NYCC SE 2014: MARVEL’S All-New Young Guns Panel From Breaking In to Staying Motivated

Marvel previews for June 4, 2014
Credit: Marvel Comics

Official Description: Marvel’s newest superstar illustrators – assembled on one stage! Originally launched in 2004, the Young Guns program has shined a spotlight on the best and brightest in the comic book industry early in their careers. Now, join Marvel’s ALL-NEW YOUNG GUNS as they unveil exclusive imagery, explain their methods and influences, discuss how they got into the industry and more! The panel will include Mahmud Asrar (Wolverine and the X-Men), Nick Bradshaw (Guardians of the Galaxy), David Marquez (Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man), Sara Pichelli (Guardians of the Galaxy), Valerio Schiti (New Avengers), and Ryan Stegman (Inhuman).

Former Marvel Editor Janine Schaeffer, just promoted to talent scout, introduced the panelists, Sara Pichelli, Ryan Stegman, Nick Bradshaw, David Marquez, Mahmud Asrar, and Valerio Schiti. She started with the classice "how did you break into comics" question.

Pichelli started her career with Marvel Comics. She went to Chesterquest, run by former Talent Scout C.B. Cebulski, and she said "I don't know why C.B. chose me?" to which Schaeffer said, "because you're awesome!"

Stegman did an indie book called Midnight Kiss, then worked on the adaptation of Magician's Apprentice, which while he was working on it, had the publisher Dabel Brothers bought by Marvel. He worked then under Mark Paniccia and got more work with the publisher. He did reveal that he had heard about the sale, and went after the job for Apprentice because of that.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Nick Bradshaw, a huge horror fan, did an early indie book, but left to do art direction for casino games for a few years. "This might sound horrible for a second, but bear with me, I was doing a lot of covers for Hero Initiative, then Nick Lowe spotted those and asked me to do some for him, and that turned into interior work."

Marquez said he had done some small stuff but not really worked on getting into the industry. He worked on Syndrome for Archaia, and C.B. Cebulski brought him into Marvel relatively soon after that. "It was just about plugging away, not being too annoying, and trying to keep in contact with people who can give you work!"

Asrar was next, and he literally started by printing out his own work, stapling it together, and throwing it on store shelves. He then put his work online, started taking smaller gigs, and was spotted by Cebulski.

Schiti said the samples he showed Cebulski in Luca, Italy were "awful. Really awful!" But he kept working with Cebulski on improving his art. He did work with IDW which then finally got him seen by Marvel and got him his job on Journey Into Mystery.

Stegman and Asrar actually posted on the same website for years. "Ryan Ottley was on there too. We became part of a community of guys who recognized each other's work and helped each other out."

Marquez called Twitter the "watercooler of comics," and said that overall the barrier for getting exposure for work is "smaller than it has ever been." Stegman and Asrar both broke in almost entirely online, before ever actually meeting an editor at a convention.

Asrar said, "You are your last piece of work," expressing the importance of just continuing to put out work. Bradshaw followed up by saying that artist's alley and commissions are a huge thing for them, "You guys are giving us work, and editors can notice that!"

Asrar is currently working with Jason Latour on Wolverine and the X-Men, and said working with someone who is also an artist is "really exciting" and makes things much easier.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Stegman said that when he talks to other artists and editors, if he hears someone say "oh that's pretty good!" he freaks out. "I need things to be way better than pretty good!" Pichelli added on, joking that she gets yelled at for constantly redrawing things.

Bradshaw said that he loves drawing because, "it's always a learning experience. I'm constantly trying to learn and improve. Every page should be an exploration. If I ever feel like I'm at the top of my game, I'll probably quit!"

At that point, technical difficulties were overcome, allowing the slideshow to be shown. A jam-art poster was shown with six characters that each artist liked the most. There are also Young Guns variants coming up for Legendary Star-Lord #1 that were shown.

The first arc of Wolverine and the X-Men is coming to an end soon, and some new pages from #6 in July by Asrar were shown. Doop and Fantomex were in the interiors. Daredevil is a guest star in #7.

Guardians of the Galaxy was up next, with issues 15 and 16 drawn by Bradshaw. Quickly scrolling through, the panel moved on to Marquez and Miles Morales: The Ultimate Spider-Man. Issue 3 is on sale July 2nd, and some new pages were shown. Covers to 4 and 5 were shown and Marquez said "guess who's back?" as Ultimate Peter Parker was shown.

In the Marvel Unlimited Plus program, there's a Gift Box given out, and Pichelli did the art for a special gift box for the club.

"We actually can't show you what Sara is working on next because it's a super top-secret project," Janine said. Pichelli said, "Give me money and I'll tell you!" with a laugh.

New Avengers by Schitti was shown, with Dr. Strange pages from issue 20 flashed on the screen.

Credit: Marvel Comics

Ryan Stegman's Inhuman #4 pages were shown, and there are a lot of characters on the pages. Stegman is playing with different inking styles in the series. "There are two different storylines that I divided the style between. I started doing a really clean line approach, then went back to a lot of spotting black." A page from #5, and a cover from #6 was shown, with two brand-new characters Stegman designed.

Fan Q&A started next. An art teacher fan asked what he should tell his students from these pro artists.

"Storytelling is what we do," Marquez said. "Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics is the most important book about how storytelling in comics works. I really recommend that being something your students look at."

Schiti said, "You have to say to them, it might seem obvious, but they have to read a lot of comics!" Marquez chimed in, "By Marvel!" Schiti, after a laugh and saying, "Yes, our comics! But it might seem odd for me to have to say that, but it is very important to always see other work."

What artists inspire you?

Stegman: "So many! Let's each say one."

