Read Ghost-Spider's Full 'Women of Marvel' Podcast Episode
In this episode of the ‘Women of Marvel’ podcast, we go inside Gwen Stacy’s double life as Ghost-Spider!
FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT:
SEANAN MCGUIRE: She plays drums in a punk band, she will kick your teeth in if you give her good reason to. She is really not the sort of Girl we wanted to give the ability to chuck cars.
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: That limb independence, that drum practice is probably really good to keep up your skills.
JODI NISHIJIMA: Gwen Stacy stands out as particularly just doing her own thing at her own pace and sort of not letting anybody tell her what to do otherwise.
PREETI CHHIBBER: Welcome to Women of Marvel, I'm Preeti Chhibber, Publisher Weekly's Spider-Man superfan, and official Spider-Man novelist.
ELLIE PYLE: And I'm Ellie Pyle, a longtime Spider-Man editor. But we are not here today to talk about Spider-Man. Oh no, today we are leaving Earth-616 and we are heading to Earth-65 to talk about Spider-Gwen.
PREETI CHHIBBER: And for those of you who don't know what that means, we've got you, no one's getting left behind on this show. We label every parallel universe differently here in the Marvel Multiverse and Earth-616 is the primary continuity where most of the comics take place.
ELLIE PYLE: But not all of them because today we are talking about Earth-65, where about a decade ago we met a new version of Gwen Stacy. In 2014 as part of our very first Spider-Verse Event, Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez gave Gwen this awesome black and white costume with a pink hoodie and blue shoes, and they gave her Spider-powers.
PREETI CHHIBBER: As you might guess based on our introduction, her story is pretty complicated. So we thought we'd bring in someone to help.
SEANAN MCGUIRE: Hi I'm Seanan McGuire. I write incessantly and occasionally manage to do that for people other than myself, which my agent prefers. And I do a lot of licensed IP work which, relevant to this podcast, included a two-year run on Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider from 2018 to 2020.
ELLIE PYLE: Well, please tell us a little bit about Ghost-Spider, tell us a bit about her backstory.
SEANAN MCGUIRE: So here on-- I'm going to use here to refer to the main Marvel Universe. Here in 616, Gwen Stacy was Peter Parker's college girlfriend. She got tossed off a bridge by the Green Goblin but was actually killed by Peter Parker who did not set up his webbing correctly when he stopped her descent, pulled her up too sharply and snapped her neck.
And that has been a guilt that Peter has carried with him through a large portion of his Super Hero career to the point that in the House of M arc, the original House of M, when Wanda rewrote the world, Gwen actually appeared as Peter's true love because while he loves Mary Jane, the idea of a world where he could have saved Gwen was sort of his ultimate wish fulfillment. That's how things went here in 616.
Meanwhile, over on Earth-65, which is like six steps down the turnpike and across a multi-dimensional bridge, Gwen Stacy was bitten by a radioactive spider . . . kind of. Gwen's power situation is weird. She's not technically a Spider Hero, she's technically a symbiote. So she's more Venom than Spider-Man, but she presents as a Spider Hero, she started out that way.
Gwen's powers are very much built on the standard Spider-Man model. She's super strong, she can generate webs, she has Spider-Sense. And she has the increased muscular strength and density necessary to be able to do those spider acrobatics without snapping her own neck.
Because you look at the tricks literally any spider hero will do, and if they had baseline human skeletal and muscular construction, they're just dead! You get your Spider-powers, you do three backflips and you fall over on the floor because you have severed your own spinal column, which is a lousy way to go. So she's got the full suite of baseline physical powers that you have to have to be functional.
Gwen Stacy became Spider-Woman, hero of her world, and Peter Parker, who felt very overshadowed and like he was never going to amount to anything, kind of started his descent into villainy a little bit and wound up becoming the Lizard, which resulted in Gwen accidentally killing him at their senior prom. Gwen was recruited into the Web Warriors who protected the Web of Life and Destiny, so she was hopping from multiversal location to multiversal location for a while.
Which means she discovered that basically every female-identifying spider hero goes through a period where they call themselves Spider-Woman. Meanwhile, the meme name in the real world - the one that's not even 616, the one where we write the 616 comics - the meme name Spider-Gwen had caught on. And in the final issue of Jason Latour's initial run on her, she announced that she was Spider-Gwen, she blew her own secret identity and went to prison.
This is not a great plan if you want to have a normal life. So after that when she got out of prison she couldn't reconceal her secret identity but she could make it a little less blatant when she was continuing to bop around the multiverse, and wound up changing her name to Ghost-Spider because death loves Gwen Stacy.
