CHAOS WAR: From The Field #2 - with Artist KHOI PHAM

CHAOS WAR: From The Field #2

Interior art from Chaos War #3.

Chaos War #2 hit this week, and readers saw the gathering of the new God Squad — Galactus, Silver Surfer, Venus, Sersi and Daimon Hellstrom — teaming up to help Hercules and Thor against the growing threat of the Chaos King. For the sophomore installment of our Chaos War: From the Field column (first installment here), Newsarama talked with Chaos War artist Khoi Pham, to ask some of your questions and some of ours — plus, take a look at all of the new art from issues #3 and #4 provided courtesy of Marvel Comics.

Enjoy the talk with Pham, and if you have some Chaos War #2 questions for series co-writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, good news! We're chatting with them again next week, so feel free to leave questions in our forums or tweet @Newsarama with the tag #RamaChaos.

Interior art from Chaos War #3.

Newsarama: Khoi, thanks for joining us for Chaos War: From the Field number dos. Given your history with illustrating Mighty Avengers and Incredible Hercules, there's a lot of characters in Chaos War that are familiar to you, but there's also some — especially in the group scenes in issue #1 — that you're drawing for the first time. Were there any characters we've seen in the first two issues of Chaos War that you were especially excited to illustrate?

Khoi Pham: First of all, I love drawing characters that I've never drawn before, so this book is perfect for me. As you've said, I've drawn Avengers related characters inside and out, so I was particularly geeked this project to draw some of the X Universe characters. Doctor Voodoo is a fun character to draw, too. The Chaos King himself is also a blast to draw. I even got a little nostalgia putting in characters from my earlier projects, like Madrox and Strong Guy, and Hank Pym. And Ares is always fun to draw. And the Fantastic Four. Oh, Galactus is a first, and I've gotta tell you, he's fun to draw. Haha. I'm getting carried away here. What was the question, again?

Interior art from Chaos War #3.

Nrama: And given this is a bona fide Marvel Universe "event" — with the entirety of existence at stake — from your standpoint as an artist, how do you approach that in terms of matching that scale? Is the mindset for you much different here than it has been from other books you've worked on in the past?

Pham: For me, I sometimes let the "largeness" of the project overwhelm me, so I try to think as little as possible. Keep it simple. I've been extremely fortunate to work with some big time writers in Greg and Fred, and Dan Slott, and Brian Bendis, and Peter David, to name a few, so there's no need for me to do any more than put their words into pictures. For Chaos War, the script just oozes "epicness" (is that a word?), so I try to keep things large. That means, strong, powerful, iconic, centered imagery and clear concise layouts. No need to get too clever. On the other hand, Peter David's X-Factor has a more noir sensibility, so darker imagery with some cleverness made more sense there.

Interior art from Chaos War #3.

Nrama: On a similar note, issue #2 sees the assemblage of the new God Squad (including Galactus), and also Eternity showing up. When the main characters of the comic are already larger than life (Hercules, Thor, Chaos King), is it a challenge to keep all these other-worldly beings in perspective? It seems like a lot to handle, drawing this many huge, powerful characters in one book and keeping it relatable to the reader — does it help to have a human character like Amadeus Cho to help ground things a bit?

Pham: The way I handled the largeness of the other-worldly characters was making their "entrances" larger than life, but doing so incrementally and successively larger.  You know, panel size, angle on the character.  So Sersi's entrance was grand, but not as grand as Eternity's, which in turn was not as grand as Galactus'.  Same with Hellstrom and the last page.  I used a lot of "in your face" layouts, but varying degrees of in your face.  A little tricky, but fun.  And yes, Cho does definitely help to ground things a bit.  At some point in the story, Galactus even serves as a reference for how large things get, so expect even larger largeness!

Interior art from Chaos War #3.

Nrama: For Chaos War, you're reunited with co-writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente — how has re-teaming with them been? Their Hercules run was known for its humor, and though the stakes are incredible high in this miniseries, there's still definite touches of that as well.

Pham: I loves me some Greg and Fred.  And some Mark Paniccia editing.  Those three guys carried over from the first run, so it's felt like no time has passed at all.  Anytime anywhere sort of thing.  Like the first run, Chaos War is your Hollywood blockbuster — large and loud with good comic timing.

Interior art from Chaos War #3.

Nrama: Here's one from Pistolero on our forums: "What was the decision process like concerning the series' covers. Ed McGuinnes and Brandon Peterson are great in their own right, but I was really looking forward to seeing what YOU were going to do with them...any chance your work will be seen on either of the last two (since Hitch is already touted as the third issue's cover artist)?!"

Pham: Good question, Pistolero!  Mark?

Mark Paniccia: In a lot of cases covers are needed in advance of when the interior artist is available. In this instance, we were working out cover and promotional images along with the major beats of the story while Khoi still had commitments in other offices.

Interior art from Chaos War #4.

Nrama: And another one from our forums, this time from Matapiojo: "Very pumped about having Pham back to penciling the Greek mass of muscle and grit we all know and love, but one design stands out from all the other great visuals he's given us in the past. So I ask, what inspired the 'god behind the mask' look for Mikaboshi?"

Pham: Hey, Matapiojo!  For the Chaos King, I was going for scary, tendrilly (just made that up), and simple.  And lots of sharp things.  I wanted something that would be recognizable in silhouette, but even more horrifying in detail, but, again, nothing too clever.  It needed to appeal to readers' base notions of scary.  Hopefully it worked.

Nrama: Here's an interesting one from Twitter, courtesy of soggyhydrox: "Is Hercules appearance in Chaos War based off of Sylvester Stallone?"

Pham: Soggyhydrox, I can see some Sly in there, as well!  Probably in my subconscious somewhere seeping out.  I need to have that looked at. But, no.  There was no referencing of Stallone.

Nrama: Finally, Khoi, given that it's now a little less than two weeks away — can you give us a hint of something cool you drew in issue #3?

Pham: Issue #3 is insanely insane.  Action from cover to cover, so I could give you 24 examples of something cool I drew.

Interior art for Chaos War #4.

Interior art for Chaos War #4.

Interior art for Chaos War #4.

Interior art for Chaos War #4.

Start thinking up questions for the next column!

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