How Spider-Man, Silk and Spider-Gwen got bold new depictions in both statue and print form.

First unveiled at New York Comic Con last year, Sideshow Collectibles’ Mark Brooks Spider-Verse collection – consisting of new statues of Spider-Man, Silk and Spider-Gwen — were quickly highly-coveted by fans. Since then, a limited edition Mark Brooks Spider-Verse Fine Art Print was announced as well, depicting the three characters in the same poses seen in the statues.

Marvel.com spoke to Mark about the project recently, alongside Sideshow’s Art Director, David Igo, and the Head of Sideshow’s Print Program, Gracie Bifulco.

Marvel.com:  What were your first discussions like with Sideshow about this project? How does tackling something like this first begin?

Mark Brooks: I’ve known David and the Sideshow team for almost a decade now. We had bounced a few ideas around in the past, and collaborated on a few different designs, but nothing had been released at that stage. I was at San Diego Comic-Con sharing a booth with Marvel concept artist and illustrator Adi Granov, and David came over to hang out.

David Igo: Adi rocks! We work with him a lot. He’s a rad artist and a good friend.

Mark Brooks: We all got chatting and David and I started daydreaming about a few of the ideas we’d bounced around back in the day.

Gracie Bifulco: I actually bought a convention sketch from Mark at the same show! I love Mark’s art and I’ve been a fan for a long time. I knew I wanted to work with him on a print at some point.  It was just a matter of finding the right project.

Mark Brooks: Sideshow wanted to bring out a new comic book inspired line of statues. David and I had so many deep-dive nerd conversations over the years, just geeking out about different characters and what we could do. But, we started narrowing that list down, and I had a few ideas that I pitched them to David.

David Igo: Right away we had three killer concepts, all based around people within the Spider-Verse, and I started thinking about a whole Artist Series line with Mark, but we kept coming back to one character in particular…

Mark Brooks: Yeah, I really wanted to design a Spider-Gwen! She was the catalyst behind the idea of a series. We got thinking about Silk, and Spider-Man and the potential there. It’s such a great [trio], you know.

David Igo: That trilogy is such a strong place to start. It’s an awesome line up!

Gracie Bifulco: It was at that point that we suggested a print too. It was still early on, but once that trilogy idea took hold, we really wanted a companion print of those characters all together. I knew they’d look awesome!

Mark Brooks: It’s funny, but knowing in the back of my mind that there was going to be accompanying artwork in print form became very much a part of my design process. I always had that in the back of my mind. It helped me to think of these characters all together.

Marvel.com: What’s it like seeing your art brought into three dimensions with these Sideshow statues?

Mark Brooks: It’s so crazy! Like I said earlier, I’ve known the Sideshow team for years now. But things have changed so much since we first started talking about collaborating on some work. My style has evolved a lot, and the work that Sideshow is producing is getting better and better.

David Igo: We’ve leveled up for sure. We’re always trying to bring our ‘A’ game in every way; art, sculpt, paint, materials, manufacturing, everything. There’s just so much more you can do now!

Mark Brooks: Exactly! This series wouldn’t have been possible 7 or 8 years ago. I wasn’t there yet, and neither were Sideshow. This is the perfect time to make it happen.

Marvel.com: What were your discussions like with Mark about how the characters should be depicted here?

David Igo: We had a lot of faith in Mark’s abilities as a designer, and in his understanding of the process. We could connect him directly with our art team and let them riff off each other. Spider-Gwen, for example, had design input from JP Mavinga, as well as a whole team of kickass sculptors — Steve “Schu” Schumacher, Matt Black, Steve Lord, and Alfred Paredes — who were all able to work with Mark and translate Mark’s art to 3D.

Mark Brooks: I think it’s great that Sideshow give their artists so much credit on these pieces. I love what I do, but I know my limitations too. I wanted to push the boundaries on this character and really play with what was possible, but they embraced every challenge and actually did it, they brought her to life!

David Igo: As an Art Director, it was a blast. I love it when this happens. Mark had a vision, and I was like “Heck yeah!!!” He had so many suggestions regarding the contrasting textures and tones, so many little touches, and our artists love that.

