Hello, X-Fans! I know you may still be recovering from last week’s GIANT-SIZE X-Men Monday, which featured 18 creator interviews at Terrificon, but brace yourselves, because we’re doing it again. I spent the past weekend chatting my way through artist alley at FAN EXPO Boston to bring you, the loyal X-Men Monday audience, more thoughts and reflections from current and former X-Men writers, artists and editors, along with a few other creators who haven’t worked on an X-Book… yet!
Let’s kick things off with the writer who just killed off all your favorite characters: Uncanny X-Men writer Matthew Rosenberg!
AiPT!: Who, in your opinion, is the most underrated X-Men character? And don’t say Maggott… there was a lot of Maggott talk last week. Even Donny Cates is a Maggott fan!
Matthew Rosenberg: Donny Cates likes Maggott because it gets people angry. Maggott’s the most overrated–no, who’s the most underrated? Honestly, in terms of–I could be an a-----e and be like, it’s Sunder or something, but honestly, I think it’s Jamie Madrox. I think Peter David’s X-Factor made him one of the best characters in the Marvel Universe. I think he’s complex and interesting and exactly what the X-Men became, which is something so much bigger than super powers. I think he’s great and people don’t see that enough.
AiPT!: OK, you’re stranded on an island–maybe it’s Krakoa–but you can only bring one X-Men comic with you. What single issue do you bring?
Rosenberg: I’m going to say–I’m so bad with issue numbers–I’m going to say one that’s going to get everyone mad at me because it’s an Ultimate X-Men issue [Ultimate X-Men #41]. It’s the Ultimate X-Men issue where Wolverine has to go sit with the kid in the cave. It’s a standalone story, it’s Bendis, it’s one of my favorite comics of all time. If I put myself alone on this island, maybe that was my own weird depressing supposition there, but if I’m there, I want to read a comic about loneliness.
My runner-up would be the Wolverine and the X-Men issue about what Doop does every day, where he throws up a bowling ball. That makes me happy–it’s Mike Allred and Jason Aaron. That’s my runner-up if I can bring two. It’s the most depressing and maybe the funniest.
AiPT!: That first scenario sounds terribly depressing.
Rosenberg: You know, whatever, that’s the lot I made for myself. I made myself alone on the island, apparently. In your question, I might have been going to Hawaii, I don’t know.
AiPT!: Just a quick programming note, X-Fans–if you’re looking for more from Matthew, check back tomorrow (August 20) for an eXtended chat about his Uncanny X-Men run! Now, let’s check in with another recent X-Writer: Domino’s Gail Simone!
AiPT!: What is it about Domino as a character that appeals to you as a writer?
Gail Simone: With Domino, I went back and I looked at previous stories she’d been in and stuff and I noticed that she never seemed to really get to be Domino. She was always the girlfriend or had relationships with people that were short-term, which is all fine, but I really wanted to dig more into her character and the fun of it and I wanted her luck powers to cost her something, so it wasn’t just completely a gift she didn’t have to have to pay for at all. So that’s what appealed to me writing her. And then, of course, being able to bring in other female characters from the Marvel Universe was super exciting.
AiPT!: One more question… how do you feel about Cyclops?
Simone: [Laughs] Cyclops has those eye beams right? I always say that I hate Cyclops, but don’t really. Shhh.
AiPT!: Hey, X-Fans–you know who’s drawn Cyclops? Artist Steve Rude!
AiPT!: You worked on X-Men: Children of the Atom. As an artist, what was it like working with those early Jack Kirby designs?
Steve Rude: Well, in the case of the X-Men book, I thought I would be doing Kirby riffs like I did with other books like Captain America, the mini-series I also did for Marvel, and Thor. I was able to do kind of a Kirby style, but when the script came in from Joe Casey, it was clearly not something I could adapt to Kirby’s style. So in that case, the script dictated the direction of the art that I ended up doing for that.
AiPT!: What X-Men character did you like drawing the most in that series?
Rude: I like the girls. I like Marvel Girl, she’s fun.
AiPT!: Oh, Marvel Girl–someone artist Phil Noto has experience drawing! Let’s see what he has to say…
AiPT!: You’ve worked on several X-Men comics and covers–do you have a favorite?
