The newest creative team on the Uncanny X-Men is determined to change everything you've ever known about Xavier's merry mutants. Beginning with issue #394, Joe Casey and Ian Churchill make such a startling shift in the look, design, attitude and characters that you'll have a hard time recognizing what has gone before.
Keith Giles took the time to sit down with new X-Penciller Ian Churchill to talk about the new Uncanny X-Men direction, and to find out more about this enigmatic artist who's bringing Joe Casey's scripts to life.
Keith Giles: Give me a brief overview of your career in comics so far.
Ian Churchill: Just luck. I was hired, on the spot, by Bob Harras at a convention in London. Ironically,(it was) after I'd just had a conversation with a guy in front of me in line (who said) "who ever got hired by showing samples at a convention?" He mentioned Jim Lee. Good company!
I entered the world of professional comics after the early 90's peak. I went straight in on the X titles doing things here and there. Deadpool mini series spring-boarded me to Cable for a hefty run. From there it was Heroes Reborn, namely the Avengers, with Jeph Loeb. After which came my tenure with Rob Liefeld and Awesome Entertainment. During that time I realized my long time dream of drawing my own characters, the Coven. After which came Lionheart. Shortly afterwards Rob and I parted company which brings us to the present day.
KG: What was your first comic work?
IC: A Beast back up piece in an X-Men annual.
KG: You may not be aware that some fans and critics have compared your art style to that of Rob Leifeld. How do you feel about that comparison? Is it accurate?
IC: I think that prior to my current X stuff I had an "in-your-face" style that Rob fans could relate to but I don't think I draw anything like Rob. I think I probably nod more to Jim lee and John Byrne. On a side note though, I don't think Rob's critics have a complete understanding of just what he's capable of. I've seen some of the stuff he's done that has never seen print laying around his house. I don't care what anyone says, the guy can draw. If he ever published some of it, he'd certainly change a few minds.
KG: Wizard has been accused by Frank Miller of having a negative effect on this industry. Do you agree with his statements?
IC: I'm not privy to everything Frank said. I agree withsome of it. However, Wizard have always been good to me and I like all of the staff that I have encountered regardless of any printed views. Matt Seinreich makes a good pool partner and Jim McClaughlin is a good bloke who speaks like John Cryer!
KG: Where do you think the Comic Book Industry is headed?
IC: If Frank Miller's comments recently prove to be prophetic, then hopefully healthy for the foreseeable future.
KG: What do you think it will take to make an impact and broaden the appeal of comics?
IC: Anyone who tries to predict trends is a fool. Any creator who comes with an original idea and the drive to see it through, no matter what it is or how wacky it may seem, will succeed and make an impact. It's always the ones you don't expect.
KG: In an interview with Kevin Smith, he made the statement that, basically, Comics will never become mainstream and that everyone should stop trying to make this happen and, instead, concentrate on keeping the fans you have happy and putting out the best books possible. Do you agree with this or do you have a different opinion?
IC: I agree for the most part. However I think rather than trying to keep the fans happy, a creator should be true to him or her self and just try to provide the best product possible and hope that the fans respond in kind
KG: With the recent controversy over Bendis' ALIAS series showing graphic sexuality, what is your position (no pun intended) on this? Is there a place for this kind of thing in comics, or is this going to far?
IC: I haven't seen the Alias series, but I believe comics are a medium for exploration, and everything within the genre has its place and audience and shouldn't be shied away from.
KG: Without giving away too much, what can you tell all of the rabid X-fans out there about what you guys have in store for the X-books? How will your art style change the look of the team?
IC: The X-Men are bigger than the team that perpetuate them. Chris (Claremont) and Dave (Cockrum) and John (Byrne) spearheaded the way. Us successors just grab the ball and try to keep bouncing it for an ever-changing audience.
KG: Are you allowed any creative input to the X-books plot or action?
IC: I'm Joe Casey's puppet! In the nicest sense!
KG: How excited are you to be working on the X-Men?
IC: Only if John Byrne was saying that I was doing an incredible job, could I be more excited than I am already!
KG: If you could be any X-Men character, who would you be?
IC: The Mimic. Then I've got the best of everyone!
KG: If you were a mutant, would you be more likely to follow Magneto, Xavier or someone else?
IC: They'd all follow me!
KG: Are there any characters or teams that you'd just love to work on in the future?
IC: I always speculated on the Fantastic Four as an ongoing endeavor. Who knows, maybe one day?
KG: What of your work are you the most proud of so far, and why?
IC: So far I'd have to say The Coven. They were my babies. The fact that I don't own them niggles me, but I trust Rob (Liefeld) will treat them with the respect they deserve. At least I hope he will.
KG: Which comics inspired you most as a young man?
IC: Absolutely anything by Byrne, Adams (Art or Neal) or Arthur Rackham.
KG: What are your current influences as an artist?
IC: Richard Starkings. He is a genius of line. See his stuff at www.HedgeBackwards.com.
KG: What is the future of the costumed superhero in the new Millenium? Are spandex characters going to be replaced by more mature sci-fi themed books similar to the likes of Red Star, Violent Messiah, and Transmetropolitan?
IC: Personally I think it is the way forward. I don't believe the costumed character will ever disappear but it will evolve. If nothing else than to appeal more to Hollywood, because like it or not that's what is in the back of every creators mind.
KG: What future work do you have planned? Any proposals on the table?
IC: That would be telling.
KG: What do you do when you're not at the drawing board?
IC: I shag as much as I can before returning to the drawing board!
KG: Any last words to your fans out there?
IC: Buy more comics, and a sincere thank you. I appreciate your loyalty.