I’m guessing that you know who Spider-Man is. Let’s face it, you could climb to the highest peak of the Tibetan mountains and you’d be hard-pressed to find someone that doesn’t know about Peter Parker, Doc Ock, Mary Jane Watson or the entire cast characters of Stan Lee’s comic books.
However, if I were to ask you: “who is Spinnerette?”, “ever heard of Mecha Maid?” or “isn’t Tiger pretty awesome?”, then you’ll probably give me a blank stare (or reply with: “this is called: “who gives a shit”, and it’s my gift to you.”)
Who’d blame you? After all, it’s not like Spinnerette is an international brand of highly popular superheroes. Surely Spinnerette doesn’t have a bigger syndication than The Amazing Spider-Man. It’s impossible for Spinnerette to have better powers than ‘old web head. It’s laughable that Spinnerette is a wittier comic-book than any Spider-Man title.
Before you turn into J Jonah Jameson and decide to leave me a few angry comments, hear me out because I’ve got 5 jaw-droppings reasons why I think that Spinnerette is better than Spider-Man.
Who Is Spinnerette?
Heather Brown is a comic-book fan and a closet player of Dungeons & Dragons. She isn’t particularly popular at college, is a little awkward and is as much a nerd as she is a geek. But after a laboratory experiment goes wrong, Heather grows two additional pairs of arms and is able to shoot spider webs out of her butt (okay, okay… the base of her spine). She also develops new super-hero abilities that are very similar to those that a spider has. These include her having the strength of ten men; being able to climb flat, vertical surfaces; and fast healing.
While this may all sound reminiscent of Peter Parker, the webcomic breaks the fourth wall and is as much a parody of the genre as it is a traditional superhero comic-book. But Spinnerette truly redefines the comic-book industry because two of it’s main characters (Spinnerette and Mecha Maid) are in a lesbian relationship.
Spinnerette Is Free
Every issue of Spinnerette (22 issues in total and a fistful of one-shots) is entirely free you to read. This might not be a new concept, particularly as piracy websites and peer-to-peer downloading make it incredibly easy for you to get ahold of the entire back catalogue of virtually every conceivable comic book for free.
It could be argued that Marvel has gone to considerable lengths to avoid piracy. They give readers the option of buying digital and physical copies of their comic books; yet as long as any publisher charges readers, they’ll forever have to compete with illegal downloads.
Peter Sunde, who created the infamous website The Pirate Bay, has now served a prison sentence and still owes the entertainment industry millions of dollars in damages as a result of this piracy website. While most of us would have learned not to “fuck with the wrong Mouse”, he decided to create the ultimate piracy machine that he calls Kopimashin.
Kopimashin is a Frankenstein art project that combines a Raspberry PI, Python Code, and an LCD screen in order to mass produce 100 digital copies of the Gnarls Barkley music track Crazy. The machine then calculates and displays the monetary value of the piracy based on the estimated earnings the music industry will lose.
“The damages in the TPB (The Pirate Bay) case are equally ludicrous of course. The idea behind it is of course never to get that money paid, but to scare people into silence and obedience.”
Regardless of your stance on piracy, the entertainment industry hasn’t really changed its methods of distribution since before the creation of ropey VHS copies or the home computer. It’s equally alarming to learn that consumers would rather risk harming their devices by accidentally downloading a virus or forego the quality of their experience in exchange for something that’s being given to them for free.
If the vast majority of your potential customers are not willing to pay your brand for the product that you’re selling, then you have to re-evaluate what it is that you’re offering, how it’s distributed and if what you have is truly worth paying for. In a consumer savvy market, can any of us state with any real conviction that Sunde’s comment doesn’t echo some truth?
Independent comic-book creators have been struggling with this very dilemma for quite some time. It’s a tough industry to break into and if you’re alone and without any writing credentials, then you can quickly owe thousands of dollars to freelancers and printers to publish your own comic book.
With banks clamping down on lending, you either have to self-fund your comic-book project or hope that you can wrangle together a team of artists and colorists who will work for free. Yet Kickstarter and Indiegogo have offered a fresh way to sell pre-orders of limited edition comic books, regardless of whether or not you feel obliged to meet your orders.
However, some publishers have taken to establishing a hardcore following and to beta test their comic-book with the public by producing a free to read webcomic. This enables publishers to get page by page feedback from their often vocal and highly critical readers. This gives them an incredible insight into what makes their audience tick and their chosen method of distribution allows them to A/B test, tinker and fine tune their final product before they ever look to mass produce it.