Mark Brooks: Spider-Gwen was the starting point for my texture obsession! I must’ve driven the artists crazy! So much blood, sweat, and tears went into getting her just right. I wanted contrasts, coarse and smooth, matte and glossy, then light and dark. Nothing is flat. Nothing is simple. I wanted her to have a certain richness, not only as a visual thing, but as a tactile thing too.

David Igo: Mark sent us so much reference for paint handling. So many ideas! It became all about communication as well as teamwork. It was a challenge, but it was a fun one. And I think the piece came out great! She set the bar for the whole series.

Marvel.com: So, do you have a favorite character among this trio?

Mark Brooks: I love Spider-Man because he ties them together, as a character and as part of a series of statues. The more I talked with David about the way in which statues are displayed as well as designed, I became fixated on “skylines” and how these characters could flow together. I really became married to the silhouettes of these figures, and their poses really reflect that. At its simplest, Spider-Man is the lynch pin, Silk and Spider-Gwen bookend him, but it got a lot deeper than that…

David Igo: We like to talk about how these statues can flow together in a collection, we’re always thinking about that collector experience. One of the most interesting conversations we had was about levels. Spidey is always up high! We wanted to explore a Spider-Man at street level.

Mark Brooks: My first design after that discussion actually had him crouched on a chunk of New York city street. It was kind of cool. But as we explored that webbing for the figure bases, we thought it would be cool to use webbing to almost literally tie them together.

David Igo: The base designs are so much fun! You really have to see them “in the flesh” to appreciate them.

Mark Brooks: I love the paint application on the street signs. They are so realistic! You know, the worst thing about this project is waiting! We’ve been working on these statues for two years now. It’s excruciating! I want my statues!

David Igo: It’s like a movie. Waiting, keeping it secret. It’s tough, but it’s worth it to see the audience reaction.

Marvel.com:  Some people may first think of the figures and statues for Sideshow, but the beautiful prints the company creates are getting more and more attention. Is that gratifying to see?

Gracie Bifulco: The print program has grown really quickly, and that’s totally down to the enthusiasm of the collectors. Like Dave said earlier, we’re always thinking about that all-round collector experience. The idea that you can have this super limited edition luxury fine art print to accompany the statues is so great. It adds another level to a display, and it gives you another way of connecting with the art and the artist. We have the pleasure of working with some of the best artists from comics, illustration, concept art, and the movie industry, and it’s the perfect excuse to commission even more awesome art and share it with our fellow collectors. I’m so happy that people like what we are doing, it’s been incredibly rewarding.

Mark Brooks: The whole thing together, statues and art, is really something special. It was such a fun experience.

Marvel.com: There are plenty of other Spider-Verse characters. Anyone else you’d love to tackle for a project like this if the opportunity arose?

Mark Brooks: Black Cat for sure! Maybe, Mary Jane. She’d be fun! Oh, I’d love to do a really crazy Doc Ock! Just go super dark and push the tragedy of that character.

David Igo: I loved the Spider-Man / Doctor Octopus Year One stuff.

Mark Brooks: Those comics were amazing! Yes!!

David Igo: Anyone else? What about Aunt May?

Mark Brooks: I’d love to design an Aunt May statue! We could make the base a corner of her kitchen, make it really simple and sweet at first glance, and then just go nuts filling it with Easter eggs from Spider-Man lore. Just go completely crazy with details.

David Igo: That’s actually kind of amazing…

Gracie Bifulco: Yes!!!

The Sideshow Mark Brooks Spider-Verse Collection, can be pre-ordered now at http://sideshow.com/mbspiderverse.

Mark Brooks is on Twitter as @markbrooksart.

Read More

Robbie Thompson shares how Clone Conspiracy changed Cindy Moon!

Some people go west to realize their dreams. Others get their hopes dashed there. For Cindy Moon, her recent trip to California during The Clone Conspiracy gave her a taste of both.

We found writer Robbie Thompson unpacking his car after a long road trip to tell us how the hero we encounter in SILK #18 on March 1 has been changed by her experiences near the Pacific Ocean.

