EXCLUSIVE: Ultimate Spider-Man Interview with Sara Pichelli with VIDEO!

As the first volume of Ultimate Spider-Man winded down, one of the latest in the line of artist to team up with Brian Michael Bendis on the seminal Ultimate book that dazzled us was Sara Pichelli.  Not much was known about this Italian artist other than every line on the page dazzled.  I can’t say I was surprised when I saw that Marvel had tapped Pichelli to be the ongoing artist on the new volume of Ultimate Spider-Man, a decision that would thrust her into the international spotlight once the news of the new Ultimate Spider-Man’s identity was revealed. Now, Pichelli is known as the artist who helped to create Miles Morales, the new Ultimate Spider-Man, as well as designed the new costume.  We got the chance to speak with Sara Pichelli and hear what she thinks of Spider-Man and all the attention this news has gotten.

Be sure to read the complete interview and scroll to the bottom to see an EXCLUSIVE video of Pichelli in action, as she draws Miles Morales in an upcoming issue of Ultimate Spider-Man!

iFanboy: Ultimate Spider-Man has a long legacy of artists, from Bagley to Immonen to LaFuente and now Pichelli, how does it feel to be main artist on one of Marvel’s top titles?

Sara Pichelli: Drawing Ultimate Spider-Man? Damn, it feels good! The great artists who’ve come before me did an amazing job, so I know I’ve got to give more than my best to not disappoint the fans. Honestly, that makes me a bit nervous…but, you know, “with a great book, comes great responsibility!”

iF: How long have you been working with Brian Michael Bendis on the new Ultimate Spider-Man? What was your reaction when he and Marvel laid out the plan to introduce a new Ultimate Spider-Man with Miles Morales?

SP: Before knowing about the new Spider-Man, I worked on 4 issues of Ultimate Spider-Man, before the Death of Spider-Man story arc. When Marvel offered me the chance to join the team AND work on the creation of the new Ultimate Spider-Man, I was totally excited. I couldn’t believe it! The idea sounded great to me, even if I already knew in my bones  this big of change was going to shock the whole comic book community.

iF: Did you have any idea what kind of public reaction the change in Ultimate Spider-Man would elicit?

SP: Back then, I tried to guess what would happen, but what I pictured in my mind was nothing compared to what really happened! It hit hard all over! Can you believe that even the Italian news talked about Miles? Friends I lost contact with many years ago, after the news, started calling me on the phone. Again, insane! (laughs)

iF: Are there any stylistic changes you’ll be bringing to how you depict this new Spider-Man?

SP: I’m not good at analyzing my art. Stylistic changes naturally come without a specific intention of mine. All I can say, for the new series I decided to add some screentones  to give a more ‘pop’ feeling to the book, because I think it would fit perfectly with the new series.

iF: We know a lot of familiar faces will be popping up in Miles’ life, from the Ultimates to May Parker. But with an all new character front and center, we’re looking forward to meeting a lot of new friends, family and foes. Are you churning out a lot of character designs in addition to story pages? What’s it like putting the first artistic spin on these characters?

SP: So far I’ve designed the Morales family, a friend of his and a classic villain which will see for the first time in Ultimate Universe. But I know many other designs are about to come and I can’t wait to do them! I worked as character designer for animation and I’m accustomed to creating new characters. It’s an amazing job, so when I can apply it to my comic book career, it’s the perfect mix! Giving the first impression to characters who will be protagonists of an important book like Ultimate Spider-Man is exciting! And even more exciting is seeing those characters come to life in the stories!

iF: What’s the biggest challenge in drawing Spider-Man?

SP: The biggest challenge is to handle Spider-Man’s body language. It’s hard to sell well the body flexibility and dynamism without running the risk of making the hero look like a rubber puppet! You have to be good at controlling human anatomy, and be able to exaggerate it to have a perfect Spider-Man in action.

iF: Who is your definitive Spider-Man artist?

SP: I DO love Stuart Immonen’s art!

iF: We think of Spider-Man as a bit of an American institution. Is he well known in Italy?

SP: Among all the super heroes out there, I can definitely say that in Italy,  he’s the most beloved. Unfortunately in Italy, comic books don’t have the same value they have in the U.S.A. Consequently Spider-Man is known primarily as a comic book hero.


Marvel Comics and Sara Pichelli provided us this exclusive behind the scenes look as Sara draws Miles Morales in an upcoming issue of Ultimate Spider-Man:


  1. Looks like a girls body.

  2. I like the new costume.
    The video makes me want to watch Chasing Amy so I can hear Banky defend inkers.

  3. That video is awesome!

  4. Nice video treat! Interesting insight into her process. I look forward to the days in the not-too-distant future where these kinds of extras get included w/ digital comics.

  5. She’s pretty great.

  6. Why is he swinging through the city unmasked? Marvel isn’t trying to exploit something are they? hmmmm

    • Letting consumers know that this is a different character is exploitation of the fact that they got a lot of press. In this case, the word exploitation isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Their product underwent a change, and it behooves them to show that.