Phil Noto: Well, X-Force I think is my favorite project in the X-Men universe. Covers… no, I’d have to look through them, I’ve done so many. I’m very happy with the latest House of X variant that I did.
AiPT!: Do you have a favorite X-Men character to draw?
Noto: I love Domino, which I actually haven’t had the chance to draw too much of, but I love her as a character. Jean Grey’s another favorite. Logan…
AiPT!: Which Logan? Old Man Logan or classic Logan?
Noto: Well, I loved Logan when I was doing Wolverine and Jubilee–out of costume Logan I had more fun with. And X-23. Other than Star Wars, it’s been mostly X-Men stuff.
AiPT!: What draws you to the X-Men universe?
Noto: I just like the characters and I’ve worked on them enough that they trust me.
AiPT!: Another artist who’s pretty good at drawing clawed characters is Dead Man Logan illustrator Mike Henderson!
AiPT!: Visually, how do you differentiate Old Man Logan from Wolverine?
Mike Henderson: At first, I just added a lot of wear and tear on him. I wanted to show his age. I mean, he’s essentially supposed to be the same age, but I just wanted to make it look like the years had taken their toll on him, specifically in Dead Man Logan. By then, when he was getting sicker and sicker, I really tried to play up that angle where he’s wasting away.
AiPT!: These days, it’s rare to see a creative team on so many consecutive issues. What’s it been like bringing Ed Brisson’s script to life?
Henderson: I find it incredibly rewarding. It’s one of my favorite things in comics–taking something from start to finish, even if it’s a really long thing that burns you out after awhile. But 12 issues is kind of perfect. It’s not long enough where you need a break by the time you get to the end. You’re like, OK, I’m done with this. But it was really satisfying. But yeah, we were just a well-oiled machine, you know? We had a bit of a lead when we started, but we had no hiccups. Everyone was right on time. It’s really rare, but that’s a big point of pride for me in my career, at least just getting everything in on time, so the burden doesn’t fall on anyone else.
AiPT!: Do you have a favorite X-Men character to draw?
Henderson: I think i have to go with Wolverine. Yeah, I’m just a Wolverine guy.
AiPT!: But which Wolverine? Old Man Logan or classic Wolverine?
Henderson: Both now. I don’t think I quite appreciated Old Man Logan before I started Deadpool Vs. Old Man Logan, then Dead Man Logan. But I grew to appreciate them in different ways.
AiPT!: There was a lot of Wolverine talk at FAN EXPO Boston, including the former All-New Wolverine, Laura Kinney. Artist Ashley Witter is pretty familiar with this beloved character, so let’s check in with the cover artist of the upcoming Fallen Angels series!
AiPT!: You’re doing covers for Fallen Angels. How has that been so far?
Ashley Witter: You know… overwhelming. Working for Marvel is fun, but sometimes you get a little starstruck by the characters you grew up with.
AiPT!: It’s not your first time working in the X-Men universe, though, right?
Witter: I worked on X-23–that was really cool. Especially because I have an older brother who was into X-Men, so he kind of influenced me to check out stuff. So later, I got to work on X-23, which is the daughter of Logan, so it’s kind of like little sis’ gets to work on the next generation of X-Men.
AiPT!: So you were a fan of the X-Men?
Witter: I was a fan when the animated series came on. I kind of grew up with that, and I had collectible cards. So I was into that. So now, being older and doing comics professionally is making me more of a fan.
AiPT!: Do you have a favorite X-Men character to draw?
Witter: My favorite character is Shadowcat, Kitty Pryde. I’ve been a fan of hers since day one.
AiPT!: Someone very familiar with Kitty and the rest of the X-Men is legendary artist Arthur Adams. Let’s check in with Art!
AiPT!: You’ve done so many X-Men projects–both covers and interiors. Do you have a favorite?
Arthur Adams: I think the one I like best is the Steranko ripoff I did for X-Men Blue–the one with Polaris on the cover. I remember enjoying doing the Classic X-Men covers. I wished I’d kept doing them, I wish I hadn’t stopped. They got some really good guys on them–like Adam Hughes did them for awhile–they had some real nice ones, but I kind of wished I’d kept doing them a little longer.
AiPT!: Is there an X-Men character you like to draw the most?
