One of Marvel’s most prominent initiatives in the past year has been the hiring of lesser-known independent talents to work on some of their mainstream heroes and villains. After his debut into the Marvel ranks last year with “The Incredible Hulk,” Sean McKeever (“The Waiting Place”) is now set to hit the mainstream again with September’s release of “Spider-Girl #51,” a one-issue tale that sees the title heroine as the object of a stranger’s affection. McKeever spoke to CBR News about the comic and some other topics near to his heart.
Coming off his four-issue stint on “Incredible Hulk” and then finishing up his creator-owned “The Waiting Place,” a story on “Spider-Girl” may not seem like the next logical step for McKeever, though he says the idea for the story took on a life of it’s own. “Last year, in my continuing efforts to do more work at Marvel after ‘Hulk,’ assistant editor Marc Sumerak mentioned that they were accepting inventory stories for the titles he and Tom Brevoort edited at the time and that I was more than welcome to pitch one. We messed around with a ‘Thunderbolts’ idea at first, but that started morphing into something else entirely and I wound up coming up with a solid ‘Spider-Girl’ story in the meantime.”
For those who are familiar with McKeever’s work, it may seem a bit too coincidental that his story in “Spider-Girl” happens to be a teenage drama with a romantic tinge. Even more eerie is the fact that from solicitations, the story of unrequited love the seems to be found within the pages of “Spider-Girl #51” strongly echoes a story in “The Waiting Place Vol.2.” “I have to say I was a bit concerned about jumping right to the one Marvel Universe book that has a high-school setting and features a teenaged protagonist,” admits McKeever. “That fear of becoming pigeonholed as the ‘teen drama’ guy kicked in. Now, mind you, I love writing teen drama and, if given the chance, will continue to do it for as long as I have a passion for it, but I wanted to diversify my portfolio a bit, you know? Do some action or crime or sci-fi or something. Anyway, yes, the ‘Spider-Girl’ plot does share some surface similarities with ‘TWP vol 2 #4.’ Both books feature a young, male secret admirer of an older girl. The ‘TWP’ issue is uses diary entries as its sole narrative, and the ‘Spider-Girl’ story uses a love letter as the main narrative source. Outside of that, they are quite different stories, I think, though I won’t say why, because I’d rather people found out by reading it.”
Joining McKeever for this guest outing on “Spider-Girl” will be artist Casey Jones, someone who McKeever is ecstatic about work with, but finds it hard to explain exactly why. “Gosh, you know, I feel he’s the perfect collaborator for the story, but I’m so horrible at explaining,” explains McKeecer. “Well, I’ll try. His layouts, for one, are wonderful. He really has an eye for pacing, and I think patched up some clunky or cluttered bits of the script quite well. So, in making me look better, that alone puts him on my Ass-Kicking Artist list. He’s got this great, fluid, animated style he uses for this book, which fits so perfectly with the tone of the book. I’d love to work with him again. And I’d kick my very own ass if I didn’t mention that Udon’s Angelo Tsang did a fabulous job on colors. He really hit that animated palette and added some really keen textures. Spectacular stuff.”
McKeever also explains that his working relationship with Marvel is excellent and that the place really is living up to it’s names as “The House of Ideas,” though he wouldn’t mind doing some work for the competition too. “I grew up reading Marvel comics, for one, so I’m comfortable with the stable of characters there. Also, I’ve found the guys I work with there in editorial–primarily Marc Sumerak and Mike Marts–are really cool, down-to-earth guys. I mean, if I wasn’t working with them, I’d want to be hanging out with them anyway. Sure, they both put restraining orders on me, so I couldn’t actually do that if I wanted to, but, hey, those things have expiration dates, don’t they? Plus, Marvel pays me a page rate. I like having a page rate. It means I get to eat and pay my rent. As far as doing stuff at DC, yeah, I’d like to work for them as well. I’ve sent some of my material out to the DCU editors a couple times, but never heard anything back. I did recently have one DC editor e-mail me about ‘TWP,’ so I have a one-page pitch in with that editor because I waste no time sticking my foot in the door, no matter how thick and heavy the sucker is.”
If you’ve been hooked by McKeever’s work thus far, keep your eyes peeled- he’s got some top secret work coming from from Marvel. “I’ve had a Marvel mini-series finished for months and I still can’t really discuss it yet because we only recently got an artist going on it,” whispers McKeever. “Thing is, I really want to talk about it, but I think it’s better to wait until these things are 95% solid on the schedule. Otherwise, by the time the book’s actually solicited, the hype machine’s run out of gas. But, all I can say is there’s that mini-series and a short project with one helluva cool artist I can’t name yet. Outside of Marvel, I’m talking to a few different publishers about a few different things, but nothing in writing just yet. I did write two pitches tonight that were requested of me earlier today, however, so some of these things are getting closer to becoming the real deal.”
The third, and final, collection of “The Waiting Place” is also on it’s way, but McKeever isn’t quite sure on the exact date of it’s release. “I was hoping for a November or December release for Book Three, but I’ve yet to hear back from SLG on that, so I guess it’s still up in the air. I would imagine that this Winter’s a pretty good bet, though. Is that it for ‘TWP?’ I have no plans for it currently, but never say never and all that, right?”
Moving away from comic books, one of biggest thrills for McKeever this year has been seeing his number one hero brought to life on the big screen in a movie called “Spider-Man.” “Oh, man–I really dug the film,” gushes McKeever. “Went to see it twice in the theater and I’m quite surprised at myself for not going a couple more times, especially since I didn’t have any AC for most of the Summer and the climate-controlled AMC was calling me. The movie exceeded my expectations. I was expecting character development to be a distant second to special effects but I was wrong. It struck just the right balance. Probably my only complaint is that the movie didn’t work too hard to really let the passage of time sink in. It took place over–what?–eight months? Nine? It starts pre-graduation and ends after Thanksgiving, and there really was no true sense of that passage of time the first time I watched it. Maybe that’s because skyscrapers look just like skyscrapers no matter the season. I dunno.”
While McKeever last talked to CBR News in February, he does say he’s seen some changes in the industry and hopes that some people riding the strong sales don’t get hurt. “I think, yeah, there have been changes. It’s good to see strong sales and all, but I’m a little concerned about the current retro fad. I don’t care that it’s a retro fad–the retro stuff isn’t for me, but why does it have to be?–I care that it’s a fad. With all fads, there’s going to be a ceremonial bursting of the bubble (see Pokemon, Valiant, or the previously dot-com-inflated stock exchanges). I just hope that retailers aren’t going too apeshit in preordering these books and doing the whole speculation thing. They’re gonna get hurt. I also hope these publishers–especially the younger ones–are putting some of this dough away and not spending it ridiculously or pumping it all back into more of these comics. I’m worried I’ll find them on E! with MC Hammer or something.”
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