'We are telling an interesting story here. We’re not just making up a reason to buy comics based on a popular cosplay character.'
From barging into She-Hulk’s office to bonding with Howard The Duck, Gwenpool — the widely popular mash-up character who became an instant sensation after appearing on a Deadpool variant cover by Chris Bachalo — has certainly made an impact in the Marvel Universe. And this spring, she’ll join the roster of “unconventional superheroes” with her very own ongoing series.
Written by Christopher Hastings and illustrated by Gurihiru, the Japanese art team composed of Chifuyu Sasaki and Naoko Kawano (Thor, Captain America), Gwenpool will retain the original creative team that first brought the character to life through the Gwenpool holiday special. EW caught up with Hastings to talk about the fun of writing a Gwenpool series, and why the world should get ready to know the most awesome mercenary since Deadpool.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When you were approached to write this character, were you aware of the massive fan following and love for her? I know I remember seeing a ton of Gwenpool cosplay in San Diego and it was the coolest thing.
CHRISTOPHER HASTINGS: When I was called to write her I was not aware of her existence. I didn’t go to San Diego this year so I didn’t get to see any of that cosplay. Basically Jordan [White, editor] was like, “yeah, go do a search for this and see how many people are dressed up as this character that we don’t have a comic for.” It was initially going to just be a very short one shot in that Christmas special and we were like, how do we do this Gwen Stacy-Deadpool character? What was assumed of her based off of those variant covers that she came out of? And then Jordan said, “also we want to do this Howard The Duck backup thing to introduce her before the Christmas special.” So it escalated very quickly.
Can you tease a little about what we’ll see from her series, now that you have the freedom to really play around in the world? What can fans expect to see from this character they’ve grown to love?
Her whole deal is, she’s from the world that she claims to be — some sort of “real world” — and knows of the Marvel universe as a fictional one. So the series is a lot about her believing she’s in a fictional world with no consequences. She’s seen everyone come back to life at some point, and it sort of seems like she’s living in a video game. And then the book is going to be the universe fighting back at that. Like, “you can’t really get away with everything” is kind of the struggle there. It’s also sort of, she just assumes, “I’m obviously a main character so I need to be a superhero” even though she has no powers. I really like all of these comics right now about these teen heroes sort of figuring out what they’re doing in this world. But they come at it from a much more altruistic viewpoint, and I think it’s really fun to have somebody take on the mercenary angle and sort of like, contrast her against someone like Kamala Khan, as we did in the holiday special.
What I love about Gwenpool is that she’s a different kind of superhero. And Marvel right now is kind of reinventing how we think of “superhero” with people like Squirrel Girl and Howard The Duck and Kamala Khan and Moon Girl, who are all unique and fun and a little crazy.
[Unbeatable] Squirrel Girl and Howard are two of my favorite books right now. I remember reading both their number ones — and I’m friends with the guys that write them — going, “I’m so jealous of you that you get to do this.” And it’s really fun to get to jump in and be part of the fun Marvel experience. It’s nice that it does have a place within all the other titles.
Also, I couldn’t be happier to see your original art team from the Gweenpool shorts joining you on this ongoing. I love Gurihiru’s art and it helps the story jump off the page.
When I was called and told this was going to series, the first thing I asked was, “can you please get Gurihiru on the artwork?” Because working with them has been so wonderful. They’re anything the writer would want in the art team. Their storytelling is phenomenal. The reason why it’s good it’s cause they really know how to tell a story. And their artwork looks gorgeous, too, but they nail every single humorous moment and completely elevate all of the action stuff. I didn’t even have to write that much dialogue with a little more of the touchy-feely things, they can do all of that. They made it look easy.
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From a creator’s standpoint, writing this seems like it’s the best of both worlds because you have a character that technically has some backstory and some grounding, but you also have free reign to kind of do whatever you want with her down the line.
The thing that sort of kicked off the idea that sent me down this path was, we’ve always seen Deadpool as a hyper competent character. He’s a great assassin, he can shoot guns and do karate and do all that stuff. We already had someone who had that mindset and humor but they’re starting from the very, very bottom, like, looking up tutorials how to sword fight on YouTube before going after the bad guy. So she has all this enthusiasm but she’s just stumbling her way from the bottom. I’m really excited to tell that story. It’s an exciting opportunity to do a character in a serialized book that can have actual real change. Like, yes, she will learn, she will get better. We don’t have to do the thing where we pretend the status quo has changed when she really hasn’t. She can grow. I’ve written a few other Marvel books and whenever I jump in on one of these legacy characters it usually starts with reading at least 30 issues to make sure I’m not stepping on any continuity. So in our case I only have to do that with secondary characters and villains and stuff.
Okay, let’s put the pressure on: from a creator’s perspective, what do you want fans to know about this series?
I think it’s just so much fun, and we are telling an interesting story here. We’re not just making up a reason to buy comics based on a popular cosplay character. There’s so much to explore with this new character and all of her weird little quirks and things like that and I really had to make some very hard decisions in what we could tell in those very short little 10-page comics. It was super fun exercise in trying to make something entertaining in a short little period of space. I’m really excited to have the space here to really let it breathe a little bit.
Gwenpool arrives this April.