Over the last few weeks, fans of artist Simone Bianchi learned two huge bits of news. First, he's just completed a huge, interconnected cover for Marvel Comics' upcoming "Secret Wars" event, featuring characters from across the years and drawing from some of the best-loved Marvel stories of all time.
Second, he's been tapped by Marvel to provide art for the standalone issue #7 of "Star Wars," a story which reunites him with writer Jason Aaron.
A pretty great weekend for any artist, you can probably imagine! And CBR News were fortunate enough to get the chance to talk to Bianchi about how the projects came to him, his process behind the cover -- and an unexpected cameo you might not have caught in the image until now!
CBR News: What was your brief for the cover? How did you get involved in "Secret Wars?"
Simone Bianchi: I went to New York last January for an exhibition of my works at the Danese/Corey Gallery, and as I always do when I am in the city, I decided to go and say hi at my friends at Marvel. While I was there, Marvel editor Tom Brevoort showed me the eight interconnected covers Arthur Adams had done for "Original Sin" and asked me whether I was interested in doing a similar illustration for "Secret Wars."
I obviously accepted with no hesitation, especially after he told me that my only real indication was to depict the two destroyed lands on the first cover and the renewed one on the last. Besides that, I had total freedom to draw anything I wanted, from any of Marvel's storylines, and also portraying the same characters in different costumes.
They basically allowed me to pick my favorite elements, in terms of characters and features, from the different ages and put them all together into a piece.
Where do you start on a project like this cover?
For the first time since I started doing this job, I wrote a sort of script for myself. It had to be clear in my mind what characters I wanted to be in it, from what storyline, and in what part of the image they should be in.
My firm intention was, it must arouse a real sense of "Marvel" in the readers. Beside the quality of my work, this image had to give the awareness of the company's extraordinary editorial story through the years.
The flow of the page is interesting -- many of the characters are looking towards the center of the spread. Was that a deliberate choice?
In a way, yes. My aim was that once the image is seen as a whole, the eye's main attention gets attracted it by the central part of it, the real focus of it. I must say, though, that it is something I have discovered while working at it. It was not consciously intentional from the very beginning. When I have realized it, I have insisted on it even more.
Did you color the cover as well?
Not me -- it is colorist Simone Peruzzi in this case. I was supposed to color it myself, but it would have meant a really too long production time, so I only supervised the coloring part. The other Simone was the one who really spent nights on this part.
Did you sneak any of your favorites into the cover?
I actually sneaked a character in the low, right corner you might not have noticed! It is me, as Wolverine, looking at the fruit of these long and intense weeks with satisfaction, now that it is complete!
Beside Wolverine, Spider-Man, X-Men and the Fantastic Four, who are the ones I especially like drawing, I also adore the Inhumans and Dr Strange, so obviously I sneaked them both in. I especially like the Inhumans -- I would love to draw a whole story of them...
What's the difference between working on a cover and working on interior pages? How do you have to change your style?
There is for sure a big difference in time, it took me 25 days to draw the pencil version of it and 20 to ink and paint it! Beside that, when all of us draw an interior page we have to make sure that a series of images together will tell a story in a clear and coherent way; in a cover instead the atmosphere of a whole issue must be communicated and perceived through a single image, almost instantly.
At Star Wars Celebration, Marvel announced you as the artist for "Star Wars" #7. How did you get involved in drawing that issue?
Yes! I was missing [drawing] interior pages so much because I haven't done any since last summer, so I sent an email to C.B. Cebulski asking him for a new, whole project. He proposed me "Star Wars!" Quick test: guess how long it took me to accept?
I did two "Darth Vader" covers as well, recently, so I have come much closer to the Star Wars Universe lately.
So you're a Star Wars fan?
Of course! Like, I guess, 95% of my colleagues, both artists and writers -- we all have grown up with the myth of these characters, and we have got familiar with them through all kinds of media, and not only at the cinema.
You're illustrating a one-shot issue which focuses on Ben Kenobi's life on Tatooine. What have you most enjoyed about the issue so far?
I am enjoying depicting Tatooine! But to be honest, all [of the] characters have such a great legacy that is an absolute pleasure to draw them all!
You've worked with Jason Aaron before on "Thanos Rising" -- what do you like about working with him?
Everything -- he has a sense of writing the interiors that is ideal for my way of drawing. Jason, as well as Jeph Loeb, are the writers it has been easiest for me to work with, in terms of easily visualizing what they had in mind.
What's most important for you when working with a writer? What do you want from the collaboration?
An almost absolute creative freedom, and feeling that the writer trusts in me to do my job.
"Star Wars" #7 will be out in July. Special thanks to Gloria Bianchi for her help with the interview!