Adams: You know what? I never really liked the X-Men when I was a kid, so I don’t have a strong emotional attachment to any of them. I suppose I like Kitty quite a lot. I thinks she’s a really good character. I like drawing Colossus. When I was a little kid, my favorite comics were the Hulk, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four. The X-Men back then kind of sucked, so when they asked me to do X-Men, I was like, oh that’s that book that kind of sucks, even though I knew John, Dave and Chris had been working on it and made it pretty popular, it still wasn’t very much what I was paying attention to. I like it as an older person. So while I enjoy it, it doesn’t have the same emotional residence.
AiPT!: You also co-created Longshot–how did that character come about?
Adams: Ann Nocenti was the writer on it and already asked absolutely everybody who could hold a pencil and they all said no. But I was ready to draw anything. If they’d asked me to draw Transformers or G.I. Joe I would have drawn that. If they’d asked me to draw whatever cartoon book they were doing like Richie Rich or whatever, I’d have done that. But they asked me to draw Longshot, so that was fortunately my first thing.
AiPT!: Sitting next to Adams was another comics legend who also worked on some Classic X-Men (or by then, X-Men Classic) covers–Mike Mignola!
AiPT!: You did some X-Men Classic covers. Did you have a favorite?
Mike Mignola: Yeah, I actually liked quite a few of them. I don’t remember the issue numbers or anything, but those were all a lot of fun.
AiPT!: Did you have a favorite X-Men character to draw?
Mignola: No, I never cared about the X-Men at all.
AiPT!: Haha, that’s what Arthur said!
Mignola: I know, I’m copying his answers because I heard him say that. I care less about the X-Men than Art did. It was more about what else I got to draw. I got to do a couple of Brood issues, so monster covers. I did a pretty nice one of Wolverine. I got to do that Storm one–white cover, figure this big, half Storm, half brood. Oh yeah, I don’t know if that was my best one but it was certainly my fastest. It was fun.
AiPT!: You also illustrated Wolverine: The Jungle Adventure…
Mignola: That, I do have a story, and this sounds obnoxious and I guess it kind of was, but I was walking down the hall at Marvel and Bob Harras said, do you want to draw the Wolverine annual and I said no, being a wiseass, but I want the money. And then I went, what’s the story? We don’t have a story. Who’s writing it? We don’t have a writer. And I said, I’ll tell you what, you get Walt Simonson to write it and you make it about Wolverine going to the Savage Land and becoming king of the cave men and I’ll do it. And that was just the long way of me saying I don’t want to do it–I was just joking. And the next day, Walt calls me up and says, I hear we’re doing a Wolverine book. And I’m like, oh s--t, they called my bluff. And it was fun and as much as I don’t care about Wolverine and that kind of stuff, because I got to work with Walt, because it was cave men and dinosaurs and s--t…
AiPT!: And it had Apocalypse.
Mignola: Yeah, Apocalypse I couldn’t care less about. Though he was fun to draw. When I got down to the last two or three pages, I was clearly done–it was just not fun anymore. But I had fun for a bulk of it.
AiPT!: Speaking of the Savage Land, Becky Cloonan actually has “The Savage Land” tattooed on her leg! She showed me that just before we had this X-Men chat…
AiPT!: So do you have a favorite X-Men character?
Becky Cloonan: I’d say maybe Madelyne Pryor is one of my favorites. I feel like her story really struck me when I read it as a kid. I felt so bad for her. Spoiler alert, it’s not good–the things that happen to her are not good. She got the short end of the stick. She’s a clone. What would happen if you were a clone and you met the person you were cloned from then the guy that you love and have a kid with leaves you for the original? And then her Goblin Queen costume is so badass and sexy and super rad. She’s the Goblin Queen!
AiPT!: What about a favorite X-Men story?
Cloonan: I guess you have to say something like “Days of Future Past.” It’s such a great example of powerhouse storytelling. Two issues and it’s such a short amount of time and it captured everyone’s imagination. Everyone always goes back to it as a landmark story and it’s only two issues long, you know what I mean? It feels so much bigger in my head when I look back on it.
AiPT!: You worked on Demo with Brian Wood and it always reminded me of X-Men. Was X-Men an inspiration for it in any way?
