♦ The new year sees a new Spider-man book, Friendly Neighborhood Spider-man, and last week Marvel chatted to its artist Juann Cabal and previewed some interior pages for the first time. Here’s that chat and a first look at his interior art…
Marvel.com: You’ve previously worked with Tom Taylor on ALL-NEW WOLVERINE. How do you bring out the best in one another?
Juann Cabal: We’ve got a very unique chemistry. We know what the other’s thinking and we came to the point of finishing each other’s…
Marvel.com: I’m sure when Tom reads this, he’ll know what to do there! How do you view Spider-Man as a hero and Peter Parker as a man? How do these viewpoints inform your work?
Juann Cabal: To me they are the same. Peter Parker is Spider-Man. This allows me to link them via their facial and body language, which is quite interesting.
Marvel.com: Obviously, Laura Kinney and Peter are two very different characters both as heroes and in their civilian identities. In what ways have you adjusted your artwork to reflect the tone of Spider-Man and the book itself?
Juann Cabal: I’m trying something brighter and optimistic. Here we don’t need a comic relief like Gabby because Spidey is the comic relief himself. So it’s Spider-Man versus the darkness that surrounds him.
Marvel.com: Regarding the supporting characters of the book, how do you and Tom collaborate to “build” them? What goals did you have in mind to populate the space you were creating?
Juann Cabal: Our process is very collaborative and we are very open to each other’s suggestions. I would include [colorist] Nolan Woodard and [editor] Nick Lowe in this too. We’re trying to create rich and interesting characters, not just narrative devices. Every character is very important to us because, for the kind of story we want to tell, we need the reader to care for them.
Marvel.com: Besides realistic art references, what do you use to inspire you? Are there other kinds of media that help you find the proper vibe or headspace to realize the world you are creating on the page?
Juann Cabal: This may sound a bit contradictory, but I try to avoid realism. In fact, I HATE realism. [Laughs] I like to use it as a starting point because it is something that we—humans—all have in common, but if you pay attention to my work, it’s a fake realism, theatrical, surreal… It’s completely subordinate to the story we’re telling at the moment.
Starting from this common place, I like to move into different atmospheres, influenced by dreams, paintings, literature…whatever the story asks for.
Marvel.com: I know we are keeping the danger in this book under wraps, but can you at least speak somewhat to your process for realizing the villain through you artwork?
Juann Cabal: I can’t say anything about the villain. BUT, as a concept it’s one of the scariest things you can think of.
Marvel.com: How does Nolan Woodard’s coloring help you make your art do what you want it to? How does his coloring inspire your approach to the artwork?
Juann Cabal: The best thing about Nolan is that he’s the master of atmosphere—which could be a cool nickname, by the way. I don’t need to think about the color—except in very specific occasions—because I know he’s going to come with the perfect temperature for each scene. He’s a blessing.
Marvel.com: At the point you are right now drawing, is there anything you can tease that you cannot wait for fans to see when the book is published?
Juann Cabal: No! I want fans to go buy the book without knowing what they’re going to find inside!
Read FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN #1 on 9 January 2019