The annual holiday specials start early as next week's Spider-Gwen #14 celebrates Thanksgiving. The Earth-66 Gwen Stacy brings the family (and a few friends) around, while series creators Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez have brought in a friend of their own: artist Chris Visions.
Just the thing to whet your appetite while you wait for the turkey, ham, or turducken gets cooked.
Newsarama talked to Latour and Visions on teaming up once again and Latour’s surprise about his creation’s popularity and what we can expect from this holiday-themed issue.
Newsarama: Jason, Spider-Gwen just turned two and she's transcended comic books to appear in video games, cartoons, and have her own action figure. Did you ever think it would get to this point?
Jason Latour: Oh no. Never in a million years.
I mean I knew we were onto something very real when I went to that first New York Comic Con after her debut and I sat in the hotel lobby waiting on friends for dinner and I watched a young woman kind of excitedly freak out over unwrapping her Spider-Gwen t-shirt. She clearly didn’t know, nor should have, that I was sitting there. I doubt she’d have cared and that was where I just knew we’d created something that might have a shot at lasting. I hope that’s the case. It’s my genuine wish that she outlives me in this form. That some other person takes her stories on eventually and tells them in their own unique way that I would never have imagined.
Nrama: So you guys are teaming up once again for a Thanksgiving-themed issue. Chris, you and Robbi are sort of tag-teaming art duties here. Whenever you step into this world, do you feel the pressure in trying to capture the same sort of aesthetic and energy that’s already been established?
Chris Visions: Yeah, those feelings/pressures were very strong at the beginning, mostly cause I care about the work I make, but each time I step into the world it gets a little easier. Working with the side characters is a little more tricky since they are becoming established, but knowing the creators helps in knowing where to take the art. I just try to have fun with the world and make my portion of the story cohesive yet still me.
Nrama: Jason, What makes Chris' style such a good surrogate for Spider-Gwen and Earth-66 and Chris, to compliment that, what makes working with Jason so unique in comparison to other writer's you've collaborated with?
Latour: Well, Chris has real deal art chops. That goes without saying. And stepping into Robbi’s shoes is a kind of unique problem because Robbi’s art is very much out there on the ledge breakdancing and defying death. It’s got a real present energy to it. Chris has the same thing in his own way. A real point of view. So when writing for him I try to find places where he can fit within this story and compliment Robbi without really competing. So far I think he’s made me look really way better than I deserve.
Visions: Well I feel I've been blessed to work with some awesome, “aware” writers. Everyone save Chuck Brown has been a white male, but with Jason, and the same with Christopher Sebela - both men are very aware of what's going on in our country and provide stories that speak to our current humanity in an entertaining manner, while being inclusive. I'm always appreciative when creators choose to use their talents and platform to speak out on what is morally wrong. We need people with more guts/backbone grounded in empathy and morality. It's also extremely nice to laugh and smile while creating, and his scripts provide plenty of that. I heart Spider-Ham.
Nrama: Structurally, Jason, you've mentioned that Earth-66 is more of a remix and not a cover song, do you feel like that's going to be more of an initiative going forward in building this world or do you see yourself relying on the building upon the grounds of 616 as time goes on?
Latour: I’d say story wise we’re almost to the point where we’ve flung free of Earth 616’s gravitational pull. I mean some people may have thought that early one we were just going to remove Peter from Spider-Man stories and insert Gwen. But we’re in uncharted territory and that’s very exciting. We’ll always have little unique twists on themes and characters you know and love, but it’s nice to feel and know that their stories can go anywhere. We really launch into that starting with #15. From there it’s nearly unknown territory. Be scared. Be excited.
Nrama: I don’t know about you guys, but when I think of Thanksgiving and any sort of Spider-imagery, I think back to the first Spider-Man movie. From the cover, it looks like there could be some equally awkward moments at the dinner table, so what can we expect from this issue?
Latour: Gwen’s really feeling down with her dad arrested and awaiting trial, so with Captain Stacy gone and family being so key to the holiday - this felt like an opportunity to touch base with characters we haven’t seen in awhile. The matriarchal figures in her life, specifically May Parker and Jessica Drew. I just wanted to write a little about relationships and what they can mean, even when they come into your life from a strange place. But of course, there’s dumb jokes and awkward moments and fights and football and casserole. It’s an American Thanksgiving.
Visions: I think this is very reflective of what a lot of people experience at Thanksgiving. It's not a traditional, Norman Rockwell, nuclear family type holiday, but more importantly it's reflective of what matters.
Nrama: With something like Spider-Gwen, do you feel like it should be more fun like you had with the annual or do you prefer it to take on a more plot-heavy sort of story?
Latour: I genuinely like shifting tones a lot. Sometimes I think we all get caught up in thinking the tone of a superhero story has to be one thing. But there are tons of fun, absurd Marvel characters that have transcended yet embraced some goofy initial idea. When you can take a silly idea and make it transcend, and actually resonate with people - man that’s the sweet spot for me. All our stories are pretty genuinely motivated by something we want to say. Sometimes it’s deathly serious.
Other times it’s to point out how absurd and incongruent life can be. I think some of the funniest, weirdest things I’ve ever experienced were completely unexpected and in the middle of some real-life drama. So I try to make Gwen’s story reflect that.
Nrama: Okay, so hypothetically, Gwen is at the Thanksgiving table has yeast rolls, Preacher's ham, stuffing, and deviled eggs: which does she reach for first?
Latour: Oh, c’mon. What is all this classy stuff? Even if Captain Stacy was around, I doubt it’d look like that. The ideal world it’s nothing but a table of casseroles, though. Corn dog casserole for the win.
Vision: Deviled eggs, definitely deviled eggs, but I may be projecting. Let's say that's Captain's style, if anything.