Paul Tobin Talks SPIDER-GIRL's End and SPIDER-ISLAND Future
Paul Tobin Returns to SPIDER-GIRL
Last week, the good news came: Spider-Girl writer Paul Tobin is returning to the character in August, for a three-issue Spider-Island: The Amazing Spider-Girl miniseries, tying in to the summer Spider-Man event where all of Manhattan ends up with spider-powers, including the previously unpowered Anya Corazon. This is a rather big deal for the character, given that one of the main themes of the Spider-Girl series was her coming to grips with the loss of her powers that she had in her original superhero identity of Araña.Newsarama chatted up Tobin via email to talk about the end of Spider-Girl, the beginning of the "Spider-Island" tie-in, working with different artists including Spider-Island: The Amazing Spider-Girl artist Pepe Larraz, and, of course, Twitter.
Newsarama: Paul, I think the news that the ongoing Spider-Girl series was ending with issue #8 took a lot of people by surprise, given how warmly received the book was, and how much good mainstream press it got upon its debut. From your perspective, what do you think made the series a tough sell in today's market?
Paul Tobin: Not sure there's any one factor. I would have liked to have been a bit steadier on the art team, with more lead time for Clayton Henry to do his mighty magics, and in retrospect I might have started the series a bit differently, presented a central "known" villain in the first issue, and possibly re-examined the extent of Spider-Girl's powers, or the lack thereof… but, hindsight is such a tough game to play. There isn't anything that happened in the book that I'm not proud of… the supporting cast was building, Clayton was really portraying an emotional depth to the characters while jazzing up the action, and editor Tom Brennan and I were really starting to click together on what we wanted to do. It's a tough time for a new series, of course, and I do think we were building a core audience that was warming to the title, but… numbers are numbers. All we could ask of each other as a creative team was to do what we did… to make a book that we loved.
cover.Nrama: There are a couple of issues left to go before the Spider-Island miniseries — were you able to wrap up the long-term storylines you've been building?
Tobin: I think so. Maybe not at the pace I wanted to do, and maybe not with a couple of subplots that I would have found interesting to explore, but as far as the main body of what we all wanted to tell… yeah… I think it's in there. A couple surprises left in store, even.
Nrama: And as much of a bummer as it is to see Spider-Girl go, it's not goodbye for good, since the Spider-Island miniseries is right around the corner. Since the plot involves everyone in Manhattan — including Anya — getting spider-powers, was it exciting to get the opportunity to write a powered-up Spider-Girl, especially since her lack of powers was an important theme of the ongoing?
Tobin: Very exciting. Opens up other avenues to explore. It's a different side of the same card, really. When Anya didn't have powers, she had to discover what it meant to be a more-or-less regular girl that went out and fought crime. Now, in her suddenly changed life, she has to explore what it means to go home and be a regular person, after standing toe to toe with some awfully powerful people.
Nrama: Based on the original announcement, it sounds like Spider-Girl is going to have some unexpected allies in the series. Of course it's too early to talk about the nature of their alliance, but what kind of contrast is it writing Spider-Girl alongside two of the worst in Spidey's rogue's gallery, Hobgoblin and Kingpin?
Tobin: It's been quite interesting to deal with the ramifications of putting all their personalities together. Wilson Fisk is a far more malleable guy than a lot of other hardcore villains. If there was a truly good way to achieve his ends… I think he'd take it. As it happens, there's almost never a good way to achieve what he wants. And, while most of us (hopefully) would see that as a wall of morality that we can't pass… the Kingpin just doesn't worry about it. The ends always justify the means. It's rarely personal for him. Spider-Girl can see his viewpoint. She can't agree with it. Can't abide by it. But she understands it. And then there's the Hobgoblin. If there's an evil way to achieve his ends, he'll go for it. Unless there's an even more diabolically evil way to do it, and in front of an audience, because if so… That's what he wants. He's a one man Mob Rule.
cover.Nrama: Also mentioned in the announcement of the series was the "Society of Wasps." This is the same as "The Sisterhood of the Wasp" from the Araña series, right? What made now the right time to bring them back?
Tobin: Same group, yes… but hugely restructured. As far as what brings them back… they have to come back. One of the bases for their entire organization is their war against the spiders. Now, suddenly, spiders are massing in Manhattan as thousands of new "spiders" are being born… transformed from Manhattan's everyday citizens. How can they not see that as a call to war, and the most desperate challenge they'll ever face?
Nrama: Since the start of Spider-Girl, you've worked closely with Dan Slott so your book and Amazing Spider-Man would complement each other, often in subtle ways. Can we expect to see Spider-Girl play a part in the other chapters of "Spider-Island," or will her appearances be mostly confined to your miniseries?
Tobin: There's always a chance she'll pop up in another book, but because of certain developments in our mini, we're playing things pretty close to the vest.
Nrama: In Spider-Girl, you got to work with some really striking and diverse artists, mainly Clayton Henry and Matthew Southworth. The Spider-Island series is illustrated by Pepe Larraz — how does he compare to your past collaborators on the book?
Tobin: Pepe's strong sense of kinetic free-flowing explosive action is perfect for the story we've concocted. There is so much chaos during the series that it demanded an artist who could achieve intense characterization at the time Spider-Girl was flipping through the air, shooting a web, kicking a bad guy, staring at Kingpin, maybe even making toast. The poor girl gets very little rest in the pages of this project, and Pepe is a guy that can illustrate that frenetic pacing.
Nrama: I realize there might not be much of an answer to this question at this point, but are you looking to do more with Spider-Girl after Spider-Island wraps? Or is it kind of a "wait and see how the series does, and where the character is left at the end of it" situation?
Tobin: As you suspected, this one's a bit tough to answer right now. Anya will be rather on the precipice during this project, and we'll have to see how events play out before we can talk about what side of the knife edge she jumps off.
Nrama: Finally, maybe the most important question — will the Spider-Girl Twitter account live on during "Spider-Island"?
Tobin: Right now, we're not planning on having the Twitter account reflect her Spider-Island adventure. With all of Manhattan under one of the very oddest sieges of all time, she's probably going to be exchanging her links to social media in favor of just trying to save society, at all.More from Newsarama on Spider-Girl: <li> Spoiler Sport: Paul Tobin on SPIDER-GIRL #2's Developments <li> 'Next Big Thing' - SPIDER-GIRL LIVE! <li> SDCC 2010: Paul Tobin on Araña Becoming SPIDER-GIRL Visit Newsarama on FACEBOOK and TWITTER and tell us what you think!