With the release of The Multiversity #2 this week, Grant Morrison concluded his mind-bending epic, as readers joined a cast of characters from across the vast DC Multiverse to defeat evil.
Although The Multiversity featured a diverse list of artists, as each issue depicted a different alternate earth from DC's Multiverse, the first and last issues framed the series with art by penciller Ivan Reis.
Over the last few years, the Brazilian artist has become one of the more high-profile creators at DC. Working on several of DC's best-selling events while also drawing comics like Green Lantern and Justice League, Reis also has a stellar reputation for drawing huge battle scenes and pages that feature dozens — or even hundreds — of characters.
In The Multiversity #2, that reputation was put to the test, but the artist also had to work within a story that dictated what type of grid would be used in the page layout.
As The Multiversity ended this week, Newsarama talked to Reis to find out more about the issue and the experience of drawing the story for Morrison.
Newsarama: Ivan, first of all, how long did it take you to draw this? It has so many characters and settings and structured layouts that it must have been very difficult.
Ivan Reis: It took me about three months to complete each issue.
The biggest challenge was to find a common language to all universes. Each character has his or her style that is specific in his or her world, but it had to work in harmony with all the others, otherwise they'd look like a bunch of patches.
Captain Carrot, for example, is a cartoon in his world, but he takes over a somewhat more realistic language to sound more natural among the other heroes.
Nrama: I was curious about how much freedom you had as you approached a character like Captain Carrot. How much did Grant Morrison's scripts describe the characters involved, and how much was you filling it out on your own?
Reis: Morrison’s scripts give you enough freedom to feel and create whatever the story needs. I like to create as I am developing the art.
I often change some concepts along the story as the need comes, and Morrison gives you freedom for this sort of creation. I don’t like to plan ahead much. I like the chaos of creation and the sudden discoveries of the production process.
Morrison described Captain Carrot as he thought he’d be, and I created his body language as I understood his personality. When I read the plot and I understood what was going on, I created the narrative language, in order to give the story a unique view. All the panels are aligned, and creating a grid where we often see “treavelings” in the scenes.
But face that as a Rubik’s cube, where sometimes the scenes align like the colors of the cube would, and you’ll understand you have a Rubik’s Comic where, as you try to align the colors/universes, we have moments in which the scene fits in two or three panels.
As the universes align, it becomes more and more evident, until it gets chaotic in the last issue.
Nrama: That's amazing. What part of the issue was the biggest challenge for you to accomplish?
Reis: Finding the right way to make the narrative work.
The narrative usually determines the composition of the boards, but since it was important for me to make the boards aligned in a grid, it was the boards that determined the narrative instead.
Fitting the scenes the right way, giving proper importance to each moment without changing this systematic language of the Rubik’s Comic was the hardest part.
Since I create as I draw, I had no idea where this was leading me, or even if it was going to work, but once you see the complete story, it makes more sense.
Chaos and luck helped me make it work. [Laughs.]
Like I said before, the story is happening under this light, but I didn’t plan the pages in advance to know what was waiting for me ahead. I’d read the story to have a general idea, but I’d only think of the page when I’d draw it.
Nrama: What kind of reference materials did you use? I'm sure you had to use references for the characters. But even the style sometimes reminded me of Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Reis: It looks a lot like Crisis on Infinite Earths, by the quantity of characters involved, but the story has a very personal language, and different from the narratives I made for Blackest Night, Aquaman and Justice League.
Nrama: Which of the different Earths was most enjoyable for you to draw? Any characters that stick out on those different earths?
Reis: Any page in which Captain Carrot was, that was the most fun to make.
Nrama: You peppered in some characters who looked like they might have come from universes outside the DCU — even from other publishers. I'm sure you had to tiptoe around copyrights. How did you approach those characters?
Reis: It’s not hard to make different characters who seem like existing ones. All the context and idea were already created in Morrison’s story. It’s easy for the reader to relate to the characters and situations, even if we make looks that differ completely from the honored characters.
Nrama: You added a lot of kinetic energy with the way you drew movement in this issue — sometimes movement was implied with blurring and other techniques, particularly with all the speedsters. What panel or page did you have to show movement in a unique way, and can you describe how you did that?
Reis: The splash of the giant egg was my “what do I do now?” moment. The page is basically a winged egg. How to make a splash with energy for that? I centered the egg and all the dust, action lines and wings followed a circular form to create the idea of movement in a way that these curves created a valley-like shape where our little hero is.
Nrama: Which page from this issue is a favorite for you?
Reis: The page I just described. I never thought a winged egg in a splash would look so cool (at least that’s what I think). And Joe Prado did some amazing texture for that page.
Nrama: How much was the script, and how much did you add to that page?
Reis: The script asked for a giant winged egg, with lightning coming out of it, looking like legs over the destruction of the city, facing our little hero. Something like that.
I realized that was a page in which text would make all the difference. And I focused on that. All the rest happened as described above.
Nrama: Overall, what was the opportunity like to work on this project?
Reis: It was a huge pleasure to be part of it. We’ve heard about this story for a while, that it was virtually a love letter from Morrison to the Super Hero and comics world.