Furthermore, webcomic publishers don’t need to cover large overheads that the comic-book giants have. This means that ads that they serve on their website can contribute towards their costs. However, if you’re a charitable soul, (or if you’re loaded) you can donate a monthly fee of your choosing through services such as PayPal or Patreon.
While not every webcomic holds the same production values as Spinnerette does, it doesn’t matter to the reader. This is because webcomics are offered for free and if you don’t like the storyline, artwork or characters, then you’re not out of pocket.
If you become a fan of the series, then you’re probably not alone. If a webcomic has an established readership, then you can buy signed, limited edition volumes that offer far more value than most Marvel, DC or Dark Horse graphic novels. Therefore, what makes Spinnerette great is not just that it is free: it’s a highly polished webcomic that’s refined, panel by panel, to give you an interactive experience that’s far more rewarding than reading any Spider-Man title.
Spinnerette Has A Bigger Monthly Readership Than Spider-Man
Each month, Spinnerette’s website exceeds 1 million page views every month and is racking up more sessions than the top three selling comic-book titles combined. That’s staggering, even for an established brand; much less a “webcomic that nobody has heard about”.
According to the estimated number of comic books sold by Diamond Comics, Spinnerette has a larger monthly readership than all of the Spider-Man titles combined. In fact, Spinnerette’s readership dwarfs any Marvel, DC or Dark Horse title including Batman, Star Wars and Justice League.
While size isn’t everything, unless the webcomic was of considerable quality then it would be impossible to achieve this number of readers. To add further credibility to Spinnerette, the publisher doesn’t employ a large team of digital marketing experts or have a long established brand. In fact, they hardly market their brand at all. Instead, they rely on ‘word of mouth’ and go to extreme lengths to make certain that every issue of their comic-book exceeds the heights of the one published before it.
Spinnerette Tackles Gay Relationships In The Best Possible Way
When The Amazing Spider-Man was first published, it was commended for the way that teenagers could relate to the problems that Peter Parker faced while growing up. However, it could be argued that Spinnerette is just as groundbreaking for the way that readers who feel isolated by society can relate to many of its characters.
Central to this leitmotif is the gay relationship between the characters Spinnerette and Mecha Maid. While gay characters in comic books aren’t particularly unique, very few have been as welcomed (or adored) by the gay and lesbian community as they have been.
This is because the comic-book industry is often branded as being sexist, in particular over how authors portray female characters or the way in which women are represented by comic-book artists. However, what’s most concerning is that comic-book creators, such as Alan Moore, use gay relationships, rape, sexism or racism to shock the reader and to provoke a reaction from the media. This has forced many readers to question if the medium of comic-books should ever be used to tackle sensitive topics of this nature.
Topics of such a nature deserve sensitive writing; a talent that many comic-book writers lack. Yet since the 60s, popular titles such as Uncanny X-Men have often questioned the morality of those who think negatively or seek to do harm to others for being different. While the original comic-book series didn’t dive headfirst into gay relationships, sexism or racial divide, at the time it was seen as being cutting edge for its liberal thinking.
Therefore, while there are some notable exceptions, it’s refreshing when a comic-book breaks free from stereotypes. KrazyKrow’s witty writing, his parody of ‘generous proportions’ given to the female form (for example the character Super MILF) and his portrayal of gay relationships have all contributed towards the comic book’s success.
Spinnerette Has A Time Travelling Benjamin Franklin… Yes, THAT Benjamin Franklin
Spinnerette is noted for not taking itself too seriously and is well known for breaking the fourth wall between it’s characters and the reader. At times, Spinnerette has a very similar comedic style to the original Manga series Dragon Ball, 90’s comic strips such as Calvin and Hobbs, the off-the-wall wacky antics of a Monty Python sketch, or a French and Saunders parody of a popular movie genre.
While Spinnerette is a comic-book that has an incredible number of popular characters with it’s readers, the time traveling superhero, Benjamin Franklin, is perhaps one of a select few who encompasses all of the ingredients that I’ve highlighted above.
After becoming an Ambassador to France and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Ben Franklin accidentally becomes lost in time. He re-emerges in Hitler’s office in Berlin, where he inadvertently prevents an assassination attempt by a fellow time traveller.
He’s later sent to 2002 to help prevent the Subprime Mortgage Crisis from happening. Sadly, Ben’s attempts fail, but he makes up for his shortcomings by becoming a superhero. As time progresses (excuse the pun!) he becomes the leader of American Superhero Association (the commercial representation, sponsorship, and promotion for freelance superheroes in the US) and forms a series of close friendships with Spinnerette, Mech Maid, Tiger, Super MILF and the League of Canadian Superheroes.
