NYCC: Supernatural Veteran Robbie Thompson On Marvel Comics's Silk

Yesterday's Spider-Verse panel at New York Comic Con changed the face of the Spider-Man universe by announcing that to new characters -- Spider-Gwen and Silk -- would be getting their own comics starting in January.

One of the two, Silk web-spins out of the events of Original Sin and features Cindy Moon, the other girl bitten by a radioactive spider on the same day that Peter Parker was. That series will be written by Robbie Thompson with art by Stacey Lee.

Thompson, a writer on The CW's Supernatural, joined us to talk about the book.

Obviously, this is just one of a number of high profile, female-led books Marvel has had coming out recently. Are you aware of that when you're writing or is that all just kind of background noise?

I’m definitely aware and excited that Marvel has a bunch of new female-led books coming out. I want to see all kinds of superhero books on the market, with characters that represent the diversity I see everyday in my life. When it comes to writing, however, I turn off the Internet, my phone, the world — put on some music (usually one song on repeat, cause I’m a weird-o), and just get down to business. Regardless of gender, it’s all about characters figuring out what they want, and as a writer, making it impossible for them to get that.

Before coming to comics, you'd written Supernatural, which has a comics adaptation, and Human Target, which WAS a comics adaptation. What made you decide to make the jump?

Working in TV has all just been an elaborate plan to get into comics! Thanks to my older brother Michael, I’ve been a life-long comic book fan, and I’m very passionate about the medium. I love stories that are told visually, and comics are such a unique and beautiful art-form. As a kid, I used to draw comics, copying panels and telling my own stories. I never could get the hang of drawing though, so I had to turn to writing. I’ve been trying to get into comics for years, and fortunately, editor Ellie Pyle gave me a huge break, and I’m forever in her debt.

My goal is to live in both worlds, TV and comics — and I’d love to write Supernatural comics! It would be great to tell stories in that universe through that medium — partially because there’s less budgetary concerns in terms of telling the story, but mostly because it would be a great way to explore things that happened between episodes: show what Dean did in Purgatory, what Sam did when Dean disappeared, go back to Castiel’s origins. It would be a lot of fun!

Stacey Lee's style is very distinct. Are you doing anything in particular to write to her strengths, or are you just telling the story and trusting that she can execute?

I love Stacey’s artwork and her style is the perfect match for this character and the tone of the book. She’s a great visual storyteller, and has so many strengths as an artist to write to. We’re also both newbies to the world of Marvel Comics, so it’s been great to collaborate with her. I’m really grateful Ellie teamed us up!

Silk is an interesting character in that she's got a lot of catching up to do, but I feel like superhero comics often have to sacrifice character moments in service of more plot- and event-driven stories. Have you got ideas for how to balance the needs of the book with the needs of the Marvel Universe?

Ellie and Nick Lowe were very focused on this issue from our first conversations about Cindy Moon/Silk. We were all on the same page from the beginning, in that we all want the book to have the fun and spectacle of a superhero comic, but with Cindy, there’s a great opportunity to focus on a much more personal, character driven story. Yes, she has to find out what it’s like to be Silk, to live as a super-hero, to catch up with 10 years of Marvel Heroics.

But her driving force is very strong: where is her family? What happened to the world over the last 10 years? What happened to her friends? It’s like she left her home town at age 18, and she’s come back to see some things have moved on without her, some things are frozen in time, and some things are gone forever.

And yes, she’s a super-hero and there are big villains and events that she’ll have to deal with — but we want to focus on how she balances that life with her personal life. What’s it like to live with elevated Spidey-Sense? How do you keep your job when sometimes you have to drop everything and go save the day?

As a writer, these character moments/scenes are my favorite to write. I love comics and genre stories, but I particularly love finding the emotional core of characters and exploring them. On Supernatural, I enjoy writing about monsters, demons and ghosts, but my favorite scenes to write are the ones with the boys in the Impala, just talking: about the case they’re working, their lives, or even just whatever song is on the radio. I could write hours of those scenes.

The spectacle of genre story-telling allows for great character grace notes throughout, and we have a great opportunity to find those moments with Cindy. One of the ways we’re seeking to balance it out is by flashing back to her life and the decisions that led to her following Ezekiel’s advice. Nick Lowe came up with a great phrase that’s really been the perfect signpost for writing this first arc: “From Bite to Bunker.” Getting to unpack the moments that Dan Slott and the rest of the Spidey team have set up has allowed us to shed light on her character, and make sure it’s not all punching and kicking.

But believe me: there will be punching and kicking!

Will this book be a bit more mythology-driven than some of the other Spidey titles? Obviously there are a fair number of them on the market, but yours has the distinction of a LOT of history.

Cindy’s tied to Spidey-lore in such a direct and fun way to a huge moment in Marvel History. I thought Original Sin was a great book, and I loved how personal the stories that spun out of those secrets were. Daredevil’s knocked me on my ass. Such a great story. I thought Dan and the Spidey team’s decision to go big with Silk/Cindy Moon, and how tied she is to Peter’s origin was so smart and so bold. It’s a big idea, and a big swing — much like Superior Spider-Man was, and it’s a testament to Dan’s writing that he totally stuck the landing, and launched a character like Cindy Moon/Silk, fully formed and ready to go.

So, we are very much tied to some key history from a mythology standpoint, and we will be hitting that dead on — but we’re also looking to keep moving Cindy forward, and watch her tell her own story, and carve out her own place in the Marvel Universe.

What familiar faces might we see in the title going forward?

Some guy named Peter Parker. And Spider-Man. Cindy’s world will be populated with some beloved Spidey Universe characters — we’ll see JJJ, Black Cat and some other very familiar foes. We’ll also see her interact with some of your other favorite Marvel heroes, too. Spider-Verse launches Silk with a bang, but we’ll be introducing her to the rest of the Marvel Universe and she’ll make her own friends and enemies throughout the first two arcs. I don’t know how much I can reveal about who else is going to be visiting the pages of Silk, but “casting” this book has been a dream come true for a fanboy like me.

In a character who's been keeping so many secrets, and who has so many secrets kept from her, it seems like that's rich territory to mine for the book. Will we see some antagonists who are decidedly less physical as a result?

That’s a great point, and again, all credit to Dan Slott and the Spidey team for creating such a rich character to explore in an on-going book. We’ll see a wide range of antagonists though the first two arcs — and we’ll also be exploring and unraveling the secrets that swirl around Cindy’s life: where is her family, are they alive, how did they feel about her disappearance. The search for her family really is the drive of the first arc, with Cindy using her job at Fact Channel to hunt them down all while finding herself in super-heroic showdowns.

And it’s not going to be easy — balancing this personal life with a burgeoning super-hero life. But it is going to be fun, and I really hope people check out the book so they can spend time with Cindy Moon.