PREETI CHHIBBER: I would pay so much money to have you just narrate the backstories of various Marvel characters. That was a delightful journey down Ghost-Spider's history.
ELLIE PYLE: That thwip sound means that Seanan swung out of here, she'll be back in a bit. But first, now that Seanan gave us Gwen's backstory, we have to do our top reasons to love Ghost-Spider a.k.a. Spider-Gwen.
PREETI CHHIBBER: So what are they? Do you want to kick us off?
ELLIE PYLE: Sure! So I think we have to start with that costume.
PREETI CHHIBBER: Iconic.
ELLIE PYLE: I was working in the Spider office when Gwen was first redesigned, and the moment we saw her new look, we knew that this was going to be big. And really I think that's a lot of what first grabbed people's attention and drew them in to love her. And I love all of the cosplay that it has inspired.
PREETI CHHIBBER: Yeah, I can remember seeing it and being like, “People are going to dress like that and they're going to look awesome dressing like that.” Number two, she is spunky. There's nothing like, quiet about her. She says what she wants, she stands up for what she wants, and she's just really fun to read and exciting to read. That goes so well with that bananas art that Robbi Rodriguez came out with. Like, just bright colors and dark spaces, and it was just really cool. It felt electric.
ELLIE PYLE: So, number three -- the fact that she's a musician, specifically a drummer. She has a band with her friends called the Mary Janes. So flashing back to 2014 again real quick, when that first issue came out, people were so excited that we actually got a fan submission from a band who had recorded a song as though they were the Mary Janes, and it was amazing. We were all so excited.
And later in this episode, we're going to be talking to a drummer about how being a drummer might influence Gwen's powers, make her a better hero.
PREETI CHHIBBER: It's so cool. I bought the Mary Janes t-shirt at a Con from Robbi Rodriguez's table. I remember it. It was like, gray with like bright pink screen printing, I think. It was my prized possession that year I think.
ELLIE PYLE: I love it, do you still have it?
PREETI CHHIBBER: Somewhere . . . in a box.
ELLIE PYLE: Yep, yep that's fair, that's fair.
PREETI CHHIBBER: It was like one of those things where I'm like, “If I keep wearing this, it's going to fall apart, so let me put it away and keep it carefully.” Number four, she is part of the Multiverse and she can go toe-to-toe with any spider hero out there. And there's a lot of them and you’ve got to be able to hold on to your place and she can do it.
ELLIE PYLE: Including with herself in several of the series--
PREETI CHHIBBER: Yep--
ELLIE PYLE: -- that we've seen recently. Gwens from all over the Multiverse. Number five, she is just a perfect Marvel hero in the sense that she is still growing up, trying to figure out how to balance everything between school, and her hero duties, and not being perfect, just trying to make it all work.
PREETI CHHIBBER: So like Seanan told us earlier she and artist Rosie Camp picked up the baton in 2018 with Spider-Gwen: Ghost-Spider.
PREETI CHHIBBER: What is she like? Like, what is her personality like in Earth-65 and that Gwen Stacy?
SEANAN MCGUIRE: So Earth-65's Gwen Stacy is younger than Earth-616's Gwen Stacy was when she died. She's not actually a rebellious teenager, she loves her father, she lives with her single father, Captain Stacy, from the police. And on 616 one of the big schisms between Gwen and Peter was that Peter didn't save Captain Stacy's life. On 65 he's doing just fine and keeping him alive and protecting him has always been a big motivator for our Gwen.
So, she's not rebellious, but she is a punk.
She plays drums in a punk band, she will kick your teeth in if you give her good reason to. She is really not the sort of girl we wanted to give the ability to chuck cars.
But she's a good friend. She is a snotty, pushy, incredibly good friend and she will stick with you to the end. She and the Mary Janes, the punk band that she is a part of, they are ride-or-die for each other. Which is occasionally a problem because MJ, their world's equivalent of Mary-Jane Watson, doesn't understand why Gwen has to not always be there. Why she can't put the Mary Janes first the way that she did before she became a Super Hero.
I emphasize 65 a lot because the Spider-Verse movies, those don't take place in the same continuity, they have their own universal designation. So that version of Ghost-Spider is not Earth-65's Ghost-Spider. She's from some other parallel where things unfolded in a very similar but not identical fashion.
ELLIE PYLE: What is it that you feel like you were able to bring to your version of Gwen that kind of meant the most to you?
