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WWC: Marvel’s Young Guns II

by  in Comic News Comment
WWC: Marvel’s Young Guns II

Two years ago at Wizard World Chicago, Marvel announced their first line-up of Young Guns, a list of six artists exclusive to Marvel Comics that were to receive a huge push from the publisher. That list included Jimmy Cheung, Olivier Copiel, David Finch, Trevor Hairsine, Adi Granov and Steve McNiven, all artists who’ve captured the imaginations of Marvel readers throughout the world.

Two years later, Marvel’s ready to reveal their latest batch of Young Guns and did so today during the Cup O’ Joe Panel at Wizard World Chicago, 2006. That list includes Billy Tan, Clayton Crain, Simone Bianchi, Pascal Ferry, Ariel Olivetti and Leinil Yu. Considering the success the first batch of Young Guns saw, this second batch has a lot to live up to, but they’re all up for the task.

CBR News spoke with Marvel Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada to learn more about this latest initiative, plus we were able to catch up with four of the six Young Guns prior to the show to see what this means to each of them.

Thanks for talking with us today, Joe. To begin with, how did you come to select these six guys?

We have a lot of artists who are really worthy of this honor. When we do these types of things, we’re already thinking about wave three and wave four. We work very hard at managing creators. We chose these six particular artists basically because they are artists who are also working on projects that are going to be break-through career projects for them. Some of these guys you might not consider young artists or somebody brand new to the industry, but they are people who are new to the Marvel audience or artists who will be working on very high exposure books, more so than they may have done in the past and will be exposed to a larger audience. To a lot of people, they will be new. We chose very carefully and got a great batch of six guys that are going to be doing significant work for us in the next year.

The last Young Guns group was announced two years ago. Do you see this becoming a bi-annual thing or maybe an annual thing?

We don’t want to sit here and say we’re going to do this annually because we don’t know. Talent comes to a company in waves, so I can’t tell you that next year we’ll actually have six people. We may have only one or two, but what we don’t want to do is do a promotion that you can’t stand by. I have a feeling there will probably be a Young Guns 3 next year only because the list this year was gigantic. There were people we had to say “next year” to who are certainly worthy of the honor. I think it’s the best way to market their careers. There’s no sense in saying Joe Smith is one of the Young Guns and yet he’s on a very small project right now. It doesn’t serve them as well as if they’re on a big main stream mover.

You’ve pointed out how you feel you’re good at managing artists careers. You’ve almost become a new form of artists agent, if you will.

As a creator sitting at this desk, as someone who worked in the freelance community for a long time before I took this job, I see myself more as a confidant and someone who can hopefully mentor our artists into having great, long lasting careers. During this particular regime at Marvel, we’ve created a talent liaison department – people who deal specifically with our writers and artists and are out there everyday searching for new writers and new artists.

And note, it’s not just the artists. One thing we’ve seen at Marvel is this real wonderful influx of new voices – and not necessarily new voices, but maybe some established creators who’ve come in and found a new voice for themselves here at Marvel. It’s been a wonderful thing to see and from my point of view it makes me really happy to find someone new and manage their career. Take a guy like David Finch, someone who’s always been a brilliant talent, but worked sporadically here and there and now he’s one of the top guys in the industry. Or say a guy like Adi Granov who’s now graduating to huge things with the “Iron Man” movie. That kind of stuff makes me very happy.

These guys are all redefining their careers – all we’re offering them is a platform to do it in and if we do our job in marketing right, we offer them a nice spotlight to stand in. At the end of the day they still have to do the work and have to prove it to the audience. The audience is very fickle and it’s easy for the audience to say, “Yeah, Marvel’s trying to shove these guys down our throat, yeah right, we’re not going to listen.” But, when these guys produce the kind of work that they’re producing, it’s very tough to ignore them.

Thanks, Joe. Now, we were able to catch up with four of your six Young Guns prior to Wizard World Chicago. Before we get to their Q&A sessions, I’d like for you to talk with us about the two we weren’t able to catch up with. First, talk to us about Clayton Crain.

