Avenging Spider-Man is in the middle of a wild and woolly two-part story about Wade Wilson trolling around in Peter Parker's subconscious at the behest of the legendary Hypno-Hustler, in a tale that brings to mind some of the hijinks of the venerable Joe Kelly run on Deadpool's first ongoing series back in the 1990s. AvSM #12 is already out, the conclusion will hit comic shops next week with #13, and hopefully it's not the last time writer Kevin Shinick will get to play with either one of these wisecracking heroes.
Shinick is currently one of the creators behind the animated sketch-comedy series MAD as well as a veteran of Robot Chicken, so you know he's got a cracked sensibility. Yet, he's quite multifaceted, with an extensive Broadway history that includes, acting (you may have seen him in Grimm), writing and directing a stage adaptation of the wall-crawler that predates the trouble-plagued musical Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark by years, and impressing Jon Voight enough that he managed to land a date with Angelina Jolie before she was famous. Yes, I asked him about that in this interview, and he was kind enough to actually answer that personal question.
So let's have a chat with Mr. Shinick, shall we? We may learn something about the history of Deadpool and what he may or may not have coming up as far as comic projects go.
CRAVE ONLINE: I'm a old-school Deadpool fan, and Avenging Spider-Man #12 finally started reviving some of my love for him. How big a Deadpool nerd are you?
KEVIN SHINICK: My entry into Deadpool was Spider-Man, because I was a Spider-Man nerd first, but once I started getting into him, with the Kelly version of #6, #11 and stuff like that, I was sold. Any world where someone can outdo Spidey in terms of wackiness and jokeyness, I was all on board. I just love him.
CRAVE ONLINE: It is very rare that Spider-Man plays the straight man to anybody.
SHINICK: I know. That's what was so bizarre in approaching this. I thought 'he is the straight man, clearly.' But he also has his own reputation, so you've got to give him a little bit of a leg to stand on, at least in the corniness aspect, anyway.
CRAVE ONLINE: Yes. I've seen people try to write them together before, and Spidey is way too serious, although I suppose it would make sense that he'd overdo the responsibility in the face of Deadpool's complete and utter disdain for it.
SHINICK: It's true, and you know what's so funny – it's a fine line that I had to ride with this comic book. The editor kept reminding me that this is not a Deadpool comic, it's a Spider-Man comic. So I had to make sure that it's family friendly and still get as much as I could out of Deadpool and what you expect from him in a Spider-Man comic. I liken it a lot to Robot Chicken vs. MAD. The network came to me and said 'look, we're looking to a do a Robot Chicken that can air in prime time, that's not so obscene, not so blue, that we can air at 8:00 at night." It's easy to fall on a joke that's a kick in the groin or bleeping out half your dialog, but when you're in prime time, you have to find the funny without having to rely on those things. In a sense, this comic brought those two worlds together. To me, Deadpool is like Robot Chicken. He's raunchy, he's ridiculous, and Spider-Man is more family friendly and funny, but just more approachable. I was trying to marry those two sensibilities that I spend my day jobs doing into this comic as well.
Avenging Spider-Man #12: How To Puncture The Fourth Side of A Quadrilateral
CRAVE ONLINE: It does feel very much like a Deadpool comic. An "Inception" parody with the Hypno-Hustler is very f-ing Deadpool.
SHINICK: Good! That's awesome. Once I landed on that, I thought 'oh my god, this could be a ridiculous romp that I think I'm going to thoroughly enjoy.' To be honest, I try to take on projects as an audience member. I want to write stuff I want to see, whether it's movies or TV or comic books, I'm my harshest critic, because it's just stuff I want to see and I want to read. I go to it from that angle.
CRAVE ONLINE: That's the way you should. There's just one more issue in this arc, right?
SHINICK: Yeah, just one more. It's funny, because there's so much I wanted to do with this story, too, but people forget – or I think they forget – the challenges of wrapping these things up in essentially 40 pages, two issues, 20 pages each of story. The visuals play a big part, so you don't want to crowd a lot of stuff. I had a lot of deeper stuff, too, that I was trying to get in there, but at the end of the day, I had to trim it down and make it fit into a two-issue arc. But I think it works, and I'm excited for the second one to come out.
CRAVE ONLINE: Do you have any more work in the pipeline for Marvel or DC?
