CCI, Day 1: Simone Bianchi to tackle "Wolverine"

width="230" height="168" alt="" border="0" align="">"Wolverine" #50 cover. All interior art is from the issue.

While artist Simone Bianchi's exclusive with Marvel Comics was announced earlier this year, what his first project would be hadn't. The wait is over: It's Wolverine.

Beginning this January, Bianchi will begin a six-issue stint on "Wolverine," with writer Jeph Loeb providing the stories. CBR News spoke with Bianchi from his home in Lucca, Italy, last week about his chance to work on one of his favorite characters of all time.

Let's talk about what your future looks like at Marvel. To start with, you're going to be doing a little work a book starring everyone's favorite Canadian mutant?

Right. The big news is I'm going to be the regular artist on "Wolverine" starting in January with issue #50. I'm excited that it's issue #50, since that's an anniversary issue. I'll work on the book for six issues, through issue #55. And I'm working with the wonderful Jeph Loeb.

As your first major project at Marvel, landing "Wolverine" ain't so bad. How did you end up on this book?

When I was first talking with Marvel [about signing] an exclusive, I told them "I'm coming, but I really want to do Wolverine. He's my favorite character ever and if I'm going to Marvel, that's what I really want to do." We'll see what I do after this, my exclusive lasts for two years, but "Wolverine" was always my priority.

So, just to clarify, when Marvel came to you with the exclusive offer, did they offer you "Wolverine" or did you ask for it?

Actually, both. They promised me "Wolverine," and they kept their promise. It was part of my contract, actually.

Why Wolverine? What is it about this character that you have this much passion for him?

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I don't really know. I've been following these characters since I was a little kid. I love his attitude, his costume and the fact that he's very much like an animal. Instinct is a big part of who he is and that is interesting to me. Like I said, ever since I was a young boy I've loved this character.

So this really is a dream come true for you, in many ways. You've done a number of things for DC Comics previously, notably on Batman and Green Lantern. Talk about some of the challenges illustrating Wolverine. Has anything presented itself that you didn't expect?

A little. I was thinking to myself I want to draw Wolverine unlike anyone has before. Like, really try to bring my signature style to the character. There's no real challenge, really, other than my total love for the character -- maybe that's the challenge right there!

Considering how many artists have defined this character over the years, how do you go about, as you said, bringing your signature to Wolverine?

It's difficult to describe this in words. For me, it's more about the way he moves on the page, the way he looks, whether he'll be fighting or just walking. It's everything he does. Once you see the pages you'll see what I mean; I have a hard time putting it into words.

Fair enough. Talk about your first meetings with Marvel and how it led to "Wolverine."

Our first meeting was actually last year in San Diego. Myself, [Marvel Editor in Chief Joe Quesada] and C.B. Cebulski had a nice dinner and I said "if I'm moving to Marvel from DC, I want to work on these characters and I gave him a list." Those were my first discussions with Marvel. Once I signed with them, I began working closely with my editor on "Wolverine," Axel Alonso.

What kind of feedback have you received from Axel thus far?

I gotta say, he's given me complete freedom to do what I do on these pages. I've been given freedom to do what I want. Jeph Loeb has also been very open-minded about this, too. Everything from the panel layout and how to draw the movement of the characters. I'm just drawing the pages and hear back, "OK, they look great!" They're almost being too nice to me!

That's relatively unusual for a new artist. Sure, you have a long history of work in Europe, but in America you're really just getting started. To get that kind of freedom is rare.

It's really been a great honor and I'm proud of my work thus far. I'm telling you, outside of maybe some comments on some changes I tried to make to the costume, there have been very few to no changes requested. It's the best way to work!

Did you enjoy this same sort of freedom artistically while you were working at DC?

Yeah. In all honesty, I had the same freedom at DC with both Grant Morrison first on "Shining Knight" and with Geoff Johns later on "Green Lantern." It seems like they really trust what I'm doing. It's quite a blessing and I couldn't be any happier to work with both companies.

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Here in Italy, it's completely differently. If you work for a major publishing company like Sergio Bonelli on characters like "Dylan Dog," you'll get a lot of notes back - change this panel, the face doesn't look right, fix this, fix that. I can't work like that. It's very frustrating and restrictive. It's like you have just a little bit of space for your imagination and I don't think that's a good thing for an artist.

How far along are you thus far on "Wolverine?"

Ohhhh, I don't want to think about that! [laughs] The truth is I'm done with all the pencils to issue #50. I've fully inked and painted 11 of the pages. The pages will be fully painted black and white and then they'll add the colors, but the pages will be painted. Pencil, ink and half-tones with water colors and gauche. The cover is done. I have four pages that are half-inked and half-washed, then I have another seven pages that need to be fully finished. I've probably got two more weeks worth of work once I get back from San Diego and I'll be completely done with issue #50. I'm maybe one week late on my deadline, but I'll recover that pretty quickly.

Now that you've had a chance to play with the one character you really wanted to play with, where would you like to go next?

You know what, I love Marvel characters so much I wouldn't mind whichever character. I would love to have the chance to work on the X-Men, of course. Any title. To be honest, I'm not picky. I love the Inhumans -- I love those characters and have since I was a child. And I love the Fantastic Four as well, especially Dr. Doom. Maybe the best thing for me would be a self-contained mini-series with a whole bunch of characters playing together.

Thanks, Simone. See you in San Diego!

Did you know that Loeb and Bianchi let the world know about their involvement with "Wolverine" some time ago ... through a variant cover? Here's how it worked.

width="127" height="190" alt="" border="0" align=""> width="127" height="190" alt="" border="0" align="">

That's a cover to "Wolverine: Origins" #3 from earlier this year by Bianchi. Notice the highlighted areas of this variant of a variant. What does it say?

width="230" height="186" alt="" border="0" align="">

width="90" height="190" alt="" border="0" align=""> width="122" height="190" alt="" border="0" align="">

That's right! Bianchi and Loeb's last names were carefully inserted in the background, along with the issue number at which they'd take over "Wolverine."

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