Clayton reminds me a lot of Adi Granov in the sense that he’s doing stuff that’s unique stylistically. It’s all digitally created and he’s doing some great Spider-Man stuff, but his upcoming “Spirits of Vengeance” with Garth Ennis is going to be breakthrough work for him.

How about Ariel Olivetti?

Very much like Pascal Ferry, Ariel was here at Marvel for a bit and was doing mostly pen and ink work. We started to see some of his gray tone work and were really captivated by this and asked him if he could produce a monthly book like this and he has. Now on this new “Punisher War Journal” book, again another artist we’ve been blown away by. There’s something almost Corben-esque about his work and it’s just beautiful.

Thanks, Joe. Now, it’s time for the rest of the Young Guns to speak for themselves.

Story continues below

LEINIL YU

What’s does it mean for you to be spotlighted as one of Marvel’s Young Guns?

First, of all, thank you for considering me for this huge honor. Marvel’s promotion of it’s own talents is phenomenal and it really shows how well they treat their creators. I really feel that Marvel sincerely takes care of me on a deeper level and it makes me want to give more to them and the Marvel fans.

I also feel proud to be personally picked by Joe Quesada and it definitely is an award especially when you consider who the other young guns were from the 2004 batch.

You’re being singled out for your unique artistic vision. How would you describe that vision? What do you feel makes your art stand out?

My art style is a combination of a lot of creators who I look up to. Too many to mention, but they all have influenced me in significant ways. I feel confident that I have good taste and have the eye for what works I guess and know where to tickle the fans.

Does being a Young Gun change how you approach your art? Or the projects from which you can choose?

Being on the “New Avengers,” I don’t think it get’s better than this, baby! hehe. Marvel is being insanely good to me.

Give us some background on your professional work thus far, and which work are you most proud of?

I’ve been around for quite a while now and I really do feel that I am Sort of a veteran. But to be completely honest, reading “Superstar” beside my name (in almost all solicitations) still makes me uneasy. I really don’t feel I’m a superstar yet (though I know I am an editor favorite!) [laughs]. If I’m a superstar, then what do you call Jim Lee and Joe Mad? I’ve yet to be half as hot as the real superstars.

My current Marvel stint will be my path to comics domination! [laughs] And being a Young Gun is my first step.

What do you hope to achieve as one of Marvel’s Young Guns?

To be more prolific! I need to kick more ass. My first year in Marvel is a bit slow, but I believe I have a ton of stuff coming out next year… besides my backburner project.

What projects are next for you? What should we be on the lookout for?

Everyone is still looking for “Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk” and I’m sure we can settle the score in the future. In the meantime, I’ll be doing the art for “New Avengers.” As long as Brian and the fans want me there, I can stay there forever.

Now it’s time for the fun stuff. What was the first comic you purchased?

“Spawn” #11. I fell asleep on my friend’s copy and had to replace it. From then on, I was hooked.

What was your first published comic work?

“Aster: The Last Celestial Knight” by Entity Comics! I believe Joe Quesada did the cover for issue #1, by the way. I did issue #3.

Favorite characters to draw?

Wolverine and Batman, but now I’m really having fun with Spidey.

And finally, which artist(s) in the comics industry do you follow closely?

There are a lot of people who blow me away. We Got Dave Finch, Steve McNiven, Olivier Coipel, John Cassaday, Renato Guedes, Brian Hitch, etc., and that’s on top of my all time favorites: Brandon Peterson, Jae Lee, Chris Bachalo, Joe Q, etc. Just too many to mention. I also saw Frank Cho’s “Mighty Avengers” and it looks awesome! It’s definitely one of the best looking comics coming out.

Joe Quesada says about Leinil Yu: “He’s a guy who’s been around for a while. He was here when I started at Marvel and we lost him early on to DC. He was a young kid when he broke in and I think he was a bit behind the eight ball in scheduling, but all of a sudden he has had this creative and personal turn around where he’s now one of our fastest pencillers. It’s absolutely amazing. And now he’s inheriting the #1 book we produce, outside of ‘Civil War,’ which is ‘New Avengers.'”

