Now that the Spider-Man comic book series is in the age of the Superior Spider-Man, we're also getting Superior Carnage, a 5-part miniseries from Kevin Shinick. As part of our Comic-Con coverage, Kevin told us about his recent comic book work and his plans for the popular Spider-Man villain:
I understand that you've been a Spider-Man fan for a while now. What first got you hooked on Spider-Man? Was it a particular issue or did you start with the animated series/toys?
Kevin Shinick: You didn't mention the Underoos! Didn't Stan Lee create the Underoos first? Truth be told, I can't remember the first issue I read, but I know it was from an early age. But once I started reading comics on a regular basis I found that Spider-Man was my main guy, followed by Batman.
Our readers are probably most familiar with your comedy work. How did you first get involved with writing for Marvel / DC?
Kevin Shinick: Fortunately it was that same comedy work that opened the door to comics for me. My friend Geoff [Johns] thought I'd be good at writing comics and introduced me to a DC editor who was a fan of one of the Robot Chicken sketches I did where I parodied The Shawshank Redemption using Batman and Arkham Asylum. We immediately geeked out over our love of Batman, and he left saying that if he ever had an opening to write a Batman comic he would give me a call. Shortly after he asked if I wanted to contribute a story to that year's Batman 80-Page Giant and I was off and running. Similarly, Marvel Editor Steve Wacker met me at San Diego Comic Con and told me his family was a big fan of my TV show, MAD. I told him I was an equally big fan of Spider-Man and he said, "You'll have to write a comic for us." I said, "Don't tease about things like that." And to prove that he wasn't he offered to let me take over Avenging Spider-Man for two issues. So obviously It pays to make people laugh.
What do you find the most challenging about writing for a comic-book as opposed to a TV episode script?
Kevin Shinick: Right now my biggest challenge is keeping up with the soap opera atmosphere of the comic book world. On MAD or Robot Chicken I'm in a position where I can dictate stories or episodes based on my own ideas, but unless you're one of the writers currently assigned to the major titles, you wind up having to take your cue from other people's story arcs or use characters that aren't tied up in larger tales. On the flip side, however, I love writing comics because it's such a quick turnaround. You can write a large blockbuster type story or an intimate tale and you get to see it come to fruition in a matter of months. And in an industry where TV and film projects can linger in development for ages, it's nice to see your work reach it's audience quicker.
You first got involved with Spider-Man in Avenging Spider-Man. Was that a dream come true for you and are you happy with how it was received?
Kevin Shinick: It was a fantastic experience on all levels. A little known fact is that I got a chance to write and direct the first ever feature length stage adaptation of Spider-Man back in 2003 at Radio City Music Hall (Basically, what Julie Taymor did on Broadway but with fewer casualties) And ever since then, I had always wanted to write for him in the comics as well. And unlike when I worked for DC, by the time I got to write Avenging Spider-Man my reputation as a comedy writer was more well known so I wanted to write something that had the signature of a guy who has written for Robot Chicken and MAD. Fortunately, the response was great, so i didn't have to beg and plead with Marvel to bring me back.
Your most recent work is on Superior Carnage, which is quite a bit different in tone from what you did with Spider-Man and Deadpool. Was this something you pitched to Marvel or did they come to you with it?
Kevin Shinick: After Avenging Spider-Man, Wacker asked if I had any interest in doing a Carnage mini-series, so I kept turning it over in my head until I came up with a story I thought was worth doing. Now that I had written what I thought people were expecting from me, I wanted to show them what else I could do. And Carange seemed like a good idea because it was a complete one eighty.
For our readers who may not be familiar with where Carnage/Cletus Kasady is when your book starts, can you bring them up to speed? Where do we find Cletus at the start of Superior Carnage?
Kevin Shinick: Well, the funny thing about my discussion with Wacker was that after I said I was interested, he reminded me that the character was basically lobotomized in the last issue. I was like, "Where does that leave me?!" But oddly enough it was the perfect jumping off point, because in a way it was a clean slate. We find Cletus Kasady rotting away in prison when suddenly another villain has the brilliant idea of taming Carnage and turning him into an agent of evil the way the government turned Venom into Agent Venom. And when I say 'brilliant' I'm obviously being sarcastic.
You've brought back Fantastic Four villain, the Wizard, into this mini-series. Why did you decide on this particular villain and how have you changed him from what we've seen in the past?
Kevin Shinick: I had so much fun using the Hypno-Hustler in Avenging Spider-Man that I thought it would be equally fun to find a few villains who aren't exactly A listers that I could perhaps breath new life into. And since the Wizard's fate in last issue of Future Foundation was ambiguous I thought it was a good place to start with him as well.
You're taking on one of Spider-Man's more popular villains in this mini-series. Will the events of these five issues leave a lasting mark on Carnage and Cletus? Are you going to show us a side of this character that we haven't seen previously?
Kevin Shinick: I like to think so. In fact one of the requests I made in taking on this book was that I could claim it was Carnage "like you've never seen him before," and actually mean it. And since we're embarking on making him a Superior Carnage, not only will he eventually look different, but he might not even wind up being Cletus Kasady.
There's a pretty decent body count in the first issue of Superior Carnage. Should we expect that to increase from issue to issue?
Kevin Shinick: There's definitely a big body count in the the first issue, and I certainly don't shy away from that as we progress, but I wanted this to me more of an intimate story as well. We've seen Carnage on a grand scale, we've also seen him on a minimum scale, but I wanted this to be more of a personal scale. For all the characters. It's no accident that "identity" is a big theme in this book.
Is this a self-contained mini-series or will the events of Superior Carnage extend to other area of the Spider-Man universe and future issues?
Kevin Shinick: Well, I guess that's up to Marvel. But let's face it, once you've become Superior why would you ever want to go back?
Once Superior Carnage is wrapped up, do you have plans to continue writing in the Spider-Man universe right away? What's next for you?
Kevin Shinick: I've discussed a few ideas with Marvel, but don't have anything I can officially announce just yet. That being said, I love writing in Spider-Man's universe. I also have a independent book that I'm working on.
For our readers who follow your comedy/TV work, what non-comic book projects do you have coming up next?
Kevin Shinick: Believe it or not, my show MAD is hitting it's 100th episode this fall so we're planning on celebrating with a big 22-minute special. And I just finished laying down some VO tracks for our second Robot Chicken/DC Comics special that I also helped write and co-produce, because let's face it, I like to keep things interesting by also playing for the other team. Wait, I didn't just come out of the closet did I?
Superior Carnage #1 is now available. Check out a few preview pages below, thanks to CBR!
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MONTH GETS SINISTER WITH THE RETURN OF CARNAGE!
• LOCKED AWAY IN AN ASYLUM, IT LOOKS LIKE CARNAGE IS GONE FOR GOOD—BUT HIS FELLOW INMATES HAVE OTHER PLANS...
• WILL THEY SUCCESSFULLY WAKE THE MONSTER?
• OR WILL THIS HIDEOUS EXPERIMENT CREATE THE MOST POWERFUL, DANGEROUS, MANIACAL CARNAGE YET... A SUPERIOR CARNAGE?
• KEVIN SHINICK (Avenging Spider-Man, Robot Chicken) and STEPHEN SEGOVIA (Extreme X-men, Thor) come together to create a story so grotesquely gratifying you wont be able to look away!