Axel-In-Charge: Recapping "Avengers Standoff's" Major Developments, Preparing for "Punisher"
At Chris Brunner and Rico Renzi’s blog The Kids Stick Together, the artist and colorist have shared some behind-the-scenes pieces from their recent three-page collaboration with writer Jason Latour on Wolverine and the X-Men #11. The creators provide a great deal of insight, and rather than try to summarize it here, ROBOT 6 has cherry-picked a few fun items, with Renzi’s permission. He assured us they will do at least do one additional post analyzing another page in the very near future.
Fans looking forward to Marvel’s relaunched Wolverine & the X-Men by Jason Latour and Mahmud Asrar may do well to follow Mutatis Mutandis, a blog for the Jean Grey School for Higher Learning that launched Saturday with a farewell message from outgoing writer Jason Aaron.
“Believe me, it wasn’t easy for me to step away from this book,” he wrote. “I’ve loved building that school and writing those characters, both the students and the teachers, as much as I’ve loved anything I’ve done in comics. But the school itself isn’t going anywhere. And I’ll still be writing a lot of those same characters over in Amazing. And I’ve got lots of other stuff coming up that demanded my time, like Thor and Southern Bastards and some new things I can’t tell you about just yet.”
Since then, the blog (which appears to be maintained by Latour) has showcased some terrific X-Men illustrations from the likes of Jake Wyatt (above and below), Chris Brunner and Rico Renzi, and Kris Anka, as well as some artifacts from the past. Latour teased on Twitter that the blog may be “a good place to look for WatXM things in the days to come.”
Wolverine & the X-Men #1, by Latour and Asrar, arrives in March.
Tank Girl returned to shelves on Wednesday in the form of Solid State Tank Girl #1 from Titan Comics. Perhaps coincidentally, but probably not, the artists at Ashcan Allstars have been celebrating Tank Girl week.
There’s some good work there — Tank Girl is a hard character to get right, tonally. Alan Martin’s signature character may have inspired a generation of Suicide Girls, but it’s hard to find an instance in her comics where her sexiness is ever being used in an exploitative fashion. Sure, there’s loads of gratuitous female and male nudity in the back catalog, but it’s almost certainly there for comedic reasons rather than titillation. So any artist attempting to draw the character as a straight-up cheesecake pin-up is completely missing the point. By and large, the Allstars have mainly got it right, but I’ll let you be your own judge of who’s been successful and who hasn’t — there’s a gallery of examples after the break.
One of the perks of working with Robot 6 is often getting to see a glimpse at a new project before it is available for purchase. This past week (thanks to the project’s colorist, Rico Renzi) I was able to read the first issue of Loose Ends, a four-issue southern crime romance miniseries by writer Jason Latour and artist Chris Brunner, which goes on sale this Wednesday, July 13. As a native of the South, it is not often I get to read comics set there–so the comics caught my attention purely on that level at first. But then, when I started reading the issue, I realized it reminded me on some level of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Criminal. That’s not to say Latour and company have done a wannabe story, far from it, as the creators have their own distinctive voices/styles, that mesh quite well. If the remaining three issues are as strong as this first one, I expect it will land on a few best of 2011 lists (at least mine, for sure). Latour and I discuss the first issue and other aspects of the series in this email interview. If you want a preview of the miniseries, be sure to enjoy the one CBR posted a couple of months back.
Tim O’Shea: The opening page of the first issue is all art, no narrative boxes or dialogue. Was the script always that way, or was that a creative choice you made after seeing Chris Brunner’s art for that page?
Jason Latour: Well as an artist myself I’ve worked on a few stories where I was dying to stretch a moment or let something play out visually and it just wasn’t possible. So from the start there was always an allowance for some organic growth in this script. The simplest reason for that is because I trust Chris. We’re collaborating. His point of view is equally important as mine is. If I’m doing my job then I’m inspiring him, not fencing him in. The medium itself, the page limit already does that. I tried to give him a script that communicated the tone, the pace and specific details needed to tell the story within that space. From there it’s on us as a team to communicate. If he has an idea, I listen. If he nails a scene and I’m in the way… I try to move. If he needs me to pick him up, hopefully I’m ready and able.
Shawn Crystal is a SCAD Atlanta professor I met back in October (as documented in this story). In addition to his role educating storytellers, Crystal is a professional artist equally busy building a name for himself in the comics industry. Tomorrow (February 3) will feature the release of his latest effort, Deadpool Team-Up 896 (written by Stuart Moore). As previewed last week by CBR and detailed here: “Get ready to hit the road with U.S. ACE, Marvel’s truckin’ hero! He’s back behind the wheels of a big rig with an unlikely partner — DEADPOOL — and together they’re puttin’ the hammer down, ridin’ the open road, and decapitatin’ giant killer raccoons. Good times…if they don’t kill each other first! Featuring the working-class villainy of THE HIGHWAYMAN, and the world premiere of the chart-toppin’ “Ballad of U.S. Ace,” composed and performed by Wade Wilson. What part of ‘Collector’s Item’ don’t you understand?” I was pleased to get an opportunity to talk to Crystal about this issue and creators he respects (as well as find out his David Lapham news). After enjoying this email exchange, be sure to check out Crystal’s blog as well as his deviantART page.
Tim O’Shea: The first question I have to ask–what reference does an artist use when drawing giant killer raccoons?
Shawn Crystal: There is a very popular book many artists have in their studio, and cherish like the arc of the covenant. It’s called “Homicidal Animals: A reference manual for the aspiring cartoonist.” Unfortunately, I do not own this book, so I had to resort to some more traditional methods. I started with the obvious, books on raccoons that were peppered with glamour shots of these little buggers. I also spent some time seeing how other artists had handled raccoons, mainly animators. There was some decent stuff in “Disney’s: The art of Pocahontas.” I also talked to a buddy of mine, Brad Walker who draws Guardians of the Galaxy, which has Rocket Raccoon as a team member. Researching raccoons was fairly easy; creating the chopper gang was a ton of fun. I needed to design a gang of Uzi wielding raccoons on motorcycles. The first thing I needed to find was a thread, something to make this gang seem like a team. Working for Marvel affords me the luxury of using their library, so I chose the X-Men. Well, the kid in me did. I started designing raccoons based on the themes and shapes of some of the X-Men and their costumes. I also wanted to give this biker gang a Hells Angel’s feel, ol skool choppers and leather. I didn’t want to go with the more current crotch rocket trend. I have an affinity of the art of Von Dutch, Ed “Big Daddy” Roth and Robert Williams. I pulled out the books I have on these guys and started drawing. X Men + Hells Angels + Racoons = Crazy fun designing.