SEANAN MCGUIRE: I grew up with Gwen Stacy, with 616 Gwen Stacy. And when I was a kid reading comics, she was the first time I saw myself. She was this blonde girl who liked science, she wasn't presented as a Barbie, she wasn't presented as a dumb blonde joke, and she didn't have Super Powers so when she got tossed off a bridge my heart broke. I sat on the floor of the comic book store sobbing for hours, and I didn't actually initially read the edge of Spider-Verse stuff where people were very excited. “Oh, Spider-Gwen, Gwen Stacy's coming!” I couldn't read it because I knew she wouldn't stay. Because she never stays, because death loves Gwen Stacy. And then she stayed and the day that the Spider office asked if I would like to write her, I literally -- I managed to stay calm and professional throughout the call, and then I hung up and cried. And I wanted to write a Gwen that you could hand to a 7-year-old. I do understand what “child-safe” means so it's very much written with the idea that people could share this with their children while still being an all-ages comic and still appropriate for adults.
You don't have to spin a story on sex to have it be interesting. One of the firm rules I brought to the scripting was that we would not put Gwen in any sexy sexy position we wouldn't also put Peter into. Women can be people, they don't have to be present for a purpose. Sometimes a character is just a girl.
When I was writing for her Gwen got to have very close female friendships which was very important to me, but they also had me do the renaming. That was one of the things I was handed as, “You must do this.” And that was a little awkward because Ghost-Spider does not flow trippingly off the tongue as a name, but finding the connective tissue of-- every Gwen Stacy one way or another really is so tied to death, that is a constant of her character, and being able to pull that forward was great.
Although really the biggest thing I brought to the franchise I would say is that I established that the swarm can animate a dinosaur skeleton, so I got to have Ghost-Spider and Spider-Man fight a Nazi scientist dinosaur made of bees.
ELLIE PYLE: And that is quite the contribution, that is quite the contribution. Well, if people would like to know more about what you're up to now, where can they find you online if you want to be found?
SEANAN MCGUIRE: Well, I'm not hard to find. If you can spell my name you can pretty much locate me. Every other Seanan I know of is either a character in Red Dead Redemption, a sheep farmer in Ireland, or a rugby player, so you'll know you have the right one.
I am at seananmcguire.com. I have an Instagram, but it makes my publicist cry because I regularly forget that I write books and just tell people about my My Little Pony collection and my cats. And I'm on Bluesky as of recently.
ELLIE PYLE: Well, thank you so much Seanan, please come back any time.
So we mentioned before that there are many versions of Gwen out there, and in 2022 Tim Seeley and Jodi Nishijima created the limited series Spider-Gwen: Gwen-Verse.
JODI NISHIJIMA: My name is Jodi Nishijima, I'm a comic book artist and I've recently been working on Marvel. My works include Spider-Gwen: Gwen-Verse, as well as the most recent issue, the March issue of Women of Marvel.
PREETI CHHIBBER: Spider-Gwen: Gwen-Verse is so interesting because it asks what would happen if Gwen Stacy's story had gone any number of ways. What do you think makes Gwen Stacy Gwen Stacy regardless of what her story-- how it unfolds?
JODI NISHIJIMA: One thing that has always stood out to me is the fact that she is, across any iteration that I've ever seen of her, very independent. I think that's something that's common amongst most Spider-People, but to me Gwen Stacy stands out as particularly just doing her own thing at her own pace and sort of not letting anybody tell her what to do otherwise.
And I think that that's something that I tried to capture across every book that I drew with her and all the different personalities that I was representing with her.
ELLIE PYLE: So when you're drawing Gwen, what are some of the quintessential attributes you have to get across in any given design?
JODI NISHIJIMA: For me, looking at Gwen and just knowing what I know about her—she, to me, always came across as on the edgier side of characterization. I think as far as the girl-next-door type of character, she dips her toe into that somewhat, but for the most part, she kind of breaks that mold by virtue of not being as cutesy or sweet as like, say the average girl-next-door character type would be.
She's in that rock band. She's not just like, the singer or the guitarist, she's the drummer. And that's kind of a different sort of characterization than you would normally see from the cute girl love interest type character which when she takes on her spidersona she's not just that anymore, she becomes elevated to her own character.
And I think that's one thing that I think is important to represent and is something that stands out to me in terms of her character. Just the fact that she sort of on the surface has that blonde cute girly sort of atmosphere about her. Her chief color schemes tend to err on the side of pink and white, but then her actual characterization is a lot more tomboyish or like edgy or independent.
PREETI CHHIBBER: Can you tell us a little bit about the series, about Spider-Gwen: Gwen-Verse, sort of just like a really quick summary of what's happening in it.
