After making his mark on “Cyclops” with Greg Rucka, artist Russell Dauterman is currently on the biggest project of his career, Marvel’s recently relaunched “Thor” series with writer Jason Aaron and starring a female wielder of Mjolnir. Dauterman sat down with CBR TV’s Albert Ching in the world famous CBR Tiki Room at New York Comic Con to discuss everything “Thor,” from the reaction to the book’s announcement, how he got to meeting cosplayers already using his character design as inspiration. He also talks about trying to balance the character’s legacy and power with her femininity, what it’s like working with Jason Aaron and how fantasy is something he’s always loved to draw. He also gives a brief history of his career including an internship for Marvel many years before he ever drew anything for them, as well as his work as a costume illustrator on “Captain America: The First Avenger.”
On what life has been like since the new female Thor was announced: I didn’t expect any of that hoopla that happened at all. I caught wind of that it was going to be on “The View” just the night before, so it came as a pretty big shock to me that so many media outlets picked it up and that so many people were talking about it. My aunts were sending clippings from the papers of various places all over the country. It’s really thrilling that so many people are embracing it and to see Marvel putting a woman front and center in that role and to have people talking about it and happy about it is incredible.
On getting the call to launch “Thor” with Jason Aaron after drawing just three issues of “Cyclops”: It was crazy. I had worked out with the X-editors — because I got married over the summer — they worked out that I’d have a two-week break to get married and go on my honeymoon. I’m like, “Okay, I’ll see you in two weeks…” I come back, the day I come back they say, “Um… we don’t want you on ‘Cyclops’ anymore and we’d like you to do ‘Thor.’ And it’s a new Thor and it’s gonna be a female Thor. What do you think? And Jason Aaron’s writing it.” My head exploded. I was just completely blown away and really blindsided by the whole thing, but very, very thrilled.
On being part of a character redesign that has been so lovingly embraced by fans and why representation matters: I think representation really matters and is important, especially for people who don’t often see themselves represented in comics or in the stuff they love. So to have Thor front and center being called Thor I think is huge, and I’m really, really thrilled to be a part of it.
On taking one of Marvel’s most powerful and masculine characters and trying to reimagine Thor as a female: The Thor name has weight and has meaning and is a symbol of power so she has to carry all of that. In terms of the art it’s in body language, it’s in the way she’s built and the way she carries herself. I’m trying to really make that come through but still have it be feminine. I don’t — I’ve never loved the idea that in order for a female to look strong it needs to be basically a dude, you know? So I’ve still tried to have a good mix of that and make her be a real strong female protagonist.
On his collaboration with writer Jason Aaron: I’ve loved working with him. I got the first script … and at the end, right as she picks up the hammer the pronoun changes on it from “If he be worthy” to “If she be worthy” and I read that in the script and just through it was so brilliant. Everything he’s been sending me and all the stuff he has to say about it is so wonderful and insightful and it’s really been a pleasure to work with him.
On drawing fantasy and what he’s looking forward to readers seeing in future issues: I love all the fantasy stuff. I grew up with Disney, I love “Game of Thrones,” I love putting all of that into this, too. … [Drawing fantasy] is more fun for me. I’d much rather draw a frost giant with ice barnacles than a cityscape and a car.
The second issue is all Thor. She’s on almost every page and she’s fighting it’s some really exciting stuff. A preview page came out recently that showed her about to strike down some frost giants with lightning. It’s just really exciting getting to see her fight, and to draw.
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