Goblin Nation is upon us, and although Superior Spider-Man is fighting it there’s one man on the inside who’s loving every minute of it: artist Giuseppe Camuncoli.
Camuncoli – nicknamed “Cammo” by his fellow artist – is drawing the five-part “Goblin Nation” storyarc beginning in this month’s Superior Spider-Man, and it is both the return of Spider-Man’s fearest villain as well as the finale for the era of SpideyOck. Alongside Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos, Camuncoli has been trading arcs on the Spider-Man saga – both Amazing and Superior – since 2011, and a history with the character that goes all the way back to 2002. But Camuncoli’s more than “just” a Spider-man artist; for a long time he balanced work on Spider-Man with work on a vastly different superhero – if you can even call him that – in John Constantine’s Hellblazer series at Vertigo. What kind of artist can be right at home drawing the dark witchcraft of Constantine with the flagship features of Peter Parker, and later SpideyOck? Read on and find out.
Newsarama: Giuseppe, thanks for doing this. Starting things off slow, what are you working on today? What's on your drawing board?
Giuseppe Camuncoli: My pleasure, Chris. I'm working on the last chapter of Superior Spider-Man,"Goblin Nation," right now, and you guys are in for a treat! Dan and Chris have once again outdone themselves, this will break everybody's heart. After I got done with issue #30, I just told the team that this is possibly the most epic, intense and important story I've been given the chance to work on so far. And I really hope readers will feel the same way once they turn the last page and curtains close on the Superior Spider-Man saga.
Nrama: I came to talk to you today because of your work coming up on Superior Spider-Man, but also because of your long history with Spider-Man. You’ve been a regular part of the rotating art team on Amazing Spider-Man and now Superior Spider-Mansince around 2012, but before that you did works going as far back as 2002 with Spider-Man’s Tangled Web. Why is it that you’re drawing Spider-Man so much – do you like him a lot, do editors like you drawing him, or what?
Camuncoli: Well, I've always been a fan of Spider-Man since I was a kid, and I guess that both Steve Wacker and Nick Lowe, and at this point Marvel as well are not complaining too much about my work on the book. Although you're right, my first Spider-Man story was 2002's "The Last Shoot", a wonderful tale of Crusher Hogan co-written by Brian Azzarello and Scott Levy (the former pro-wrestler known as Raven), and after that I drew several other titles, mostly for Vertigo, DC and WildStorm to be honest, but no more Spidey for quite a long time. That story, which actually featured Peter Parker only in the last page, and not in his costume (at the time it seemed really ironic to me), gave me a big spotlight at the moment, and I went to lots and lots of conventions in Europe to promote it - and everybody asked me to draw Spider-Man. It almost drove me crazy, and after the tour was over, I thought to myself that drawing Spider-Man on a regular basis would've been a nightmare - all those webs on his costume!
So, we flash forward to 2011, I was working at the time at the Daken: Dark Wolverine book, a series and a character that I enjoyed quite a bit. C.B. Cebulski tells me that Marvel would have been happy if I moved to Amazing Spider-Man. I knew it was a super high-profile gig, and that I had the chance of measuring myself on a regular basis with one of the most popular, loved and iconic characters in the whole world, and that Dan Slott was having a fabulous run on the book. But I was still afraid that I wouldn't have been up to the task. That there were too many webs to draw in too many panels. That there were too many buildings and skyscrapers to draw in too many issues. But I very rarely refuse a challenge. And, on top of that big chance that Marvel was giving me, I’d be back to work with my man Steve Wacker (who I had met and briefly worked with during his DC years). And, Steve managed to make another dream of mine come true: having Mr. Klaus Janson inking my pages. He only made me swear that from that day on, he’d be "my favorite editor", which I did. And so it began. It has been, and still is, a truly incredible ride.
Nrama: As I said, you began doing Spider-Man here and there in the mid-2000s, but in 2011 you became seemingly a full-time part of the rotating art team on the book. What’s it like being part of a title that is shipping so fast that it has multiple artists working simultaneously?
Camuncoli: It feels great! Editorial has always made things easy for us, and Dan never lets us down - he's a machine. And he's good. Plus, on top of what I've just told (maybe too blatantly) above, the icing on the cake is the company you keep: Humberto Ramos who's a legendary Spider-artist, my man Stefano Caselli (who was our teammate when I jumped on) has totally left his mark on the book, and no one will argue that Ryan Stegman hasn't rocked on both Amazing and on Superior. If the book flows almost seamlessly, and it ships on time, and it reads well, people should remember once in a while to thank our marvelous editors.
Nrama: You’ve really been the unsung hero of Spider-Man as of late, through the final days of Peter and through Spidey-Ock. What do you think of Doctor Octopus taking over Spider-Man’s body and the fan response from that?
