Norman Osborn tried to place nice with the heroes of the Marvel Universe. He tried to let them come to terms with and be part of his Dark Reign over the Marvel Universe, but they just wouldn’t cooperate. So now the former Green Goblin is going to punish them for their insolence. Osborn kicks off this new campaign in the one-shot “Dark Reign: The List-Avengers” by writer Brian Michael Bendis and Marko Djurdjevic, which hits stores this week. CBR News spoke with Djurdjevic about his work on the book, which is the first in a series of loosely connected “Dark Reign: The List” one-shots.
While best known for his cover work on Marvel books like “Daredevil”, “Thor”, “Mighty Avengers” and “Ghost Rider,” Djurdjevic has also done full comic book projects as well. The German artist has provided the interior art for recent issues of “Thor” as well as illustrating interior pages in books like “Daredevil” #100. “Dark Reign: The List- Avengers” is his most high profile interior work to date, and Djurdjevic is very happy to be working with Brian Michael Bendis, who personally picked him for this assignment.
“I was pretty excited because I got to draw some cool characters and work with Brian. He was very receptive and appreciative of the work I did. It makes the job so much easier if you’re able to communicate with a book’s author,” Djurdjevic told CBR News. “Plus, Brian’s scripts are very character driven and I like that a lot. I’m a sucker for talking heads pages. I like switching around different characters and trying to capture the right pose and facial expressions. If you look at my work, you’ll see that I’m trying to avoid an overly humorous or cartoony approach to facial structure. There’s a fine line between giving a character a certain amount of facial expression and letting it drift away into the realm of cartoonyness. That’s what I like about talking heads pages – they challenge you to find that middle line.”
The way Bendis writes and breaks down a page was a challenge for Djurdjevic. “Brian has a way of really stretching out a page and using a lot of panel work, while [J. Michael] Straczynski on ‘Thor’ is really open. Most of his pages have nothing more than three or four panels,” the artist explained. “I work fast, though. That’s part of my process and expertise; getting stuff done really quickly. Most of my cover work takes a day, and I like to work under pressure because it gives me an opportunity to focus on the work and not lose time overthinking the process and making stupid decisions.”
For “Dark Reign: The List-Avengers” Djurdjevic had an especially tight deadline. “I was planning on going on a family vacation, so I knew I only really had about nine days to work on the entire book. So I made the most of those nine days and really crunched out all the pages out and got them to Mark Morales who is inking them. We had a lot of fun during the process, and it was a very interesting way of challenging yourself,” Djurdjevic explained. “I’d rather meet a tight deadline and then go on vacation. Going somewhere to relax and having to take work with you is a horrible scenario.”
A nine day deadline may result in some artists doing a subpar job, but Djurdjevic feels that the pressure made his work on “Dark Reign: The List-Avengers” even better. “I really think I hit a milestone with this issue. I really pushed the button on how creative and detailed I can get. There are a lot of interesting characters and panels. It’s a really powerful issue” the artist remarked. “Stylistically, the big change is going to be that I worked with Mark Morales. He did four pages in ‘Thor’ #602, and I really loved the way he inked my work. I felt that he had a very good feeling for my lines. I’ve seen the finished pages and I’m really happy with how he inked my pencils.”
Drawing “Dark Reign: The List-Avengers” was both a fun and creatively fulfilling job for Djurdjevic, and the artist hopes to land similar assignments in the future. “I fell into my assignment on ‘Thor.’ I never really wanted to work on that title,” he said. “So working on ‘The List’ was a really good venture. It was something more suited to my abilities and interests; cityscapes, dark corners, and a moody atmosphere.
“My affection for ‘Thor’ comes from reading up on Norse mythology as a child and a teenager. I really love Norse mythology, but I never really grasped the concept of Thor as a superhero. So I felt a little lost on ‘Thor,’ and I was really happy when I was given this gig [on “Dark Reign: The List-Avengers”] because it’s what I really like drawing; people interacting and low key action. It’s something that’s more standalone, and I prefer that to the epic scale of ‘Thor.'”