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Talking Comics with Tim | Matteo Buffagni on ‘Avengers Assemble’

Some color samples  that Matteo Buffagni provided while discussing his design of Toxie Doxie's costume

Some color samples that Matteo Buffagni provided while discussing his design of Toxie Doxie’s costume

Wednesday sees artist Matteo Buffagni teaming with co-writers Kelly Sue DeConnick and Warren Ellis on Avengers Assemble #22, a tie-in to Marvel’s “Inhumanity” event. In addition to chatting about that, Buffagni was kind enough to share a glimpse into his design process for June Covington/Toxie Doxie’s new costume, revealed at the end of Avengers Assemble #21.

Tim O’Shea: For those unfamiliar with your career, how long have been working in comics?

Matteo Buffagni: I’ve been working at Marvel since 2010, when I started on X-23 then jumped on Daken, Ultimate Iron Man: The Demon in the Armor, Astonishing X-Men and now Avengers Assemble.

Before those assignments I attended the International School of Comics in Florence and worked on a couple of French books called Vestiges.

O’Shea: You have an interest in fashion design. Can you walk readers through your creative process in designing a new costume for June Covington (Toxic Doxie)?

Buffagni: I’m not interested too much in fashion design, but I am Italian. All joking aside, I really enjoy character design, so I took this opportunity with Toxic Doxie to do the best I could do (in terms of design): At the beginning I had a pic from Kelly Sue of a girl wearing a fancy hat and big round sunglasses, then I worked on putting this together thinking in terms of other fashion influence, like a Victorian male coat or gypsy trousers (take a look below). I aimed to combine them all in a way to find what could be the best outfit, showing it step by step to the [book’s] creative/editorial team. Once we found the look (we all agreed upon) we just picked the color from a selection of some samples.

Some of the design stages for the costume, the piece on the far right is the final version.

Some of the design stages for the costume, the piece on the far right is the final version.

O’Shea: A recent Comic Book Resources review complimented Kelly Sue DeConnick for writing little character moments, as well as your facial expressions in background scenes, the “minute details that really bring the comic to life.” How much do you enjoy finding moments in DeConnick’s scripts to draw distinctive facial reactions or interesting background scenes?

Buffagni: I really love this background scene [from Avengers Assemble #17], and sometimes I will spend a great deal of time working on tiny details like these with a super-zoom [on his computer], just for fun! To see how much I enjoy these kinds of details take a look at Hulk under the plane.

Hulk on the underside of a plane (from Avengers Assemble #17)

Hulk on the underside of a plane (from Avengers Assemble #17)

O’Shea: How excited were you when you learned that Warren Ellis would be pitching in to collaborate with you and DeConnick for an arc?

Buffagni: I was absolutely stunned by this news. Warren is one of the biggest name in comics, and it’s like a dream come true! Just a couple of years ago I was showing my work to C.B. Cebulski and now I’m on Avengers Assemble, working on a script co-written by Warren Ellis, amazing!

I love his work, and above all his sarcasm, even when he threatens to set my house on fire with me nailed inside if I change a panel without asking him (laughing).

O’Shea: What’s the most enjoyable part of drawing a diverse cast like the one in Avengers Assemble?

Buffagni: As I said, I love character design, so when I get to draw a whole group of superheroes I could go crazy; because I want to make all of them really different from each other, not only in terms of costumes but even in their behavior and [how the character] moves. If I didn’t have tight deadlines I could spend all day long just to study how to pose a specific Avenger.

O’Shea: When you found out you would get to draw Hulk and Wolverine in upcoming issues, did you ask the writing team to give you specific ideas of things you hoped to get to draw with those characters?

Buffagni: Nope, [editor] Lauren [Sankovitch] just said to me, “Matteo … SMASH”

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Matteo’s work on AVENGERS ASSEMBLE! has been nothing short of amazing. Great angles, great establishing shots, and, like Tim said, excellent little nuance with facial expressions and body language. He’s firing on all cylinders on this book, and Deconnick and Ellis’ writing is seamless. Surprise book of the fall for me. More please, and keep up the excellent work!

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