Five Questions With Spider-Man Writer Kevin Shinick
Oct 26, 2012
He's the brain behind the schtick. The man who says when a web is needed, and when a one-liner is appropriate. He's Kevin Shinick, and he took time to answer some of our questions about juggling continuity, and how he decided to approach writing adventures for the world's favorite Webhead.
PREVIEWSworld: What research/reading did you do to prepare for your writing gig on Avenging Spider-Man?
Kevin Shinick: I've always been a huge Spider-Man fan, so the only real research I felt I needed to do was to make sure I was up to date with his current continuity. Which at times was as difficult as writing a Days of Our Lives comic. I also refreshed my memory of the other few times that Spidey and Deadpool have appeared together so I didn't tread on similar ground. And as for Deadpool, I knew him, but did a lot more delving into his world to be able to approach this from both sides.
PREVIEWSworld: What previous creator run do you most admire on the previous Spider-Man books? Why?
Kevin Shinick: That's a tough one, because Spidey's been around for so long that you've got plenty of amazing people to choose from, but if you were going to hang me out over the Brooklyn Bridge wearing only a black headband I'd have to say Stan Lee of course, followed in no particular order by Bendis, Len Wein and Zeb Wells. In each case I've enjoyed how they were able to have a new take or inject some freshness into our beloved web slinger.
PREVIEWSworld: Do you see your footprint on Spider-Man as one which stresses more character-driven stories, or plot-driven stories?
Kevin Shinick: Ultimately I feel the two have to work together but I always try and approach my stories from the character's point of view. What are his stakes? What's his personal situation? So I guess I'd have to say they begin from a character driven place.
PREVIEWSworld: Why do you think Spider-Man has maintained "A-list" character status over the past decades? What is it about the character that gives him such universal appeal?
Kevin Shinick: Well, the thing that set him apart to begin with was the fact that he wasn't perfect. He was a kid, he had problems and then he got these powers. At his basic core he's an everyman and I think that's why people relate to him so well. Plus, I look around nowadays and see a trend of writers trying to show how superheroes are fallible, how they're darker because they've fallen on tougher times, and I think that's where Spidey's been the whole time. And what I admire most about him is that he greets those difficult times with a quip and a smile. Or a quip and "thwip" if he's swinging through the streets.
PREVIEWSworld: You do a lot of comedy at your day job. Was there any thought given to how your style of writing may come across as too comical for the character? Did you cross that bridge with the book's editor, Stephen Wacker? Or did he want you to bring a sense of "geek culture" to the book?
Kevin Shinick: I didn't really discuss it too much with Wacker beforehand, figuring that if he didn't like it, he'd tell me, but it was definitely a conscious choice on my part to make the book funny. (Although, I'm sure that didn't come as a surprise to Wacker since we spend most of our time joking anyway.) Previously, I had done some work for DC Comics on Batman and I had a blast doing those issues, but it was a much more serious tone. What I wanted to do with this arc was to write something that could easily be recognized as coming from the guy who writes on Robot Chicken and MAD. That being said, the story still had to be grounded, because as ridiculous a scenario as it is, or as filled with one-liners as it might be, no ones gonna be laughing if you don't take the situation seriously. Which is why I wanted the first panel to be Peter back in high school wearing nothing but his underwear and not knowing exactly what's going on. I thought that was a funny visual to start on, but it was also the most vulnerable scenario with the highest stakes I could put him. And to top it all off, the guy who shows up to help him is Deadpool. So right from the getgo you've got drama. And in creating that particular atmosphere, it also lent itself to being able to add a lot of "geek" pop culture moments, so I found it to be a win-win situation. Hopefully the readers do too.