JODI NISHIJIMA: Yeah, absolutely. So, in Gwen-Verse we follow Gwen Stacy as she exists in her current modern iterations and we sort of get a glimpse into how she's unsettled with or feeling out of place with her current monotony. Specifically, she feels as though she could be greater. The things that she wants to do are more bombastic than what she currently has but at the same time she doesn't exactly know what it is that she is so non-complacent with, what it is that she's like looking for.
Of course, she's got the typical Spider-Person problems of having lost someone important to her and her family and her friends not exactly accepting her Super Hero side. Having trouble balancing both the spidersona and herself, like her day-to-day activity. And after we get that glimpse into her unrest she gets thrown into this situation where her personality and her character get torn into these different facets and she becomes not just Spider-Gwen but Gwen-Thor, Thor-Gwen, Iron-Gwen and all these different well known Marvel Super Heroes, but it's just her.
And through that storyline as she meets her different selves she realizes that her unrest kind of laid not just in her life and the way that it's being split apart but herself and how she has to split herself apart in order to fill all these different roles in her life. And by the end of it, she sort of learns to accept those different parts of herself. But there's a whole lot of other stuff that happens, for sure involving interdimensional bad guys and all that stuff.
PREETI CHHIBBER: The comic stuff.
JODI NISHIJIMA: Yeah, the comic stuff, which was very fun to draw.
ELLIE PYLE: Where should people look on the internet to find out what you're working on next?
JODI NISHIJIMA: I'm most available on Twitter, @astrolimes. That's A-S-T-R-O-L-I-M-E-S. Or if you just look up Black Limes, like the color Black B-L-A-C-K, limes, like the fruit, you might find me anywhere else online that I'm available.
PREETI CHHIBBER: Well, thank you so much for joining us today and we hope that you'll have things to come back and talk about soon.
JODI NISHIJIMA: Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for having me and it was really fun to be able to talk about this series and story and this character that I'm sure everybody knows is really great.
PREETI CHHIBBER: Like Jodi said, whether Gwen is Ghost-Spider or Spider-Gwen or Spider-Woman she's still Gwen Stacy at heart.
ELLIE PYLE: And before she was any of those heroes, she was just a kid doing ballet, playing the drums in a band with her friends.
PREETI CHHIBBER: I mean honestly what is cooler than a drummer? She looks so cool playing the drums. I mean that opening sequence of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse, where she's drumming while the movie's telling her backstory is so, so good.
ELLIE PYLE: Luckily we have someone in the Spider family who can tell us what it's like to be on that side of a drum kit. Maya Aoki Tuttle was the drummer for the indie rock band The Colourist and she just so happens to voice the Wasp on the Disney Junior series Spidey and His Amazing Friends, where she saves the day alongside Ghost-Spider.
Our Ask an Expert correspondent and former drummer herself, Isabel, talked to Maya.
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: My name is Maya Aoki Tuttle and I voice Wasp on Spidey and His Amazing Friends.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: And you made a little bit of a career pivot, right? What has your career looked like?
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: Yeah, well before this I was in a band and we were signed to Universal Republic and I played drums for a living. So, we toured around the country, played Coachella, did the Late Late Show and released records. But after that we were kind of looking for a new life path and we had done like radio liners. Like, “Hey, we're The Colourist and you're listening to blah blah blah.”
So, our manager at the time suggested voice acting. So I took classes and then voila, here we are like 10 years later.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: It's in the same world of audio.
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: Yeah, a lot of musicians get into voiceover because we have all these mics and equipment lying around and have production experience so there's a lot of crossover.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: I was a huge fan of your band, The Colourist through--
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: Thank you--
ISABEL ROBERTSON: College. I came down--
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: Oh thank you.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: I was going to school outside of the city of Chicago. And I remember coming down into the city one time in probably 2014 or 2015 to see you guys play. I grew up playing drums I was a drummer--
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: Oh nice--
ISABEL ROBERTSON: In high school. And I remember just being so thrilled to see a woman playing the drums and also singing. And like--
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: Oh, that's awesome.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: It was just huge to see that at age 20 -- 19, 20, 21 whenever it was. So I've been a huge fan of yours forever.
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: Well, thank you so much. I remember those Chicago shows were always so fun and so wild, and so it was really, really a good time. Thank you so much, it's so nice of you to say.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: So when and how did you first start playing drums?
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: So when I was a kid, probably around 11, I think my dad was like watching a documentary or something and I saw an old video clip of the band The Carpenters from the 1970s and Karen Carpenter in the band played drums. And that was the first time I had ever seen a woman playing drums. And I was just mind-blown and so excited.
