With this week's release of The Multiversity #1, Grant Morrison has launched his mind-bending epic, with a cast of characters from across alternate worlds. And over the course of the much-anticipated mini-series, Multiversity will also involve a cast of artists from various backgrounds.
Up first? Penciler Ivan Reis and inker Joe Prado, the Brazilian pair that helped DC revamp its Green Lantern and Aquaman universes, and who worked on Multiversity #1 while simultaneously working on one of DC's top-selling monthlies, Justice League.
The two artists, who are also close friends, have spent much of their recent time at DC working with the company's chief creative officer, Geoff Johns. But Multiversity #1 gave them a chance to switch gears a bit, working on a challenging script from Morrison, who is — as Prado put it — a "crazy genius."
Newsarama talked to Reis and Prado about their work on this week's issue, asking for their help as readers are tasked with vivisecting Multiversity.
Newsarama: Ivan and Joe, how would each of you describe the opportunity to work on this project?
Ivan Reis: Mind-blowing! I’m so excited and happy that Grant chose us for this project! I’m a huge fan of his work.
Joe Prado: Personally, an honor! The way I see it, it’s a love letter from Grant to superheroes. And, totally being a fanboy here.... we are working with Grant Morrison, for Christsake!
Nrama: Grant's notorious for his unusual stories — and the challenges he places on his artists. What part of the issue was the biggest challenge for each of you to accomplish visually, and how did you meet that challenge?
Reis: My biggest challenge was to find the right structure for the visual narrative, the right approach for such a detailed and rich story. And to do something different from what I was doing on Justice League and Aquaman.
One of my concerns was the use of white gutters as a crucial graphic element. That is very important for the story itself.
I like to face challenges like this, especially because they force me to grow as an artist.
Prado: For me, the biggest challenge was to take a step back, and approach each and every page with the care and devotion that was needed. Ivan’s pencils are so damn gorgeous on this book, that I had to step up, and I dare to say, to do the best inking job of my career.
Nrama: Did you guys do anything different for this project with your art — any different technique or approach you used for Multiversity that you can point out?
Reis: Yes. One of my concerns (and Joe’s) was to do something 100 percent “organic/handmade,” so we decided not to use any Photoshop effects on the black and white art for the book. What you see is what was created on the original artboards.
Prado: Besides what Ivan said above, I didn’t go with my usual pens to ink this book. There were so many meticulous drawings from Ivan on this, that I had to use an even finer line to get it all inked. And it’s a totally different beast than inking a monthly book, with all the rush and everything.
Nrama: Looking at this issue, now that it's out, which page is your favorite? Or do you have more than one?
Reis: The splash where Intellectron appears for the first time! When I read the script, I thought... “Damn! So this is basically an egg with an eye and wings!! What can I do to make it visually interesting???”
Then when I saw Joe’s inks on the splash, and all the textures and effects he added, I got hooked. That second, that page became my favorite among all of them.
Nrama: How did you come up with the design for that page? Can you describe your thought process?
Reis: Let's see… how can you explain a page that has just a flying egg with an eye? My biggest concern was to give this page a strong sensation of movement without distracting the reader that they are just staring at... well... a flying egg with an eye! So every other element on the page follows the movement and the trails of the egg’s wings, and all the destruction it left behind. And that was a framing device for the whole scene.
And the textures Joe added to the page gave the “classic” vibe to it that I was looking for. I love the result of that page.
Nrama: And what about you, Joe? Do you have a favorite?
Prado: Such a difficult question...
The double-spread where all heroes reunite is my favorite. And the whole sequence of them deciding what should be their plan of action. And Harbinger is on the sequence!
Nrama: Yeah, there are a lot of fun characters introduced in this issue. Is there a new characters or concept that you got to design for this project, or got to revamp for the New 52?
Prado: This is a question for Ivan. On Multiversity, I didn’t get to design any characters.
Reis: I designed Nix Uotan, Captain Carrot and some of the heroes that appear in the story.
Grant asked me to give Nix Uotan an updated and more superhero look for this incarnation, to bring him closer to the New 52 vibe. So while I tried not to change too much, I gave him a modern/Matrix-like feel. For me, the important thing about designs is to leave enough of the old version to let the characters be recognizable to the readers.
Now the other character was Captain Carrot! Grant wanted him to be graphically able to make sense and interact with the other characters throughout the whole story, as opposed to the cartoon version of the character. So I came up with a bulky, muscular and more realistic “super-rabbit.” But I always tried to keep him very expressive, so we could play with the character, and his facial expressions.
Nrama: So what was the experience like working with Grant Morrison?
Reis: A very rewarding experience, and a great artistic challenge, that made me evolve as an artist.
Prado: Super fun... to sum up the whole process. We could do our “thing” without any problems, while Grant gave us some of his best writing ever.
Nrama: How would you describe his scripts?
Prado: Crazy genius! That good enough?
Reis: Grant pushes you to find new solutions for your artistic flaws, and makes you think outside the box, in terms of page layouts, and compositions. Each time you read his script, it’s like it’s alive! Each time you notice a tiny detail that is different than before.
I worked with Grant for the first time – it was my very first DC job, a fill-in issue for The Invisibles... 12 years ago. And now it feels like closing a circle for me, but at the same time a new opportunity to find out what I’m able to do with his scripts today.
It was a true discovery for me. Back then, I was a rookie, and had completely different ideas for what I wanted to do with my art. And on Multiversity, I guess no one knew what to expect from our work together. And that alone, helped me to want to give it my absolute best.
Nrama: Talking to the two of you, it occurs to me how much you really relied on each other to make this comic — and I know you two have collaborated like this for years. How do the two of you work together, and what makes your team work so well?
Prado: It’s a very organic process. And we’ve been working together for the past six years and a half. During that time, I bet both of us learned a lot from each other.
Both of us also have almost the exact same art references, we admire almost the exact same artists.
Reis: Yeah, we basically have the exact same art influences.
And we've known each other for over 20 years. Besides being a close friend, he’s also my agent. And the sum of all those factors is that we talk every day. We talk about our craft, comics, movies, TV shows, new art techniques, new artists, and we always try to find ways to improve our work together. And the trust on each other’s work allows us to always try new things with our work.
Our motto is “If we tried something today, and it doesn’t look good, it’s OK. Tomorrow we’ll have another page to work on.”
Prado: I think that trust, energy, enthusiasm and team-work are key words for our work. And it’s been a blast and an honor, to see Ivan grow up as an artist. He’s tremendous!
Nrama: Then to finish up, as people are getting their hands on this issue you did of Mutliversity, is there anything else you want to point out about the visuals on this issue?
Prado: There are so many tiny details on the whole thing that it’s gonna make your head spin! Like I said, a love letter to superheroes.
Reis: Yes, like with the story on Multiversity – the art has to be vivisected by the readers. Have fun!