Artist Mark Bagley Reflects on His Spider-Man Legacy & More
On a special episode of ‘Marvel’s Pull List,’ ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ artist Mark Bagley discussed his previous work and teased his new ‘Spider-Man’ series with Dan Slott.
As the specular Spider-Month swings forward, Marvel’s Pull List has recruited an extra special guest: ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN legend Mark Bagley! In an amazing bonus episode celebrating Spider-Man’s 60th anniversary, Bagley chatted with hosts Ryan Penagos and Jasmine Estrada about his own Spidey legacy, Gerry Conway and Gil Kane's “The Death of Gwen Stacy” storyline, working with Dan Slott on their upcoming series SPIDER-MAN (2022), and more.
To start, Bagley recalled his first encounter with comic books and how Spider-Man stood out to him. “I was heavy into comics,” he said. “I mean, I was reading comics all the time, and that was back in the day when I'd get on my bike on the weekends and go to about four different grocery stores and a couple of hospitals and a couple of 7/11s to try and find whatever came out that week.”
“I was mainly into Marvel and I was reading everything,” he added. “The CONAN stuff was blowing me away. Barry Windsor-Smith was still on it and every issue, he seemed to get better and better and better. It was actually a pretty exciting time in comics, to be honest with you, and it was such a simpler time. It seemed like Marvel was a little Marvel Universe and you could keep track. When Thor would show up in an issue, even if he was just in two or three panels, you were like, ‘Oh, [bleep], Thor's in the same city!’ You know, that sort of thing.”
“So Spider-Man is my favorite character,” he explained. “I love the John Romita stuff and Gil Kane came in for – he didn't do that many issues when you look back on it. I think he made maybe a dozen issues over the course of a couple of years, and I've got reprints of all of them! I gave away my comic collection years ago, but they were all dog eared and used. I mean, I used to pull out carbon paper and trace over some of the figures, just, ‘How did he do that?!’ But it was my version of Photoshop. It was just a great time to be reading comic books if you were into it.”
“I wrote my own comics, which were all totally bad and totally just ripped off what was going on in regular comics, but it was just all a learning process for me. The Gil Kane issue, the ‘Death of Gwen Stacy’ issue, came along… and it was so shocking the way it happened,” he shared. “Harry Osborn is going through the drug thing and Peter is freaking out about that. Green Goblin is coming in and out of his life like every couple of issues, it seems like. Then he kidnaps Gwen off-camera. You don't even know that he's done it. He just leaves a pumpkin bomb sitting in her apartment. It was so out of the blue… and it was so violent!”
“It was just so well drawn because even then I was totally into the storytelling and the visuals of it. Gil was so dynamic and so just crazy good,” he continued. “I seem to recall that I was reading it in the cafeteria in my high school at lunch time and just being shocked by it. I mean, not crying or anything like that, but just was like, ‘Holy smokes, what the hell just happened?’ And, you know, ‘Did he kill her?’, that sort of thing, which I think he did. The ‘snap’ was added later; it wasn't part of the script. From what I've read, it just was added later. Yeah. It was pretty amazing. I'm looking at it right now. Yeah. Goddamn, Gil Kane was good.”
Bagley also reflected on the way his artwork has inspired others in a similar fashion and how that, in turn, has touched him. “I hear that when I go to a con quite often, either ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN was their first comic and got them into comics, or the fact that I'm their Spider-Man artist… I'm always humbled by it, because I would walk up to John Buscema and say the same thing, the exact same thing,” he said. “I'd go, ‘Your stuff is what got me into comics,’ or Jack Kirby or Gil Kane. I always thought I'd get into this business and I’d make a lower middle class income… The 90s hit and… we became these redheaded stepchildren rock stars! It's like conventions and they're paying us royalties… I'm a real fortunate guy, and I don't take that for granted for a second.”
As it turns out, ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN holds a special place in Bagley’s heart, as well. “That was the nice thing about ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN. When I was drawing AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, I just felt like I was drawing John Romita’s, [Steve] Ditko’s, Gil Kane's guys. Ross Andrews! These are their characters. I'm just kind of borrowing them for a while,” he shared. “The nice thing about ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN was I could make these guys mine and not have to worry about what had gone on before and not have it feel like any kind of pressure. That was really kind of liberating.”
Before he signed off from Marvel’s Pull List, Bagley also offered a tantalizing tidbit about SPIDER-MAN (2022), his upcoming series with longtime AMAZING SPIDER-MAN writer Dan Slott. “We've wanted to work together for a while. At least he says he's wanted to work with me, and I know I wanted to work with him, and the opportunity to do this comes up. Basically, the first six issues is polishing off his Spider-Verse story arc, and some of these characters we've come up with are pretty out there. I'll mention one: we have a Princess Spider-Verse person,” he teased.
Don’t miss SPIDER-MAN (2022) #1, Bagley’s new Spidey series with Slott, when it goes on sale October 5!
Marvel is celebrating Spider-Man's 60th anniversary all month long! Stay tuned for more Spider-fun right here on Marvel.com.
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