WEEKLY WEBBING: Artist McKone Crosses Path with Black Cat

WEEKLY WEBBING: The Black Cat is Back

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Click here for a preview of Amazing Spider-Man #606.

Before Amazing Spider-Man officially begins the villain-centered story called The Gauntlet, Spidey's going to spend a little play time with a familiar Black Cat.

Beginning in this week's Amazing Spider-Man #606, "Back in Black Cat" by writer Joe Kelly and artist Mike McKone re-introduces Felicia Hardy into Spider-Man's world for the first time since the series began its new status quo and thrice-monthly schedule.

As Kelly revealed when the series was announced, Peter Parker has a lot of girl trouble when Black Cat comes slinking back into Spider-Man's life. Yet as the storyline pokes a little fun at Spidey's love life, there will also be hints of what's to come as the Gauntlet's key players show up in the background.

As Marvel's Spider-Man editor Steve Wacker takes a break from Weekly Webbing, Newsarama decided to talk with artist Mike McKone about Black Cat's return, but also took the opportunity to find out more about what it's like to work on Amazing Spider-Man along with other artists.

Newsarama: Mike, this is the first time you've gotten to draw Black Cat, isn't it?

Mike McKone: Um, I guess you're right. I think this is the very first time. I don't recall ever drawing her before. Maybe in a conventions sketch or something like that. But this is the first time in print. I'm really enjoying drawing her. She's kind of cat-like. I can't imagine how a person couldn't enjoy drawing her, actually.

It's neither a greater nor lesser challenge drawing her than any other character, but I have to admit I'm spending a little more time working on Black Cat. [laughs] Just a little bit. My girlfriend won't be too pleased, but I like drawing her.

Nrama: You mentioned that she's cat-like. Is that in her movements, or in this story in particular?

McKone: Well, both, because in the story, she kind of lounges around a lot at the beginning, like a cat, spending a lot of time on sofas. That's of course before she gets into trouble with Spidey. But yeah, her posture is kind of reminiscent of a cat. She's a little more malleable.

The story is just wonderful. I don't think I can say too much about what I got to draw, but Joe did a terrific job with the story.

Nrama: How long have you been on Amazing Spider-Man?

McKone: I think it's a year and a half now.

Nrama: What's it like being part of a team? Do you have an insight into how a thrice-monthly title works?

McKone: I've got no idea how it works! I just get an email from Steve saying a script's ready. And then I go to work. I'm not really privy to any of the inner workings, like the retreats or the writers' communications. So it's as much of a surprise to me when I get a script as it is to the readers, and it's even a surprise who's writing that story.

Nrama: Is it tough to go from one writer's script for a few issues and then do a completely different script?

McKone: It's not difficult at all. They all work really well as a team. There are no problems that you might think there would be with continuity, because Steve keeps a really tight rein on that kind of thing.

Obviously, all the writers are individuals and they have their own styles and idiosyncrasies that you have to adapt your work to. But it isn't difficult at all.

Nrama: Do you have an example of something you might have to adapt to?

McKone: Well, Joe Kelly in particular is great at writing dialogue. He's wonderful with that stuff. So I guess I make an extra effort to have the character act a little more in tune with what Joe's having them say. He's very funny. So the characters are a little more expressive when I'm working with Joe. But that's just part of adapting your style to each writer.

I worked with Dan Slott, and that was great. He's very different from Joe. He's much more attuned to Spider-Man continuity. So that presents its own particular challenges, from pulling references to looking at stories from the past, whether it's through Google or comic book stores. But it's part of the job, really. It isn't problematic. It's just a hurdle you have to jump over.

Nrama: Do you read the other issues, with other artists? Do you look at the other Amazing Spider-Man issues?

McKone: It depends on the artist! [laughs] I'm not going to say which ones are my favorites. I buy my comic books, and I'm sorry to say this, but I buy them entirely based upon the artists. I need them to look pretty. So I really, really enjoy some issues of Spider-Man, and I've got no idea what happened in the rest.

Nrama: But does that keep you on your toes, seeing other artists drawing the same comic?

McKone: Oh my gosh yes! The book has a huge number of talented pencilers. On the one hand, it's great, as a reader, to be able to pick those up and really enjoy them. But on the other hand, it's pretty intimidating to see John Romita Jr. drawing a better Spider-Man than I'll ever be able to draw. So I'm not sure which I'd rather have. It's great when I have to look for references, because there are some really cool comic books to look through.

Nrama: Over the year and a half, have you evolved your Spider-Man? Or did you arrive at the look you wanted pretty early?

McKone: I think I found the Spider-Man I wanted to draw in the first couple of stories. And that was eventually John Romita Sr.'s Spider-Man. I think I make him a little more flexible than he did, but I think I decided on how I wanted Spider-Man to look pretty early. Since then, I've been dealing with other characters that happen to be in the story, like Black Cat. To me, the most fun is just to draw the characters that I grew up reading, when I was a Spider-Man fan.

Click here for a preview of Amazing Spider-Man #606.

Mike McKone wanted to share with fans that he will be signing at Jim Hanley's Universe in New York City from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday Setp 23, the day his first issue of "Back in Black Cat" hits stores.

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