Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
As part of All-New Marvel NOW!, veteran artist Lee Garbett will team in February with writer Al Ewing for Loki: Agent of Asgard, a series the god of mischief is fully grown and in the service of the All-Mother. More immediately, however, Marvel is setting the stage for the initiative with All-New Marvel NOW! Point One #1, a one-shot that arrives Jan. 8 with a Garbett-drawn Loki serving as the thread that brings together all of the stories.
In my interview with Garbett, the artist clearly relishes the opportunity to draw Asgard’s new “one-man secret service” as well as work with Ewing. ROBOT 6 is also pleased to provide an exclusive page from the upcoming All-New Marvel NOW Point One.
Tim O’Shea: Prior to working in comics, you worked a great deal as a concept artist. How much does that experience serve you well in a series like this, where Loki is again an adult — and you are getting a chance to do a great deal of character design?
Lee Garbett: Concept art requires a lot of imagining from the ground up, so you tend to try and visualise the world in which the character will exist and what their function would be, which then dictates the form etc and then you add the cool stuff. With working in such a rich and established world as the Marvel Universe it’s a different process, to some degree. It’s more a case of showing the character we think we all know in a new and dynamic light. He’s conflicted and pulled in a lot of directions so right now it’s a case of getting that across in the storytelling.
I’d have loved to get the chance to design Loki’s costume, but Jamie [McKelvie] had already taken care of it as he appeared in his Young Avengers book first, and he did a great job with it. It’s young and dashing but very Loki. He did apologize to me about all
the “scale mail,” though.
There will be other characters showing up in the book, new ones and others we haven’t seen in a while so I’m getting to design those. It’s always great fun to do that and to think they’ll remain in the Marvel U. forever.
Overall, in a design sense, what other creative opportunities are afforded you when embarking on a new series?
The first arc has a lot of different locales, so there’s not been too much chance for specific world-building. So I’m concentrating on getting Loki’s body language across so we really get a sense of him. He’s on missions but they take him to some strange places. Design-wise I’m hoping to get a look going for the entire book and a vibe that can swing from fun to dark in an instant.
What can you tell us about the story you’re working on for All-New Marvel NOW! Point One 1?
Loki’s story frames the others; he’s on a mission to find a set of magical keys, scattered across the lands (and universe). If he finds them he will acquire a much needed artefact that leads directly into Loki: Agent of Asgard #1.
The keys have a runic symbol which links to each of the Marvel NOW! characters in the book so it gives the whole book some coherence.
Can you divulge who some of the supporting cast for Loki: Agent of Asgard (Loki: AOA) will be? How much will we get to see the Warriors Three?
We see Fandral, very briefly, in Loki: AOA #1, but the Warriors Three haven’t shown up yet. I hope they do, though, ’cause I love those guys. We will be seeing some other Asgardian folk, though. Issue 2 is centered around Loki trying to track down an old acquaintance and fellow hustler. It also sees the introduction of a new character, Verity Willis, who has the unusual ability to see through Loki’s glamour, and everybody else’s, too, which makes her incredibly interesting to him. There’s also some harking back to original Norse mythology which I can’t wait to draw. All I can say there are Giant Otters!
What qualities do you appreciate most about Al Ewing’s scripts?
They’re really smart and funny, but there’s this vein of darkness running through them. There’s old-school high adventure with a very modern, slinky polish. I also love the intrigue and plots within plots that are coming through. It’s good fun trying to use characters expressions to send the reader down the wrong path and set up the twist for later on. Al’s sort of writing Marvel plot style, which I’ve never worked with before but absolutely love it. His pages are fleshed out but he’s not dictating what panel goes where, just what’s happening on the page. It allows me to pace it myself and to hit my own beats, the comic timing etc. It’s a bit more work on the front-end but it’s incredibly freeing and creative.
In terms of the first issue, you get to draw Loki taking on Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow and the Hulk? Were there any of them that you enjoyed playing off Loki in particular?
I wish I could tell you all the cool things Loki does in Issue 1. This is where Al shines because he does all the things you hope Loki would do and then ups them. There are some very funny moments in how he winds the Avengers up, plays them and walks away as all hell breaks loose. There’s also a scene later where he and Hulk meet again. That was my favourite page of the issue. The whole thing is a loving nod to the Avengers movie but with a fresh take — and Loki really does have a very good reason for being in the Avengers Tower.
Are you inking yourself, or who are you teaming up with, in terms of inker and colorist?
I’m inking my own work, which has been a revelation, really. I used to hate inking, as I’d put so much into the pencils, when it came to adding black it felt like doing the same job twice. I’ve got to the stage now where I can do a lot more straight onto the page with a brush and less overly tight pencil work so I’m not really taking more time per page and the whole thing stays fresh for me.
Colors are being handled by Nolan Woodard, and he’s doing a great job, adding some really nice flourishes to the artwork and just making the whole thing pop. We’re in touch a lot about the approach too so it feels collaborative rather then just sending the art away and hoping.
How much of an ego boost was it when McKelvie tweeted “You know @LeeGarbett & @Al_Ewing’s Loki is gonna be great, right? […] couldn’t ask for better people to hand him over to”?
Oh it was incredible, and a relief. I love Jamie and Kieron [Gillen], and I wanted them to like what we were doing with the book and that Jamie would dig the visuals. It’s hard handing a character over when you’ve invested so much in them.
I’ve felt proprietary over characters I’ve designed and developed before, so I know what it’s like. Loki: AOA, as a book, feels like there’s a bit of magic to it all, so to have Jamie and Kieron’s blessing just makes it all the more so.