gets the money from directly and the most per book.

    His current Crazy 8 Press books are:

    Pulling Up Stakes Part 1
    Pulling Up Stakes Part 2 (Brand new)

    This is one novel broken into two pieces. This is the cover blurb.

    Sick of vampire books? Movies? TV shows? Yeah. So are we. Sick of the entire unlife of vampires? Yeah. So is Vince Hammond. Unfortunately, Vince is in it up to his (wait for it) neck. Because Vince is a young vampire hunter who lives with his vampire hunter mother in an entire community of vampire hunters, who in turn are part of a cult of vampire hunters going back all the way to the French Revolution, which many believe to be an uprising of the poor against the rich but was actually a massive purging of vampires from the French nobility (hence the guillotine).

    The Camelot Papers

    A powerful ruler who’s considered by many to be simple-minded and vacuous and has serious father issues. A no-nonsense, polarizing woman who favors pants suits and pursues dubious agendas involving social needs. A remarkably magnetic leader of men with a reputation as a skirt-chaser. A scheming, manipulative adviser who is constantly trying to control public perceptions. A man seen as the next, great hope for the people, except there are disputes over his background and many contend he’s not what he appears to be.

    George W? Hillary and Bill? Karl Rove? Obama?

    Try Arthur Pendragon, Guinevere, Lancelot, Merlin, and Galahad.

    Whatever you think of the state of today’s politics, The Camelot Papers shows you just how little matters have changed in the past thousand years or so. The Camelot Papers presents a fresh perspective on Arthurian legend by using modern day sensibility and combining it with a classic tale to bring a new insight into iconic characters.

    The Hidden Earth Saga of which there are two published and the third is in the works.

    Darkness of the Light (book 1 of the Hidden Earth saga)
    Height of the Depths (Book 2 of the Hidden Earth saga)

    These are science fiction mixed with mythological creatures and the fate of the Universe hangs in the balance. Big epic sweeping books with those great characters that Peter is famous for writing.

    There are Print on Demand for all these books if you want a paper copy rather than electronic.

    More HOW YOU CAN HELP

    If you already have these or can’t purchase them for whatever reason, you can still help us a lot by getting word out all over the Internet about how they can help Peter. I am asking every blogger and people who have access to an audience to spread the word.

    The more we sell of these books, the easier it will be for us to pay the bills as they start to pour in.

    Buying his other books does help but that is very long term and isn’t much per books but it does help especially the Marvel graphic novels he has written.

    I am talking to Glenn about a donate button or something but we don’t have the details worked out and I really want to get the ball rolling on getting this information out while Peter is fresh in everyone’s mind.

    We do need your help to help him. He is working very hard at getting back to all that he loves to do and we are trying to ease his mind about whatever we can ease his mind about so he can do it faster.

    We are now off to the Hospital to see what the verdict is about his moving today. I will update this when we know what is going on.

    I am grateful to everyone who has helped or is going to help Peter.

This is the perfect time to try some of PAD’s creator-owned offerings from Crazy 8 Press. If you like his genre bending quirky writing of established pop culture properties, I’m sure his other offerings are just as captivating. I’ll be sampling a few myself now.

While you can clearly pick up any of his comic book works including those collected in trade paperback through Amazon.com, purchasing his Crazy 8 work means that he and his family will get the funds more quickly.

Also, while Peter David does have health insurance, another fave writer of mine John Ostander recently posted a piece on the life of freelancer and the challenges many face. Check that piece out here; it is called “Freelancers Live Without A Net“.

Thank you to all those writers and artists who work in the comic book and prose media. The grass isn’t always greener, but we as readers appreciate your efforts and your imagination.

Thanks for reading. All feedback welcome. :)


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BabosScribe is the handle. :)




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