When the art chores for "Civil War" were offered to McNiven, he jumped at the chance to become the Matthew Brady (the famous American Civil War photographer) of the four color world. "It was the chance to work with Mark Millar on a huge Marvel epic, though to be honest I'd have drawn anything Mark wanted me to (except him naked)," McNiven told CBR News.
McNiven has found working with the Mad Scotsman -- that being Millar -- on "Civil War" to be a pleasant and nudity free experience. "We email back and forth all the time," McNiven said. "He's very generous with his time and very supportive of the work that Morry [Hollowell], Dexter [Vines] and I are doing. Of course, if he called me I wouldn't have a fu@#ing clue what he was saying with that thick Scots accent of his."
When he's illustrating a comic, it's storytelling that McNiven focuses on, and with his workon "Civil War" he isn't employing any new stylistic devices. "I draw naked now," McNiven joked. "Other than that I really don't pay attention to how I draw, focusing instead on the storytelling and letting it all just hang out."
"Civil War" is a tale with a very dark tone and McNiven has worked hard to evoke the right mood for each scene. "I keep the lights down low. That also helps ease tensions with the neighbors ('cause of the whole nude drawing thing)," McNiven jested. "I also work with my colorist Morry Hollowell to get the right mood to come across in a particular scene. For example, I think the coloring in the Cap hellicarrier scene goes a long way to establish the tension and conflict of the scene. I'm a big fan of the widescreen cinematic look that Hitch has originated and I am using that approach throughout the series. Morry will scour all kinds of movies to get a sense of the kinds of lighting used in similar type scenes and incorporate it in the coloring and he does a brilliant job of it."
With the majority of the Marvel Universe making appearances in "Civil War," the cinematic/widescreen approach has aided McNiven in depicting scenes involving crowds of characters. "It's insane," McNiven stated. "I'm no George Perez, that's for bloody sure, and my God has this given me even more respect for talented guys like him and others that can pull this kind of stuff off. It's a constant struggle, but hey, that's the only way you learn."
Translating Millar's scripts into pictures has not involved a huge amount of design work for McNiven. "There has not been much character design work, just the usual location shots and background gobbledygook," McNiven said. "I got a capekiller design sketch from Howard Chaykin that I worked from to get those guys in costume. Other than that, it's just trying to track down the latest versions of the costumes that have me emailing Tom Brevoort and Molly Lazer almost every other day. And you know I'll get something wrong, a belt buckle or something and I'll get hammered by some relentless fan with an obsessive compulsive disorder."
When "Civil War" wraps up in November, McNiven hopes that first and foremost readers were entertained. "I hope that we have given them their money's worth of good comic entertainment," He stated. "Anything more, like initiating discourses on civil liberties and what not, is all gravy."
And now you can discuss this story on CBR's Civil War Forum.