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THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN - Season 1 - The Rhino from "The Invisible Hand"
Exclusive Interview: SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN PRODUCER VICTOR COOK UNMASKS SPIDER SECRETS - PART 2
Super Villains always change their looks for the new series but why?
By SEAN ELLIOTT, Senior Editor
THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN continues to delight Spidey fans young and old Saturday mornings on Kids WB at 10:00am PST.
Producing a cartoon like this is a dream job for long time Spider-man fans Victor Cook and Greg Weisman, who get to hand pick from the decades of Spider-man comics what stories to incorporate into their new world.
iF MAGAZINE continues our interview with Victor Cook taking an inside look at what goes into the creation of a new type of Spider-man universe for an audience both young and old, and also get the final answer on how classic villains always getting a makeover for new projects.
iF MAGAZINE: The Black Costume Spider-man toy has a different paint scheme than the picture on the box, which one is the version you actually used?
VICTOR COOK: Well, you’re going to see a few different versions of the Black Costume Spidey in our series. That’s my only little tip off that I’ll give you, but if you have the toys then you have seen at least two versions and there might just be a third as well. It does sound like it’s something of an error on the toy packaging, but the version of the costume on the toy that’s smooth and the version with a web pattern are two versions you will definitely see.
iF: I really like your voice cast, especially actor Josh Keaton. He sounds pretty much like I would expect a young Peter Parker to sound like.
COOK: Our Peter is done in a classic style, but somewhat different. If you look back at the Stan Lee and Steve Ditko years, Peter is just a geek, but then when John Romita Sr. comes onto the book, Peter grows up suddenly and becomes this handsome young guy. We’re trying to straddle the two a little bit. We’re meeting Peter after a summer of being Spider-man and he’s gotten a makeover. If you look at the main title you see the nerdy Peter Parker before the spider bite. In the episodes he dresses a little better and has more confidence. Hopefully what the fans are going to notice is that his shirt tag is sticking up all the time. That was our way of saying that the nerd will never be out of Peter.
iF: Can we expect to see more and more nods to the classic comics like the Ditko half Spider-man face and the web in the sky at the ends of the episdoes?
COOK: Yes like the Spider-man mask in the sky at the ends of the episodes. The stylizing of our show, it seems to help make those classic comic book elements fit. By the way what did you think of the opening theme?
iF: I liked it, I thought it was a nice homage to the classic 1960’s theme without being too heavy handed about it, and it’s catchy and has a nice beat.
COOK: That’s part of the reason that I wanted to do the show. Part of this was contemporizing the original comics, and part of it was doing a show with a character that was fun and has fun at being a super hero. Spider-man is a fun character that isn’t like Batman, he’s not dark and brooding and his whole life isn’t motivated by revenge, he didn’t just land here and have these powers. This is a regular guy who by a twist of fate ends up with these powers and he doesn’t use them for the right reason to begin with. He’s always wisecracking and the original Bakshi show with that famous theme set the tone. We wanted to have a show with a theme like that which would set the tone for the fun of our show.
iF: I was really pleased you stuck with the wisecracking Spider-man, because too often that gets overlooked and even Sam Raimi dropped it to a certain extent in the movies.
COOK: He’s cracking one liners and thinking and fighting and we really had to figure out where and when he’s will do one liners so it didn’t sound like he was doing it all of the time. It’s when he’s fighting the non-threatening guys that he uses the banter. In survival fight mode he might only have three lines. We wanted to stay true to the comic with that.
iF: This is sort of an odd question, but have you guys ruled out the Clone Saga?
COOK: I would say that we haven’t had those discussions lately and I’ll leave it at that. I don’t think anything is being ruled out. There’s a lot of stories and histories being pulled from for the series, and that’s a good story and saga. When I say we haven’t talked about it lately, you just never know what’s coming around the corner. It’s not being ruled out of hand, but it’s not coming anytime really soon.
iF: As a producer how hands on do you get with the designs of the characters?
COOK: The one note we can not give Sean Cheeks is how to stylize something, that’s just something that comes naturally to him. The direction that is given to Sean is more about casting and that sounds a little weird. He’ll draw a stylized Peter or Jonah Jameson and then we look to see if that has the look and the personality of the character. That goes for Cop #5 or Liz Allen. If this were live action, you can have five great actors read for the part, but you want to get the one that really captures the essence of that character. It’s the same thing is character design -- we have to pick the one design that works perfectly. Half the time we give him casting direction up front and the other half of the time we give him the casting direction after.
iF: How did you come to the new updated designs of the villains?
COOK: We wanted to keep what was classic and iconic about them, but also update them a little. For say, the Vulture, you can still look at him and see the old guy from the 1960’s. The color green is still a big color in his design, he’s just not all green anymore. Hopefully people will love Electro, he has that same sort of classic silhouette without having the star shaped mask. Green is still a color of his costume. In the 1960’s it seems like the majority of Spider-man’s rogues gallery had green as part of their costumes and I have never gotten a complete answer as to whether that was a conscious decision or whether it was because of the printing process or if they just looked good in contrast to red. On film you have to make these choices and I decided to pick up on that and make green the color of evil or oppression on Spider-man. Even in scenes with the Big Man in shadows, but the lamp is green. In Peter’s school the biology classroom is done in yellows because he is comfortable there, but in the hallways they are done in green because he is more threatened in that part of the school. All filmmakers do this. Even Flash Thompson and the popular crowd will have green in their clothes.