For some of its super powered inhabitants, the Marvel Universe is a world where heroes fight villains to save the world and preserve such noble concepts like truth and justice. But for the teenage cast of “NYX: No Way Home,” the world is a much simpler and more dangerous place, where they must use their powers to fight and to survive. We spoke previously with writer Marjorie Liu about the six-issue miniseries, and CBR News chats now with artist Kalman Andrasofszky about bringing the world of NYX: No Way Home” to life.
When John Barber, Andrasofszky’s editor for his “Legion of Monsters: Satana” story, called the artist to offer him “NYX: No Way Home,” he eagerly accepted and dove right it in -- even though the idea of following in the footsteps of original “NYX” artist Joshua Middleton was a little intimidating. “I was a huge fan of the original and had eagerly awaited (and awaited and awaited...) each new issue,” Andrasofszky told CBR News. “I knew I couldn’t let myself dwell too much on how high the bar had been set or I’d choke, so I decided to ignore it totally and just be the best version of myself I could. The reason ‘NYX’ vol 1 was so striking was that Josh just did his thing, and it was unlike anything else out there.”
For “NYX: No Way Home,” Andrasofszky went with a style similar to that which he used on his first comics series “iCandy.” “Since then, the more superhero cover art I did, the more ‘inky’ my art got, with varied line weights and lots of rendered blacks, even the occasional bit of hatching,” the artist said. “For ‘NYX,’ I’ve cut all that out and gone back to a very clean, almost dead line, with very open shapes, and almost no blacks. That last part is an intentional call back to the look of ‘NYX’ Vol 1.”
Andrasofszky uses both traditional and digital tools to bring to life the scripts of his “NYX” collaborator, Marjorie Liu. “I’m still finding my feet, so it’s a trial-and-error process that changes day by day,” the artist explained. “As of this moment I’m breaking pages down in blueline and ball point pen on photocopy paper. I’ll scan those and drop them into the marvel page template, and just work over them in Photoshop, adjusting size, proportions, angles, pretty much everything, until they just look ‘right.’
“Next, I’ll create the backgrounds. I’ve been using a simplified 3D program called SketchUp which has completely revitalized my love for drawing comics. Based on what the thumbnails call for, I’ll build or cobble together a location in simple outlines, match the camera angle and then drop an output into each panel as required. Finally, I’ll turn the whole page layout a very light cyan and print it out full size on the art board, at which point, at looooong last I get down to drawing!”
As of “NYX: No Way Home” #2, a new step emerged in Andrasofszky’s process. “Here, I’ll hand my pencilled page to my inker and compadre Ramon Perez. I’m lucky enough to have a stellar inker working only a few feet away from me in the studio, something that rarely happens in this Internet age of ours,” Andrasofszky stated. “I’ll then go over the page with Ramon and give him detailed instructions of how I want him to tackle it. Then Ramon will ignore everything I said, and make it better.”
Andrasofszky has found working with Marjorie Liu to be a great experience. “She’s extremely engaged and collaborative,” the artist remarked. “I feel like she and I are very much on the same page in relation to the characters and who they are, which makes even long dialog scenes a pleasure to draw.”
Though he’s not be writing the book, when Andrasofszky is drawing “NYX,” its cast and their defining qualities are never far from his mind. The artist sees Kiden Nixon, whose mutant ability allows her to realign herself into a faster timestream, as unbreakable. “She just doesn’t know it yet. It’s all there on issue #1, page 1 panel 3. She won’t ever give up, and will do whatever it takes to survive and take care of those close to her, although she’s still learning about that part, too,” Andrasofszky said. “She’s still a kid, she doesn’t have the confidence and the self-awareness yet to come from that place at will, but it’s in her. In a way, I see this as the story of her discovering this about herself.”
Andrasofszky sees Kiden’s friend, Bobby Soul, who can use his mutant ability to take control of people by projecting his consciousness into them, as equally tough but potentially very dangerous. “Bobby is the quintessential strong silent type. What he’s sitting so quietly on is a mountain of rage,” Andrasofszky remarked. “If he didn’t have a brother to take care of he could easily have been swallowed by it and become a vicious thug. Instead, much to his unease and confusion, he’s grown this really nurturing side, which is what totally saved him, and will continue to save him, and his friends.”
When it comes to Kiden and Bobby’s friend Tatiana Caban, a mutant who can shape-shift into any animal whose blood she touches, Andrasofszky feels appearances can be deceiving. “She was happy before all this, and I think despite seeming at the forefront to be the most functional of these kids, she’s got the most growing up to do,” Andrasofszky stated. “Deep down, she’s just devastated over all she’s lost, and hasn’t gotten over it yet. She has some rough stuff happen to her in this series, so she’s going to have to buck up and face forward, because looking back won’t get her through.”
Andrasofszky found his depictions of the three “NYX” protagonists came together rather naturally. “Bobby, I guess, was a little more work, as he came into the original series after I’d stopped reading it, so for him, I felt like I was inventing rather than interpreting,” the artist explained. “I already had a good intuitive sense of Kiden and Tatiana from vol 1, drawing Kiden was the most natural thing in the world, although there was a little bit of struggle getting Tatiana’s facial structure just right.”
The city of New York serves as an unofficial fourth member of the “NYX” cast, and Andrasofszky wanted to make sure he did the metropolis justice. “In the past backgrounds have been a weak spot for me, so in 'NYX' I’ve tried to pay special attention to the locations. Marvel New York (with some notable exceptions) has been boiled down over the years to a few recurring iconic elements, a flat-iron building here, a water tower there,” he said. “I’ve taken copious amounts of reference photos over the years and so I just tried to put in more of what I see around me when I’m actually in New York, more street level stuff, small details that don’t often get translated into comic art. I have a bit of a crush on New York so it’s easy to pour on the love.”
While the New York of “NYX: No Way Home” can be quite wondrous, it’s more often than not dark, cruel, and unforgiving, which suits Andrasofszky’s tastes as both an artist and a reader. “I’ve always gravitated to darker grittier material, both in the media I consume and the stuff I enjoy drawing most,” the artist said. “Maybe it’s just my generation, but I’m very comfortable in the darkness.”
“NYX: No Way Home” has proven to be both an enjoyable and rewarding assignment for Andrasofszky. “It’s a party every day. 'NYX' is the perfect collision of elements for me, it’s got something for my fanboy nerd self, and something for my indie-hipster snob self too. It’s set in the Marvel Universe, and the characters are X-related, but they don’t wear costumes or monologue during fight scenes, they’re just living their lives, trying to understand themselves, and each other, and get by.”
“NYX: No Way Home” #1 and #2 are on sale now. Issue #3 hits stands October 15.