Simon Spurrier Spins a Web In Weavers
Apr 27, 2016
by Vince Brusio
Meet Sid, a young man with nothing going for himself until he meets a brutal, East Coast crime family whose members are bound to loyalty thanks to the supernatural spider inside each one of them. Liked The Godfather? Thought The Sopranos were the bomb? Well, get ready as Simon Spurrier takes organized crime and mixes it with the supernatural. In this PREVIEWSworld Exclusive interview, we're going to learn more about Sid, his circumstances, and why he isn't what you exactly would call a loyal solider.
Weavers #1 (MAR161176) from BOOM! Studios is in comic shops May 4.
Simon Spurrier: Haha. Writers, honestly. Never trust all that “nice guy” nonsense. We’re like swans on a stagnant pond: all serene and glowy on the surface, cheerfully scrabbling through mental muck just out of sight.
Top line, to orient us: Weavers is the story of a nobody-kid who swallows a spooky psychedelic spider and develops uncanny Lovecraftian abilities. While trying to come to terms with these new skills he’s drawn into the nastiest criminal organisation ever conceived.
So. Weavers arose from some idle arguments I’d been having with myself about superheroes. I won’t go into it all here, partly because it’s very self-involved, mostly because it’s worth at least one G&T at the bar of my choice to anyone interested.
But, bottom line, it’s about using that very familiar idea of “People with Unusual Gifts” in a valuable way, to say interesting things about real people. Now... if you’re going to try and reconcile the archetypal superhero with the real world then it can really only go one of two ways: One, you acknowledge that the world is complicated and that superheroes will therefore inevitably seem strange or insane or kinky or horrific or just plain dumb if you try and crowbar them into it. Or, two, you try to repaint the real world as a morally simplistic place just so your violent sociopathic vigilante can legitimately fit. The former school of thought has given us several masterpieces; the latter school has given us a lot of really unhealthy dreck.
My idea was simply to change the motivating force. What if the people with uncanny abilities didn’t immediately dedicate themselves to pure goodness or pure evil, but instead are forced—often against their will—to be loyal to nobody and nothing except each other?
That’s a new angle of approach, I think. It gives me the chance to say a lot of stuff about humans and power and responsibility without first having to pretend that either people are dumb, or the world is simple.
Of course the only recognisable structure which fits the bill—inward-facing, violently ambitious, subject to no moral code except its own preservation—is the good old-fashioned Crime Mob.
That’s The Weavers. Super-powered gangsters who don’t have any choice except loyalty to each other.
PREVIEWSworld: Let’s talk about the chief bad guy. Don Harvest, as he’s known, is first introduced as standing in the nude, with sides of beef hanging from meat hooks behind him. Is it safe to say he doesn’t play nice with others?
Simon Spurrier: Indeed so. He’s a man of barely-controlled rage, which manifests as a deep and destructive heat. He can literally boil people’s insides just by looking at them.
Of course it also means he spends a lot of his time sweating and steaming, so he prefers to hang out in the freezer cabinet of his headquarters: the Gossamer night club.
Worth saying: the Weavers should be a perfectly egalitarian organisation. Each member has swallowed a magical spider which slowly morphs them into loyal, fanatical members of the firm. Buuuut, just like any real criminal mob, there’s little honour among thieves, and when you get right down to it it’s a pyramid hierarchy sustained through strength and fear.
As a Weaver, you’re not supposed to have any secrets or ulterior motives. And yet these things abound.
PREVIEWSworld: Sid Thyme is our “protagonist” for lack of a better term, and he seems to have fallen in with a new crowd not exactly knowing what he’s getting into, correct? As it seems there are rules within the Weavers: don’t scheme, and don’t hold secrets from your own people. Will this bode well for Sid?
Simon Spurrier: Oh-so-very-much not.
Sid’s a loser and a flake who simply finds himself in the wrong (or right) place at the wrong (or right) time. See, when one Weaver dies the glittering spider inside him or her comes ripping out to claim a new body—in this case that was Sid. So, suddenly he’s got these incredible skills, and a magical arachnid whispering in his ear, keeping him loyal, and all these super-powered colleagues relying on him, and that’s where our story starts: with this poor dumb kid trying to figure out if this is the best thing or the worst thing that ever happened to him.
On the other hand, it swiftly becomes clear that Sid has a couple of secrets of his own. As you doubtless know by now one of the things I love as a writer is a challenge, and I’ve massively enjoyed trying to make Sid likeable and relatable while still giving him the space to have a few little surprises up his sleeve.
And no, by the way, he’s not an undercover cop. We put that particular lazy twist to bed nice and quickly.
PREVIEWSworld: So it seems that the “powers” the Weavers have are various. In Sid’s case, he seems to have some kind of monsters morphing out of his hand. Very David Cronenberg. Can you explain where this is going? The creature effects, that is.
Simon Spurrier: It’s all part of the same mental continuum I mentioned up top. You start putting super powers into the real world and I think it’s worth taking some time to lean into it a bit—go for as much verisimilitude as you can muster, even if it’s uncomfortable. You think about all the A-list characters we’re familiar with, you realise a lot of them have extremely physical skills which would probably be pretty icky—or painful or smelly or noisy or otherwise gross—and yet it suits the mythology and non-literalness of spandex continuities for everything to be neat and tidy. That’s what super heroes are: a beautiful, exaggerated, simplistic version of moral reality. And I love it.
But that’s not Weavers. Weavers is grimy and sarcastic and tentacled. Hence Sid’s grotesque powers. The original idea was that his hand splits open like an Alien egg, revealing a psychedelic gun jutting from his forearm. But [Weavers artist] Dylan [Burnett] has run and run and ruuuuun with that in a frightening, beautiful, gross way. It’s quite something.
Dylan, by the way, is destined for big things. He’s an amazing artist.
PREVIEWSworld: Last question: the dialogue used in Weavers is very curt. Direct. Very James Elroy. Did you go through some sort of Black Dahlia/L.A. Confidential reading spree before you wrote the script? Did any of that kind of writing have an impact on your scripting?
Simon Spurrier: Haha, no, not really. I’ve read a lot of that stuff in the past, so maybe it’s soaked in.
I read aloud every line of dialogue I ever write, so if its reads or feels or sounds different it’s simply because I tested it against my own inner critic and it fit the mood. The fictional location in Weavers—Mesic City, popularly known as SickTown—just fits that very clipped, noir-esque sort of economy of language.
I have a lot of theories about syntax in mainstream comics (I have theories on everything; I’m dreadfully lonely), mostly to do with the normalization of a really vanilla, utterly homogeneous language. Nobody really talks like that. I believe we should celebrate difference, not ignore it, and that’s as true of the things we say as it is of the way we look. It gets so that if you try anything remotely interesting, idiosyncratic, or realist in your dialogue you’ll get complaints from a vocal minority people that “it sounds artificial”—because we’ve all been so thoroughly conditioned. It’s a pity, but there it is. With Weavers I’ve simply shrugged and set out to tell the story in the most truthful, characterful and colorful way possible, and stop worrying about that sort of thing.
Basically: This isn’t the sort of comic where people stand around soliloquising about their innermost thoughts or exchanging florid bouts of biting wit. They’re more likely to shoot you in the face, frankly.