Pichelli: "Stuart Immonen, Jason Pearson." Nick Bradshaw: "Art Adams, Mike Wieringo." Marquez: "I started with Jim Lee, now it's guys like David Mack." Asrar: "John Buscema made me want to do comics." Schiti: "My first love was John Byrne."

Do you prefer short arcs, or long runs?

Asrar: "I've done both, and like both. I appreciate a long run, but if it goes over a year, it can be problematic for your career." Stegman said he prefers "about a year, or at least 8-10 issues." Bradshaw said that as a fan of Jason Aaron's work before working with him, and each script had its own challenge, so he enjoyed doing a long run with him. "People seemed to respond positively to it. I was on that book for 2.5 years I think, and we kept finding other challenges. But, I'm happy to work on Guardians because it is a whole other ballgame and I'm depending on my colorist a lot. I'm feeling the challenges that Brian Bendis is giving me right now." Pichelli agreed that it is just a project-by-project thing.

When first starting out, did you enter into work-for-hire, collaboration, or what with writers?

Stegman said that he jumped into a script with a guy he met online, and "got lucky that it worked out" because there was no contract there.

Credit: Marvel Comics

How much direction do you look for from your writers? When does it get overwhelming?

Marquez: "A lot of us have worked with Bendis, and he's a great example. He writes full script, but he'll always tell us that if we have a better way of doing something, we should do it that way. He always makes artists feel free to add or subtract or alter if it fits the story."

Stegman: "I like them to give as much information as they possibly can of what they want, but also know that I might throw that all out!" with a bit of a laugh. Bradshaw added that "most of it today is really more collaborative."

Stegman worked "Marvel Style" on Wolverine and a hybrid on Spider-Man. That has mostly just a plot, where the artist works off that. He said it was a fun challenge, but he's enjoying full script style now.

Any formal training from you guys? Both Asrar and Bradshaw worked in animation or studied that a bit. Bradshaw did "Franklin the Turtle." He also took life drawing sessions. Pichelli worked in animation as well. Stegman has "a really useful English degree." Schiti took three years at a school of comics art in Rome.

What keeps you motivated? "Being scared about these guys getting better than me," Stegman joked. Asrar said that it's a matter of being professional. Bradshaw said that doing his weekly visits to the comic shop reinvigorates him. Marquez agreed, saying looking at the "long history of amazing art in and out of comics inspires you to keep working each day."

How much do you keep up with fashion trends for character looks?

Credit: Marvel Comics

Asrar and Stegman both said they ask their wives. Bradshaw said, "I'll take an afternoon and sketch people at the local mall food court, and just use a lot of those looks for people in the background." Pichelli said, "I'm a girl. So I was born to care." Marquez follows some pintrest boards of girls with good taste to figure out "what kids these days are wearing."

Does digital affect your page layouts at all yet?

Stegman said that right now, reading primarily digitally, the double-page spreads are frustrating to him and he tries to avoid them. "It's supposed to be the big moment, and now instead it's this weird small thing and you have to turn your iPad." He said it still looks so great in print though, and so he still does them. Marquez said, "you can't always do things appropriately for both print and digital. So it's a challenge." Bradshaw thinks it will eventually be something that there will be a unique Art Director position that will help fix that. The digital-first Infinite Comics are actually done more like an animation, with storyboards done first.

Stegman revealed he and Frank Tieri did an Infinite Comic that never came out. He did the whole thing, worked on it for eight months. It was a tournament where fans could vote on who won a fight and they would draw the finale after. It was actually before the "Infinite Comics" concept and brand was developed.

TV and Film, especially commentaries, are great to help learn storytelling, Bradshaw said.

A fan asked about artists going after specific characters.

Marquez: "Some writers will ask us what we want to draw when an arc starts. But sometimes it's just organic, we let editors and writers know who we want to draw and it happens eventually." Bradshaw put it out there that he really wants to do some Man-Thing and Marvel Monsters. Pichelli says, "I love drawing female characters. I say that like a mantra at every panel and meeting with editors."

What do you want to do an arc on then?

Pichelli: "Daredevil."

Stegman: "Thor, cause I'm obsessed with Walt Simonson."

Bradshaw: "Hulk. I want to do green Hulk."

Marquez: "Darkhawk" Which got some laughs and applause.

Asrar: "Thor too, but really steeped in Norse mythology."

Schiti: "Spider-Man. That was my dream as a kid."

What writer that you haven't worked with yet would you like to?

Pichelli: "Warren Ellis!" Stegman: "Ellis, Morrison, BKV." Asrar: "Alan Moore." Schiti: "Bendis" Marquez: "Fraction, Brubaker, Kelly Sue DeConnick I'd really like to work with as well."

Do you ever get a script and tell the writer, "No, that's a mistake in the character" or something like that?

Bradshaw, "Can we do that?" Lots of laughs. "I drew Wolverine as a clown, man! You don't think there was a discussion before that?"

Digital versus traditional art? Most of the artists have dabbled with digital, or done digital pencils then print out to do traditional inks or vice-versa. Bradshaw said he can't get a hang of digital because he "likes playing around with different textures" in print. Marquez is doing his interiors digitally now, and his covers and splash pages traditionally. Schiti is "100% digital now. I love the possibilities of working digitally." "Control-Z?" Sara joked, referencing the Undo shortcut. Asrar said, "it's a tool, so whatever you feel comfortable working with. I do digital layouts because it speeds up my process, then regular inks."

Advice to a young high school artist?

Basically, they said to do it because you want. Draw, and always be willing to learn. "Confidence is a good thing, but you have to be willing to improve," Bradshaw reiterated.

Pichelli teaches at art school and said, "This is a job. You have to remember this is a job, and treat it like that." Asrar said, "comics is really more about storytelling and narrative. That's what you have to study first."

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