For those reading Marvel's undeniably fun Wolverine and the X-Men, the Jason Aaron-written series that launched last fall in the wake of "X-Men: Regenesis," you've no doubt noticed Nick Bradshaw's Art Adams-meet-J. Scott Campbell art on the current arc.
For those seeing his work for the first time on this high-profile book, you might see Bradshaw as something of an overnight success, but as the artist tells us, that's not the case, as he's been kicking around the comic book industry for years now, having nearly abandoned his aspirations at one point in favor of his day job in gaming.
Newsarama chatted via email with Bradshaw about his artistic influences beyond Adams and Campbell, getting his start on Dynamite's Army of Darkness series, working with Jason Aaron, following initial Wolverine and the X-Men artist Chris Bachalo, and his future plans following the book's current arc. Plus, courtesy of Marvel, we're presenting four pages of exclusive interior pages by Bradshaw from March's Wolverine and the X-Men #7.
Newsarama: Nick, let's start as close to beginning as we can — you're seen as something of a relative newcomer in terms of Marvel, but you've been working in comics for a few years now, since at least Army of Darkness at Dynamite starting in 2004 or so. In whatever amount of detail you'd like, what can you tell us about how you first broke in to the industry?
Nick Bradshaw: Well initially, right out of college I attempted to self publish with a friend of mine which bombed… spectacularly. We were pretty young, disorganized; still learned a ton but needed to learn more.
So I trolled around on some art forums for a while posting up some fan art and sketches for feedback and direction. There were some really great artists you could find on these pages working in the industry, or trying to break in as well. Mike Wieringo actually used to email me some feedback on some pieces I posted online; that was pretty awesome. I got to work on this neat little zombie short story for Digital Webbing with Eric Powell also some covers for a book called Zombie Highway they released as well — all small indy stuff at that time, still a lot of fun.But I think it was a few Army of Darkness fan pics I had drawn up that got me noticed, and ultimately hired for that series. It was one of those things of being in the right place at the right time. When Nick Barrucci called me up and offered the work I figured I was being pranked at first. And it was great that my first real full book was based on a series of movies I had such huge fan love for.
Nrama: You've worked on a couple of Danger Girl series, and there definitely are elements of J. Scott Campbell in your art style, along with Art Adams. Who do you count among your influences? Anyone who might surprise people, based on your style?
Bradshaw: Well, you nailed the first two influences right off the bat, but I also study a lot of Ed McGuinness, Mike Wieringo, Wally Wood, Alex Toth, a ton of Don Bluth and Glen Keane from the animation background, if you notice a running theme of cartoony-type artists there.
For storytelling I research a lot of film, a lot of Carpenter, Bava, Argento, Leon; so many Italian directors. Horror, westerns and mystery movies are the best, mostly because they need to employ the most basic storytelling tools for the maximum effect, exaggerated camera angles, framing and pacing. Best way to learn these things.
Nrama: What project was it that got the attention of Marvel? Was working with them always a goal for you?
Bradshaw: Again I think I just got lucky. I was working away happily at my day job in gaming; I had tried comics and just didn't feel ready at that time. I kept my toes in it with the odd cover or short story. I would beg Jim [McLauchlin] at The Hero Initiative to throw me some blank covers for their auctions just so I could draw some cool characters, and he was always happy to oblige. I had done the Hulk 100, Archie covers, JLA and the Wolverine 100, and I think that was the one that Nick Lowe had noticed and shot me and invite for some cover work. Right place at the right time. I was working with a great studio of guys at the time, but I missed comics and wanted to come back and try my hand at it again… again, I was at the right place at the right time.
Nrama: How much of a Marvel fan were you growing up? And more specifically, given how much X-Men material you've illustrated lately, how into the X-Men were you before these gigs?
Bradshaw: Huge Marvel fan! I was into Rom: Spaceknight, Hulk, Defenders. My mom one Christmas bought me this orange box with like 50 different Marvel titles in it, got me interested in Fantastic Four, X-Men, New Mutants. Man-Thing and The 'Nam were two big favorites of mine where I discovered Mike Golden.
X-Men was a book I sorta segued into from reading Wolverine. I read X-Men primarily in the 90's but backtracked to a lot of Claremont's older stuff with Byrne based off of that.
Nrama: Wolverine and the X-Men has been one of the best-received new X-Men series in years. What's it been like working with Jason Aaron on the title?
Bradshaw: I used to get a comp box from DC delivered to the folks' house as my girlfriend and I were always working all day and couldn't be home to sign for it. Scalped was one of the first books I used to have to fight with the old man over every month if he got to the box first. We both enjoyed it that much. So when I was told I was going to be working with Jason on Wolverine and the X-Men, I was a little apprehensive (as if the prospect of following up on issues after Bachalo wasn't intimidating enough).
I felt kinda misplaced working on a project with him cause the first impression I had of his work was pretty mature and intense, and my style was the opposite of whatever you would find in that type of book like Scalped. When I read the first few scripts I got it, I knew what they were looking for from me. It was fun, big adventure, that I could do; was pleasantly surprised to see this stuff coming from Jason. He hits every single geek gene I have in my brain. It's all there, I'm having a blast, drawing every page has been a joy.
Nrama: In Wolverine and the X-Men, you're drawing a huge cast, and frequently scenes depicting things like massive swarms of aliens. Does drawing large numbers of characters come pretty easy to you? (You drew a couple dozen in the Regenesis teasers, after all.)
Bradshaw: Easy? No. Fun? Absolutely… I love it when they give me a scene so well written in detail I can just cut loose on it and do my thing. I love designing aliens, ships, weird "Classic Comic" tools and as many established characters as I can.
Nrama: What's next for you after the current Wolverine and the X-Men arc, which wraps in March with issue #7? Is the plan to keep rotating arcs with Chris Bachalo?
Bradshaw: Hopefully Nick Lowe and the guys will let me hang around, I've enjoyed this team and book very much. I have two more upcoming issues on my plate I think they'll just keep leapfrogging me with Chris on this series as long as they'll have me.
Nrama: And, now a word from Marvel senior editor Nick Lowe:
Lowe: Nick isn’t going anywhere and other editors will have to tear him from my clutches on Wolverine and the X-Men.FACEBOOK and TWITTER!