X-Men: Gold #13 isn't artist Mike Mayhew's first time drawing the X-Men - however it does preset the artist with his first chance to draw one of the team's core titles, and the unique opportunity to relive some of the X-Men's biggest moments in the "Legacy" story "Mojo Worldwide."
With Mayhew will draw the X-Men: Gold portion of the "Mojo Worldwide" crossover alongside writer Marc Guggenheim, while writer Cullen Bunn and artist Jorge Molina will handle the X-Men: Blue issues. In "Mojo Worldwide," the X-Men franchise takes the idea of "Legacy" literally, pitting the team against their old for Mojo and forcing them to relive some of their darkest moments.
X-Men: Gold #13 hits shelves on October 27, but Newsarama spoke to Mayhew well ahead of the book's release to find out what's up with all the major X-Villains appearing in the series, the challenges of drawing a crossover, and his favorite X-Man to draw.
This article also contains previously unseen interior pages from X-Men: Gold #13.
Newsarama: Mike, you’ve drawn the X-Men before, but never on a core X-Men book. What’s your history with the team? What are your goals when you take on an arc like this?
Mike Mayhew: That’s right. When I go to comic cons the number one thing people remember me from are my Mystique covers from around 2003 when Brian K. Vaughn and then Sean McKeever wrote her series. And, a lot of people remember a 30 page painted book I did called X-Men Origins: Jean Grey from around 2008.
But, the X-Men were the gateway into my obsession with comics as a teenager. Around 1983, I began getting books like X-Men Annual #7, New Mutants #21, and other X-titles at the super-market and the convenience store. Soon after I discovered a comic shop at the local college campus and I was hooked.
It’s hard to imagine but back then for about 10 years, X-Men dominated the U.S. comic market. They outsold everything - and for good reason. The story, characters, and art were heads and tails above the competition in my opinion. For a teen growing up in suburbia in the ‘80s there were things I’d never seen before, concepts I never imagined, and plenty of drama happening to strange characters I could somehow relate to.
So, my goal is to try capture that sense of excitement and wonder I had when I first got to know the X-Men, and transmit it to the reader, who may know the characters well, or perhaps has never met them.
Nrama: Your X-Men: Gold arc is part of “Legacy.” What does that concept mean to you as an artist?
Mayhew: I feel the “Legacy” concept on this book is focused on a fresh, new direction that opens the door to new possibilities, while pulling from all the rich history that built X-Men into one of the greatest comics of all time.
For me personally, the “Legacy” concept is honoring the artists I fell in love with in the pages of X-Men, Excalibur, Longshot, and the other X-Men titles. Those books were fertile playgrounds for the greatest artists in comics who were at an upswing in their artistic development. Guys like John Byrne, Paul Smith, John Romita Jr., Art Adams, Michael Golden, Bill Sienkiewicz, Marc Silvestri, Whilce Portacio, and Jim Lee.
Their amazing craftsmanship and imagination burned in my brain that comics was the medium for me. When I got the script for this issue I ran to my long boxes, pulled out dozens of issues and got excited all over again!
Nrama: You’re drawing the X-Men: Gold half of the “Mojo Worldwide” crossover – which involves some pretty bizarre characters and concepts. What kind of design challenges has that imposed, both in terms of worldbuilding and storytelling?
Mayhew: As far handling the art for the X-Men as characters, especially as they are in these classic Blue and Gold teams, it’s very comfortable for me because I know them like family. The challenge is capturing all the greatness and potential all these characters have.
For the situations they find themselves in, it was absolute delight to be able to draw some of those X-Men moments from my teens in an issue of X-Men. I relished capturing the classic stories, so I was more just geeking out instead of feeling challenges.
Nrama: Who are the X-Men characters you most enjoy drawing? Any surprise favorites?
Mayhew: Nightcrawler is way, way up there. I just adore those classic Dave Cockrum designs and Kurt is such a unique character. Jean Grey has a very special place in my heart from working with her and from her rich history. But drawing the X-Men together, and reacting to each other always makes them more powerful than on their own is the best part.
Nrama: When you’re working on a project like this, with alternating chapters between two titles with two different artists, how does that affect the way you approach your part of the story?
Mayhew: Luckily for me the incredibly talented Jorge Molina had drawn the entire X-Men: Blue book before I started my X-Men: Gold book. It was easy to get inspired and fired up looking at Jorge’s art, and made it easy for me to keep in tune.
I would say in general my approach to the X-Men is slightly more cartoony than my hyper-realism on Star Wars. I just feel like the world of the X-Men is better off with slightly fantastical visuals and more exaggerated characters.
Nrama: The solicitations and covers we’ve seen for “Mojo Worldwide” include characters like Apocalypse, the Sentinels, Dark Phoenix – heavy stuff for the X-Men. Is Marc Guggenheim putting you through your paces with his scripts?
Mayhew: Marc’s script is amazing! But, this might be the most complicated story I’ve ever worked on. From the sheer number of characters, to the how the big set pieces intertwined, this one had me working overtime to get it right.
Marc makes sure to give so many characters great emotional moments, while in the midst of epic events. I had to really think about how I could strike that balance in the art.
Nrama: What’s your favorite thing you’ve drawn for X-Men: Gold so far?
Mayhew: My favorite thing to draw was Mojo, although I feel like I want another crack at him. He’s got a lot going on visually. But a close second was the baseball game the X-Men played. That felt so much like some pages Michael Golden drew for X-Men Annual #7 that made such an impression on me back when I was like 13.
Nrama: What’s next for you after X-Men: Gold?
Mayhew: I’m doing one of the coolest projects I’ve ever done! It’s a 30-page one shot. There should be an announcement soon. Something having to do with spaceships and laser guns.