    • They made it clear in Ultimate Fallout (via tons of early leaks and USA Today articles) that they had a new Spidey. Sure it’s just a cover and these days they often have little to do with the issue’s main story, but swinging around unmasked in broad daylight seems obvious. It kinda backs up the thoughts that Mile Morales wasn’t about “telling the best possible stories with the best possible characters”. It was about using race to get attention and maybe more dollars. Some would say that’s a weak reason to kill of an iconic character (if anything Ultimate can be considered iconic).

    • Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      There’s no such thing as “making things clear” in the press. The publishers need to give new readers a little help when they ask them to walk into a comic shop for the first time or for the first time in a while. Covers are silly or often metaphorical. Let the kid show his face on his first cover, while he’s soaring. It’s embarrassing when readers suggest the character’s race and appearance be hidden. As if any expression of his race is an offensive marketing ploy by default. How long does he have to be out there in the public eye before he can show his face and it not be a marketing gimmick to you?

      Give me a number.

    • You speak as if it’s insane to even think that Marvel may do something strictly for attention and financial gain. Surely they wouldn’t possibly use race in such a way. I still remember one of Marvel’s first comments, “We KNEW” it had to be a character of diversity. So what do they do? They place a “minority” in a role made famous by another character. They don’t build him up on his own merits as his own character then support him with great stories and stronge creative teams. They kill off one character for what looks like a self-imposed quota of sorts. It will grab headlines (especially away from DC) and in turn make money. You may find that preposterous, but I find it to be a reasonable conclusion carrying just as much weight as your view. They’re making Miles more of a sales pitch than a hero (which is a shame).

      I certainly don’t find it “embarrassing” to question motivations. The number you desire is irrelevant. This is simply following up what Marvel has already done. And I don’t see how you get “by default” from my statement about something so specific. At first I thought there was a slight insinuation of racism there. But surely not. I’m hoping that’s not a label that would be thrown around so loosly.

    • Avatar photo Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      There simply isn’t enough evidence to support your claims that Miles is ultimately just a sales pitch. Sure making him Spider-Man ensures more widespread notice. But that’s just giving the character a head start. What should Marvel be doing differently to make this feel less sleazy? Not that I grant your premise.

    • First, I’m pretty sure that’s a variant cover, so only like 34 people will have it.

      Second, America is still so race obsessed that if they DIDN’T exploit Miles’ ethnicity in marketing the book, there’d be accusations of Marvel blowing an opportunity to inform potential new readers that super-hero comics are more than white people with big muscles/boobs.

      I feel pretty confident that there were BOTH creative and marketing motivations for this decision.

      If I were Bendis and decided to kill Peter and introduce a new character as Spider-man, I can’t think of a compelling reason NOT to make the character non-white. Why? Because it’s 2011 and comics could use more diversity, so WHY NOT develop a great, three dimensional non-white character so you can tell stories that give readers a look into a unique culture/environment and a new perspective on the familiar elements of the Ultimate Universe.

      At this point, all we have to react to are press releases, preview images, and SEVEN PAGES in Ultimate Fallout #4, so while it’s totally okay to question motivations, let’s maybe wait until we have some stories to read before we question anything too harshly.

    • The greatest sales tool a comic book has is its cover. Here’s a scenario: Guy/Gal walks into a shop, sees this cover and says: “whoa there’s a new spiderman…i want to check this out!”

      Whats wrong with grabbing the attention of the guy/gal in the shop who heard some of the buzz but doesn’t frequent sites like this or memorize release dates and press releases?

      i’m sure Marvel has some designs on “latching on” to the success of Spiderman to make this new character a success, but thats the situation the market has created. The Big 2’s major characters are 50-75 years old. They need new heroes that are relevant for today, and maybe piggybacking is the only way to do that successfully. Lets face it, its really difficult to sell a new character. If Miles Morrales appeared as “The Spectacular Wombat Man” or something brand new like that, that chances are pretty good it wouldn’t survive more than a few issues.

    • Nothing wrong with trying to sell comics. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the way they’re trying to sell this one.

    • I prefer what DC is doing with characters like Batwing, Static Shock, and Mister Terrific. Starting their own ongoing series and working to build them up on their own merits. Letting them develop themselves without the crutch of a previously established character. Can Marvel not do this? Granted, maybe they do feel this is the ONLY way to bring diversity into comics. Maybe they feel we haven’t progressed enough as a nation to support a minority character without having an established foundation. I disagree with that but maybe Marvel knows something I don’t.

      My problem is with the methods and motivations. If I gave two craps about the Ultimate Universe and was a Peter Parker fan, I would be thoroughly pissed. I would probably be branded a racist by some, but I would be frustrated that a character I loved and invested in was killed because marketing research (or whatever) showed there’s more money to be made if he had a different colored skin (remember their comments).

      Create good solid “minority” characters. Incorporate them into the greater universe. Support them with solid stories and talented creative teams. I’m just crazy enough to think that would produce diversity and give us a universe more like the world we live in. Personally, I think Marvel’s statements show their hand.

