You’ve seen Leinil Francis Yu bring his unique style to Marvel Comics with stints on “Wolverine” and “X-Men,” among others. Over at DC, his “Superman: Birthright” work brought raves from fans, as is his current run on “Silent Dragon.” And while he’s worked for both companies, for the foreseeable future Yu will plant himself strictly in the Marvel Universe after signing an exclusive contract with the publisher, announced this past weekend during Wizard World Chicago. We caught up with Yu to discover the ins-and-outs of what the contract means to the artist and what the future has in store for him.
For many creators within the comics industry, landing an exclusive contract with one of the big two publishers is the ultimate goal and the Philippine native has done it at a young age. Yu explained how the exclusive deal came to be. “Mark Millar and I have emailed a few times about doing stuff for Marvel and Marvel have occasionally made their presence felt as well. I’ve put them off too many times and I was afraid they’d stop asking, so I guess I had to take the offer,” explained Yu “Plus I’m also a fan of Joe Quesada, so it was always flattering to know that they want me badly.”
But Yu noted it wasn’t an easy decision to come to. “I want it to be known that this was really hard for me,” explained Yu of his decision to accept the Marvel exclusivity. “DC and its people are awesome to work with and I had a grand time. I felt I’ve let down a lot of people including Dan Didio and Jim Lee. I just felt that I am not a DC fan favorite and that I have a bigger audience at Marvel. I hope this proves out to be correct.”
Yu’s a rising star within the industry and one who’s clearly in demand, so the answer to the question of why sign an exclusivity contract is an easy one-security, the perks and the bonuses, said Yu. “Artists can only work on one project at a time, anyway, so it makes sense. I also want to have a higher work output than six issues a year. Hopefully, being placed on a regular book would fix that. I may be in demand, but I’m still not a superstar.”
Fans of Yu’s work can expect to see a stable output from the artist for at least three years, which is how long his exclusive contract lasts with Marvel. Yu added, “If I were to jump from book to book and company to company, that would also mean more pre-production time and adjustments. That would reduce my work output and will also make it harder for people to follow my work.”
Yu’s first scheduled project at Marvel will be on “Ultimate Hulk vs. Ultimate Wolverine” with an as yet unnamed writer. “I also hope I can do a Millar, Bendis or Ellis story, but I’ll leave it up to Joe and his crew in deciding which move is next,” said Yu. “I’d also like to take another shot at the X-books as I felt that the only good X-Men book that I did was the Annual. That was too little, too late. I felt I didn’t do Chris Claremont’s plots justice on my run on the X-men.
“There’s so much stuff to do in Marvel from Spidey to the Avengers and the Mutants. There are tons of possibilities. My style is a bit darker than usual, though, so ‘Fantastic Four’ might not be a right fit. It’s like ‘Superman: Birthright,’ where I was trying to make a light book. Might not be my forte.”
Marvel boasts an impressive list of exclusive artists, including the recently announced Joe Madureira and the almost-exclusive Michael Turner, and Yu’s just one more name to add to that list. There’s also an impressive list of writers with exclusives set-up at Marvel, and as Yu mentioned previously, he has his eye on a number of them. But there’s one more he’d love to work with at some point. “Joss Whedon would be a pleasure to work with again,” said Yu. The artist supplied the cover to Dark Horse’s “Serenity” #3 and he also provided ship designs for the upcoming feature film.
Currently Yu’s work can be spotted in the pages of Wildstorm’s “Silent Dragon” with writer Andy Diggle. “‘Silent Dragon’ is my best work to date,” exclaimed Yu. “I would cut off my pinky if it sucks. We are wrapping it up and it is truly my pride and joy. Fans should check this out as a preview to the stuff I’m going to do over at the House of Ideas. I’ve never worked this hard in my life.”
Yu has stated in the past he’s always wanted to produce a sci-fi based comic and said that “Silent Dragon” does satisfy most of those artistic needs. “It does not cover everything I want to draw, but a big chunk of it is there,” explained the artist. “I’m just having a lot of fun and the issues just get better and better. Issue one, is just a small tip of the iceberg. It’s going to be a wild, crazy ride.”