"Like Going Home" - David Finch Talks Ultimatum

David Finch Talks Ultimatum

David Finch says it's like going home.

In this week's Ultimatum #1, Finch returns to the Ultimate Universe, getting to draw characters he helped define during his Ultimate X-Men run at the beginning of his Marvel career. A comic that promises to shake up the Ultimate Universe in "astounding" ways, Ultimatum is a five-issue series by writer Jeph Loeb that moves the universe in a new direction while following up on some of the story threads from Ultimate Origins, the just-finished mini-series by Brian Michael Bendis.

With the release of this week's first Ultimatum issue, we talked to Finch about drawing the series, working with Jeph Loeb, and how it feels to draw almost all of the Ultimate Universe.

Newsarama: Dave, let's just start by asking -- is it true that you're drawing everyone in the Ultimate Universe during this mini-series?

David Finch: [laughs] Just about every character, yeah.

NRAMA: Having drawn Ultimate X-Men, did you have to do a lot of research?

DF: Oh yeah. I had done Ultimate X-Men before, but even that has changed quite a bit since I drew it. And every other character is new for me. There have been a lot. Marvel's been really helpful with reference, but even so, I still bought the entire Ultimate Fantastic Four line and quite a few other books to get things right. And it's not just the characters; it's also the backgrounds that are so important. Like the Triskelion, and I had to draw the sick bay and that has appeared before, so I had to make it look like the same place. The places have been more work than the figures themselves. And getting Tony Stark's mansion, which has appeared a few times, was tough. There was a difference between Bryan Hitch's version and Joe Mad's. It was hard to find the right mix of those.

So it was a lot of work as far as references go. I try to keep it consistent to what's been done before. I think for fans, particularly with the characters, you get attached to them looking and acting a certain way. It's really jarring when somebody comes along and tries to change it. So for me, I would much rather create something new to go along with what's already there and put my own spin on it rather than changing something or messing with what's already working, and what people already have an attachment to.

NRAMA: Was it difficult to adjust to the Ultimate versions of characters? Having spent some time doing New Avengers, there's quite a difference between them and the Ultimate characters. Although Spidey's similar, isn't he?

DF: He's very similar. He's just a little thinner. For me, it was actually a much bigger stretch for me to do the regular Avengers. My first steady work for Marvel was in the Ultimate Universe. I loved all the artists who were working on those books. I mean, at the time, those were the dominant artists working at Marvel. In a way, for me, the Ultimate Universe is the real Marvel. So it was hard for me to get used to regular Spider-Man and his history. It's so convoluted. I had read all the Ultimate Spider-Man issues. But the regular Spider-Man wasn't as familiar.

NRAMA: He's a grown man in the Marvel Universe, so there was probably a little different presence about him visually?

DF: There is. And lucky for me, Bendis was writing the Avengers when I was drawing Spider-Man for him, so the character felt the same. Even though there were a lot of differences, it made things a little easier.

But in a lot of ways, me doing Ultimatum is like going home. It's where I started and it's got the characters that feel familiar.

NRAMA: You said before the interview that you couldn't really talk about the story, but can you talk about the characters we'll see in the first issue?

DF: I think, like in any story, this first issue touches on everybody, just so you can see everybody's reaction to what's happening, and to establish which characters are going to be involved. It's a lot, a lot of characters. And there are even more characters introduced in the second issue.

There are still some characters I haven't drawn. Just a few. But I've drawn everyone else. Everyone.

NRAMA: We know from advertisements and from revelations in Ultimate Origins that this story will focus quite a bit on Magneto. What approach do you take when you draw Magneto?

DF: I tend to look at the interpretation of artists that I love. I've been a fan so long, and I love the character. Andy Kubert did some Ultimate X-Men issues which were really influential to me. I loved that he was very sinister looking and yet very powerful looking. And Jim Lee, back in his X-Men days, did a character that was very, very regal. He has this edge, but he was very regal, which I really like. For me, I try to capture a mixture of those two. I want him to look handsome and regal, but at the same time, I want him to look kind of twisted. That's what's going through my head, anyway. But it really is me drawing on influences of the artists who I like drawing him, which I do with a lot of characters.

