First unveiled at New York Comic Con last year, Sideshow Collectibles’ Mark Brooks Spider-Verse collection – consisting of new statues of Spider-Man, Silk and Spider-Gwen — were quickly highly-coveted by fans. Since then, a limited edition Mark Brooks Spider-Verse Fine Art Print was announced as well, depicting the three characters in the same poses seen in the statues.
Marvel.com spoke to Mark about the project recently, alongside Sideshow’s Art Director, David Igo, and the Head of Sideshow’s Print Program, Gracie Bifulco.
Marvel.com: What were your first discussions like with Sideshow about this project? How does tackling something like this first begin?
Mark Brooks: I’ve known David and the Sideshow team for almost a decade now. We had bounced a few ideas around in the past, and collaborated on a few different designs, but nothing had been released at that stage. I was at San Diego Comic-Con sharing a booth with Marvel concept artist and illustrator Adi Granov, and David came over to hang out.
David Igo: Adi rocks! We work with him a lot. He’s a rad artist and a good friend.
Mark Brooks: We all got chatting and David and I started daydreaming about a few of the ideas we’d bounced around back in the day.
Gracie Bifulco: I actually bought a convention sketch from Mark at the same show! I love Mark’s art and I’ve been a fan for a long time. I knew I wanted to work with him on a print at some point. It was just a matter of finding the right project.
Mark Brooks: Sideshow wanted to bring out a new comic book inspired line of statues. David and I had so many deep-dive nerd conversations over the years, just geeking out about different characters and what we could do. But, we started narrowing that list down, and I had a few ideas that I pitched them to David.
David Igo: Right away we had three killer concepts, all based around people within the Spider-Verse, and I started thinking about a whole Artist Series line with Mark, but we kept coming back to one character in particular…
Mark Brooks: Yeah, I really wanted to design a Spider-Gwen! She was the catalyst behind the idea of a series. We got thinking about Silk, and Spider-Man and the potential there. It’s such a great [trio], you know.
David Igo: That trilogy is such a strong place to start. It’s an awesome line up!
Gracie Bifulco: It was at that point that we suggested a print too. It was still early on, but once that trilogy idea took hold, we really wanted a companion print of those characters all together. I knew they’d look awesome!
Mark Brooks: It’s funny, but knowing in the back of my mind that there was going to be accompanying artwork in print form became very much a part of my design process. I always had that in the back of my mind. It helped me to think of these characters all together.
Marvel.com: What’s it like seeing your art brought into three dimensions with these Sideshow statues?
Mark Brooks: It’s so crazy! Like I said earlier, I’ve known the Sideshow team for years now. But things have changed so much since we first started talking about collaborating on some work. My style has evolved a lot, and the work that Sideshow is producing is getting better and better.
David Igo: We’ve leveled up for sure. We’re always trying to bring our ‘A’ game in every way; art, sculpt, paint, materials, manufacturing, everything. There’s just so much more you can do now!
Mark Brooks: Exactly! This series wouldn’t have been possible 7 or 8 years ago. I wasn’t there yet, and neither were Sideshow. This is the perfect time to make it happen.
Marvel.com: What were your discussions like with Mark about how the characters should be depicted here?
David Igo: We had a lot of faith in Mark’s abilities as a designer, and in his understanding of the process. We could connect him directly with our art team and let them riff off each other. Spider-Gwen, for example, had design input from JP Mavinga, as well as a whole team of kickass sculptors — Steve “Schu” Schumacher, Matt Black, Steve Lord, and Alfred Paredes — who were all able to work with Mark and translate Mark’s art to 3D.
Mark Brooks: I think it’s great that Sideshow give their artists so much credit on these pieces. I love what I do, but I know my limitations too. I wanted to push the boundaries on this character and really play with what was possible, but they embraced every challenge and actually did it, they brought her to life!
David Igo: As an Art Director, it was a blast. I love it when this happens. Mark had a vision, and I was like “Heck yeah!!!” He had so many suggestions regarding the contrasting textures and tones, so many little touches, and our artists love that.
Mark Brooks: Spider-Gwen was the starting point for my texture obsession! I must’ve driven the artists crazy! So much blood, sweat, and tears went into getting her just right. I wanted contrasts, coarse and smooth, matte and glossy, then light and dark. Nothing is flat. Nothing is simple. I wanted her to have a certain richness, not only as a visual thing, but as a tactile thing too.
David Igo: Mark sent us so much reference for paint handling. So many ideas! It became all about communication as well as teamwork. It was a challenge, but it was a fun one. And I think the piece came out great! She set the bar for the whole series.
Marvel.com: So, do you have a favorite character among this trio?
Mark Brooks: I love Spider-Man because he ties them together, as a character and as part of a series of statues. The more I talked with David about the way in which statues are displayed as well as designed, I became fixated on “skylines” and how these characters could flow together. I really became married to the silhouettes of these figures, and their poses really reflect that. At its simplest, Spider-Man is the lynch pin, Silk and Spider-Gwen bookend him, but it got a lot deeper than that…
David Igo: We like to talk about how these statues can flow together in a collection, we’re always thinking about that collector experience. One of the most interesting conversations we had was about levels. Spidey is always up high! We wanted to explore a Spider-Man at street level.
Mark Brooks: My first design after that discussion actually had him crouched on a chunk of New York city street. It was kind of cool. But as we explored that webbing for the figure bases, we thought it would be cool to use webbing to almost literally tie them together.
David Igo: The base designs are so much fun! You really have to see them “in the flesh” to appreciate them.
Mark Brooks: I love the paint application on the street signs. They are so realistic! You know, the worst thing about this project is waiting! We’ve been working on these statues for two years now. It’s excruciating! I want my statues!
David Igo: It’s like a movie. Waiting, keeping it secret. It’s tough, but it’s worth it to see the audience reaction.
Marvel.com: Some people may first think of the figures and statues for Sideshow, but the beautiful prints the company creates are getting more and more attention. Is that gratifying to see?
Gracie Bifulco: The print program has grown really quickly, and that’s totally down to the enthusiasm of the collectors. Like Dave said earlier, we’re always thinking about that all-round collector experience. The idea that you can have this super limited edition luxury fine art print to accompany the statues is so great. It adds another level to a display, and it gives you another way of connecting with the art and the artist. We have the pleasure of working with some of the best artists from comics, illustration, concept art, and the movie industry, and it’s the perfect excuse to commission even more awesome art and share it with our fellow collectors. I’m so happy that people like what we are doing, it’s been incredibly rewarding.
Mark Brooks: The whole thing together, statues and art, is really something special. It was such a fun experience.
Marvel.com: There are plenty of other Spider-Verse characters. Anyone else you’d love to tackle for a project like this if the opportunity arose?
Mark Brooks: Black Cat for sure! Maybe, Mary Jane. She’d be fun! Oh, I’d love to do a really crazy Doc Ock! Just go super dark and push the tragedy of that character.
David Igo: I loved the Spider-Man / Doctor Octopus Year One stuff.
Mark Brooks: Those comics were amazing! Yes!!
David Igo: Anyone else? What about Aunt May?
Mark Brooks: I’d love to design an Aunt May statue! We could make the base a corner of her kitchen, make it really simple and sweet at first glance, and then just go nuts filling it with Easter eggs from Spider-Man lore. Just go completely crazy with details.
David Igo: That’s actually kind of amazing…
Gracie Bifulco: Yes!!!
The Sideshow Mark Brooks Spider-Verse Collection, can be pre-ordered now at http://sideshow.com/mbspiderverse.
Mark Brooks is on Twitter as @markbrooksart.