I Spy: An Interview With Stephen Mooney

Web of Black Widow issue 3 cover. Art & colours by Stephen Mooney

You’ve drawn (and written) a few spy books now. What is it that appeals to you about these kinds of books?

I love characters that operate in the shadows, between the margins. I use a lot of black ink! I definitely gravitate towards these kinds of books, it’s true. I think the fact that the characters are always ambiguous in their motivations and morals is far more interesting that some of the more straight-shooters out there. Plenty of shades of grey; what are the intentions and who is on which side? Love that stuff. Plus – serious action!

Working on The Dead Hand, you had to delve into a world similar to that of the Black Widow. Did that help you when it came to working on this series?

Oh, for sure. In fact, that book led directly to series editor Sarah Brunstad contacting me about coming onboard the Widow project. She figured that gritty, overbearing noir flavour would translate exceptionally well to Natasha’s world and though I may be a tad biased, I’m inclined to agree!

When it comes to drawing Black Widow herself, do you have any artistic influences or is it a matter of doing your own thing?

Bit of both, really. I’m definitely hyper-aware of the Chris Samnee run from a couple years back; in fact I have those books on my drawing table as I work on pages right now. Other than that, I’m definitely trying to go my own way with it, influenced hugely of course by the stellar scripts by Jody Houser. There’s so much mood and flavour in those that it makes my job all the more straightforward. I’m instantly inspired as I read her words.

Art by Stephen Mooney, colours by Triona Farrell

I just saw your cover for issue one and I was really impressed with the design of it. I noticed this in your Dead Hand covers too. Is this something you’ve consciously been working on or is just that you’ve gotten to try your hand at more covers.

I think the cover you saw is actually for issue 3, but I’m delighted ye like it! That’s my first Marvel cover and it seems to have gone down really well, thankfully. I absolutely channelled Dead Hand on that one again, yup, as Sarah requested that kind of vibe. I love working like that and my work has definitely been heading in that artistic direction, so I was more than happy to oblige. I like the fact that I seem to be evolving a signature look when it comes to my covers and splash images, so I’ll certainly be encouraging that.

It is an interesting time to be working on a Black Widow book with the release of the movie poster (I liked your cover more). Did the Scarlett Johansson version influence you in any way?

Not really actually, although a few people have said my first cover bears a passing resemblance to her. Definitely unintentional, but if it connects the book to the upcoming movie in potential readers’ eyes, then all the better. It’s definitely a great time to be involved with a Widow series, since our book is very much being considered a primer for the film and something that stores can point to for any prospective reader that may want to immerse themselves in the character and her lore before hitting the cinema. 

What would your pitch be for potential readers of the series?

If you’re a long-time fan of Natasha, or even just Widow-Curious; this is the book for you. We’re putting absolutely everything into this one; any favourite characters you might be hoping to see return will more than likely be present and correct. Whether or not former allies and indeed enemies can or should be trusted is an entirely separate issue… Action, betrayal, romance, espionage – it’s all in there, drenched in atmosphere and mood so think ye could chew on it. Come get a piece of it this Wednesday in stores everywhere!

Web Of Black Widow issue one hits stores tomorrow. Written by Jody Houser, Art by Stephen Mooney and Triona Farrell.