Artist Leonard Kirk joins New Mutants in July, coming off his work on Dark X-Men to draw the team of young X-graduates with writer Zeb Wells.
Kirk, who became a Marvel exclusive artist in 2006 after working several years at DC, established himself at the publisher by working with Jeff Parker to reinvent the Agents of Atlas in that team's original mini-series. More recently, Kirk has won Marvel fans for his work with writer Paul Cornell on both Dark X-Men and Captain Britain and MI: 13.
Now the artist joins the New Mutants creative team just as the whole X-universe comes off the "Second Coming" event. Newsarama talked to Kirk about the announcement of his new gig and what this means for readers of New Mutants.
: Leonard, we've seen a wide variety of work over the years from your pencil, from darker characters like Batman to the upbeat Agents of Atlas. What's appealing to you as an artist about the New Mutants project?
Leonard Kirk: The appealing thing about this project for me is that I will be drawing most of the characters I enjoyed in the original graphic novel by Claremont and McLeod in the 1980’s. Also, while it is not strictly an X-Men book, it still falls within that X-family of titles I enjoyed so much as a kid. The project is as nostalgic as it is original.
Nrama: Were you familiar with the current New Mutants comic before you got the gig?
Kirk: I mentioned the graphic novel and, of course, I loved the series that came out of it. Sadly, I don’t have nearly as much time to read comics as I used to so I wasn’t familiar with the current series until I was asked to come on board. I immediately ran out to buy as many issues as I could and became a fan. The series not only had many of the same characters but also much of the same characterization I remember from the New Mutants comics I read as a kid. It also turned out to be darn fun.
Nrama: What do you hope to bring to the series?
Kirk: I’m hoping to bring to this series what I try to bring to every series I draw, clear storytelling. As much as I enjoy the big action panels and the splash pages, I get the most pleasure from my work when I know the readers can get the gist of the story from the pictures alone, without any of the dialog.
Nrama: How has it been preparing for this series with Zeb Wells? Do you think your art will fit what he has in mind for the book?
Kirk: Well, heck, I hope so. I’m about halfway through drawing my first issue and we seem to be working just fine together. We’re comfortable enough to bounce ideas and suggestions off of one another. As I said, I began reading the current series as soon as it was offered to me. That was pretty much the bulk of my preparation for working with Zeb. Well, that and the private detective I hired to follow him around to make sure that Zeb met my hygienic standards. For the most part, he passed, aside from that disgusting thing that he does with old peanut butter and flatworms. Gross!!
Nrama: Can you name a few of the characters you'll be drawing and explain what your approach will be for each character?
Kirk: I'll be drawing the regular line up: Cannonball, Mirage, Karma, Magma, Sunspot, Magik, Cypher and Warlock. I didn’t really want to do too much to change any of them. However, I did do a little bit of tweaking on a couple of the characters. I decided that Cannonball really needed to lose a bit of muscle and a lot of hair. I know that people change over time but I wanted to bring back some of the familiar looks of the characters from the earlier series. I also took a stab at making Magma look more “magma-ish.”
The real fun will come from drawing the bad guys in this story arc. Some of them have already appeared in a previous issue of New Mutants and will be familiar to the readers, but others will be brand new. I can’t really say anything about them without revealing too much of the story.
Nrama: Is there anything you can tell us about the story, without revealing those villains?
Kirk: I don’t know how much I can say right now. I have no idea what will be revealed by Marvel in the announcement this month. There are actually two sets of villains in the arc, the first of which has already popped up, briefly, in an earlier issue. One batch of bad guys will be grizzled, gnarly, grumpy and tough... which you would pretty much expect of anyone after spending a couple of decades in Limbo. As for the other bad guys, let’s just say the magic word: Mutants, mutants and more mutants.
Nrama: How is this project going to differ from the work you've done on your other recent Marvel projects?
Kirk: I never know how to answer a question like this. I have a tendency to focus on what I need to do to make my current project successful rather than what differentiates it from my past projects. I suppose one difference will be having to pay more attention to young women’s fashion as there are four young women on the team.
Nrama: Anything else you want to tell fans about your upcoming work on New Mutants?
Kirk: Only that I hope everyone has as much fun reading this arc as I’m having drawing it. Okay, that one might be tough because I am having a serious crapload of fun over here. So I’ll just tell everyone to enjoy it to the degree that they feel comfortable. Any enjoyment beyond that, I will consider a bonus.