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AICN COMICS Q&@: Ambush Bug talks with artist David Marquez about ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, ALL NEW X-MEN, and his new indie book THE JOYNERS IN 3-D!

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Q’s by Ambush Bug!

@’s by David Marquez!!!

Ambush Bug here. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing David Marquez regarding the excellent graphic novel SYNDROME. At the time, I felt he was an up and coming artist and turns out a few short years later, I was right as Marquez has since leapt to Marvel working with Brian Michael Bendis on ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, and now to one of Marvel’s top new books ALL NEW X-MEN. Marquez’s first issue of ALL NEW X-MEN hit the stands last week (#6). I had a chance to talk with Marquez about his rise to super-stardom, working with Bendis, and his new indie project from Archaia Entertainment called THE JOYNERS IN 3-D!

AMBUSH BUG (BUG): So I am here with Dave Marquez. I interviewed you quite a while back and talked to you about SYNDROME and commented on how amazing your artwork was there. Since then you have become quite a sensation here working with Marvel, and also you’ve got some more indie projects coming out. How did that happen? What was it like to be working on a graphic novel and then suddenly working at Marvel? Can you take us through that transition and what that was like?

DAVID MARQUEZ (DM): Yeah, I mean on the publishing side of things it happened pretty quick, but as a career it always seems to take longer, because you’re working on a lot of things for a long time before they ever see the light of day on store shelves or in front of readers. So starting with SYNDROME it was a full year, from like 2009 to 2010 or summer of 2009 to fall of 2010 I was working on that book before it came out, and then suddenly right after it came out things started picking up. I got a small gig at Marvel and then I went to Top Cow, but that was another full year I think before I really started getting a lot of work at Marvel. It was really with the FANTASTIC FOUR SEASON ONE graphic novel, and again it was kind of a funny thing where I spent close to a year drawing that FANTASTIC FOUR graphic novel and also doing some Top Cow stuff, but at that point I didn’t have that much material on the shelves and so when that finally came out in February of 2012, things really took off. When that came out it was a larger amount of folks catching my work with the FANTASTIC FOUR novel and from there I went to ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN and from that now to ALL NEW X-MEN. That was all pretty much in the last twelve months. That was really, really fast even on my end. Before that, even though I didn’t have a lot of work coming out, I was spending a lot of time behind the scenes drawing stuff that would take a long time to come out.

BUG: So when you first got the news that you were going to be doing ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, what was that like to get that call? What was the process like of just getting that gig in particular?

DM: Oh man, I mean it was that and ALL NEW X-MEN. I really have no idea what the background conversations were as far as trying to raise the team, but as I understand it after FANTASTIC FOUR season one, the folks at Marvel were kind of showing my work around and it caught the eye of Brian Bendis in the Ultimate office at Marvel and Brian and I had a conversation about it and we always hang out on his couch and while it doesn’t always pay off, in this case it really did pay off, because we had this really nice synergy creatively where I think he really likes writing, like, the action and strong emotional character arcs. That’s what led to us working on stuff like ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN. So I just got an email out of the blue. I guess once they saw my work and they wanted me to help give SPIDER-MAN this new presence. I mean, I was speechless when I got the email, and things just kind of took off from there.

BUG: Yeah, and so now you’re going to be doing ALL NEW X-MEN here, which is pretty much their number one title right now, it seems. What’s that like? How long are you going to be on that title?

DM: For now I’m on for three issues, which is six, seven, and eight or January, February, March of this year. It gives them a little more lead time on the next story arc. It’s crazy. I grew up as a huge X-Men fan and this was a project that I wanted to work on for a long time. I never thought it would happen as quickly as it did and I think, again, just going back to Brian and I working so well together. When they needed to find an artist for that fill-in arc, the fact that I had a bit of a gap in my schedule, because the original artist of ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN was coming on for a few issues, the timing just worked out perfectly where they knew that Brian and I worked well together, I had the free time, and they had seen enough of my work at that point that they knew to trust me with their huge ALL NEW X-MEN. So I’m having a blast on it and getting to work on such a high-profile project and one of their top titles, I’m trying to get it done and do as good of a job with it as I can, and everyone has been really pleased with the results.

BUG: I was always curious about up and coming artists who haven’t been in the industry that long…when they come in to like a Marvel title, how much freedom do you have with these characters? Can you change them up a little bit or is there like a template that you have to stick to for the most part?

