Art from All-New
X-Men #7.Artist David Marquez formed a successful partnership with writer Brian Michael Bendis on Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, where he was one of the first artists other than Sara Pichelli to draw the ongoing adventures of the Ultimate Universe's new Spidey, Miles Morales.
The pair brought their collaboration to the classic Marvel Universe this week with All-New X-Men #6, where Marquez started a three-issue artistic stint on the recently debuted mutant book. Spelling regular series artist Stuart Immonen, Marquez has come on board with a story arc focusing on the Original Five X-Men — acclimating to the present following being transported from the past — with upcoming appearances from Mystique and the Avengers.
Newsarama talked with Marquez, who's also working on Archaia graphic novel The Joyners in 3D, about his latest Marvel assignment. Courtesy of the publisher, we're also debuting interior pages from All-New X-Men #7, out next month.
Newsarama: David, how did the All-New X-Men gig come about for you? Was it simply a natural extension of the already positive partnership you had with Brian on Ultimate Comics Spider-Man?
David Marquez: That's probably a big part of it. With a lot of these decisions, I'm not privy to all of the facts.Over the last year, since Brian and I started working together, it's clear that we have a really good working relationship. We click creatively. With All-New X-Men, similar in Ultimate Spider-Man, the characters' emotional journey and development are one of the center points of the stories. It's something I think I do pretty well; I know I really enjoy working on the deep character moments, and hopefully that comes through in the art. That caters, I think, really well to the story he's telling in All-New X-Men, especially with the Original Five being confronted with everything they're being confronted with in the book.
Nrama: And you're in a pretty similar position now as you were when you were jumping onto Ultimate Spider-Man, in terms of taking on a book that's already attracted a lot of buzz.
Marquez: I'm very, very fortunate to be working on these two really high-profile books, especially following in the footsteps of really huge creators. Sara Pichelli in Ultimate Spider-Man defined that book, and likewise, Stuart's been defining All-New X-Men. I know a lot of people were kind of skeptical when I first came on Ultimate Spider-Man, especially since I had no profile at that point. I think I was able to make some converts out of the critics, and hopefully I'll be able to do the same thing — although honestly, most people haven't been seemingly too nervous about me coming on this book, which is a nice change of pace after Ultimate.
Nrama: Yeah, it must be satisfying to know that people are taking notice. A love of X-Men from an early age seems to be somewhat universal for a lot of comics folks — how big of an X-fan were you growing up?
Marquez: I'm a huge, huge X-nerd. Jim Lee and Chris Claremont's run in the late '80s/early '90s is what got me really into comics to begin with, and definitely got me started drawing. I think one of the first things I ever started drawing was copying panels out of Jim Lee's X-Men books. I've been deep into it since then.I kind of fell out of comics for a while in the late '90s, but when Morrison came on for New X-Men, and that eventually bled into Joss Whedon and John Cassaday's Astonishing X-Men, I was monthly throughout all of that. It's been a huge part of my development as a comic book reader, as an artist.
As far as inspiration? Everything I just mentioned. Jim Lee was my original inspiration to start drawing. I have a copy of Mutant Genesis sitting in front of me. I also have both of the hardcovers for Astonishing X-Men, the Whedon/Cassaday run. I have all of the New X-Men trades right next to me. All of that stuff is what I'm drawing on heavily as far as X-Men specific art and influence and reference and all that kind of stuff. And Stuart as well. Definitely following in Stuart's footsteps here.
Nrama: On that note, though obviously you're stylistically very different than Stuart, are you to a degree looking to maintain a sense of visual cohesion, to keep things in the same spirit of the first five issues?
Marquez: Definitely. Similar to when I came onto Ultimate Spider-Man, I'm definitely trying to maintain some visual continuity between what Stuart was doing and what I'm doing. I think Sara and I have a more similar style than Stuart and I do, so there's going to be a pretty huge shift. He's a lot more suggestive with his linework; he's amazing at implying without necessarily drawing literally. That's something that either I haven't learned how to do yet or I chose not to go down that route. I'm much more literal in the way that I draw.
But I'm definitely borrowing from him as far as trying to integrate some of his more dynamic layouts. I tend to stick to the grid, and I'm breaking out of that more often in All-New. Also, having the same colorist is a huge deal. I love working with Justin Ponsor on Ultimate Spider-Man, and I hope to keep working with him in the future. For All-New, we still have Marte Gracia, who has been doing stellar work. I think that having the same color style, the pseudo cell-shaded kind of look, really helps tie the two arcs together in a way where it still feels like the same universe, still feels like the same characters, even if my specific rendition of Wolverine, his eyebrows may be different, or my Jean Grey may have a slightly different nose. However it turns out. I'm still working on his designs, and the colors will help tie everything together.Art by Stuart
Immonen.Nrama: You're also pretty much the second artist ever to draw the new design for Beast. What do you think of Hank McCoy's new look?