Marvel.com: As SILK #18 begins, it appears the Cindy is back in her Silk costume and most likely returned to the East Coast. However, does that mean she is the same ol’ Cindy at the start of this new arc?

Robbie Thompson: She is back in on the East Coast, back in her Silk costume and she is one hundred percent not the same ol’ Cindy at the beginning of this arc! The events of Clone Conspiracy have shaken Cindy Moon to her core. There are big, big changes coming for her starting with issue #18, specifically with the very last page, which illustrates the next step Cindy—and Silk—will be taking in the Marvel Universe.

Marvel.com: What is Silk’s state of mind after the events and ending of Clone Conspiracy?

Robbie Thompson: She’s rattled. And not just because of what went down out west. Cindy started Clone Conspiracy on the run—she finally got her family back, but something was missing. So, in classic Cindy fashion, she avoided the issue and went on a road trip and got involved in a crossover event!

But after the events of Clone Conspiracy she can’t run anymore, she can’t hide. Issue #18 really shows her running headlong into these issues and coming to grips with what’s going on in her head.

Marvel.com: Without spoilers, can you speak to how seeing a very different side of J. Jonah may have changed his and Cindy’s relationship?

Robbie Thompson: Jonah is actually able to let his guard down around Cindy in ways he doesn’t normally and that bond actually helps both of them as we’ll see in issue #18. Without giving too much away, they’re both really rocked by Clone Conspiracy and their lives are changed forever, but they still somehow find a way to have empathy for one another. I think in some ways, Jonah has been like a father-figure to Cindy, and even though her dad is back now—and being controlled by a villain!—that bond is still there.

Marvel.com: Clone Conspiracy also affected her relationship to Spectro. Again, avoiding outright spoilers, how would you describe the new challenges their connection to one another now faces?

Robbie Thompson: This road trip has definitely brought them closer, and Spectro being back in an actual human clone body, allowed them to express how they feel about each other in ways they couldn’t before—kissing!

Silk #18 cover

Silk #18 cover

You never forget your first love, especially when he is haunting [you]! But Hector, aka Spectro, also knows Cindy in a way all of her friends don’t—he can remind her of who she was before the bunker changed everything. Cindy often thinks the bunker defined her, but it only sharpened who she was before and Hector is able to remind her of that.

Marvel.com: What did Silk learn from becoming Silkworm? How did teaming up with Mattie Franklin change her experience of being one of the Spider-Women of the Marvel Universe?

Robbie Thompson: I think she learned that she should have a different costume for every city she visits! I loved Helen Chen’s design for Silkworm.

Without giving too much away, I think teaming up with Mattie was a real eye opener about what being a hero really means, and as you will see in issue #18, Cindy is directly confronting what it means to be a hero and trying to understand who she wants to be moving forward.

Marvel.com: Speaking specifically to issue #18, Cindy’s family seems to be creating increased complications in her life. Can you speak to how past choices they have made are now forcing her into doing things or acting in ways she might prefer not to?

Robbie Thompson: On a plot level, she doesn’t yet know her father is being manipulated by a villain named Fang. But it’s starting to creep into her life and we’ll be confronting that in issue #19 directly.

On a personal level, though, Cindy isn’t sure what to do now that her family is back. When she got out of the bunker, they were all she was looking for. Finding them defined her. She shaped her life around tracking them down: working at the Fact Channel, going undercover in Black Cat’s gang for S.H.I.E.L.D.

Now they’re back, and she wants life to be normal, but it just isn’t. Her external life is now suddenly normal, but with Cindy, it’s always been about her wrestling with her struggles with her internal life. Now that she has found them, hopefully she takes the time to find herself.

Marvel.com: When we last spoke about SILK, Irene Strychalski had not yet started drawing the book. How did her style change things? What’s next for the artistic direction of the book?

Robbie Thompson: Irene Strychalski came in for this Clone Conspiracy arc and absolutely killed it. I’m a big, big fan of hers and hope to work with her again and I’m grateful that editor Devin Lewis brought her onboard for this run. Irene has such a detailed and nuanced style to how she lays out and fills in a page, but what I love most from her is the performance work she puts into every single face and expression. This was a darker storyline for us, but Irene found the perfect tone and balance of emotions in every single issue. She also worked really well with our colorist Ian Herring, whose work has been instrumental in every single issue of this series.

