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Marko Djurdjević arrived on the comics scene in 2007 from video games, quickly becoming one of the most in-demand cover artists and character designers. Marvel signed the German artist to an exclusive agreement despite his lack of comics experience, but over the next four years he created covers for virtually every major franchise and tapped to design and redesign characters like the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, Lady Bullseye, Quasar and the rogue’s gallery for the 2011 event series Fear Itself. But after four years producing three to five coversa month and interior work on a select basis, Djurdjević decided to take a break from comics and return to gaming.
Fast-forward three years, and Djurdjević is the founder of a highly sought-after creative services studio called SIXMOREVODKA, which provides character design, concept art, illustrations and more for high-end video games like Batman: Arkham Origins and Killzone as well as RPGs, movies and art books. With a staff of 11 working side by side with 11 other artists in their Berlin offices, SIXMOREVODKA is firmly established and thriving enough for Djurdjević to begin plotting a return to comics on his own terms, working on his own creations.
I spoke with Djurdjević by phone about his comics work, his decision to leave the exclusive deal he had with Marvel. Although Djurdjević remains tight-lipped about the exact nature of his creator-owned comics venture, this interview provides an inside look at an artist you may only know by his covers.
If you’re breathlessly awaiting for more Marvel work from Marko Djurdjevic, you may be disappointed. The acclaimed artist, known for his character designs and for his covers for FF, Daredevil and Thor, revealed last night at FanExpo Canada that he’s ended his exclusive contract with the publisher — a split that apparently couldn’t come soon enough for Djurdjevic.
“When I get hired for movie work or video game work, I get hired for my creativity,” Djurdjevic said in the ironically named “Team Spirit” panel. “At Marvel, I get hired for what they know sells. It’s really just a pigeon hole for an artist.”
According to the Comic Book Resources report, softspoken FF artist Steve Epting stood in stark contrast to a joking yet visibly frustrated Djurdjevic, who complained about interference from Marvel editors and repeated requests for revisions without additional pay. “I was fighting with the guys at Marvel about this,” he said. “You can’t make people re-work your shit because you can’t decide what you want. Either pay or leave.” After showing the audience numerous mock-ups for his redesign of Lady Bullseye — mocking editors’ comments in high-pitched tones — Djurdjevic added, “When they would not interfere with my direction, they would get results that would amaze even me.”
He didn’t restrict his criticism to the editors, however. Asked by Epting whether he wished he’d done more interior work at Marvel, Djurdjevic replied, “They never put me with any writers that I liked.” From there, CBR reports, he launched into a tirade about the company and fired a few shots at former Thor writer J. Michael Straczynski, who he said writes “like toilet paper.”
Read full coverage of the “Team Spirit” panel at Comic Book Resources. FanExpo Canada continues in Toronto through Sunday.
Note: The post has been edited to reflect that Djurdjevic was actually criticizing J. Michael Straczynski, not Duane Swierczynski.