And immediately to my parents I'm like, “Please, please I want a drum set.” And that just started the whole snowball. I joined the marching band at school in junior high and jazz band and I just started rocking out. Props to my parents because having a 12-year-old playing drums in the house after school every day is so loud.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: Yeah.
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: Also thank you to my neighbors because it's a lot to take. But it was so fun and I just was-- yeah, good times.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: What did you play in marching band?
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: I started out playing tenors in junior high and then by high school snare, eventually center snare.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: Amazing.
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: Yeah.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: Amazing, I played also. We call them quads but I played quads--
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: Yes, quads--
ISABEL ROBERTSON: And snare also in high school so.
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: Yes.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: I loved that.
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: I learned as a touring drummer people really respect marching drummers because you how to play traditional grip, and you can do the movie Drumline, you're doing all the tricks and stuff. So hot tip to the kids out there if you want to be a great drummer join marching band.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: Oh, that's a great tip. What is it that you love about it? Like what has kept you playing drums as opposed to sort of branching off and exploring other types of music?
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: I've always been really drawn to drumming because I think I love how physical it is. Even as a kid I remember walking through a music store, and I think any kid can relate, you just kind of gravitate towards the drums because you can hit them and they're loud and you can really work up a sweat and let out a lot of emotions too. Animal in The Muppets playing drums, it always appealed to me.
But actually I think the biggest thing about drums is -- I love how just the drums alone, a rhythm, a beat, it can get people dancing, it can get people moving. You don't need any other instrument there, if you've got a good drum beat like people just start moving and dancing. It's like a Super Power.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: But if you were to magically get Gwen's Spider-powers do you think you would still keep drumming?
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: Oh yes.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: Yes.
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: Definitely. One thing that's cool about drumming is you develop what drummers call limb independence. So that's when each of your arms and legs do something different but coordinated and at the same time. It's like necessary to make advanced drum beats and it's really good for your brain and coordination.
So I'm thinking if you're a Super Hero you need to be in tip-top mentally and physically, so that limb independence, that drum practice is probably really good to keep up your skills in your off time.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: Totally.
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: It's pretty crazy. It's like each of your arms and legs have their own brain and they can do different things but together, it's like an orchestra, it's pretty awesome.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: That's amazing. Yeah, I can totally see how that would be perfect for Gwen. But you're also part of the Spidey world. You play the Wasp in Spidey and His Amazing Friends. What does it mean to you to be part of that world? Part of the extended Spidey character universe?
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: I am so honored to be part of the Spidey family as Wasp. The whole cast is incredible and I love how the opening has Gwen drumming because, like—me, when I was a kid and I saw that clip of Karen Carpenter drumming, it changed my world. And I just know there's kids out there and little girls that will see Gwen drumming in that opening and be like, “I want to do that. I didn't know that's something I could do. Like I can totally drum too.”
ISABEL ROBERTSON: Maya, thank you so much. This was so fun.
MAYA AOKI TUTTLE: Oh, thank you too, this was awesome.
PREETI CHHIBBER: Gwen wasn't just a drummer before the radioactive spider bite, she also did ballet, which I did for like nine years when I was a kid.
ELLIE PYLE: That's amazing. I only lasted until I was old enough to make my own decisions.
PREETI CHHIBBER: I got to point and then I quit to focus on school, but I can still like turn my feet backwards because of all the things you have to do.
ELLIE PYLE: But that's awesome, that's really, really cool.
PREETI CHHIBBER: We are actually going to talk to fellow dancer, Marvel's executive director of business development, operations and strategy, Alex Vu.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: Well, hi Alex, Welcome to Women of Marvel.
ALEX VU: Thank you for having me.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: We're so excited you're here. Could you please introduce yourself to our listeners and tell them what you do at Marvel?
ALEX VU: Yeah, so my name is Alex. I've been at Marvel now for almost a year and I am the executive director on the business development team on the digital side. So basically, looking at different areas of digital business of what Marvel will kind of explore, and building out the products and services for all of our different fan audiences.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: Amazing. And something else about you is that you've been a dancer for a really long time. How long have you been dancing?
ALEX VU: So I actually-- I started later in my adult life. I started in my 20s. I used to figure skate and did gymnastics when I was young up until college. And then had some dance training as part of that but really got more into dance training probably in my 20s so I've been doing it for about nine years now mostly in contemporary and hip hop.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: What has kept you doing that? What do you love about it so much?
ALEX VU: The biggest draw to me with dance is just . . . I'm not the best at expressing my emotions or feelings through words or when I speak, but, for some reason with music and with dance I feel like that's my creative expression, that's where-- it's my creative outlet. It's almost like you're speaking in a different language when you dance. And you kind of release all of those feelings and all those emotions.
