When Sideshow Collectibles was looking for an artist to help them follow up their Adam Hughes-designed collectible comiquettes, one of the artists they turned to was Mark Brooks.
"A couple of years ago, they had Adam Hughes design a series of statues, starting off with the White Queen, then Mary Jane and Rogue and Black Cat and a few other characters," Brooks told Newsarama at San Diego Comic-Con, where his newest comiquettes were being previewed. "Last year, they decided they wanted to expand the line by adding additional artists. And I had a meeting with them, thinking I'd just get the opportunity to work on some statues, and that's when they dropped the bomb on me and said they were expanding the comiquette line and were looking for the next artist. And they asked me if I'd be interested. Of course, I was interested!"
Currently the artist on Dark Reign: Young Avengers, Brooks has so far had his statues of Dagger and Scarlet Witch solicited for the comiquette line. Both statues incorporate their male "significant others," but in a way that is playful and doesn't distract from the main focus.
"The ideas for the statues were mostly trial and error. I like the idea of showing the females counterparts but realizing the focus should stay on them," he said. "Dagger was first, and I knew that Cloak would have to be in there somehow since you rarely see one without the other, so having Cloak's cloak wrapped around her as she gracefully moves out of it seemed to be the obvious choice.
"With Scarlet Witch, I wanted to follow the theme, and I knew Vision would be the counterpart, but incorporating him would be a little trickier," Brooks said. "I began thinking about Wanda's reality warping powers and the fact that she is a little twisted, as evident in House of M, so her turning her android husband (temporarily) into a little toy robot for her to play with would be a good way of having Vision in the statue but keep the focus squarely on her. Sideshow loved the idea and the result is what you see now."
Although Brooks had previously shared a few sketches for the statues that included Sue Storm and Kitty Pryde, he said neither of those will be the next statue he's doing. "Not to say that they won't be done by me or Adam Hughes or Frank Cho in the future, but it's not on my list to be done soon," he said, slyly adding, "but you never know!"
Besides the character designs for the statues, Brooks has also been designing some new characters in Dark Reign: Young Avengers, where a new group of super-powered heroes has entered the scene.
"I think people were a little apprehensive at the beginning because we really started focusing on this new team, the Dark Reign Young Avengers," Brooks said of the comic he's drawing for writer Paul Cornell. "People weren't sure what to make of them, which was actually the intent. And of course the regular Young Avengers didn't show up until the end of the first issue. So it was a little jarring, but that's the whole idea that Paul had from the beginning. And I think it ended up working. I really liked it that way, and I think the fans are really going to dig the payoff in the end."
Although there are only two issues left of the mini-series, Brooks said there are plenty of surprises left for readers. "Issue #4 has a big reveal at the end of the issue that I think people are really going to dig," he said. "Paul Cornell is doing a really great job with every issue of giving the readers a really nice punch in the last page, and he's keeping that up. Issue #4 has the biggest punch so far. It's going to be one of those 'Ooooo!' moments."
The artist said that when he's able to design new characters, like he did for this comic and several of the comics he did in the Ultimate line, he feels like he's contributing more to the story. "I think it's the closest, as an artist, that we come to writing. We really set the mood," he said. "And for the first time in a book, you'll do a character that a writer has described, but your design will influence what the writer ends up turning that character into. So it's one of those rare times when we actually get a say-so in what the character might actually become."
But since he took on the job of working with Sideshow, he's discovered that designing new characters for comics and designing statues are completely different.
"When you're doing 2-D, all you have to think about is how that character looks from that one angle, but in 3-D, suddenly what looks cool from the front, when you turn it around to the back, can look completely ridiculous," he said with a laugh. "You really have to change the way your mind works and how you think about form and function, and depth and volume. Otherwise, you could do a drawing that looks great, but a statue that no one wants to buy. It's a whole new way of thinking, and I'm really loving the challenge of it. It's been a lot of fun."