One of the team behind the new spin-off Spider-Gwen, artist Robbi Rodriguez has had a pretty big 12 months. But he’s particularly received well-deserved praise for Gwen’s striking and deceptively plain costume.
The buzz around the story – a one-off Spider-Verse crossover written by Jason Latour that was subsequently expanded into an ongoing new series – must be a strange experience for the artist. Crowds of fans besieged Rodriguez’s table at last year’s New York Comic-Con, lining up for signatures and prints. For a man who’s spent most of his 10-year career working in independent comics, the fuss must be a little disconcerting.
Part of the excitement around Spider-Gwen was for the costume that Rodriguez came up with – a delightfully simple design that’s really resonated with audiences: block black and white, with only slight nods to the original red spider webbing and an eerie white mask, with red eyes obscured in part by a lose white hood.
As Rodriguez has pointed out, it’s a costume that’s simple enough for him to draw over and over again, but it’s also refreshingly unsexualised and interestingly open to stylisation that could see Spider-Gwen drawn very distinctively through a number of different media or techniques.
But it wouldn’t do to let Rodriguez’s recent work on Spider-Gwen completely overshadow everything he’s done before now. As well as a stint in the X-Men universe, the diverse artist – along with colourist Rico Renzi, also of the Spider-Gwen team – has flexed his pencil for a weird and wonderful adventure into the laws of science in the Federal Bureau of Physics series for Vertigo, as well as the Oni Press story Maintenance, about two janitors for the “world’s biggest and best evil think-tank”. And while not busy with such endeavours, Rodriguez has his own web comic, the “acid western comic” Frankie Get Your Gun.
Looking through his work on this range of projects, you can see Rodriguez’s affinity with both the simple and the dynamic. While his art on Spider-Gwen is tighter and simpler – classic block lines, but with some bold colours and shapes – the work in his own projects is a little looser, more kinetic and more chaotic. However, in all things Rodriguez understands the way a reader relates to and feels a character, and his art seeks to draw his readers into those characters and their stories.
Below is a gallery of some of Robbi Rodriguez’s intriguing work through the years: