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Greg Bishansky writes...

Thank you for your informative reply on my Betty Brant post. Now, and this is a question I've been pondering for a while, how did you go about your approach to Aunt May?

I love Stan Lee's run on Spidey, but this is one of the few cases where I have to admit that I greatly preferred other writers' takes on the character. Stan's Aunt May was constantly in and out of the hospital... and constantly, dimwitted. I preferred Roger Stern, Tom DeFalco, J.M. DeMatteis, and J. Michael Straczynski's takes on the character.

I can forgive and understand her being overprotective. It's been mentioned later that she had lost a child, and Ben's death was just as traumatic for her as it was for Peter. But what always seemed unreasonable for me was how she thought Dr. Octopus was a good and nice man. She didn't realize that she was being held hostage, that he was a dangerous supervillain, or even that he had these giant metal arms attached to him. And then there was the story where she took him on as a border. I'm not even going to get into that weird story where she almost married him... but that wasn't Stan, that was Gerry Conway.

Your Aunt May, while being protective of Peter, wasn't overprotective to the point of absurdity. And one of my favorite Aunt May scenes was in "Group Therapy" where she stood up to the entire Sinister Six to prevent them from attacking Spidey. And Ock's almost gentlemanly approach insisting that she step aside was, I think, a nice nod to Ock liking her in the comics. I also loved that she never referred to Spidey as "that awful Spider-Man!"

So, what did you think was the core truth of Aunt May? How did you go about interpreting her in your show?

Greg responds...

Our May Parker was a single parent due to a couple of horrible tragedies. That informed how she behaved both in her own life and toward Peter.

We leaned toward making her a little more savvy... but also somewhat unprepared. Uncle Ben did not leave her in a great financial position. (Because if he did, why would Peter constantly need money?) We kept a bit of her naivete, but tossed in some inner strength and acuity, especially when it came to Peter's love life. She could take action (or give solid advice) - not just relative to the Sinister SIx, but more relevantly when it came to some of the ladies in Peter's life: Betty Brant, Mary Jane Watson, Liz Allen and Gwen Stacy.

She wasn't a young woman - certainly older than the parents of most of Pete's friends - but we didn't want to make her ancient. And we figured one trip to the hospital was plenty, i.e. once she had one heart attack, she would begin to take better care of herself.

And since she was always a great cook, we figured she'd build on that when she needed money, which gave us the cookbook that she authored.

Her life did revolve around Peter but wasn't exclusively his. So she had her friend and her theater and her cooking and her work, etc. We just tried to make her a fully realized character.

And... I should give a TON of credit to DEBORAH STRANG (as directed by Jamie Thomason), for truly bringing May to life. Couldn't have done it without her.

Response recorded on December 13, 2011