Robbi Rodriquez the artist for Spider-Gwen comics and co-creator of the character has been making waves in and out of the industry. The undeniable popularity of Spider-Gwen has surpassed the hate from long-time comic fans who thought messing with such a character was taboo of sorts. In the eyes of Robbi this is not your Grandfather’s Gwen, nor is she even the Gwen Stacy known from Marvel’s comic past lore. As Robbi puts it “She’s Gwen by name only. A totally different character.”
Then comes the war of words between Robbi and Frank Cho another fellow artist in the comic book industry.
I wanted to get the facts from Robbi himself and clear up any rumors or speculation that we do not cover here at PopcultHQ. So not to feed into the media hype I assured Robbi this was not an interview to get viewer numbers but rather an interview for Robbi Rodriguez to get his side of the story clearly out to the public.
In the new Marvel series “Spider-Gwen,” we are introduced to an alternate-world version of Peter Parker’s long-dead girlfriend who comes to our universe. In her “Spider-Verse” reality, Gwen was the one bitten by the radioactive spider, while Peter Parker is turned into a villain who died.
Rodriguez’s Spider-Gwen costume design went viral when it was introduced, and Robbi continues strong top 20 sales numbers with the comic to this day. All this hard hard work despite suffering from an eye disease called keratoconus, which has rendered him at times nearly blind.
PopcultHQ: First off, let’s get into when you started wanting to do comics?
Robbi Rodriquez: “Oh, I always wanted to draw comics. I always wanted to do storytelling be it film or photography or just some sort of media. I’ve always wanted to do storytelling for a long time and comics seemed like the biggest fit. It just seemed like the natural thing to key in on, from day one it was always “I wanna do comics, I wanna do comics.””
PopcultHQ: So I’ve heard you’re the one that “created” Spider Gwen?
Robbi Rodriquez: “Yeah, I created her with Jason Latour and Rico Renzi”
PopcultHQ: How did she come about?
Robbi Rodriquez: “Well it started out with Dan Slott and who he wanted put into the Spider-Verse, Nick (Lowe) contacted Jason (Latour) and Jason shot some ideas back and forth with me and we shot some ideas back and forth at each other. That got the ball rolling on the character. We knew it was not going to be Gwen. It was Gwen by name only, it would be a totally new character. We built up that character and built up Marry Jane. We built up more on Gwen and the relationship between her Dad and that type of thing. The ball kept rolling and rolling and rolling, totally organic from the beginning. So we shot the idea past Nick, and he was cool with it, we’re going to do it in the Spider-Verse and it will be one and done. I was going on to do Moon Knight but Spider-Gwen just blew up!”
PopcultHQ: How was that feeling for you guys?
Robbi Rodriquez: “It was surreal. We expected it would be a book you would find in a dollar bin.”
PopcultHQ: Have you been paying attention to what that book (Spider-Verse mini-series #2) has been doing on EBay?
Robbi Rodriquez: “Oh my God! It’s been nuts! Insane!”
PopcultHQ: I think that when a book sells on the secondary market like that and it being a brand new book like that. It definitely has to speak on the importance and popularity of a character. Now is it the artist or is it the writer?
Robbi Rodriquez: “Yeah, yeah. Jason Latour and Rico Renzi and I definitely hit lighting in a bottle together. It’s definitely not one creator doing a book, all of us are in this book together. If Spider-Gwen was the band name then we all formed a group together. All of our elements are a huge part of making this book work. How we were just talking about, It’s just funny how it blew up. We were just fucking around, we came up with it and we’re like fuck it, let’s do it.”
PopcultHQ: It is funny how much the fans have resonated to this character, they just LOVE Gwen.
Robbi Rodriquez: “It connected with some people quite a bit”
PopcultHQ: Well there were some people that were like ‘they should have kept her dead!’ But they have to recognize that this is not the same character at all, that’s what they have to separate.
Spider-Gwen covers by Robbi Rodriquez
Robbi Rodriquez: “She’s Gwen by name only. A totally different character. Even the old Gwen when I went back and re-read the old stuff, she had no character.”
PopcultHQ: When did you get into comics professionally?
Robbi Rodriquez: “2004”
PopcultHQ: What book was that?
Robbi Rodriquez: “It was a book for Image called Hero Camp. It sold terribly and I think we got a check for like $12 that we had to split between three creators.”
PopcultHQ: Oh man!
Robbi Rodriquez: “Yeah”
PopcultHQ: But that’s the business right?
Robbi Rodriquez: “Yeah, that was early on. It wasn’t even Image 2.0, by that point it was Image 3.0. The good thing was that I was able to meet a good group of core guys at the same time. We all went to the same cons and kinda just hung out together.”
PopcultHQ: Cool, cool.
PopcultHQ: OK, so let us get to the “ISSUE” at hand.
