Review Fix chats with writer and podcaster Mark Ginocchio, who discusses the inspiration and creative process for his new book, “100 Things Spider-Man Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die.”
About the Book:
In 100 Things Spider-Man Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, pop culture writer Mark Ginocchio combines his unparalleled knowledge and passion for all things Spider-Man to present the authoritative reference title on America’s favorite web-slinger. This great new title has something for every fan, with insights on key characters, must-read issues, and behind-the-scenes looks at the creative forces behind the superhero’s long history. Both long-time readers and fans of the recent movie franchises will find value in its pages.
Review Fix: Why do you think Spider-Man has endured for so long?
Mark Ginocchio: Spider-Man is a totally unique superhero in that he’s so easy for readers to identity with and relate to. Here’s this guy, a teenager when we first meet him, who gets extraordinary powers, but rather than use them for fame and fortune, he learns the hard way (via the death of his Uncle Ben) that he has to use them responsibly and selflessly. Adding to the drama is the fact that being Spider-Man always seems to interfere with all of his other responsibilities as Peter Parker: he needs to financially support his elderly aunt; he can’t go out on a date without it getting interrupted by his Spider-duties; and he has to keep his superhero identity a secret because the media has cast Spider-Man as a masked menace and vigilante. Because of all these personality flaws and “problems,” I think readers tend to think of Spider-Man more as an equal than as a superior or a power fantasy like Superman or Captain America. They sympathize with him and are compelled to root for him regardless of the circumstances.
Review Fix: What inspired this book?
Ginocchio: I have been writing and podcasting about the comic book industry, and Spider-Man more specifically, since 2011 via my personal blog, Chasing Amazing, and my weekly podcast, Amazing Spider-Talk. With Spider-Man starring in a new film, Homecoming, this summer, and joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe to boot, it seemed like a great time to utilize that passion and accumulated knowledge in creating what I hope will serve as an all-in-one Spider-Man guidebook for fans of all stripes and levels.
Review Fix: What was the research process like?
Ginocchio: Fortunately, through my podcast, I already had developed relationships with a number of writers and artists who have had an influence on Spider-Man comics and other media over the years. So once we determined which 100 things we wanted to highlight in the book (we wanted to focus on characters, storylines and creators who have had an impact on all Spider-Man-related media), I reached back out to many of those contacts, and many more in order to dive a bit deeper into the character’s history and mythology. Basically, this book served as an excuse for me to talk shop about my favorite comic book character with some of my favorite comic book creators.
Review Fix: Was it difficult to edit?
Ginocchio: Writing, in detail, about 100 different things that are essential to Spider-Man seemed a bit unwieldy on the surface. But fortunately, once I adopted the mindset of approaching each entry as its own isolated story with a beginning, middle and end, the writing and editing became much more manageable.
Review Fix: What did you learn that you didn’t know about Spidey through this?
Ginocchio: Probably the most interesting bit of information I picked up while researching this book came from a series of essays Steve Ditko (Spider-Man artist/co-creator) wrote for his independent zine, The Comics. Ditko’s perspective and insights about the early years of Spider-Man’s development was especially interesting because 1) most of the early Spider-Man mythology that is part of the public realm has come from Stan Lee and 2) Ditko has notoriously never given interviews about his time at Marvel. So these essays are really it in terms of his reflections on that period. With all that said, I still hesitated to take everything Ditko wrote as the unvarnished “truth” because these essays were a mostly unfiltered and unchallenged opinion from one creator, albeit a very mercurial and fascinating one.
Review Fix: What you want people to get out of this book?
I wrote this book with two types of readers in mind: one is someone who is relatively new to Spider-Man and/or comics and has had their interest piqued because of Spidey’s cameo in Captain America: Civil War last year, and this year’s starring role in Homecoming. I hope those readers pick up this book because they want to learn more about Spider-Man and that 100 Things Spider-Man serves as an accessible and fun guidebook for them. For more hardcore fans, I hope this book drills a little deeper into many of the characters, storylines and creators that they already know about, allowing them to either learn something new, or think a bit differently about the Web-Slinger.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Ginocchio: In terms of books, this is it for now. However, people who want to hear more about my perspectives on Spider-Man should check out my podcast, Amazing Spider-Talk (and its associated web site, SuperiorSpiderTalk.com) and my blog, ChasingAmazingBlog.com.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Ginocchio: I am eternally grateful to Triumph Books for giving me this opportunity to write a book about a topic I’m wholeheartedly passionate about. Also, special thanks needs to be extended to long-time Marvel writer and editor Tom DeFalco, who supplied a fantastic foreword for the book. Tom also spent more time than he needed to answer some additional questions I had while researching the book. He truly is a comic book legend in every sense of the word.