Camuncoli: I was quite taken by surprise when they told me the plan for Superior, but I was instantly intrigued by the new possibilities that a scenario like that would've offered. I was at Comicon in New York in 2012, before Amazing Spider-Man #700 came out, and the news had already made everybody freak out! At my table in artist alley, and during our signing sessions at the Marvel booth (during which I finally had the pleasure of meeting both Dan Slott and Klaus Janson in person), everybody was trying to get to know what was gonna happen. I really had no idea of how far Marvel would've gone with that game, but I tried to calm everybody down by saying that Spidey had seen some weird days before. Well, he's basically been doing that for 50 years, hasn't he? He has had 6 arms, for Christ's sake (and I loved that story, don't get me wrong)! I wasn’t telling everybody that to me the important thing was to read a good story. And although at the time I still hadn't received my first script, but only read the outline of the book, I was already feeling that we had the chance of telling a unique tale. Darker, twisted, borderline. Different. Exploring new angles. Luckily enough, I've not been proven wrong on that, and seeing haters turned into supporters has been quite a fantastic and unexpected turn. Who would've imagined from day one that so many skeptic fans are now pissed that Peter is coming back?
Nrama:You’re now drawing the final issue of Superior Spider-Man; the real end of an era. What can you tell us about what’s coming up in this final arc?
Camuncoli: I guess that the only thing I can say is that Peter is coming back? Although it would've been a million times better if everybody would've experienced "Goblin Nation" without already knowing that news. I guess that's the way communication goes these days. So, I won't spill any beans. Oh. Yeah. I guess I can add something else: somebody will die.
Nrama: Once Superior Spider-Manis over, do you hope or plan to do more Spider-Man work in the future, or is there other characters or titles you’d like to draw?
Camuncoli: First of all, part of me is sad that Superior Spider-Man will be over soon (well, for me, it's just a few pages away). It was a brilliant concept, a great book to work on and quite a success both personally and as a team in terms of sales and reviews. But I'm ready for the next step. More Spider-Man work is always welcome in my book. But yeah, I'm also always up to working on other cool books or with other cool writers if my schedule (and private life) allows.
Nrama: I have to ask one more thing – your speed. You’re one of the fastest artists around in comics it seems, and you’re able to keep it at a high quality. I remember when you were doing your long run on Hellblazer at DC/Vertigo while also balancing projects at Marvel. I think it was the first and only time the same artist was simultaneously drawing something as dark as John Constantine while also doing Marvel’s flagship character. What’s that like for you, drawing so much?
Camuncoli: I'm glad that you remember that. Working on Hellblazer, and having done it as the main artist for over 4 years under the great Peter Milligan (not to mention the fill-ins I had done previously with Brian Azzarello, Mike Carey and Andy Diggle) is also something I take great pride on. I remember that the phone call when Vertigo offered me the book happened the same day in which I had started my first page of the X-Infernus mini, a book written by C.B. Cebulski that kinda launched the most recent part of my career in the U.S. market (and that Nick Lowe edited!), and that later led me to work on Daken, and then on Spidey. I couldn't believe it was happening at the same time, but I thought that this was an opportunity that wouldn't have happened twice. So I decided to at least give it a try: I committed to doing 8 issues per year of Hellblazer, and to providing only breakdowns (that my friend Stefano Landini would've finished). In the end, it worked well, and we went on for quite a while.
What's with me and drawing so much? I don't know, I just love my job. It's what I'm good at, I guess. I've been drawing since I was a kid, and I still can't believe that I am making a living out of it, and that I haven't lost my enthusiasm after all these years - almost the other way around, if you want. Believe me, I'm not one of those guys who have to draw every single day unless they go crazy. I could spend a month without drawing and not missing it at all, there's so many other things I like doing (or, sometimes, not doing. Not doing anything can also be very cool). My wife and I have a beautiful daughter now (she's 2 and a half years old now, her name is Martina) so I could always use some extra time away from the drawing table, but I was like this even before Martina came into our life. So far so good, but if ever the going gets tough, well I'll just slow things down!
Nrama: In a perfect world, what’s the pace you’d like to draw comics at?
Camuncoli: Hmm, I guess a page per day, or a page every 2 days would be the perfect pace. But with me, I'm not very constant. I mean, I am because I always meet my deadlines, but I'm not regular on my daily routine. I can't stand routines. One day I can have a hard time doing a panel, and the very next day I could get done with a page, and yet feel pumped and get done with another one, and maybe start a third one. I've been working professionally since 1997, and I've done quite a few pages over the years, and still I haven't been able to solve the mystery of my workflow. I just can't control it like I'd wish. But it has never failed me so far, so fingers crossed I hope things can stay like this for a very long time. I wasn't this good or fast when I began, of course. Practice, hard work, dedication and satisfaction have been the keys to becoming so productive today. Oh, and also not needing to sleep much (although there hasn't been a single day in my life in which I wouldn't have spent some more time in bed)!