PopcultHQ: Where to start off with. Let’s see, it was Frank Cho doing a Spider-Gwen drawing in an overly sexy pose ala the Milo artwork from the “conversational” Spider-Woman cover. Then there were the “comments” you made supposedly of you wanting to “punch” Frank Cho. Were those comments taken out of context?
Robbi Rodriquez: “What I had put in that Facebook post was ‘you’re gonna get an earful just like you are right now’ and that’s all that was gonna be. Then people are saying I’m going to punch Frank Cho. That’s just so ridicules, there’s just no need for that. But you do need to be called out on shit sometimes in this industry, there is so much going on behind the industry that needs to be called out. Everyone just keeps it on the down low, hush hush type thing. Then things blow up all of a sudden.”
PopcultHQ: So do you have respect for Frank Cho?
Robbi Rodriquez: “No, not really”
Robbi Rodriquez: “No, I don’t like his work.”
PopcultHQ: How do you feel about how Frank keeps feeding to this “controversy” with more and more drawings coming directly toward you?
Below is a gallery of Frank Cho commission sketch covers that can be found doing a Google search. All pictures and art belong to Frank Cho. I Only post these to ask the readers, who can make up their own minds. Is Frank Cho “mooching” off Robbi? Or is this just the fun part of the Comic book industry?
Robbi Rodriquez: “There’s no point. I understand he has that kind of mentality. He just doesn’t get the facts. There is a whole new generation, you can’t be that old dinosaur that keep undignifying women and really exploiting them that way. There is just a whole new generation of kids that will be turned off immediately from seeing that stuff in the industry.”
Below is a sketch cover and a Twitter post by Frank Cho, a message to Robbi recently after Robbi said he makes Cho relevant again.
At this point in the interview we were delightfully interrupted by a very nice lady and her little new born baby girl that was cosplaying as Spider-Gwen. That can be read here Newborn Baby Spider-Gwen signed by Robbi Rodriquez
PopcultHQ: Do you feel like you’re helping the new female readership charge that seems to be taking over Marvel lately?
Robbi Rodriquez: “We all help each other. Like one thing I said in the Facebook post (about Frank Cho) if you want this medium to be taken seriously you can’t act that way. You’re not gonna have Scarlett Johansson’s ass in the air in the Avengers posters, so why should we allow that in our mainstream stuff. Everything has its time and place but this is mainstream work so there should be a consciousness of what they’re putting out there.”
PopcultHQ: Now have you seen the comments from people like Rob Liefeld and J. Scott Campbell who were in defense of Frank Cho? They were saying that basically creators should have the freedom to draw what they want and no one should say anything about someone else’s art.
Robbi Rodriquez: “No, I did not actually.”
PopcultHQ: Do you have any comment to that?
Robbi Rodriquez: “They are reading into the wrong thing about what I said. It’s not about drawing my character with her ass in the air with that drawing. The reason I picked Frank Cho and that cover was, ‘you’re killing that character that is so relevant to so many new young readers. But giving big doll eyes staring away, is like turning her into a fake porcelain doll. You’re stripping away the integrity, you’re stripping the power away from the character when you’re doing that’. You’re making a joke out of it. And when it comes to those guys, I’m sorry but they are dinosaurs to me. They’ve been mulling their feet for the last twenty years or so with their style. They have their following and I respect that but now it’s more important to see the growth of the industry with new creators and the new blood.”
Below is a small Gallery of J. Scott Campbell Spider-Gwen covers.
Robbi Rodriquez: “It’s not like we’re just marketing at selling a few 20 copies or something like that, there is a new generation coming up. They (artist) just need to have that respect to not placate to that very small vocal minority out there with the old school thinking.”
PopcultHQ: Alright, well this is what I wanted to do with this interview, was to get it out there but to get it from your words Robbi. If it was said wrong or if people were not reading it the right way before they can hear it right from you. Is there anything else you would like to close out with?
Robbi Rodriquez: “Like I said in the post, it’s not a discussion that I wanted, it was just an opinion.”
PopcultHQ: That’s the problem with the internet, you post one opinion and then it’s going to start a war.
Robbi Rodriquez: “Yeah!”
PopcultHQ: Well thanks again Robbi for giving PopCultHQ this interview. As I said we don’t do rumors or speculation pieces and I really wanted to get your side of things and do this the right way.
Now as a long-time comic book fan myself, I cannot personally agree with some of the feelings that Robbi has expressed in this piece but this was his opportunity to get what he wanted out to the public without it being sensationalized. What Robbie said in this interview was exactly how it was told to me and I just transcribed the piece as it was word for word. I am personally a fan of all the artist mentioned in this piece so keeping my full opinion to myself is best here. I wanted to squash the flames of controversy with this interview…..that does not seem to be the case any time soon.
Written By: Manny Popoca
Thanks again to Robbi Rodriguez for the interview and also huge thanks go to C2E2.