Spider-Verse writers Seanan McGuire and Jason Latour, and Venom scribe Donny Cates joined Avengers Associate Editor Alanna Smith for a lively Q&A panel Friday during the Spider-Man and his Many Friends panel at ECCC. Here are some highlights:
Seanan McGuire: Right now [Gwen Stacy's] kicking around with her symbiote, mostly using it to avoid having to do her laundry. Which, let it be known, is 100% what I would do. If I had a symbiote I would look fabulous all the time.
Alanna Smith: If you guys had a symbiote, what would be your most mundane but useful way to use it?
Donny Cates: I would turn evil almost immediately. I would use it for horrific, nefarious things. I would go into Marvel and be like, 'Hi. I'm… Jonathan Hickman? I'm here to get my paycheck.'
Jason Latour: I'd make mine draw Southern Bastards.
AS: But what if the symbiote was better than you, though?
JL: It doesn't matter. I don't think it has a Social Security number.
AS: The universe recently granted us a beautiful, magical gift in the form of the Spider-Verse movie, which I think everyone though was pretty amazing. I watched it three times in theaters, I'm probably gonna get it on digital and watch it a billion more times. So my question for you guys is Jason, what's it like seeing your creation come to life on screen?
JL: Umm, when I went to work on it, I went in about eight months before it came out, and it was about 40% animated. And they asked me, Phil Lord and Chris Miller were nice enough to ask me into the process. They were very excited to show me what they'd done with Gwen. But they had some, some areas where they were a little squishy, and they weren't really quite sure where, how she would relate to some of the characters. And they could not really nail down Spider-Man yet. They had a lot of really great jokes for Spider-Man, but they didn't, you know, weren't really sure what his character was yet, so. I had the great privilege of like getting to go in and see the movie, you know, nine months before anyone else did. And when I walked out of that theater to sit down and actually give them notes about it, I was like 'guys, uh, before we get started, I'm not high. But I'm about to say some really crazy things.'
Because this is a very, you know, there was a point in my life where comics as a career was not looking very good. And my mom would always say, 'what about animation?' And I loved animation, and I came really close to trying to pursue that as a career. So when we started coming up with Gwen, my biggest dream was to come up with a character that made people half as excited as I used to be for Batman: The Animated Series. Just something new that you could just sort of jump on with in this world that at the time felt more like a cartoon. So sitting in that room and trying to explain to these guys that one; this is almost a life ahead, watching a character is in many ways exactly what I've spent so much of my life distilling into a comic. And then it's a movie about alternate lives, so it was like, 'there's all these, I've read way too many Grant Morrison and Alan Moore comics. So the first hour of this consultation is going to be insane, you know, while I just sit here and try to keep myself together.
And I wanna, you know, I tend to feel like I'm humble-bragging about this thing, but I just have to say that I'm just, so, so, [laughing] I'm crying about it. I'm so, so rewarded and gifted by the fact that, like, they were so… I'll never be more humbled than when they were so inspired by what we did. And on top of that, you know, there's like over 800 people that worked on [the project], and I want to shake, I want to kiss every one of them on the mouth. … I just feel like they made a, it was like a watershed moment for… look, it's not gonna make as much money as Aquaman. It's an animated movie. But I think it's going to have a really long shelf-life and have a really long impact. … It is such a success for comics, that I think we'll feel the ripples of it for decades. I was lucky enough to be part of a movie that's unassailably amazing.
AS: [To SM] So really what's next for Gwen, now that she's home? Like what's her next big hurdle, or adventure, that you could tease?
SM: Well, somebody [glancing at JL] decided that the best way to end a Gwen Stacy run would be to send her to prison and get rid of her secret identity. So that's been, super fun for me. If you're reading the book you'll see she tries to enroll in community college and freaked out because people kept coming up to her and going 'are you Spider-Woman,' at the school, and she did not cope with that really well. She can't really get a job, because she's kind of technically a felon, and this whole thing where, again, what does this do to your insurance to have a known superhero taking your topographical notes, you know. How do you pay for your part of the rent? Your father is still on leave, because he had a heart attack, so they're not making a lot of money in the Stacy household right now. And Gwen, eats like a linebacker.
JL: There's a reason she eats like a linebacker. I was a linebacker.
SM: That's actually one of my favorite ridiculous superhero tropes, that superpowers burn too many calories. I love that image of, 'I would like a pig.' 'Uh, would you like, what kind of pig?' 'No, I want a whole roast pig and a fork.'
Audience member: Since Spider-Man's on another earth, if you could take any Marvel villain and turn them into the world's greatest good guy, who would it be an—
SM: Emma Frost! Because she's already Marvel's greatest good guy, and you all need to stop. She's running the Westchester Institute, it'd be real easy. I could do it really quickly. Call my editor. Tell him I'm always right. It'll be fine.
JL: I dunno man, that's tough. Oh, okay, how about Ducktor Doom? He's a duck who dresses like Doctor Doom.
DC: Uh. Man. Thanos. Because he makes some compelling points! Thanos was not right in Infinity War, people say that all the time.
SM: Was he right everywhere else?
DC: Well, look. Every Thanos story is just a love story. He's just doing it for his lady, man.
JL: I will add that Dr Doom has the best, like, writing Dr. Doom is the best thing ever, so just imagine that in quacks.
Audience member: Since the stories that you guys write are all very different in terms of tone and theme, if you could create a story using the characters in the universe from the other people on the panel, what would you do?
SM: [Gesturing at JL] I literally took his toys and ran away, cackling.
DC: I would throw [Gwen] off a bridge!
[Audience collectively cringes and cries out]
DC: Ahh! Booo! You all loved Stan Lee, but I'm a monster! Okay!
JL: Hmm. A Valentine's Day issue between Eddie and the Suit.
SM: I'm not sure whether it's Spider-Guin, the Penguin, or Spider-Gwen the Cat at one point—
JL: Oh! It is Guin the Penguin.
JL: Yeah. Spider-Guin, but she's a penguin. She's actually the costar of the Spider-Ham comic, and they are like buddy cops. And they're called Lethal Web-Ham.