SHINICK: I do. Nothing I can talk publicly about yet, but this, obviously, has gone over very well. So they've been talking to me about doing some more, and I've happily obliged, because I really enjoy doing this. I enjoy Spidey, I enjoy Deadpool, and if I can continue with them, fantastic. But I'd take on more of either, to be honest, because I just love this world. My first foray into comics was a ten-page story in this 80-page giant back in 2009, I think. I had a great time with it on a different level. I spend a lot of my day doing comedy, and I really wanted to get into the characters and the issues they have and not really have much comedy in it. I was able to do that, but again, I think a lot of people's biggest complaint was 'oh, I wish this went on longer,' and I thought 'you and I both!' But when they give you a deadline of 10 pages, you're like 'all right, I've got to make it work in here.'
CRAVE ONLINE: Which story was that, by the way?
SHINICK: It was a Mr. Freeze story called "What Falls Below," and it was really a conflict between Comissioner Gordon and Mr. Freeze on a night where a huge blizzard overtakes Gotham and everything becomes frozen. I had a really good time with it. At the time, I was really looking to stretch those dramatic muscles, if I can call them that. By the time Spidey came around again and they offered me that, I was ready to jump in and have a good laugh time.
CRAVE ONLINE: Do you have time to write comics, with Robot Chicken and MAD and everything else?
SHINICK: You know, I am so incredibly busy, but I always try to take projects that really excite me and work on things that I enjoy doing, so I will carve time out of my schedule to do these things, because it's what I like to do. It keeps me sane, to be honest. I'm also an actor – I was on an episode of Grimm last month. It's things like that that allow me to come back to the day job – the best day job ever, writing MAD – but it takes the pressure off one. You change focus, so that you're refreshed and you can come back to something with new eyes, after you've gone out and used a whole different muscle, be it acting or writing comics or whatever.
CRAVE ONLINE: You also wrote a Spider-Man stage production that was notably NOT "Turn Off The Dark."
SHINICK: I did it for about $60 million cheaper, from what I'm understanding. Yeah, back in 2002, 2003, I was approached by these Broadway producers that I knew, and they had the rights to the country's first theatrical feature-length adaptation of Spider-Man, and would I be interested in writing up a treatment? I thought 'my god, yeah!' My background is also theater. I was on Broadway for a number of years, and I thought 'what a great opportunity to marry, again, a couple of things that were close to my heart.' I wanted to do it justice for the Spider-Man fans out there, but I also knew it would be attracting a younger audience to the theater for the first time. If you do this right, you'll make a fan of kids for a long time, who will want to come back to the theater again. We were playing Radio City Music Hall for one stop, and I just went no holds barred. I wrote this treatment that incorporated everything I thought you could possibly do on the stage, including explosions, multimedia, great acting, great numbers and fight choreography. They said 'yeah, we love it, let's do it!' Marvel said they loved it. And we were sitting around trying to figure out who would direct this thing, and after spending a day trying to brainstorm, I finally said to them "look, I'm totally happy being just the writer, but when I write this stuff, I'm directing it in my head, and I"m just going to say that once." And a month later, they came back and said "yeah, we want you to direct it, too." So that's how that came about.
Beyoncé's audition went surprisingly well, but she insisted on renaming the character "Bugga Boo."
CRAVE ONLINE: Aside from the budget, what would you say is the main difference between yours and "Turn Off The Dark?"
SHINICK: I don't want to knock Turn Off The Dark, because I know some of the people involved in it and it's a huge boulder rolled up that hill, but I think it starts from finding someone who loves this property. I know that the director loves theater and has made such inroads and such lasting memories, but I don't know if she was a Spider-Man fan. All I felt when I left that was that there were a lot of missed opportunities, I thought. Again, I'm looking at it from, I guess, my ten-year-old eyes, even, but just simple entrances – you know, you're like 'wow, that's how you introduce that guy?' That should've been a huge great intro for somebody. I think that was my biggest complaint. A lot of missed opportunities.
CRAVE ONLINE: Was yours a musical?
SHINICK: The two biggest questions I get are 'was it a musical?' and 'was it on ice?' (laughs) No to both. It was just a stage adaptation, which came out the same year as the movie. I wrote it before the movie came out, so they're very similar up until the point where he becomes Spider-Man, and then they go off into their own directions. Still Green Goblin focused.