Spinnerette Pokes Fun At Marvel Comics
By now you’ve probably caught on to the similarities between the characters Spider-Man and Spinnerette. But hopefully, you realize that the webcomic is intentionally designed to be a fun parody of the internationally famous comic-book.
Spinnerette doesn’t shy away from breaking the 4th wall by creating references and in-jokes between the reader and the characters. Comic-book publishers – in particular, Marvel Comics – aren’t exempt from KrazyKrow’s humour. This is established from the get go: a scientific experiment gone awry, giving Heather spider-like super powers and impeccable abs.
Even Heather’s alter ego appearance is used to poke fun at Marvel Comics. She’s a comic-book fan, who after developing her new spider-like powers sews together three Venom costumes to create an iconic spider-themed suit. She combines this new suit with a long, brown wig and new mask to complete her new superhero identity as Spinnerette.
She views her new costume as the apotheosize representation of who she has now become (as well as a great way to show off her new abs). Yet reality strikes. She’s humiliated after she loses her first battle and she discovers that her new costume is perfectly impractical for fighting crime. The nylon-spandex material that she had patched together from Marvel Halloween costumes offers little to no protection. Additionally, it tears easily and melts when in extremely hot conditions.
Heather comes to the conclusion that she must create a new, custom-made costume that’s still a symbol of who she is, but has the much-needed in-action functionality that her tattered costume lacks. This proves to be a wise decision as Spinnerette is sent a cease-and-desist order from Marvel Comics. The comic-book publisher alleges that her homemade costume infringes on their copyright, insisting that her appearance resembles Spider-Woman.
Another typical example of the webcomic poking fun at Marvel Comics is its plot’s use of Multiverses and MetaVerses. In issues #20 and #21, readers encounter two new versions of Spinnerette who have crossed over from an Alternate Universe. Calling herself 2010 Spinnerette, she, along with Silver Age Spinnerette and 90’s Spinnerette, defeats an Evil Spinnerette.
However, the comic-book and use of stylized one-shots that focus on the backstory of the alternate Spinnerettes are laden with cameos by a character that has a strikingly similar appearance to the comic-book legend Stan Lee. This is obviously making reference to Lee’s numerous cameos in comic-book films.
However, the plot takes an unexpected twist when we discover that the cameo character in Spinnerette is a villain who calls himself The Editor. This is yet another nod to Stan Lee, who for a number of years was the editor for all of Marvel Comics’ titles including his most famous creation The Amazing Spider-Man.
It’s revealed that The Editor is a hyper dimensional being who stumbled upon Golden Age Spinnerette. He decided to watch her ‘story’ unfold, but after twenty years The Editor grew bored of her adventures. He concludes that he needs to make her life more interesting by rebooting the Universe to include “the darker and the edgier”.
The Editor mainly sticks to cameos as he views himself as being the “Guardian of the Metaverse”. He opts to influence events by recruiting a number of minions, alternate versions of Spinnerette and 90’s Evil Canadian Supervillains to do his bidding.
The entire storyline exemplifies KrazyKrow’s inventive storytelling by addressing what are commonly shared frustrations by comic-book fans about publishers who continually reboot characters and rewrite or erase every event that preceded it. While we can only speculate, this could be viewed as a strong statement about Marvel Comics’ 2007, four-part crossover storyline: One More Day.
The storyline was pioneered and drawn by Marvel’s Editor-In-Chief, Joe Quesada, who was looking for a way to conclude Spider-Man’s involvement in the Civil War crossover. The storyline continues to be highly controversial. It’s rumored that, because of the storyline, many of Marvel’s creatives had heated conversations with Quesada. The plot also frustrated many long term fans who for many years had collected a number of Spider-Man titles. This is because One More Day erased almost the entire history of Spider-Man to reboot the franchise.
Therefore, when we take all of the above into consideration, it would appear that KrazyKrow’s inclusion of The Editor is a critical examination of the ramifications of the reboot One More Day.
On the surface, Spinnerette appears to be just a fun, lighthearted webcomic. However, it’s use of parody adds a number of complex layers that critique and analyse the comic-book industry. While this may not be appealing to everyone, comic-book enthusiasts will instantly fall in love with the webcomic, without ever feeling like it’s a repackaging of Spider-Man.
If you fall into this category, then you’ll not be alone. It’s mindblowing to think that a tiny webcomic can achieve over 1 million page views every month: far exceeding the readership of the hottest and most established comic-book brands.
I encourage you to read Spinnerette from the beginning because I guarantee you that you’ll not be disappointed.