Of the myriad artists working at Marvel in recent years, Valerio Schiti, who kicks off a two-issue stint this week on Avengers A.I., stands out as one of those deserving a great deal more attention. I’m hard pressed to define what most appeals to me in terms of his work, but Schiti’s knack for distinctive facial reactions ranks high on the list. It’s also an element he and I discuss in this interview (be sure to also peruse the preview of Avengers A.I. #5 on Comic Book Resources). I hope Schiti’s boundless enthusiasm for his craft, which is reflected in his work, comes across in this interview.
Tim O’Shea: The first issue of your two-issue stint (Avengers A.I. #5-6) leaps right into the deep end, as detailed in the solicitations, as Issue 5 tackles the “mind-bending origin of Alexis.” How excited were you when you learned you got to tackle that in your first issue?
Valerio Schiti: It’s great to have the chance to work on such a defining moment for a new character. We don’t know anything about Alexis yet, even if Sam [Humphries] and André [Araùjo] introduced her. We already know what she looks like, some of her abilities but we still don’t know who she really is, what’s her purpose. Usually a normal writer would use a flashback sequence to answer such questions, but Sam is not a “normal” writer. He decided to take advantage of the artificial nature of Alexis to reveal something new about her in an original way, which means that is also a visually original way! I had a great fun drawing this scene and Frank [D’Armata], with his amazing talent for colors, made it spectacular.
This morning I woke up to the Tumblr rumblings that Journey into Mystery would no longer be with us. Sure, it was absent from Marvel’s September solicitations, but I could kind of lie to myself and think maybe the book would skip a month, or maybe the publisher just forgot. I can lie to myself with the best of them! But sales haven’t been kind, and writer Kathryn Immonen left us a very gracious note that August’s Journey into Mystery #655 will be the final issue.
And I cannot take this lying down.
To think there are people in the present-day comic book industry that fail to respect colorists is hard to believe. Yet, as we noted late last month, colorist Jordie Bellaire wrote about her work being minimalized when an unnamed convention refused to name colorists as guests. The post resulted in an impromptu #ColoristAppreciationDay on Twitter as well as a larger conversation about the important value of colorists.
In the wake of that discussion, I chatted with Bellaire about the post, as well as her work as a whole. The timing turned out well, as despite her busy schedule, she was able to do an interview. It seems as if every week there’s a new comic released that features her as colorist. This week it’s Captain Marvel #10, while next it’s the debut of The Rocketeer: Hollywood Horror miniseries written by Roger Langridge with Bellaire coloring artist J. Bone. Bellaire saves the best for last in our Q&A, revealing that she hopes to get back to illustrating — and that she has dabbled in writing.
Tim O’Shea: In all of the reactions from your initial Tumblr post in praise of colorists, what pleased or surprised you the most?
Jordie Bellaire: The response itself was extremely surprising! I didn’t expect anything to really come of my angry little blog post. I try to keep my “internet persona” pretty humorous and silly. I don’t really get “for realsies” worked up over anything online (unless it’s something Star Wars-related). When I posted this at 7 a.m. on hardly any sleep (I was in a tough deadline week, of course), I expected maybe three people to see it and those would have been just friends. Somehow, though, the letter spread fast. I was just thrilled. Given, keeping up with the response during the day totally killed my productivity, I was too busy watching the internet explode in the name of colorists.
It’s 2012, I’m 35 years old and I’m reading two new comic book series, both based on decades-old intellectual properties for which I had a great interest in, and rather intense feelings about, at different points in my childhood. This is in no way unusual: Every line of toys, every cartoon series or TV show, every movie I was into at some point in my childhood now exists as a comic book and, in most cases, rebooted toys, cartoons, TV shows and movies. For children of the 1970s and 1980s, our entertainment franchises have grown up with us.
What’s slightly unusual about Battle Beasts and The Crow is how relatively obscure they are, compared to the Godzillas, Star Wars and G.I. Joes.
It’s 1987, I’m 10 years old and I don’t know it yet, but I’m reaching the end of the period in my life in which I can play with toys, in which I can easily slip into a time-stopped world of pure imagination and see characters appear and dramas unfold based on nothing more than some small piece of plastic, molded into He-Man or Boba Fett.
A friend comes over to play with me, and we divide our mixed lines of action figures — Transformers, Ghostbusters, Masters of the Universe, etc. — into teams that will build bases and battle one another. He has something new with him called “Battle Beasts.”