Comics

Stuart Immonen Swings onto Amazing Spider-Man

The all-star artist prepares for a go-around with Peter Parker!

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As Peter Parker continues to deal with the shocking events of The Clone Conspiracy we all look to the future with huge questions about the character’s upcoming status quo. We do, however, know who will hold the reins on AMAZING SPIDER-MAN when the dust settles: longtime Spidey architect Dan Slott and superstar artist Stuart Immonen along with inker Wade von Grawbadger and colorist Marte Gracia.

Immonen kicks his run on Spidey off with a short story in March’s THE CLONE CONSPIRACY: OMEGA before leaping right into the regular series with AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #25 later that same month. We talked with the artist about changing up his style for this particular project, the difference between this and his previous arachnid assignment, and putting such a killer artistic team together.

Marvel.com: It seems with every project you do you reinvent yourself and your style, from the more linear and cartoony NEXTWAVE to the more realistic work you did on ALL-NEW X-MEN to the painting of Superman: Secret Identity. What sort of approach have you adopted for AMAZING SPIDER-MAN? The hatching that you’re using doesn’t look like the work you’ve done in the past. What led you to adopt that particular style choice for this project?

Stuart Immonen: While the surface quality of the drawings shifts from project to project, the underlying approach to storytelling remains pretty much unaltered, or at least, is more challenging to reinvent. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it allows me to utilize a well-established foundation of comic-making while I experiment with other elements.

In some ways, I’m specifically tailoring my approach to the work at hand, responding to the script and to the broader history of the character or genre, and in other ways, I’m simply pushing myself to think about something in a different way in order to bring out something fresh or to hopefully have what [artist] Bob Ross calls happy accidents. This is not to say that I put the work in jeopardy; it’s always as solid a comic as I can make it, or at least my part of it. Rather, I’m looking for a path that will lead me to something new, and at the same time be sympathetic to the established context.

Mostly I’m just trying to push Wade’s buttons, and find the boundaries—if there are any—of what we can do together. Projects on which we collaborate tend to swing from pared-back and simple to more detailed and introspective. Empress, for all its sci-fi design, was basically light and open, so it seemed natural to try something more organic and textured, especially on a kinetic character like Spider-Man.

Marvel.com: Are there any particular past Spider-Man artists’ renditions that influenced your take on the web-slinger?

Stuart Immonen: The Johns Romita, Sr. and Jr, of course. Ross Andru. Gil Kane. John Byrne. Olivier Coipel. Sara Pichelli. David Lafuente. Not all for the same reasons. I’m not looking specifically to cherry-pick good ideas from other people, and I don’t necessarily even have the material close to hand, but it’s all there in the back of my mind, sometimes just a scene or a panel that stuck with me, sometimes something more general.

Marvel.com: The last big Spider-Man run you did was on ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN. How different is your Spider-Man here from your Spider-Man there?

Stuart Immonen: Well, it’s still Peter Parker and it’s still Spider-Man, but the contexts are completely separate, so much so that I’m really not thinking about [ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN] at all at this point. I’m directly responding to Dan’s script and the demands thereof, not considering the two jobs as if they exist in some kind of continuum.

Marvel.com: How do you approach your vehicle/tech design? Is it just pencil on paper as you draw pages? How much development work do you do? And where do you get your design inspiration?

Stuart Immonen: The primary design stage is still loose pencil sketching, but I’ve been using 3D modeling for many years to help me visualize invented objects and settings from any various angles as required. I’m not super-adept at modeling, however, and the results are really just simple frameworks which aid the freehand drawing.

The demands of a monthly serial also mean that I don’t get to spend hours and hours on design, and often a bit of tech is a throwaway that just appears in a few panels. If I had staff or assistants, my requirements might be different, but I often rely on my first instincts, with an eye to making whatever it is fit the personality—and capability—of the character with which it’s associated.

Shirow and Otomo are always go-to resources. Tetsuro Ueyama. Koji Morimoto. Katsuyuki Tanaka. Again, all for different reasons.

Marvel.com: We’re told that your right hand man Wade von Grawbadger is on tap for inking. What is it about his work that keeps you two together? You’ve been working together for at least 15 years, right?

Stuart Immonen: Wade and I first worked together, I think, on a two-part Supergirl story for DC’s Showcase title in 1995, and then did the Inferno mini-series in ‘97 and many things since, so that’s 21 years. Wade’s the consummate pro and has earned every industry award to prove it. He’s not only at the top of his game—and [has] been there for decades—in terms of craft and raw talent, but he’s willing and able to adapt and refresh and learn new things in a way that directly responds to my own desires to seek new horizons. I’ve worked with other inkers and had happy working relationships, but Wade is simply the best in the business. I couldn’t function without him in my corner.

Marvel.com: Marte Gracia is coloring your run. You’ve worked with pretty much every A-List colorist in the biz. What is it about Marte that made him the right choice for this book?

Stuart Immonen: Marte is an explosive talent, who, like Wade, is just so enthusiastically ready to try something different, to push out of his comfort zone and at the same time imbue the work with his own distinct approach. His natural palette is exquisite, so pleasing on the screen and on the page. He knows when to pull back with subdued tones, and when to use all the Chroma available. He knows how to block and frame a scene, how to model and illuminate. We’re lucky to have him return to [AMAZING SPIDER-MAN], and I’m personally grateful—not to mention thrilled—to be a part of this triple-threat art team.

Stuart Immonen makes his mark on Spider-Man beginning this March in THE CLONE CONSPIRACY OMEGA!