CRAVE ONLINE: I have to bite on something I've heard about you. You got to go on a date with Angelina Jolie?
SHINICK: (laughs) Oh my god. Well, like I said, I spent a lot of my early career doing a lot of Broadway stage, and my first Broadway play ever, right out of college in the early '90s – this still blows my mind – but it was a production of The Seagull by Anton Chekov, with Tyne Daly, Ethan Hawke, Laura Linney, Jon Voight, Tony Roberts, Maryann Plunkett and myself. It was like I'd won tickets on a radio show, or I'd won an auction for a walk-on. It was just me surrounded by these heavy hitters. Jon Voight and I just became really friendly during that run. At that point, I don't think Angelina had appeared in anything, really, and one day, he said to me "hey, my daughter's coming to town, how would you feel about taking her to dinner?" And I was like "sure, why not?"
Where should we go tonight? Well, what are you hungry for?
So in walks this beautiful woman, but definitely still in her goth phase – pale face, black lipstick, black hair. We were very different personalities, but we had a lovely dinner. She lived in Los Angeles at the time with her mom, and she was just visiting her dad, so we had one lovely dinner, and then she went back to LA. But as I've said in other places, I like to think, to this day, Brad Pitt doesn't let his kids watch MAD because he knows, somewhere deep down, there are still feelings. (laughs)
CRAVE ONLINE: That one magical dinner! Fantastic. But okay, enough prying into your personal life, I'll leave that to the E! network. Getting back to comics here. You can't tell us what you've got coming up, but dare we hope for you to take over the Deadpool ongoing, with the big Marvel NOW creative shuffle?
SHINICK: I would love that. I can't say that will necessarily happen. They've talked to me about a couple of different projects. I will let you know as soon as I know, I'll put it that way. There are things that have been thrown at the wall, and we'll see what sticks.
CRAVE ONLINE: A Hypno-Hustler ongoing?
SHINICK: I would love that, too! Hypno-Hustler was so great. When I landed on him, I thought 'this is such a dude to pair them up.' I even make jokes in the next issue about hoping that they rank as the greatest villain team-up ever, because it could not be further from the truth. I had such a great time. You want to give both Spider-Man and Deadpool their day, in issue #12, but come issue #13, this is a triumverate. I want all three of these guys to have their moments in this book. So I've spent a little time with everybody in there, making sure the Hypno-Hustler has his moment to shine.
Avenging Spider-Man #13: Do The Hustle
CRAVE ONLINE: Have you read the entire Joe Kelly run on Deadpool? This feels very much like the Black Talon appearance.
SHINICK: I have, and I loved it. Exactly! Kelly did a great run on that, and that's one of the reasons I love him, too. Deadpool's gone so far now – I'm not saying he's jumped the shark, by any stretch of the imagination, but they're trying to reinvent him, they're trying to find new things. In all honesty, when I started to write mine, I stopped reading them, because you'll drive yourself crazy if you're trying to keep up. It's like trying to write a soap opera, I imagine, if you know what I mean. Things change so much and so drastically so quickly that to try and keep the continuity going – after I put the pen down, I looked and I realized 'he's got a different costume and he now doesn't have that power.' You just gotta go with what you know, and what I know and what I loved was that Deadpool that we met with Kelly.
CRAVE ONLINE: As far as I'm concerned, he owns the character.
SHINICK: Yeah, I agree. You know – I want to tread on this carefully – but anybody thinks they can write Deadpool. It's like anybody thinks they can write a Family Guy spec, you know? "Oh, I could do that!" But you don't realize that, as random as it seems, it is organic, and I think the jokes have to be organic and you have to care about the person. They have to come from a real place for any of this to work. Some people do it better than others. I'm just trying to put my mark on him as well.
CRAVE ONLINE: That's exactly what I thought about Joe Kelly's run. That was the last time he felt like a full character to me – and the fact that he could dance between high-octane crazy random comedy and holy-shit dark was incredible.
SHINICK: Yeah, yeah, I know. Like I said, I had some darker stuff in there, but they said 'you gotta remember, this is a Spider-Man comic.' And I was like 'okay, all right.' If I were to go Deadpool, it would be different, but as long as you're under the banner of Spider-Man, you gotta remember who your audience is. So like I said, we try to ride that line.
Wade Wilson in a coco-nutshell by Joe Kelly in Deadpool #33.