Tana Ford is coming back with issue #18, and I think it’s the best work she’s done on the series—tons of emotions and performance throughout. I can’t wait for folks to see it!

Get your hands on SILK #18 coming March 1 from Robbie Thompson and Tana Ford!

Read More

Greg Pak runs down the participants in the Big Apple Showdown!

There’s trouble brewing in New York City. And there’s only one Totally Awesome thing standing between the Big Apple and destruction. On January 25, Amadeus Cho jumps fist-first into the “Big Apple Showdown” in TOTALLY AWESOME HULK #15!

But even with a Champion’s might, Hulk can’t wage this war alone. So, who’s coming to help Amadeus in the fight? An all-star array of Asian American heroes will be answering the call.

We caught up with writer Greg Pak to see who’s ready to rumble. Greg, over to you…

The Totally Awesome Hulk
“First off, we’ve got Amadeus Cho, aka the Totally Awesome Hulk, who thinks he’s gonna be the best Hulk ever. Amadeus has been through some traumatic and humbling experiences over the past few issues, but you can’t keep a good Hulk down, and he probably still thinks a bit too much of his own awesomeness. But our story begins with Amadeus having the chance to hang out with some of his fellow Asian American super heroes. And we’re going to see a whole other side of Amadeus and all of these heroes as they chill and bond; and then see how long that bonding will last as a massive crisis hits.”

Ms. Marvel
“Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, is one of Amadeus’ teammates on the Champions. She’s well aware of Amadeus’ impulsiveness and cockiness and may serve as a good check for him. But even more importantly, she’s got the heart of a champion, always focusing on the underdog and protecting whoever needs protecting. And although she might be the smallest of the group in her ‘normal’ form, her shape-shifting abilities can make her the biggest asset the team has in any fight.”

Jake Oh
“S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jake Oh just tangled with Amadeus in our Civil War II tie-in. Jake’s a young Korean American dude like Amadeus, and in some ways they actually have a lot in common. But Jake’s a military guy with a genuine respect for discipline and the chain of command. We’ll see how much he’s willing to trust Amadeus and how much Amadeus can trust him. Jake’s great in a fight; he’s got total mastery of a variety of S.H.I.E.L.D. tech, but I’d say what he really brings to the table is measured judgement and a commitment to serve.”totally_awesome_hulk_vol_1_15_textless

Jimmy Woo
“Jimmy Woo’s one of Marvel’s oldest characters; he first appeared as the hero of the YELLOW CLAW book in 1956, years before the Fantastic Four and the Avengers! He’s been an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and now runs another shadowy organization, the Atlas Foundation. Jimmy’s the oldest and most experienced of all these heroes. He also might be the most ruthless, which could be a huge asset, or could be pretty darn scary. Keep on reading and we’ll see!”

Shang-Chi
“Shang-Chi is the Marvel Universe’s greatest martial artist; the undisputed Master of Kung Fu. He’s a bit older than most of the younger heroes in this team up and absolutely has an emotional center and discipline that most can only dream of. His abilities also aren’t based on technology or super-powers, which means under certain circumstances, he could be absolutely key. We’re also going to learn a bit more about Shang-Chi in this story arc; he’ll do something you’ve never, ever seen him do in issue #15. Dontcha dare miss it!”

Silk
“Cindy Moon, aka Silk, is a bit older than Amadeus, but she spent 13 years alone in a bunker, so in some ways she still interacts with the world as a much younger person might. In a lot of ways, she and Amadeus have a similar spirit and vibe. I could imagine the two of them getting in a lot of trouble together pretty quickly, given the opportunity. Or they might just have way too much fun eating Korean barbecue and singing karaoke. Cindy’s got awesome spider-based powers which are absolutely going to come in handy as our story progresses.”

Throw down with TOTALLY AWESOME HULK #15, by Greg Pak and artist Mahmud Asrar, on January 25!

Read More