    • How are Batwing and Mister Terrific being built up on their own merits? Batwing is “The Batman of Africa” … do you think that carries no cachet? Even Mr. Terrific is a legacy character – OK so the original may be only vaguely remembered now, but since this is a new Mr Terrific you can say he’s standing on the shoulders of the current iteration. I don’t see how this is different.

    • @Keith

      “Create good solid “minority” characters. Incorporate them into the greater universe. Support them with solid stories and talented creative teams. I’m just crazy enough to think that would produce diversity and give us a universe more like the world we live in.”

      Isn’t this EXACTLY what Marvel is doing with Miles?

      I think you might be seeing the cart before the horse. I really don’t believe anyone at Marvel said, “Hey! We need more diversity! I know! Let’s kill Ultimate Peter Parker and replace him with half-black, half-latino kid!”

    • New characters take on the mantle of superheroes all time. This isn’t a new thing thats happening. The difference is before its one white guy would take over the mantle for another white guy.

      This will be a Barry Allen vs. Wally West kinda thing. Each will have their own stories and their own fans.

    • @boosebaster

      It’s considerably different. Mr. Terrific and Batwing aren’t on the same popularity scale as Spider-Man. There’s no crutch with either character. Neither are riding the popularity of another who was killed to make room for them. They are smaller characters given a chance to shine.

      For me, Spidey is on an entirely different level as these two.

    • @keith7198 Question: Did you have the same objection to Spider-Man 2099?

    • @Ken

      The paragraph you quoted was connected to the previous one. I was saying instead of what Marvel was doing (enter quoted paragraph). I really don’t see Marvel doing that.

      Marvel was quoted as saying they KNEW they needed a character of diversity in that role. I can find that quote for you. I saw in more than one place. Then they went on to draw a lot of attention to the race of the character. Marvel did that. Sure, they didn’t say let’s kill him and put a half black/half latino in there. But I think they give people reason to question their motives.

      Diversity is a hot topic right now (just ask DC). It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Marvel would want to score points in that conversation.

    • @ Connor

      Was no fan of the 2099 thing. But to be perfectly honst, the only book I read enough of out of the 2099s was Punisher.

    • @Keith

      I believe you on the quote, and I agree that “scoring points” in the diversity conversation is probably of interest to Marvel, but I guess I just don’t see the motivation being purely driven by media/marketing considerations. I think (and Bendis has spoken to this — most recently on the Loikamania podcast) there are a lot of very intriguing and valuable storytelling motivations for Miles as Spider-man, and until we have stories to read, questioning Marvel’s motivations is kind of futile.

      I have a feeling that in a couple years, the consensus on this whole “controversy” over Miles Morales is going to be “Wait, why were people upset?” (a la Stephanie Brown Batgirl).

      I can see it now — “2015: The Return of Peter Parker” in Ultimate Spider-man Vol 3, issue 50, and everyone will be up in arms about Miles being replaced.

    • @Ken

      One thing I have found interesting is that there hasn’t been much “controversy”. Race hasn’t entered into many of the discussions I have read. Most of the disagreements seem to be in regards to the killing of Peter Parker and the true motivations behind it. I think that says a lot about where we’ve come. Now I’ve seen people try to insert allegations of racism (no one on iFanboy) into the conversations but there really hasn’t been any big uproar over color.

  7. Sweet

  8. this is all digital really? i shed a tear of shame im not buying this comicbooki give up on spiderman

    • You realize a human still has to draw it right?

    • You do realize a LARGE chunk of comics is completely digital at this point, right? It doesn’t take less skill to work digitally, just a different set of skills. Sara Pichelli has a lot of talent, and I think it should be obvious by seeing her final pages. Don’t really understand the hate for digital.

    • It’s just a tool. Some artists use one kind of pencil or another kind of brush, and if you can’t tell the difference in the end product, then your stance is sort of ridiculous. Don’t begrudge an artist their tools. Do you avoid movies that don’t use practical effects as well? No, because it would be impossible.

    • Damn, Josh, haha.

    • I’m fairly certain that she hand draws everything and then scans and digitally “inks” her own work.

  9. i wonder what program she was using……..

  10. I’m actually pretty excited for issue one. And I hate Spider-Man

  11. The cover art looks great. Too bad I couldn’t get the video to work on this goofy work PC!

  12. That video alone was worth opening this on the site rather than skimming it on Google Reader’s rss fee!

  13. wow, that was awesome. slowly winning me over. that’s guys

  14. Marvel has just put the video on their site and said it’s “exclusive” which I don’t understand seeing as it’s been here for days (I know they provided it but I assumed exclusive would indicate you can’t see it anywhere else). I’m questioning Marvel’s use of the term, not iFanboy’s – since it appears you guys had first dibs on it.

    I used to work in videogames mags and we’d just put “Exclusive!” on everything we mentioned on the cover but I just kind of assumed that was because it was like the wild west in those days and no-one cared and everyone did it.