And when you hear the music and it just moves through your body like it's such like a therapeutic space I think for a lot of people, and myself included. So, I think that's really what drew me to it was really just the creative outlet and the space to be able to explore different areas of myself.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: Are there any other lessons or skills that you feel like you bring into other parts of your life?
ALEX VU: The most obvious one is probably the physicality of it. I think just dance is so focused on strength training, on discipline, on precision. And I think there's a way-- because dancers need to learn how to emote through their body, you do just learn how to gain confidence in just the way that you carry yourself.
So because you learn how to express different emotions and when you are able to move your body in a way that exhibits more confidence, you feel more confident. Or if you move your body in a way that is meant to demonstrate sadness or happiness or whatever, you start to feel that way. So I think there's definitely this knowledge of learning how to move through the world in the way that you want to move. Like in a more empowered way, in a stronger way.
I think one of the most interesting things I see with the people I danced with or in dance classes, and it's such a powerful thing that sometimes outside of the classroom they might be a little bit more reserved, might be a little bit more insular kind of inside themselves but as soon as they step into the dance room it's like they blossom. Like, when the music comes on that is their fullest expression of self. And they just seem so confident and strong and tall.
And I think it's so interesting how when they step into that persona their personality almost just blooms in a way. You learn how to actually quiet that part of your mind. And I think the constant repetition of practicing that and quieting those nerves or quieting that chatter in your mind, is like a muscle. It's really transferred to whenever I present at work or talk in front of a big group of people.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: That's huge. I mean in this episode, we're talking about Gwen Stacy, Ghost-Spider. Are there any other things from dance that you think she specifically, like as a Super Hero fighting crime, that she might draw from the part of her life as a dancer?
ALEX VU: I think maybe the first one probably is related to the quieting the mental chatter. I think one thing you learn in dance is when you're too in your head that's when you freeze. So for example, we learn a lot of choreography and you learn it in a really short amount of time and you're asked to then kind of go in front of the class and everyone kind of goes through in small groups.
And what happens a lot is obviously you're not going to remember all of it. And when you're too in your head and you're too worried about making it perfect and doing all the steps right, that's when people make the most mistakes.
So I think it's the ability to, again, get out of your head and just into your body and let your body do what it knows and be able to respond to other prompts or be able to respond to other people's energy, that's when you find that you flow much better. So I can imagine for her whether it's being in physical fights or just whatever it might be, I think getting out of her head.
And just really being there to assess what's happening and responding in a way that flows rather than trying to overthink it, because I think sometimes that's when we freeze the most. I think another one is a little bit less direct, but probably in being able to read people really well.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: Oh interesting.
ALEX VU: Yeah, like I think dance already I think already attracts really sensitive people, like really sensitive souls. People who are already really sensitive to other people's feelings and things like that. But again, because you're learning how to emote different things you also, I think, become a lot better at reading emotions and reading and anticipating other people's movements.
So whether it's reading someone else's body language or reading someone if they're about to pounce or whatever it might be, you learn how to anticipate and read the energy in a room or read the movements in a room. So I think there's like a deeper level potentially for her where she can assess things on a different level.
Where she can kind of again anticipate movements from different people or kind of assess what is everyone kind of feeling right now, being able to read what other people's intentions are just based on how they're in their body, an underlying skill that you build with dance.
ISABEL ROBERTSON: Well, thank you so much Alex.
ALEX VU: This is so much fun. Thank you so much.
ELLIE PYLE: It's so cool to hear from Maya and Alex about how Gwen's hobbies help with her Super Heroing.
PREETI CHHIBBER: Yeah, and it sounds like there are ways for us to strengthen our hero muscles in our lives too. Maybe I should have kept dancing.
ELLIE PYLE: Yeah, maybe we'd both be a little bit better in physical combat if we'd stuck with the dance skills. So what's Gwen up to now?
PREETI CHHIBBER: Well, we heard from Maya a little bit about Marvel's Spidey and His Amazing Friends, the hit animated series on Disney Junior. We also got to talk to the story editor of the series Becca Topol.
BECCA TOPOL: It's great to be here. My name is Becca Topol. I have the pleasure of being the co-producer and story editor on Spidey and His Amazing Friends.
PREETI CHHIBBER: Can you tell our listeners what it means to be a story editor on a show like this?
BECCA TOPOL: So basically, my job is I oversee the scripts. So I'm in charge of the script pipeline. And the script pipeline has different stages to it. We start with springboards. So, we're coming up with ideas in the room with a team of wonderful writers that we have. And then those ideas need to go through Marvel and Disney because we're all working as a big team and Atomic as well, the production company.
