We chat with the comic creator about his epic meta-adventure saga and the relief that comes with it.
Welcome to our Creator Corner, our new reoccurring interview series, where we chat with the coolest and most thought-provoking creators in the comics industry. In this entry, we're conversing with Nick Cagnetti about Pink Lemonade. Listen to the unedited audio HERE.
We've waited a fair share for this moment. Nick Cagnetti's Pink Lemonade is upon us. We've followed the cartoonist on various social media platforms for years. We eagerly anticipated his first comic to hit stands via It's Alive. We were overjoyed when it moved over to Oni Press, a publisher we've had a soft spot for as many years as we've adored Nick Cagnetti's work.
The final product - the new Pink Lemonade trade paperback - is a gorgeously textured collection. The colors are bright. The pages are pleasantly coarse. Nick Cagnetti put all of himself into this book, and it shows across every inch. Put this comic in anyone's hands, and watch their curiosity teased.
Succinctly summarizing Pink Lemonade is a challenge. Honestly, it's best to pick up the book and flip through it. Cagnetti's playful pop sensibilities grab eyeballs instantaneously, in the same manner the best intoxicating songs become earworms. The comic is addictive, and you'll find yourself continuously pulling it off the shelf.
But you want plot stuff. Fine. Here you go. Pink Lemonade is the latest hero on the scene. She's got a rad costume, a speedy motorcycle, and a powerfully positive attitude. She wants to do good in the world, but when she accidentally crash-lands upon Ron Radical's blockbuster film set, she finds herself the desire of Hollywood schmucks looking for the next IP to exploit.
Nick Cagnetti loves comic books. He loves comic book movies. However, he also has trepidation around how mainstream entertainment moguls manipulate our treasures for their pleasure. We sat down with Cagnetti to discuss his early obsession with Spider-Man, the 2002 Sam Raimi adaptation that stole his childhood attention, and how they both fed his Pink Lemonade concept.
Nick Cagnetti, Pink Lemonade, and Spider-Man
Brad: I know that you're a big Spider-Man fan.
Totally ever since I've been little.
Nick Cagnetti :I'm really grateful to them, and how they give me the chance to do stuff like that. I've been so immersed in the comic history side of Spider-Man since I was little. That's how I learned to to read and write and draw. You know, studying those old books and any collections of those I could find, or any recent back issues that I could find.
They're some of my earliest memories too. Before I had a home computer at my my parents' house, I would go over to my grandma and grandpa's, and they had a computer. I would be just browsing Spider-Man fan sites from like the the late 90s and early 2000s. Reading all the history and browsing covers and stuff like that. It always really interested me.
Brad: Spider-Man was also the first superhero I discovered and truly started to obsess over. I joined Amazing Spider-man during the Erik Larsen years, the Venom Island storyline. Gosh, I forget the number.
Nick Cagnetti: Good stuff.
Brad: Think it's three-forty-something.
Nick Cagnetti: Yeah, it's like 347, something like that. I know it's that iconic cover with Venom holding the skull.
Brad: Yeah, yeah, exactly that one. That was my first Spider-Man. Probably one of the first ten comics I ever had.
Nick Cagnetti: One of the earliest single issues that I got was also a Venom one. It was from the Howard Mackie reboot era. It was the Peter Parker: Spider-Man issue that had Venom and it was just this big floppy Venom symbiotic cover. John Romita Jr. art, a lot of fun. [Editor's Note, we believe this is Peter Parker: Spider-Man (1999) #9]
Brad: What is it about the character that spoke to you then and and how has your relationship with Spider-Man evolved?
Nick Cagnetti: I think initially, just for like most kids, I would say it's the design. It instantly grabs you. It totally speaks to anybody, because it's so eye-catching. It could be anybody under there. It's just a fun-looking character. I think that's something that's bled over into my own philosophies with art. It has informed my approach in general.
Growing up, I always looked at the character and found it appealing. Also, the normal dude aspect of it all. That is another thing that's always appealed to me. I try to ground stories in any way I can. Old Spider-Man stuff really excels in that department.
Brad: And what's it been like for you, as a longtime Spider-Man fan, to see the character get picked up in a major way from mainstream entertainment? I look back at my childhood, I never would have imagined what the MCU has become. It's still strange to me just seeing so so many people wearing Spider-Man shirts around the mall or wherever.
Nick Cagnetti: Yeah, I remember being in middle school and people would make fun of me because I had a Spider-Man backpack. Now, it's cool. Everybody's like, "Yeah, he's cool. So, that's nice.
Brad: Yeah, yeah.
Nick Cagnetti: I remember being little and being hyped for the first Spider-Man movie. I would follow the news. I could barely read or write, but I would be tuned to anything I could see about it. We're the last generation to know a world with no Spider-Man movies, and it was really exciting following that stuff growing up. It was a lot fun to see the evolution of those things. It's been interesting.
Brad: Well, reading Pink Lemonade, what I pulled out of it was a sense of anxiety around how comic book culture has been hijacked by these major capitalist forces.
Nick Cagnetti: Yeah, totally. I mean that that is a big big factor for sure. On the one hand, it is cool seeing all this stuff happening, but then, on the other hand, part of me is always wondering if we're losing sight of some important things. You know, the things close to us. I feel some things get lost in translation.
Brad: Pink Lemonade is a series you've been working on for a long time. It's been a long process to get to this trade paperback from Oni Press.
Nick Cagnetti: Well, yeah. I was always hoping that it would end up in this form, the trade paperback. That was what I was planning for from the beginning, but I just didn't know how it would ever get to that spot. I started working on it, and it was a now-or-nothing moment. I was setting out to make the best book I could. The first issue I did got picked up by a small press publisher called It's Alive. The first two issues came out through them and I moved publishers. I just kept working on the series. I didn't know what the heck was gonna happen with any of it. I just kept working on it.
Brad: So, what's your emotional state about it now? The book is done. It's in the world!
Nick Cagnetti: It's a big relief. I'm just happy it's out there. It'll be there for people to discover it now, hopefully. One complete package till the next one. Doing all this stuff, talking about the book with folks, it's nice, especially now. Early on, I would do podcasts and I couldn't really talk about it that much because I didn't want to give too much away. It's nice to be able to talk freely about it now.
I'm gearing up for my next stuff. I'm not too worried about that side of things either, because I feel pretty good about where it's all going. I'm excited to start drawing it properly. I'm getting close to that stage, getting to the thumbnail part of it, sketching out all the stuff. Once it gets to that point, I go pretty quick from there.