There are instances in comics where the right people do the right thing at the right time and it creates not only a sensation, but something tangible that people can latch on to and embrace it wholeheartedly. Robbi Rodriguez's Spider-Gwen costume made internet waves before a single page had been published. The costume was simply published on his Instagram account with the hashtag "spidergwen" and what seemed like overnight, became a hit with fans across the board. It, along with a sellout of an introductory one-shot, has led to Spider-Gwen the ongoing series, spinning out of Spider-Verse next year, with Rodriguez joined by writer Jason Latour.
Newsarama sat down with Rodriguez at this year's New York Comic Con to talk about the success of Spider-Gwen and the mystery of how and why people clamored for more (turns out Marvel was listening), and the surprise that she was given her own ongoing series at the beginning of next year.
Newsarama: So, Robbi, before Spider-Gwen even debuted, it already was making its round on Tumblr, Twitter, etc. I mean you had people making costumes within a week of showing the image. What was that like?
Robbi Rodriguez: That was weird and kind of mind-blowing! For one thing, I discovered what Tumblr was [laughs]. Just seeing how many people connected to that costume. I drew that so it would be simple since I would be doing it for 20 pages. So just seeing the simplicity of it connect with so many people actually makes me see the future a bit more brighter now. It's good to see people want this level of simplicity again.
Nrama: You've again paired up with your friends Jason Latour and colorist Rico Renzi with the ongoing. That dynamic obviously works well, but what’s that like working with your best friends?
Rodriguez: It's basically like everyday, except I don't have to kill them. I mean, the fact, you know, we have a happy little marriage. I mean, Jason and me will eventually butt heads, Rico is the nice calm family man that soothes everything down. It makes the job a lot easier, ya know? I can trust Rico and his judgement because we have the same color aesthetic and that saves me a step, I just know it'll look good. Jason's scripts are so tight and smart and yet it leaves so much for my own interpretation to where it still feels like a collaboration.
Nrama: You only had an issue to cram everything in there that you needed to set things up: her being labeled a menace, her relationship with Peter, so what is it like to take a breath and expand here? What are some things you have going on?
Rodriguez: I think we want to keep that format, still. We feel as though that's a lost art now in comics, one and dones. I mean, for the background stories, if we want to play with them, we can, but this way it's a bit more exciting. We have a few ideas we're cooking with right now, but as far as a long-term plan, we might have one or two two-parters so it's not entirely kept being drawn out stories.
Nrama: The whole Spider-Gwen was some sort of movement. You had your friends from the band Married with Sea Monsters do a song. Are you going to try and keep up with the marketing like that now that's an ongoing?
Rodriguez: I treat all this product pretty much like it's an ongoing, so that will explain the almost-guerilla marketing, ya know? I'm still surprised that the Spider-Gwen hashtag took off the way it did, that's still crazy to me. So you'll probably see a little bit more to that as you see me work on the series a bit more here and there. Beforehand, I really didn't give a f--k since it was going to be a one and done, but now that people are clamoring for this and expecting something out of it, it's going to be a little bit more selective of what I show this time around.
Nrama: You've made your own merch like your Mary Janes shirts and prints, so what else can we expect from you that has the Spider-Gwen brand on it?
Rodriguez: I don't know really. This whole experience has been so shocking and surprising and caught us all off-guard, especially me. I was supposed to be unemployed after the one-shot and then boom, here we are, here's an ongoing now.
Nrama: Who approached you with the idea of the character, or was it something pitched to you guys?
Rodriguez: I think it was approached by Nick [Lowe] to Jason. One idea was going to be a sort of continuation to the fabled "Springbreak Wolverine" called "Old Man Spider-Man", where it was going to actually be Uncle Ben in the costume. The other one was Spider-Gwen since Dan was thinking about putting Gwen back into the fold. That just set an alarm in Jason's head. [In Jason Latour voice] "I got this s--t right now!" Once Nick approached me about doing it was sort of [Latour voice] "Aw, man, let's do this s--t".
Nrama: Last time we talked about FBP, you mentioned you think you just have five years left in your career because of your medical condition, do you think Spider-Gwen is the highlight of your career? I mean, if your career, God forbid, were to end next week, would this book be an absolute high note?
Rodriguez: You know what? Yeah, it'll definitely be a high note. If the s--t just goes out tomorrow and I had to quit or I just wake up in the morning and I'm just like "I'm done, I quit" having that big success and the fact I had an effect on comic culture for even just a short period of time, that's f-----g awesome!