There's a new man carrying the Nick Fury mantle, and a new artist to go with it.
Former Midnighter artist ACO has jumped to Marvel Comics to draw the recently-debuting Nick Fury title with writer James Robinson. Working with inker Hugo Petrus and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg, ACO revisits the pop art themes of Jim Steranko's 1960s Nick Fury serials in this first series for the iconic Nick Fury's son - who has taken up his father's name, minus the "Junior."
Newsarama spoke with ACO about bringing his eye-catching iconic style to the Marvel super-spy, working under the onus of Secret Empire, and the legacy of Nick Fury.
Newsarama: ACO, we’ve seen some of your art for Nick Fury #1, and it seems to capture the wild 60s super-spy feel of classic Nick Fury stories with your modern style. What were your influences in designing the look of the new series?
ACO: In the first issue, both the setting and the characters cried out for that 60's style. Also, it was an opportunity to evoke Steranko's era of Nick Fury at the same time. Visually, I also kept in mind his adaptation of Outland. His design, narrative and imagination are still a reference nowadays and I wanted to convey an echo of his work.
In addition, we wanted to express a certain feeling of pop art. To achieve this, the color was of vital importance, and in that sense I am very happy with the work of Rachelle Rosenberg. I've always thought that color in a comic works like the soundtrack in a movie. It sets the tone of the story without needing to pay much attention. Rachelle understood perfectly that the book needed to be bright, saturated and loud, but well put together which is very difficult and says a lot about her talent. In this sense we have been very fortunate to have her. Colorists deserve greater recognition in the industry. Much more.
Nrama: Aside from Nick Fury, we know his Hydra counterpart Frankie Noble plays a role in the series. What other characters are you excited to draw for Nick Fury? Is there a character you’d consider your own point of view for the series?
ACO: All the characters are interesting because they are very different from each other and that is a lot of fun. Maybe I enjoy the female characters more as they offer more possibilities in terms of costume and design. I also enjoy drawing characters like Namor who, although doesn’t appear too often, is visually very powerful.
Nrama: S.H.I.E.L.D. and Nick Fury are known for their super-science approach to being spies. Have you designed any cool spy-gear or gadgets so far?
ACO: Fury will have useful, simple and easy to disguise gadgets. James has suggested the majority of them and some ended up being really great, such as a second skin that Fury will use in Atlantis or even the fact of providing the technology that will allow Fury to inspect his surroundings like Daredevil would have done. I kept in mind the watch Nick Fury’s father used in the original series and added the functionality of modern apps. On the other hand, I wanted Fury to have implanted under the skin of his hands a type of mechanism that could allow him to shoot with his fingers using his body energy. This would allow him to be armed in any enclosure where it was impossible to introduce a gun and it would even give him advantage in case of being reduced or imprisoned. In the end we came up with two models of gloves that fulfilled that function.
Nrama: Most of the stories in Nick Fury are one-and-done tales. Is there an advantage to that format, as an artist?
ACO: It is very funny, since each issue is a different environment and that implies different characters, races, clothes, scenarios, ways of narrating and even putting together. It gives greater visual richness to the series. Here, I would like to highlight the work of my inker, Hugo Petrus, a great penciller and inker, who adds many more details to the pages giving more life to each panel and stage. The standalone issues also allow the new reader to be introduced to the series at any time, since it allows you to understand what happens without having read previous issues. Today this type of format has been lost. Almost all modern comics have an infinite number of open storylines and a large background plot that develops very slowly or seasonally. Warren Ellis' Planetary and Moon Knight are the perfect example of conclusive episodes but with something to tell in the long run. I was very glad that James had thought the same way, and that encouraged me to get into the series.
Nrama: You’re working with James Robinson, an industry vet who you have previously worked with on Squadron Supreme. How has your working relationship developed? Has any aspect of his Nick Fury scripts really challenged or surprised you?
ACO: In Squadron Supreme the script was more closed and detailed but James left me much freedom to approach the pages. In Nick Fury we work with Marvel style. James specifies what happens on each page, he provides the dialogue and allows me to capture the action in the way I feel is appropriate. It is very liberating since it shows that he trusts my perception of the story and, at the same time, takes into account my suggestions. It is very easy to work with him.
Nrama: What’s your favorite thing you’ve drawn for Nick Fury so far?
ACO: I don’t know, maybe I like drawing Frankie Noble appearances, since is the first character I've contributed to Marvel Universe. I also enjoy panels where there is an onomatopoeia. I couldn’t highlight a particular page or panel. I think the best is always to come.
Nrama: Without getting too spoiler-y, what’s on your drawing board today?
ACO: A large shot of Atlantis with Namor as protagonist.
Nrama: What do you want fans to know about Nick Fury?
ACO: Fans should understand that it is a way to update a character, a way to establish him within the Marvel Universe. It's not his father, the original Nick Fury of the Prime Marvel Universe, it's not the Ultimate Nick Fury, and in a way it's not the Marcus Johnson that people knew. It's a new kind of Nick Fury who has his own voice and image. The series is a way of presenting something new, with a personality and image more clearly defined, one of his own. And of course, I hope our readers enjoy and have fun with the series and the character. I understand that every reader has a favorite version, but I hope they give this series a chance, since we are doing it with a lot of affection and taking into account what the name NICK FURY represents in the Marvel Universe.