David Marquez's journey at Marvel started in 2011 with a gig on Secret Warriors, and by the next year he was the second artist on Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, the highly touted Brian Michael Bendis-written series starring Miles Morales, the new Spidey of the Ultimate Universe. He recently took his relationship with Marvel to the next level by signing an exclusive deal with the publisher, which was announced Friday at Comic-Con in San Diego during Marvel's Ultimate Comics panel. Newsarama talked with Marquez for more. Newsarama: David, at first glance, I think people would guess that signing an exclusive deal with a publisher like Marvel would be something of a no-brainer. But I'm guessing there's a lot more to it than that, especially since it essentially means working primarily on superheroes for the duration of the contract, and you've worked in a variety of genres so far in your career. What was the thought process like for you when you were offered the exclusive?
David Marquez: Going exclusive was never, "The offer is made, therefore I'll immediately accept." Reading the fine print is always important, and something that as I've broken into the industry and given some advice, I always hammer, "always read the contract. Get a lawyer to look over the contract. Make sure that your eyes are open whenever you go into it." If you like the terms, then absolutely go for it.
We spent a while hashing over some of the details. For me, one of the big sticking points is, beyond how excited I am to sign with Marvel — I grew up as a Marvel kid, I always loved Marvel characters, they've been incredibly good to me in the time I've been at Marvel — I had also, on the side, began working on a creator-owned book at Archaia with R.J. Ryan, one of the writers from Syndrome. For me, a really big point of the contract was to make sure that I still had it carved out to do that. They were very understanding and happy to allow me to continue to pursue that on the side, as long as I meet my obligations to Marvel.
With that not being an issue at all during the discussions, I was very happy to sign. It's a great place to be. Marvel is home to some of the best talent in the industry. There's ample opportunity for me to grow both professionally and creatively.
Nrama: In any creative arts industry, obviously to have an amount of stability can be very rare.
Marquez: Absolutely. That is, honestly, probably one of the biggest perks. On a very practical level, signing means that I have security in what is otherwise a very fickle and not very forgiving industry. It's incredibly hard to get work, much less continue getting it.
One thing that I'm sure most people who have had freelance experience know, as a freelancer, it's so different than having a regular job, where you can't devote 100 percent of your attention and energy to what you're currently working on, because there's always the question of "what's next?" Maybe I have work for this month, what about next month? I have five issues of "x," but once that's over, I'm sh*t out of luck unless I'm able to line something up long enough ahead that I will not have any huge gaps in my schedule.
While I've been fortunate to have had a pretty steady amount of work since I've broke in — and I only first published about two years ago — there are still month-long gaps in there, where I was waiting for a project to start, or waiting to finally decide between project A or project B, or "project A fell apart, now what do I do?" There's always going to be hiccups, but the contract means that I'm less likely to fall into those kinds of traps.
Nrama: Can you share any more about the Archaia book at this point?
Marquez: It's called The Joyners in 3D. This is a book that [Ryan] and I have been working on since Syndrome wrapped. It's been two years in development, we finally got all the paperwork finalized earlier this year. I'm all the way into production right now, in what little free time is left outside of drawing Spider-Man. It's slated for a 2013 release, but that's definitely going to be dependent, as far as when it's released in 2013, on my schedule and being able to finish all the pages.
Nrama: It looks like you're sticking with Ultimate Comics Spider-Man as your main Marvel project. It's a book that's seen as king of a groundbreaking thing for Marvel — it's a new Spider-Man, a different kind of Spider-Man. To put it broadly, how cool has it been being a part of the book in its first year?
Marquez: Very, very cool. I think it's interesting how a book that, on paper, really shouldn't work — it has almost an all-minority cast; featuring a young character, which don't tend to succeed very well in the market; a legacy character, by some means — all those things combined, this book shouldn't work, but it works exceptionally well.
I have to thank everybody who came on the book before me. Brian, obviously, for his 10-year run on Ultimate Spider-Man, then relaunching all this last year. Sara, all of her character designs and the legwork she did in those first five issues. She did kind of a thankless job of five issues of no action, no costume, no nothing, and I've gotten to kind of do all the fun stuff. Every issue I'm working on has costumes, has action, has fight scenes.
I think it's cool that a book like this is succeeding as well as it is. I think it's a very progressive book as well, and something that's good to be out there in the marketplace.
Nrama: Speaking of costumes and fight scenes, coming up is "Divided We Fall," where you're getting to draw some high-profile guest stars coming into the book.
Marquez: It's a lot of fun. I'm getting to draw the Ultimates, which is great.
What's nice about these issues is they do stand on their own very, very well, although if you read the entire thing, then obviously it's a much more expansive story than just what's happening in these issues. It's fun seeing Miles constantly tossed in these crazy situations, and having him try to not get his head blown off.
Nrama: Are you getting to draw the whole Ultimates team?
Marquez: I'm not sure how much I can say — I don't want to give away spoilers — but Cap is definitely pretty prominently featured. I do draw a smattering of the other characters. As far as how deeply involved they are, that's still kind of shrouded up in the crossover stuff. But Cap definitely is the most prominently featured character from the Ultimates cast.
Nrama: Which makes sense, since Ultimate Cap and Ultimate Peter Parker had a significant relationship.
Marquez: And that comes into play.
Nrama: What has it been like working with Bendis, arguably the biggest name writer at Marvel, on an ongoing series relatively early in your career?
Marquez: He's such a nice guy, he's so laid back and welcoming, and friendly. When I first got on it, I was a little bit nervous about whether I would get starstruck talking to him, but it's become a very comfortable, casual working relationship in just the span of the five or six months I've been working on the book. It's been great getting to work with a writer whose work I've admired for so long, and now it's a collaboration like almost any other — in the sense that it's comfortable. It's also an amazing collaboration because it's Brian Bendis and I'm working on Ultimate [Comics] Spider-Man.
Nrama: So while you're still solidly on Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, do you maybe have any other Marvel books in mind that you'd like to work on at some point?
Marquez: I'm always keeping my options open for the future, but there are no specific plans beyond working on Ultimate [Comics] Spider-Man for what should be the foreseeable future. The plan moving forward is, when Sara is done working on Spider-Men, she'll come back on this and we'll rotate. I'm happy to ride this as long as they'll have me. It's a really fun book.I never really imagined myself being a Spider-Man artist, but I feel that I'm actually fairly well-suited for doing it, or at least, my skill set matches fairly well with this project. While I certainly don't expect a Bagley-esque, seminal run on the book, it's nice to have a home.
The other person I want to make sure I give a shout-out to is Justin Ponsor, who's just an incredible, incredible colorist. I'm still kind of pinching myself that I'm working with him.
It's a good place to build a bit of a reputation. I'm very, very fortunate to not be bouncing around, as early in my career as I am. I want to stick around, work on this one book, do the best job I can, and hopefully build a bit of a reputation, a bit of a following, and then when other opportunities arise in the future, hopefully it'll all pay off. But I don't want to make it sound as if I'm ungrateful for this book. I love working on this book, and I'm happy to just sit around and draw Miles Morales all day. He's fun, I love the costume, I love the book.Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's FACEBOOK and TWITTER!