Marquez: It's a fun design. I like it a lot. Having spoken with Nick Lowe about it, he's been very open about the fact that he feels that he's the only Cat Beast defender in the Marvel ranks; everyone else seems to want to get back to the Perez Beast or whatever else. I gotta admit, I'm a huge fan of the Cat Beast. I love Cat Beast. I wasn't aware that the redesign was going to happen until after I signed on. I was really looking forward to, and practicing, drawing Cat Beast. Ever since seeing Quitely come up with that in New X-Men, I think it's a really fun design.
All that said, I love the new design. I think Stuart did a kick-ass job with it. One of the big points they were making with the design is you want his visual presentation to reflect that he's a more optimistic and happy Beast than he was in certain versions previously. I think that definitely comes across, and the design caters really well to that, and it's fun to have prehensile toes.
Nrama: You've definitely changed your style up depending on the project — is your approach much different here than it was in say, Ultimate Spider-Man?
Marquez: I'd call it one more step in a continuing evolution. It's not that I'm changing the style just for this project and I'll change back to whatever I was doing on Ultimate Spider-Man. I'm using this as an opportunity to grow as an artist. Whenever I jump onto a project, the first issue always has a very, very unique feel to it. It's hard to articulate, but it's clear that doors are opening and there's some kind of shift taking place. I think that's largely drawing a new cast, you're wrapping your brain around that, but as you're learning to draw these new elements that has a reciprocal effect on the way you approach drawing, period.Art from All-New
X-Men #6.Like jumping on Ultimate Spider-Man for the first time, and before that, Secret Warriors, this is resonating through the rest of the way I approach drawing comics. I'm looking forward to seeing, on whatever my next project is — which I can't talk about yet — I'm interested to see how that same transition, or the same effect I'm experiencing now, how that permeates into the work that I'm doing next month, and next year.
Nrama: All-New X-Men stars the Original Five — how fun is it to draw those characters, who you probably would have never thought you'd have the chance to draw in a Marvel ongoing a year ago? Stuart established them as looking like they're from some unspecified point in the past, but you're coming on with issue #6, where they've been in the present for a while. Are you freshening up their look somewhat?
Marquez: Where I fall in the overall story that Brian's telling, they haven't yet really taken to the modern world. They're still doing some of the "men out of time" stuff. I'm definitely trying to draw on what Stuart did. Continuity aside, I know it's a 15 year rolling history of Marvel. I'm definitely trying to give at least a hint of that nostalgic, 1960s aesthetic to them. At least for my arc, they're still in the traditional Kirby costumes. Beyond that, hairstyle is a big part of it. To a certain degree, a short hairstyle is a short hairstyle, but hopefully there's at least enough of a hint where they still have that kind of classic, old-school Hollywood feel to them. I think Stuart did a stellar job, and I'm trying my damndest. We'll see how it turns out.
Nrama: So what's been fun to draw with your arc? Based on the solicitations, it looks like you got to illustrate Mystique and the Avengers, so there's a lot going on.
Marquez: Brian has given me so many fun things to draw on this arc. Whenever you come in for a fill-in arc, you never quite know what to expect. True to Brian's form, he gives an amazing mix of both [low-key scenes and action]. I have some really pivotal character moments for a number of the X-Men cast, both new and old. I got to draw a crapton of Wolverine. He's given me a lot of toys to play with. It's not what I expected going in, and better than I imagined.Nrama: You've worked with Brian before, so on one hand, this must be pretty familiar to you, but has All-New X-Men been in any way a different ball game from what you've experienced at Marvel before?
Marquez: I think he and I have definitely fallen into a groove working together. It's been made clear, not explicitly to me, but through all the interaction that I've had with Brian, [senior editor Nick Lowe] and [assistant editor Jordan D. White], that this is a flagship title. There's an extra level of scrutiny everything goes through. While people have always called me if I cut a corner on a layout, on this book especially they've been extra clear when there are opportunities for me to push things more than I would originally. That doesn't happen very often, but it's definitely been clear that this is an important book for them, and I'm bringing my A-game to it.More from Newsarama:
- 10 Marvel Heroes That Should Meet with Their Past Selves
- Bendis & Irving Talk Cyclops and UNCANNY X-MEN's Second Arc
- SDCC 2012: SPIDER-MAN's David Marquez Now Marvel Exclusive