SIMONE BIANCHI

What’s does it mean for you to be spotlighted as one of Marvel’s Young Guns?

To me, this is just a dream comes true. If two years ago, when I first attended Comic-Con International in San Diego, someone would have told me this would be happening, I would have thought it was a joke. A million thanks to the Marvel guys for adding my name at the list.

You’re being singled out for your unique artistic vision. How would you describe that vision? What do you feel makes your art stand out?

I think my European background and the watercolor/halftones painted look of my pages and covers helped to distinguish my work. I really do think that recognizably in the comics business is a priceless prerogative.

Does being a Young Gun change how you approach your art? Or the projects from which you can choose?

As for the first question, I don’t think so. I would have put the same energy and enthusiasm even without being part of this group. Now I have even a better reason to do so.

And yes I think this could help a lot in terms of which projects pick up. But first, let me focus 100 % on “Wolverine.”

Give us some background on your professional work thus far, and which work are you most proud of?

I worked as illustrator, conceptual designer and painter in Europe for at least 8 years before my first gig in the States. I wrote and drew a whole trilogy called “Ego Sum” (though the third issue is still missing), printed in hardcover, typical french edition by Vittorio Pavesio Production.

Then came Grant Morrison with “Seven Soldiers: Shining Knight,” covers and interiors for “Green Lantern” and a whole series of covers for “Batman” and “Detective Comics” for DC. And some covers for Wizards of the Coast and Marvel. This all came before signing my exclusive this past February, but the list is definitely longer, so for anyone who might be intersted please check out www.simonebianchi.com for a complete vision of my past works.

I guess the first and the last cover of “Detective Comics” (the bloodied batarang and the close-up of Batman with the cathedral background) along with some pages from “Shining Knight’s” first issue, some from “Green Lantern” #6, the “Storm” full color painted cover and the “Wolverine: Origins” hidden message variant cover are the pieces I am most proud of.

What do you hope to achieve as one of Marvel’s Young Guns?

To meet and marry Rosario Dawson! I am not kidding! And, of course, to get the chance to work on some Hollywood productions related to comics, no matter what, sets or costume designs or any other conceptual art to be turned into the big screen. Can you believe how humble and modest I am? [laughs]

What projects are next for you? What should we be on the lookout for?

Wolverine.”

Now it’s time for the fun stuff. What was the first comic you purchased?

I was too little to remember, but I guess some Romita Spider-Man stories. My grandpa Aldo (RIP) bought it for me.

What was your first published comic work?

I was 14 years old and it was a comic strip for a local newspaper. But i got printed and payed for that. Damn, I’ve been doing this for twenty years now.

Favorite characters to draw?

Wolverine, Thor and Batman.

And finally, which artist(s) in the comics industry do you follow closely?

Too many to name them all: Travis Charest, Sergio Toppi, Moebius, Enki Bilal, Alex Ross, Adam Hughes, Claudio Castellini, JR JR, Brian Hitch, Alberto and Enrique Breccia for comics.

Frank Frazetta, Phil Hale, Justine Sweet, Brom, John Jude Palencar and Oscar Chiconi for illustration. The list could go on and on.

Joe Quesada Says about Simone Bianchi: “What hasn’t been said about Simone Bianchi? His energy is infectious. I would say in the next two years Simone will be the premier painter in comic books.”

BILLY TAN

What’s does it mean for you to be spotlighted as one of Marvel’s Young Guns?

It means that I really have to step up. Of all the top talents at Marvel, it’s really flattering to be chosen as part of it.

You’re being singled out for your unique artistic vision. How would you describe that vision? What do you feel makes your art stand out?

I would have to leave that to the eye of beholder. My job here is to do the best I know how and hopefully fans will dig what I do.

Does being a Young Gun change how you approach your art? Or the projects from which you can choose?

I always had that ’90s Image style because that’s when I broke in and was heavily influenced by it. When I got to Marvel, the fans seem to have a slightly different taste in style here and so I had so do some adjustment. And if that’s what got me here, perhaps I should stick with it.

Give us some background on your professional work thus far, and which work are you most proud of?

