CCI: The Art of Astonishment: Bianchi Talks "Astonishing X-Men"

Many fans feel one of the most astonishing things about Marvel Comics "Astonishing X-Men" is artist John Cassaday's acclaimed work on the book. So, when it came time to find a new artist for the title, Marvel knew it had to find an artist capable of producing images that were just as exciting and breathtaking. They chose acclaimed Italian artist Simone Bianchi, who's been amazing fans with his recent work on "Wolverine" and his past work on titles like DC Comics "Shining Knight." CBR News spoke with Bianchi about his new gig.

When CBR News caught up with Bianchi the artist was overjoyed at his new assignment but also very tired.

"Work has been crazy because we did twenty three pages and three covers in five weeks," he told CBR News. "They were all painted pieces, not in full color; they were black and white and washes, but still painted stuff. When we came to the end of 'Wolverine,' my assistant and I were exhausted. I had a chance to take a week off. I went to this island. I got back last night and the madness started all over again right where it had left off.

"I was talking with my art dealer a few days ago and he said, 'Simone this is what you've wanted for a very long time.' And it's true but when you finally get it," Bianchi continued. "We have this expression in Italian, 'You wanted the bike, now you have to ride it.' (Laughs) That's how I feel right now. When I feel tired and even exhausted I have to remind myself that there are a whole lot of young guys who are trying to break in and would give a leg maybe to have the chances I got. I have to remind myself that this is a blessing and that I've got to move forward and let all the bad things flow away."

When Bianchi learned Axel Alonso was the new group editor of the X-books he called him up right away and asked about the possibility of working on an a book together. What he discovered was it was a case of great minds thinking alike.

"Axel said, 'It's funny I was just talking about you taking over 'Astonishing X-Men' a few days ago with Joe Quesada,'" Bianchi said. "I had been thinking about 'Astonishing since everybody knew that Joss [Joss Whedon] and John were going to leave the book. Since I knew that, I was ready to suggest myself but I was already on the minds of the guys at Marvel. So it was really smooth.

"Hopefully it's going to be just as smooth when we start working on the scripts," Bianchi continued. "We haven't started yet I'm just working on this promo piece [which was unveiled earlier today], some covers and some other stuff. I just have to get the first script."

Bianchi is very excited to be able to bring the scripts of his "Astonishing X-men" collaborator, Warren Ellis, to life.

"Warren is a great writer," he stated. "I can't wait to start working with him. One of the first things I read by Warren was this beautiful six issue story arc he did with Adi Granov on 'Iron Man.' Then I read 'Next Wave,' the funny thing he did with Stuart Immonen. I've also read 'Transmetropolitan.'

"I think the book is going to be a big challenge for the both of us," Bianchi continued. "It's done amazingly well for the past three to four years now. So we have to take over and match the expectations of people but I can't wait to start"

"Astonishing X-Men" is Bianchi's first team book but his most recent assignment has sort of warmed him up for the challenge of doing a monthly superhero team book.

"If you read the 'Wolverine' story arc you saw that we had so many characters showing up. Right from the beginning we had Sabretooth, Black Panther, and Storm. Then we had Feral, Thorn, Sasquatch and we had Captain America in issue #54," Bianchi explained. "So, I don't want to say it's exactly the same thing but even if you're handling a superhero team you don't have to draw all of those characters in every single panel. We had a lot of the characters interacting with each other. I'm assuming it's going to be very similar but it's still a gamble for me doing a group book.

"It's not a big group after all there are around five or so main characters and that's pretty much the number of characters I was working with on 'Wolverine,'" Bianchi continued. "So hopefully it's not going to be tough as expected."

No matter how tough "Astonishing X-Men" ends up being, Bianchi is still overjoyed to be working on a book starring characters he absolutely loves.

"I think the characters are going to be the big thing," he stated. "As you saw in 'Wolverine' I love to draw environments and different settings but this time I want to focus as much as possible on the characters, especially after the work Cassaday has dome on the series. John did a great job on the series and of course everybody loved it. I want to try and be as respectful as possible to what Cassaday has done on the series. So, I don't want to go too far from the way he depicts the characters."

The exact team line-up of "Astonishing X-Men" has yet to be finalized and the first script isn't complete so Bianchi isn't certain which characters he'll be drawing but the artist has a wish list of characters he'd love to depict.

"Like perhaps every single artist of my generation, I first fell in love with what Jim Lee and Chris Claremont did in the early '90s with 'X-Men; so there are a whole bunch of characters I used to be in love with," Bianchi remarked. "There's a list of characters I'd love to draw. I don't have the slightest clue, whether any of these characters are going to show up in the run but I'd love to draw characters like Bishop and Archangel. Plus Archangel was one of the original X-men. I love Storm maybe above all the other characters. I love the way she looks. She's hot and she's very regal like a queen."

To celebrate his new gig drawing some of his favorite characters Bianchi has a unique celebration planned.

"It's going to be funny," he said. "It's something that I've been doing for awhile now. I started doing these stupid haircuts about a year ago. I got this kind of spider web haircut on top of my head. I think conventions are fun and a crazy circus of people and I feel like I want to be part of it. So at New York Con I did this kind of three claw mark on the top of my head. This time at San Diego it's going to be something different than the three claw mark but it's going to have something to do with the book of course. We're going to do the haircut live during the announcement that I'm working on the book. It will be a lot of fun."

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