So once those get approved, then we go to our next step, which is a beat sheet, which is essentially what are the major plot points and then we go to an outline and then we go to scripts. And each phase requires me to rewrite, I give notes, I have to make sure that everything is-- what tone we're going for where we're pushing characters, stories, opportunities. And again, it's a collaboration.
ELLIE PYLE: If listeners haven't seen Marvel's Spidey and His Amazing Friends, can you briefly describe the show to them and tell us how Gwen fits into it?
BECCA TOPOL: Sure, in a nutshell, the series, which tells the story of Peter Parker, Gwen Stacy and Miles Morales, who together form Team Spidey and they embark on heroic adventures to protect their community and save the day. And it's a friendship story, it's a community story, it's action-adventure story. Lots of comedy, lots of fun, lots of heart.
It really-- I feel, and again I can say this because as I mentioned, I came into a well-oiled machine, that it really strikes such a nice balance where it has the layers of their relationship with their parents and the community and the wider community, including protecting the environment. The creatures of the community the forest in a way that is very aspirational.
PREETI CHHIBBER: In terms of Gwen and her role on the show, what were some goals for her character? And were there key aspects to her personality that you wanted to emphasize?
BECCA TOPOL: I have always naturally gravitated towards her character. I love her backstory. I think there's a core to her that really is encapsulated nicely in the show. And that is she has a real strength of character. And I'm speaking about her spirit and then she has talents as well. But she just has a real go-getter strength of character.
She's human, I mean, she's got vulnerabilities as all people do, kids and adults alike. But she's very proactive in her approach to things and she loves working in a team and very collaborative, just naturally. So I think all of those things are really nicely encapsulated in the show. And her humor. Now we're leaning into also her love of being a detective. Her mom in the show is a detective and so she really admires her mom and wants to follow in her footsteps.
So that's really nice too and obviously her drumming is really big, which is super fun too. So the emphasis on the show is that there's not one leader that they really-- it's the three of them together, the strength of the team. We really emphasize that. And for women I think that's really important to see, and for girls out there to see that. They don't have to be the one waiting for the guy to make the decision and then follow it because they don't trust themselves.
I think it's really important to show to girls that women, young girls, we can trust ourselves. We have an equal contribution. So now there I am on my soapbox about Gwen.
PREETI CHHIBBER: It's a good soapbox to have, I think.
ELLIE PYLE: It's a great soapbox. We love that soapbox.
PREETI CHHIBBER: What does it mean to you to be a part of the Spider-Man world?
BECCA TOPOL: It's such an honor, it's one of my favorites. Spider-Man is something I've always loved he's so relatable. As I was mentioning, all the stories around Gwen and Ghost-Spider, I've always loved.
So I think what's really nice is the way all of these stories are coming out but it really is about very similar themes. It's about being responsible for your life and your choices and doing things to help and serve others while growing up. That's what I love about it and people and the different sides of themselves coming out and how to reconcile the different sides of yourself.
Obviously the show is for a certain audience where there's certain levels you hit and then other levels maybe you don't hit because they're not ready for it, but it's a great way to give them a taste for what's possible. So what I love about Marvel is, I would just say it's about possibility and that I really love. Storytelling, dreaming, dreaming for your own life who you can be, what you can do in the world. That's what we need right now.
ELLIE PYLE: Thank you so much Becca for coming on the show today, and we look forward to future seasons.
PREETI CHHIBBER: Yeah.
BECCA TOPOL: Thank you so much for interviewing me.
ELLIE PYLE: And for a special bonus here's the voice of Ghost-Spider herself, Lily Sanfelippo.
LILY SANFELIPPO: My name is Lily Sanfelippo. I am 16 years old, and I'm a voiceover actor for many shows that I'm very fortunate to get to be on like Spidey and His Amazing Friends. I had actually read some of the comic books because I was a big reader when I was little, so it was really exciting when I was cast. And I really loved studying the spunk of the character. She wasn't some like laid back, in a shell-- like she was always very out there with every version of her that I watched.
She was always very out there, very spunky, not afraid. So, I really took that into consideration when I was coming up with the character myself. I loved everything about her. Everything was so inspiring, being able to be the girl on the show. And I love everything about her personality. She's so strong there's nothing not to like about her.
PREETI CHHIBBER: Writer Emily Kim and artist Kei Zama recently continued the Gwen Stacy story in the comics in Ghost-Spider: Shadow Clone where Gwen is targeted by clones of herself based on Spidey's greatest villains in a five-issue limited series.