DM: In my situation, I think this is just the way Marvel tries to cultivate some of their newer talent, is I…I was working with Sarah Pichelli on ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN when she left to go do SPIDER-MAN and now I’m working with Stuart Immonen while he’s catching up on the next story arc and so I kind of fell into that position. I don’t have the freedom to just do whatever I want, but that said they’ve never made me feel like I’m the guest in the guest room. I choose to drive as much of the visual continuity work that’s already been done, so it’s not jarring for readers. I mean, the whole routine art thing in comics is I know a lot of fans aren’t really fond of it and I definitely understand how jarring it can be to have an artist you’ve come to associate with a certain title or a certain group of characters pulled out from under you when a new artist comes in. So I’m not trying to ape the other artists. I’m not trying to completely revolutionize the title and make it completely different. I want to do the best art I can do, while also thinking of…unless it’s something where there’s a redesign and in those cases, I just go crazy.

BUG: So can you give us a clue as to what this next arc is going to be about?

DM: Yeah, with all ULTIMATE it’s kind of one continuing story where we’re focusing on one chapter. It’s revolutionized the first opening it, Mystique comes in and is messing things around a little bit. There’s a lot of…then we will get into Cyclops, young Cyclops’ interaction which is a lot of fun to draw. There’s a lot of interactions between… in general it’s like the older and younger X-Men. Angel in particular, young Angel an the modern Angel have a lot of interactions as they all try to come to grips with the situation where the older X-Men had coming into the present and there’s a whole view of how the way the world has changed and if they want to go back or not. So there’s a bit of conflict there, and everyone knows “conflict is drama.”

BUG: I have been known to be a little critical of Brian Michael Bendis’ work for is just the fact that there’s a lot of conversation. As an artist, how do you keep that exciting where there are a lot of panels of just people talking back and forth and things like that?

DM: Yeah. With what I’m working on, and I think this is true for ALL NEW X-MEN and working with him for ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN is there is a lot of conversation, and I see some of his passion for his…it balances really well with a lot of intense action, and so looking at all of the X-MEN that I have, I think there’s a pretty good balance between the two. That said, for the actual conversation scenes, addressing your question specifically, it’s important to me that it not be a bunch of square boxes with heads in profile facing each other just rambling on. So I try to make sure that each panel is choreographed almost like you have….so often you just have the head shots, but I try to choreograph it as an actual conversation. When you are interacting with somebody in real life, it’s not just the face. You use the hands, the body movement, and I try to really play up the drama of whatever is going on. There’s the conversation about going out to get coffee, to suddenly interject that with something a little more exciting. Thankfully all of the conversations of X-MEN are far more exciting than going and getting coffee. I’m drawing teenagers. Teenagers wear their emotion on their sleeve and so that’s a lot of fun. It’s interesting playing with these characters where you really get to play with the emotion and the drama that’s going on.

BUG: I do want to get to your indie work like your project coming up from Archaia as well, but one last question about ALL NEW X-MEN. Do you have a favorite character that you are drawing right now?

DM: It’s hard to pick a single favorite. I mean, there’s always something great with Wolverine and he’s a character I’ve been attached to. It’s a lot of fun just drawing him, but beyond him Jean Grey is a lot of fun to draw. I’ve also enjoyed drawing the modern and younger versions of Angel. I hadn’t really drawn wings before, so I did a lot of research and just learning the anatomy of birds and how wings work and trying to figure out “well, how would wings actually attach to a body?” That part is fun and exciting, so yeah.

BUG: I was always curious how when he first was introduced--somehow he taped those gigantic wings underneath his body and it just didn’t seem like it was believable.

DM: Yeah.

BUG: So let’s talk about JOYNERS, THE JOYNERS IN 3D and it’s coming out from Archaia. What’s that all about? I don’t know anything about it.

DM: So this is a project I’ve been working on for the last three years with RJ Ryan, Josh’s friend…I think you’ve met Josh before, but we worked together on SYNDROME. So after SYNDROME wrapped, he and I started talking immediately about doing another project together and this was kind of before I broke in to Marvel. We were both really excited and adamant about doing something that’s different and explores comics as a story telling medium. So it’s a little bit of a…it’s a very ambitious project. It’s done entirely in 3D. It’s a full length, over a hundred page graphic novel and I’m doing all of the art and 3D conversion myself, so I’m using it as a way of exploring a different side of comics than what I do in my mainstream work. I love drawing in great detail, because that’s what I do naturally. My interests are beyond just the mainstream stuff. It’s got a very graphic style, and something that I want to do as far as simplicity to some degree…I want to explore…I want to tear down a style and also within that, getting into the 3D where there isn’t quite so much going on and so separating out the layers and working with 3 dimensional depth, it becomes a more manageable project, especially since I’m only doing this in my free time on the weekends. That’s why it’s taking so many years to do.