NRAMA: You say there's something in the first issue that everyone reacts to, and solicitations have made it clear there are major disturbances across the Earth. Is it safe to assume what you're drawing is "huge blockbuster summer movie action?" I mean, as opposed to street-level action.

DF: I would definitely say huge blockbuster summer movie action. There's both, but it's definitely on a much grander scale. It's not really the street fight type book. It's much more like a global thing is happening.

NRAMA: That fits your style, doesn't it?

DF: I don't know about that. I have to admit, for me, it's so much harder to draw. It's so much easier to draw people just punching each other. But I'm finding that I'm enjoying it. And I'm putting a lot of thought into what I can bring to it. But it's not natural for me, some of that.

NRAMA: But didn't you tell us before that you like your art to seem larger than life? Wouldn't your style fit this really well because your characters and scenes are so grand and majestic?

DF: Well, thank you. But I see Bryan Hitch or Steve McNiven as being more suited to that. I feel like it's something I can do, and I'm trying to do it well. But I'm just saying it's not natural.

NRAMA: Favorite Ultimate character that you didn't get your hands on before that you're now getting to draw in this series?

DF: I want to say Blob, but I actually did draw Blob before. I'm just really enjoying drawing him now. Let's see... I've drawn so many of them. The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, I'm really enjoying a lot. I like the bad guys more, I think. Not just because they're bad, but they're a little more twisted and a little darker and you can get a little crazy with the proportions and take a few more liberties. With a heroic character, you have to really retain the heroism, so you can't take as many liberties with their body type. So I always enjoy the bad guys more.

As far as the heroes go, I think my favorite character that I'm drawing that I never got a chance to draw before is Hawkeye, who I think is awesome. I love doing that costume, so I'm really having a lot of fun with him.

NRAMA: He's a lot different from the 616 version of Hawkeye, isn't he?

DF: He really is. And wow, I have to admit, I never was a big Hawkeye fan, as far as drawing him and the costume. It wasn't really easy for me to draw him in the Avengers. So definitely, the Ultimate version is much more my sort of character, I think. And I've read all the Bryan Hitch books. His backstory was great, you know? It was really, really well done. And it fit so well with the character. I liked it.

NRAMA: OK, among characters that you have drawn before, but you're just glad to get your hands on again, which one is a favorite?

DF: All the X-Men characters, I think. Every single one of them, to a lesser or greater extent. I had drawn them all before, so they were familiar, and again, they were written by Bendis, who I really like, so I had an affinity for them. But especially Ultimate Wolverine. And probably Ultimate Xavier, which seems like a strange choice. And Ultimate Beast.

NRAMA: How's it been working with Jeph Loeb?

DF: It's been great! I'm sure anybody who has worked with Jeph Loeb would say that. He knows what he wants and he's not afraid to ask. And it makes it nice because he has a very good sense of what works. I think he really brings something that way. And of course, the stories are great, and they're action-packed and move at a fast pace. They're a lot of fun to draw. But he brings something extra just because he has a real artistic sense when it comes to the final pages. And he's great with ideas that I think really punch things up a lot and help push me, which I like. I always want to try to grow a little bit and try to do things better, and he's been really helpful that way.

NRAMA: Is there anything else you want to tell people about Ultimatum?

DF: Um... it's a whole lot of work [laughs], so I hope people really like it. This is something that really comes from the heart for all of us. This is my first chance working with Steve Firchow as my colorist since my Top Cow days, so that's really exciting. And Damen Miki's doing his best work over me, by far. I think everybody's just putting everything they have into it. So I hope people like it. I have to admit -- I try not to look at what people say. But I think I'll be a little hurt if people don't. I just really hope they do.

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