ELLIE PYLE: But wait, there is more.
This December we're going to be launching a new Spider-Gwen mini series, which I am fortunate enough to be editing. It's called Spider-Gwen: Smash. And I could describe it for you, but let's let writer Melissa Flores do that instead.
MELISSA FLORES: I am Melissa Flores. I am so excited to be writing Spider-Gwen for Marvel. It is a Print Miniseries that features Gwen in her home dimension going on tour with the Mary Janes and shenanigans ensue. It is a wonderful time with Gwen having to reconnect with her fellow Mary Jane band members in the wake of a tour that maybe doesn't go as planned.
She's promised to put the Ghost-Spider away and unfortunately events occur that will keep her from actually having to do that, much to the disappointment of her fellow bandmates. It's a lot of fun, a lot of music, a lot of rock and roll and a lot of violence. So I can't wait for you to check it out. It'll be out in December.
PREETI CHHIBBER: Can't wait to see it.
ELLIE PYLE: I'm very excited about it. It's been a lot of fun to work on.
PREETI CHHIBBER: For more Gwen you can also check out Spider-Gwen: Annual Number One, which is part of the Contest of Chaos Event and came out earlier this month. Plus of course, we can see a version of Spider-Gwen in Spider-Man Across the Spider-Verse, which came out this summer.
ELLIE PYLE: So we've given you a lot of ways to check out stories with Gwen Stacy, but if people want even more Robyn, where should they go?
ROBYN BELT: I've got you covered. All right guys, we're going to start off with Gwen Stacy a.k.a. Spider-Gwen's first appearance in Edge of Spider-Verse issue two. That's from 2014. I think it is so clear why this character took off in such a meteoric way. I mean her costume design is really fresh, original. She just looks cool and she has the powers to boot. Our second issue is going to be Spider-Gwen issue one from 2015.
PREETI CHHIBBER: Yes.
ROBYN BELT: Yes! Now funnily enough there are two Spider-Gwen series from 2015, so this is what we'll refer to as series A and this is a little more of Spider-Gwen's backstory on Earth-65. We see how she was bitten by a radioactive spider, we see her take the name Ghost-Spider for the first time and she uses her great powers quite responsibly to protect New York and the entire Web of Life.
We're going to follow that up with another Ghost-Spider series, this is called Ghost-Spider 2019 issue one. And things kick off with a bit of infamy hanging over Gwen's head. So, she's going to make her way to Earth-616, that is the prime Marvel Universe and she's going to step into some major Super Hero action and . . . school. She is the newest student at Empire State University and she gets this crazy crash course in the Multiverse and she's splitting her time between both Earth-65 and Earth-616, this new world that she's just getting to know.
ELLIE PYLE: That's a long commute.
PREETI CHHIBBER: Well, that's what you got to do. I love a Super Hero school balance story. How you do it all--
ELLIE PYLE: Yes.
PREETI CHHIBBER: You got to do it all.
ELLIE PYLE: You got to do it all even across the Multiverse.
ROBYN BELT: Exactly, no one does it quite like her.
ELLIE PYLE: This is also one of the series that Seanan McGuire wrote, so you are definitely going to want to check it out after listening to her talk about it earlier this episode.
ROBYN BELT: We're going to wrap up our reading with Ghost-Spider Annual. This is from 2019. I am an Arcade fan. He is a deranged X-Men villain. And he is just a weird cacophony of goofs and gags and tricks, so it was really cool to see him pop up and take on Ghost-Spider. Great crossover issue. So, Gwen takes on some of the most classic and deadly villains of the Marvel Universe in a very twisted mind game orchestrated by Arcade.
PREETI CHHIBBER: Thank you so much Robyn for telling us about your picks. Super excited to dive in. And of course, we will have those listed out if you didn't take notes as usual.
Next week on Women of Marvel we learn how to shoot a bull's eye with Hawkeye.
ELLIE PYLE: Until then, Women of Marvel is produced by Isabel Robertson, Zachary Goldberg, Ellie Pyle, and Preeti Chhibber.
PREETI CHHIBBER: Our senior manager of audio development is Brad Barton, production manager is Emily Godfrey, and our executive producer is Jill Du Boff.
ELLIE PYLE: Special thanks to our comics correspondent Robyn Belt and our Fandom correspondent Faith D'Isa.
PREETI CHHIBBER: Listen weekly on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. I'm Preeti Chhibber.
ELLIE PYLE: I'm Ellie Pyle.
PREETI CHHIBBER: And this is Marvel.
ELLIE PYLE: Your universe.
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