BUG: So is this something that’s going to come with 3D glasses?

DM: Absolutely.

BUG: Okay. What’s that like, just doing that 3D conversion? I have no idea how that’s done. What do you do with that?

DM: So 3D comics have been around for roughly fifty years and back in the day they would actually draw on separate layers of some transparent medium, then they would separate out and photograph the layers to get the left and right images where the background felt closer away from the foreground. Since I work all digitally anyways, I can create the same effect in Photoshop and there’s some digital trickery that goes on as far as how that separation happens, but the 3D is the same basic concept of making sure there’s a background, a middle ground, and the foreground separated out, in like a left image and a right image. Then we composite those. We’re using the traditional red/blue glasses that come packaged with the book, but as far as the design the book and how the glasses play into that, we want to make sure this book is an entire experience in and of itself and so the designer we are working with, John Adams, who lives in San Francisco and has his own comic design world on the side, he’s helping us through that design where everything from the time that you open the front cover and find the glasses, everything is inclusive and an engrossing experience and we’re happy with how it’s coming out.

BUG: Cool. What’s the story about? Can you tell us about the story?

DM: Yeah, so we are definitely playing off of the idea of the family of the future like the JETSONS and one of the short hands is like AMERICAN BEAUTY. We are telling a very ambitious, character-centric story using the family of the future as the backdrop for that. We are definitely building themes of hubris where our main character, George Joiner, is kind of a drop in eyes kind of character who has revolutionized the way the world operates though technologies he has invented and seeing his parade of successes and technological advancements there are certain sacrifices he makes and we get to see how that impacts his life with his family and their lives. It’s a very intimate story, but in a lot of ways it’s a universal story and one that we think playw well…we’re playing off of THE JETSONS, aesthetically as well and studying their architecture, but converting it to some degree and as far as 3D, the 3D…there are a couple of reasons why we are telling…it’s much more atmospheric as opposed to a pop in your face, and there’s a lot of great opportunity for that even in a quieter story. 3D by and large has been used as a gimmick and we’re trying to surpass that by telling a very serious story. We are giving a very good effort to this in a responsible and ambitious manner. So the 3D beyond just doing the big movements, it’s also being used for storytelling, for emphasis and setting tone. So it’s another way of exploring the comic medium, just in this case using one more technique than is traditionally used.

BUG: Very cool. When is this going to be available?

DM: It comes out in Fall of 2013. I’m working on it every week just piece by piece around my already full-time job with Marvel. But we are aiming for a New York Comic Con or roughly around that time release.

BUG: Very cool. I look forward to checking that out. It seems like a really fascinating project. Well, congratulations on all of your success. It seems it’s been a wild ride for you. So what’s next for you? Or do you have your plate full right now?

DM: My plate is definitely full with the newer projects on the burners. After ALL NEW X-MEN I have my next project with Marvel lined up. They haven’t announced it yet, but it’s something that I think everybody will…no one will be surprised by. I’m really excited about that next project, but beyond that I’m really just giving JOYNERS whatever free time I have and looking down the line for two or three years. I’ve got other projects in mind, but with everything right now, those are just seeds. There’s plenty on the horizon.

BUG: So this next project, are you going to be another pinch hitter or is this all you?

DM: We will have to wait and see.

BUG: Okay. [Both laugh] All right, well best of luck to you. It’s been great following your career and I look forward to all of your new projects--it all looks really cool.

DM: Thanks, Mark.

BUG: Find out more info about David’s work on his personal artist’s blog and on Twitter @DaveMarquez.

Ambush Bug is Mark L. Miller, original @$$Hole/wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of AICN COMICS for over eleven years & AICN HORROR for two. He has written comics such as VINCENT PRICE PRESENTS THE TINGLERS & WITCHFINDER GENERAL, THE DEATHSPORT GAMES, & NANNY & HANK (soon to be available on iTunes and soon to be made into a feature film from Uptown 6 Films). He has co-written FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND’s first ever comic book LUNA: ORDER OF THE WEREWOLF (to be released in 2013 as a 100-pg original graphic novel). Mark wrote the critically acclaimed GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK last year from Zenescope Entertainment & look for his exciting arc on GRIMM FAIRY TALES #76-81 released August-January 2012. Mark will be writing GRIMM FAIRY TALES PRESENTS THE JUNGLE BOOK: LAST OF THE SPECIES to be released in February-June 2013. Follow Ambush Bug on the Twitter @Mark_L_Miller.

Editing, compiling, imaging, coding, logos & cat-wrangling by Ambush Bug
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G

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