I worked with Top Cow for about eight years and some of the work there included “Witchblade” and “Tomb Raider.” I came aboard Marvel in 2003 and had worked on “X-23,” “Marvel Knights Spider-Man” and “Uncanny X-Men.” The work that I’m most proud of is the current “Uncanny X-Men” arc with Ed Brubaker.

What do you hope to achieve as one of Marvel’s Young Guns?

That more fans will pick up my books?

What projects are next for you? What should we be on the lookout for?

I signed on for “Uncanny X-Men” for a year so if you folks would continuously pick up this book, it would be greatly appreciated by Ed and myself.

Now it’s time for the fun stuff. What was the first comic you purchased?

It would be “Cloak & Dagger.”

What was your first published comic work?

“Code Name: Strike Force.”

Favorite characters to draw?

I’m having a lot of fun drawing Darwin right now. He is very different from the rest of team. While all his team mates have all sorts of beams shooting out from their hand, he’s got more of a defensive power. Like a little kid in a busy market not sure what or how to react and yet his potential is limitless.

And finally, which artist(s) in the comics industry do you follow closely?

Bryan Hitch, John Cassaday, Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, Leinil Yu, David Finch.

Joe Quesada Says about Billy Tan: “Billy is one of those new voices that came to Marvel and we’ve been amazingly surprised at how quickly his work has improved from project to project, to the point where he’s now working on one of the flag ship X-Men books. ‘Uncanny X-Men.'”

PASCAL FERRY

What’s does it mean for you to be spotlighted as one of Marvel’s Young Guns?

This support from Marvel gave me a very real injection of energy and joy. A sign that I’ve been doing things in the right way. What I can say? I feel really Younger now!

You’re being singled out for your unique artistic vision. How would you describe that vision? What do you feel makes your art stand out?

I want to do entertaining and visually impacting comics. To tell stories in the best way; where not just the characters are important, but also the backgrounds, the body language and the designs are equally important. I would like to give readers the feeling that they are reading more than just a bunch of paper with flashing colors that is done after 5 minutes of reading. At least this is my goal.

Does being a Young Gun change how you approach your art? Or the projects from which you can choose?

No, but it does encourage me to continue with my efforts in doing better with every page of every book. Now more than ever. In some way I feel more responsible to try as hard as possible.

Give us some background on your professional work thus far, and which work are you most proud of?

I have been around 14 years in the super-heroes genre, with both Marvel and DC. “Heroes for Hire,” “Warlock,” “Superboy,” “Superman,” “Adam Strange.” I feel proud of all of them, but “Warlock” was a really special experience. Working with Weezie Simonson and Bobby Chase was so great. “Adam Strange” was a real change in my career. I never will forget this character

What do you hope to achieve as one of Marvel’s Young Guns?

To fully show what I’m capable of doing in comics. The opportunity to expose my work to more readers. The chance to do projects with some of my favorite writers.

What projects are next for you? What should we be on the lookout for?

Now I’m doing the book that I always wanted to do at Marvel, “Ultimate Fantastic Four.” I hope to be there as long as possible. Mike Carey is fantastic. In the future, there is an “Ultimate Iron Man” limited series and a project with Mark Millar if he didn´t forget it! [laughs]

Now it’s time for the fun stuff. What was the first comic you purchased?

“Fantastic Four Vs. The X-men.”

What was your first published comic work?

In Spain, a short story for a magazine called “Rambla.”

Favorite characters to draw?

Spiderman, Doctor Strange and the Fantastic Four.

And finally, which artist(s) in the comics industry do you follow closely?

Frank Quitely, Moebius and Garcia Lopez.

Joe Quesada Says about Pascal Ferry: “Pascal is another one of those guys who’s really found a voice for himself. We noticed him going through a metamorphosis when he was doing ‘Adam Strange’ and it was fascinating work. We had this opening in the Ultimate Universe with ‘Ultimate Fantastic Four’ and also working on the ‘Ultimate Iron Man’ series which will eventually come out, so we head hunted Pascal to bring him back here to Marvel. He was always a great artist, but he’s now found something stylistically that we feel the audience is ready to embrace.”

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