Comics

Spectacular Spider-Man: Reunited and it Feels So Good

Writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Joe Quinones get the band back together!

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Some team-ups end at just the right time. Others leave you wanting more. Writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Joe Quinones have become the rare team that exists as both. When they concluded their collaboration on HOWARD THE DUCK, the timing proved perfect. But, come on, we all knew we needed more of Zdarsky’s words and Quinone’s lines bringing sweet comic book storytelling to our eyes.

In PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #301, we all get our wish as the duo reconnect for the three-issue arc “Amazing Fantasy.” We pulled them away from planning their new treehouse just long enough for them to talk about how happy it makes them to be together again.

Marvel.com: How different is it to collaborate with each other on a book like SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN versus HOWARD THE DUCK? What unique challenges did PETER PARKER present you both with?

Joe Quinones: Well so far he doesn’t cry nearly as much.

Certainly there are through-lines with both series in Chip’s writing style, which balances a combination of humor and heart, but it’s a question of degrees. The jokes are there, but where with Howard the gags were more front and center, here we pull the punches a little. Chip’s Spider-Man is very self-aware and funny but it’s delivered with some amount of restraint, offset by more drama and super-heroic flair.

Chip Zdarsky: I mean the big thing is having more eyeballs on a Spider-Man book than you would a Howard the Duck book! So, there’s some pressure there. Joe’s work is really fun and light, so we also needed to make sure the story being told would suit his style, while being decidedly more serious than a standard HOWARD issue. I think people are going to dig it.

Marvel.com: To rejoin with someone you already had an established relationship with must, I imagine, carry a fair amount of comfort to it. Does working with each other again make you feeling free to take risks that you might have been more hesitant to do with someone you were less familiar with? If so, where might readers notice that in the book?

Chip Zdarsky: I think it’s less about taking risks and more about knowing your co-creator’s strengths and being able to play to them. [Artist] Adam [Kubert] is the king of big action scenes, Joe is the king of facial expressions and body language. So, writing for Joe, I tend to do more scenes where I push those abilities, by writing scenes like “okay, he’s sad, but not too sad, more wistful, but there’s also an underlying anger.”

Joe loves it when I do that!

Joe Quinones: Of course! I really loved working with Chip on HOWARD. I think we complement each other well. While it seemed like a good place to end the book where we did, boy once it was gone, I really missed the collaboration. It’s been fun teaming up again.

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #301 cover by Joe Quinones

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #302 cover by Joe Quinones

Marvel.com: You both are taking Spider-Man, along with Teresa and J. Jonah Jameson, back in time. From what you’ve seen and discussed, how do you try to realize the look of the Marvel Universe from several years earlier?

Joe Quinones: Well we’re at once literally traveling back to the early aughts and spiritually to the 1960’s, so it’s a fine line of fedoras and Nickelback posters, of low-rise jeans and double-breasted suits. It’s a fun balancing act of two very different eras, but essentially we’re transplanting classic [Steve] Ditko [art] into the 21st century.

Marvel.com: Chip, as a writer, did you feel the need to change anything about your approach to scripting to make that time period come to life?

Chip Zdarsky: With Marvel books we’re dealing a lot with the sliding timeline, so I wanted to make sure young Peter looked like he would in, say, 2004-2005, while not cementing it too much in that period, y’know? The big thing was to make him look awkward and different enough from our Peter that it’s a bit of a shock how young he is. I mean, he’d be 15-16 at this point. We’re used to older guys playing teen Peter in the movies, so I wanted to make sure this Peter actually felt young. Joe’s designs for young and old are so perfect, it just inspires me to write them forever.

Marvel.com: Were there any characters you were particularly thrilled to take on? Any that proved to be an unexpected treat or challenge?

Joe Quinones: J.J! No, Doc Ock! No, Green Goblin! These were all fun to work on, really. I particularly enjoyed designing 15-year-old Spidey vs. 28-year-old Spidey. Adolescence is such a great, funny, horrible time, where we’re all in this transitional period and haven’t quite figured ourselves out yet, awkwardly inhabiting our own skin. There’s an implicit misery in it, and who better [encapsulates] misery than Spider-Man?

Marvel.com: One of the fan favorite issues of your run so far has definitely been #6 which focused on JJJ and his relationship to Spidey. With the changes that occurred in that story, how might we see that echoed in this “team-up”?

Chip Zdarsky: Yeah, Jonah’s been thrown in the deep end of the pool. There hasn’t been a lot of down-time to process everything, so he’s pretty discombobulated by everything that’s happening. What he sees though, is that Peter lacks structure and guidance, which Jonah is more than willing to provide.

Marvel.com: On the subject of Jameson, it seems everyone is going to have to do their best to keep him from altering the past. Does he have something in particular he wants to see changed or is it more of making sure he does not mess things up by accident?

Chip Zdarsky: Like anyone, he has things he wants to change. But time travel’s a complicated thing. How will Jonah of the past react to our Jonah showing up on his doorstep? What chain of events does that set in motion?

Marvel.com: Any moment or sequence of the art either of you can’t wait for fans to see? Can you tease it a bit for us?

Joe Quinones: Wow what a joy it is to draw Spidey and Spidey bouncing off of Ditko-era Spider-Man villains like Doc Ock and Green Goblin. They’re so fun to draw and Chip writes their interactions perfectly.

Chip Zdarsky: Oh man, it’s all so good. But seeing our two Spideys teaming up to take down classic rogues through Joe’s gorgeous illustrations is worth the price of admission.

“Amazing Fantasy” reunites Chip Zdarsky with Joe Quinones and kicks off in PETER PARKER: THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #301 this March!