In August, Terry Moore will return the Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane title to comic book shelves as Marvel releases a new #1 issue for another five-issue volume of the series.
Focusing on the high school life of Mary Jane Watson and friends -- including Spider-Man and Peter Parker -- Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane was created by writer Sean McKeever and was originally announced as targeting young female readers. But through the several volumes that have been released over the last four years since its creation, the comic picked up a loyal fan base of regular comic book readers who enjoyed its out-of-continuity stories about Spider-Man and MJ when they were young.
Announced in June 2007 as the new writer on the series after McKeever became DC exclusive, Moore seemed the perfect fit for the comic because of his years writing and drawing his self-published comic Strangers in Paradise, which also focused on the dramatic and often action-filled life of a group of friends. Since the announcement, Moore has also been named as the new writer on the ongoing Runaways title from Marvel, as well as another self-published title, Echo, which started in March with a new #1 issue from Abstract Studios.
While the return of Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane under Moore's pen was to originally feature Adrian Alphona on interior art (although he is still doing a variant cover to Moore's own cover for #1), Marvel ended up moving Craig Rousseau onto interiors for the title.
Newsarama talked to Moore about the return of Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, the new artist, and what challenges MJ and friends will face in this new volume of the series.
Newsarama: First off, Terry, for people who haven't read Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane, how would you describe the series?
Terry Moore: It's an all-ages book that focuses on this group of kids through Mary Jane's eyes. It really focuses on Mary Jane and her life. And Peter Parker is a friend of hers, and so is Spider-Man.
I like the book because it stays in that very fun period -- that first year or two of Spider-Man that Stan Lee came up with. It's very fun. It's a time of discovery, not just for Peter Parker, but the entire gang. They're at an age where so many things in the world are new and they're figuring out who they are. So they're all going through this process of figuring out who they are. Peter Parker has a little more on his plate than the other kids and he does a great job of handling it. But we really focus on this whole thing through Mary Jane's eyes, which I think is a unique point of view. Sean McKeever was very clever when he came up with this one.
NRAMA: For people who have read the series, we've seen MJ and Peter face down a lot of problems. What are we going to see happening in this volume?
TM: I'm going from the standpoint that everything in this title before me was the freshman year of high school. Now, on my watch (to use a political term), it's sophomore year. So it's the next year, they had a summer break, and we're coming back to find out the kids are a few months older, a touch wiser, and with some new things happening.
NRAMA: Is MJ still friends with Spider-Man, still not knowing he's Peter Parker?
TM: Yeah! You know, that's another cool thing about this comic is that the series -- with tongue-in-cheek -- never shows the reader that Peter Parker is Spider-Man. We're looking at everything through Mary Jane's eyes, and she doesn't know that for sure. So we kind of maintain that stance. The reader can only know what Mary Jane knows. There's something really fun about that.
And Mary Jane has two separate relationships with Spider-Man and Peter Parker. And the two don't meet. So it's really kind of interesting how that balances out in her life. In a way, she's kind of like Wendy having a relationship with Peter Pan. That's pretty unique.
NRAMA: At first, she admired Spider-Man like a rock star or something. But somewhere along the line, she got to know him well enough to figure out he's just a person like her under that costume, didn't she?
TM: Yeah. And she feels comfortable with him age-wise. In McKeever's stories, they talked and went out on a date, so she must know he's a teenager and a peer of some sort. We go with that too.
NRAMA: One of the elements of Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane that made this series fun was that we often saw Spider-Man action scenes interspersed with the scenes in the school. Are you still doing that with the comic?
TM: Yeah. And I've actually enjoyed writing the Spider-Man moments knowing there is a 15-year-old boy in the costume. At one point in the story, we're with Peter at school during the day, then that evening, Spider-Man is in Manhattan on a really nasty night with rain pouring down, and he's fighting this huge, giant lizard, and it's really tough out there. And you know, usually when you see Spider-Man, you think of him as invincible, but when you think about him as... gosh, there's 15-year-old Peter Parker inside that costume getting soaked and fighting, it's pretty amazing.
I find that this title makes you look at the characters more as people than this invincible superhero and his perfect friends.
NRAMA: What can you tell us about the other characters in the series, and is there anyone new that you're introducing?
TM: I do have somebody new in the series. It doesn't look like much of a friend at this point, but who knows where the story will go. There's a new girl in Mary Jane's theater class. She's actually a little bit of competition.
As far as the rest of the group, you know, the whole gang's there. It's Liz and Flash and Harry and Gwen rounding everything out. You get to find out things like who the vice principle is. And he's just a swell fellow -- they'll love him right off the bat. Everybody loves their high school vice principal, right?
NRAMA: Yeah, sure. Unless he's a disciplinarian.
TM: Yeah. And he's so cool about it. You'll see what I mean.
NRAMA: Sounds like that might be a problem. And Mary Jane's got a new nemesis, perhaps, in theater class. Is there anything else about the story you can tell us and the problems that might be arising for MJ?
TM: One of the other things she has on her plate right now is that she has to have a job after school. Her mother told her that things are tight, and if she wants to have any spending money, she's going to have to earn it herself, including having to pay her cell phone bill. So Mary Jane is forced to get a job, and she finds one, and we get to watch her try to handle that. It's not easy, that first job.
NRAMA: When this series was first introduced, there was a lot of talk about it being aimed toward girls. Do you think of that's the primary audience?
TM: No, I don't think it's primarily a young girl book, but it IS very accessible to young girls. I never lose sight of the fact that I want somebody Mary Jane's age to be able to pick this up and enjoy it. I mean, we're writing a comic book series about a 15- or 16-year-old girl, so it's important that a 12-year-old girl be able to pick this up and enjoy it. But I think guys would really enjoy this too, because while it's told through Mary Jane's eyes, the things she's looking at are primarily guys and their lives, so it's pretty interesting to guys as well. And I've been amazed at the fan group this title already has from Sean McKeever's run. They're just hardcore, old-school male superhero fans. I'm pretty impressed with the variety of readers.
NRAMA: The artist on this series is different than was originally announced. What can you tell us about this artist and what he brings to the series?
TM: Yeah, Craig Rousseau is the artist on this series, and his art is different from the look that Mary Jane has had previously. Mary Jane originally start off kind of cartoony, then it went manga-looking, and now with Craig Rousseau, it's gone back to more of an American cartoon look. It's very simple with open space that colors beautifully -- it really pops when it's in color. It's very clean, and I think it's very appropriate to this story. It has its own distinctive look. Craig's a really good artist who already has a book that he's drawing over at Image called Perhapanauts. It has that same kind of look -- well-designed and well-drawn, and very easy on the eyes. I like the fact that the two books I'm doing with Marvel look completely different, but very distinctive.
NRAMA: And after drawing your own stories for so long, how's it feel to have someone else interpreting your scripts?
TM: Not bad! Considering all the time that Echo sucks out of me, just to be able to write a script and hand it over to someone is kind of nice. It's like being able to sit down on the bus, you know?
NRAMA: Since you brought up Echo, can you give us an update on the series? When does the next issue come out?
TM: Yeah, sure! I just finished Echo #4. I'm finishing up today. And it comes out July 2nd. And I go immediately into Echo #5 trying to get it finished in time for San Diego so that I can show up at San Diego with the very first paperback, titled Moon Lake. So I'm supposed to show up at San Diego with that trade. And I look forward to that.
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