Bringing the Clone to Life: Todd Nauck on The Clone Saga

Todd Nauck on The Clone Saga

Last week, we spoke with Tom Defalco and Howard Mackie about Marvel’s upcoming Spider-Man: The Clone Saga - a “writer’s cut” of the famous or infamous Spider-Man story.

The six issue miniseries will re-tell the story of Peter Parker, Ben Reilly, and the rest of the large cast from the original story that was seen by many as an example of the excesses of the ‘90s – or a classic Spider-Man story, depending on your take.

While Defalco and Mackie gave us the scoop last week, today, we talk to the miniseries artist Todd Nauck for more.

Newsarama: Todd - you were just getting started in comics when the original Clone Saga started in the Spider-Man books at Marvel - did you read it then or since?

Todd Nauck: I was reading Amazing Spider-Man back then. I had been collecting the title faithfully since Todd McFarlane’s run. So I think I read about half of the Clone Saga, at least. I remember all the controversy as to which one was the clone or not.

But I had also just moved to California to work at Image Comics’ Extreme Studios and I was so focused on getting started in my career, so really didn’t keep up with every chapter of the Clone Saga.

NRAMA: It seems that everyone has an opinion of the original Clone Saga - where do you fall on the issue?

TN: At the time when it first came out, I was pretty against it. I had been a Spider-Man fan since I was a little kid. Then to find out he could have been a clone all that time? It felt a little disheartening. That was probably another reason I didn’t read the entire saga at the time. I was afraid of finding out the truth. But towards the end, I really kinda liked Ben Reilly/Scarlet Spider. The clone aspect did bring a new element to the Spider-Man stories.

NRAMA: So how did you wind up on this new iteration of The Clone Saga? You've obviously done some Spider-Man work lately, what with that storyline that guest-starred...what's his name...that guy...

TN: Do you mean Amazing Spider-Man #583: The Spider-Man/Obama Team-Up? That story brought a lot of attention to my work!

NRAMA: That would be the one (laughs).

TN: Of course, even before that issue, I had also been working on a number of different Spider-Man projects for the past three years like Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man Family.

I had also drawn the American Dream mini-series and the Mr. and Mrs. Spider-Man stories for Amazing Spider-Man Family written by Tom Defalco. We have a great working relationship.

So I wouldn’t be surprised if all these factors came into play when editorial chose me to draw this Clone Saga mini-series.

NRAMA: What was your reaction when you were asked?

TN: I was a little surprised at first. I know the Clone Saga has been a pretty controversial point amongst Spider-Man fans. But when I learned the story was to be approached the way it was originally intended to be told, that had me really intrigued. And it sounded like a lot of fun to do. I really enjoy working off of Tom Defalco’s plots. And this is my first time to work with Howard Mackie. It’s an honor to associated with these legendary writers!

NRAMA: Why do you think this story, or rather, these elements keep cropping up with Spider-Man? After all, it's appeared in the animated series, the Ultimate series, Tom used it in Spider-Girl, and pieces of it are responsible for how things are today in the Marvel Universe - like Norman Osborn being alive. Why do you think people hate to love the Clone Saga and love to hate it at the same time?

TN: Whether fans liked it or not, the Clone Saga was a three year storyline that had significant ramifications on Spider-Man’s life. It challenged everything we knew about Spider-Man. That kind of shake up makes things interesting. It brought about mystery and questions. I think that kind of tension brings about the love/hate feelings. If it didn’t elicit that kind of response (positive or negative), it would have been forgettable. But these elements have spawned new stories and sub-plots. That’s got to say something towards its impact on the Spider-Man mythos.

NRAMA: Obviously, as evidenced by your WildGuard work, you've got a jones for designing characters. Is this story allowing you to tweak any of the characters from the Clone Saga?

TN: You’ve got me… I do enjoy designing characters! Since I just started drawing issue #1, I’m keeping the characters as they were originally designed. I think it’s important to keep the characters recognizable for the most part.

But I know Tom is very open to discussing ideas on how to approach characters and storytelling. So if I come up with an idea for tweaking a character, I’m sure I could run it by Tom, Howard, and the editors, Ralph Macchio and Michael Horwitz.

NRAMA: And just so we're clear on the setting of this, this is the "writer's cut" of the original, right? So you're getting to play with mid '90s era Spider-Man? Is anything different, from your eye between Spider-Man from that era and now?

TN: The plot references certain key moments in certain issues of the original Clone Saga. I’m bringing those into this mini-series. It’s almost like an anchor to the past. But I’m also approaching aspects of this comic with the present in mind.

NRAMA: What do you look to for inspiration when you draw Spider-Man? Is there a particular artist or style you use as a foundation of sorts that you build on?

TN: A lot of great artists have drawn Spider-Man. They all inspire me. But as I approach the art to this story, I’m hoping to try some new things, new ways of telling the story and posing Spider-Man. At the very least, I want to put my style and flavor on the Spider-Man universe.

I have a bunch of the original Clone Saga comics for reference for the different story elements we’re playing off of. This have been giving me a guide as to what was done before and allows me to take things in new directions visually.

And I have just begun to see Victor Olazaba’s inks over my pencils. They are so gorgeous. That is what really is inspiring me nowadays!

NRAMA: We've talked to Tom and Howard about their goals for this miniseries, but for you - what do you want this miniseries to accomplish?

TN: I want to this to be fun. I want to have fun drawing it (which I am so far!) and I want fans to have fun reading it! As Tom and I have discussed, this is why we make comics: Pure enjoyment.

NRAMA: End of the day - do you think this will bring peace to the world of Spider-fans still divided over the Clone Saga? Will there be spider-peace in our time?

TN: I don’t know if it will bring peace to the Spider-Fans. But it will bring them a new recounting of the Clone Saga… The way it was intended. I guess we’ll find out at the end of this mini-series if it brings peace or riots in the streets.

Of course I like what Tom has said that this series could appeal to those who loved the Clone Saga, and make true believers of those who hated it. What I have read of the plot so far, I am very excited about this project.

Maybe there is hope for peace for the Spider-Fans after all.

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