Cloonan: So when I first met Brian Wood and we were talking about working together, originally he had been working on an NYX pitch and that was very much what Demo was. Conceptually, a lot of his ideas came from his pitch. I don’t think it ever went through and NYX ended up happening anyway with a different creative team, but he had shown me some sketches and ideas for it. He was like, I want it to be more like what would happen if you had super powers. A lot of what Demo became was fueled by this rejected NYX pitch. So if you see that, it’s because it’s actually there.
AiPT!: Now, let’s check in with artist Joe Quinones, who recently illustrated a few X-Characters in Exiles #8!
AiPT!: Are you an X-Men fan and, if so, do you have a favorite story?
Joe Quinones: Yes, I am an X-Men fan. I really loved, well I came in in the ’90s, I read the original Jim Lee run. I’d say past that, the Cassaday-Whedon Astonishing X-Men run was definitely one of my top favorites.
AiPT!: Which X-Men character do you enjoy drawing the most?
Quinones: I mean, I’m right there with Rogue. I love Rogue. I’d love to do a solo Rogue series if the opportunity arises. Brett White and I have actually talked about pitching one.
AiPT!: Do you have a favorite Rogue costume?
Quinones: That is hard. I did a fill-in issue of Exiles and there was like a little flashback where we talked about the Age of Apocalypse origins of Blink. So I was pouring over those comics and I’m like, man, I love that Joe Madureira costume. That’s up there. It’s really hard to choose–they’re all good. I love her basketball outfit by Jim Lee.
AiPT!: Artist and colorist Jordan Gibson currently works with Joe on Dial H for Hero–and was kind enough to provide me with my first-ever convention sketch (of Scott and Jean, of course)–so let’s see what he had to say about the X-Men!
AiPT!: Do you have a favorite X-Men character to draw?
Jordan Gibson: Yeah, my top three for sure are Cyclops, Rogue and Nightcrawler–those are my favorites. You know, I started with the ’90s versions, so those are my favorites also, but especially for Rogue, I think she’s the coolest when she has Carol Danvers’ powers. Nightcrawler I always liked because he was Spider-Man basically–he’s funny and flips around. I liked those types of guys.
AiPT!: What about a favorite X-Men story?
Gibson: I’m trying to think… I guess I just watched more X-Men cartoons than anything else. I’m really digging the comic now, the Hickman comic–it’s pretty cool. I feel like the last two runs I really liked… I read a bunch of the Grant Morrison run and the Astonishing X-Men run–those were probably my two. It feels like maybe every decade there’s just one perfect distillation of what the X-Men means to the next decade each time and I feel like everyone is super pumped we have that again. I mean, the other runs are good too, but something about this just feels electric.
AiPT!: There’s a Japanese influence to your work. have you read any of the X-Men manga?
Gibson: I have. I bought all of it actually. I bought it on eBay. I thought it looked so cool. There are a couple of different series. It’s based off of the ’90s show and it’s just like episodes but drawn as manga. I think the ’90s X-Men, in particular, lends itself to Japanese style because I think you can tell that’s what they were looking at for those costume designs, so they translate really well.
AiPT!: The Japanese intro to the ’90s show is amazing.
Gibson: The intros are so cool, I wish the show looked like that. Every time I watch that show I wished they’d just sent it over to them to do exactly that.
AiPT!: As we near the end of this week’s X-Men Monday, let’s touch base with one of the biggest names in comics who has plans for one of the X-Men’s most iconic mutants. It’s Fantastic Four and Tony Stark: Iron Man writer Dan Slott, X-Fans!
AiPT!: Do you have a favorite X-Men story of all time?
Dan Slott: That’s tough because of course it’s going to be Claremont something. Out of the Claremont stuff, the ones I keep going back to over and over again are the Asgardian adventures. Yeah, especially that New Mutants special with Art Adams. But obviously stuff from the whole Byrne-Claremont run is just gold, so yeah, either “Days of Future Past” or the Asgardian saga.
AiPT!: In your first Fantastic Four arc, you teased that Iceman was once a member of the FF. How did that come about?
Slott: Yes, it’s a story you’ve never seen yet. So many characters have been official Fantastic Four members. I knew the first story was going to be Reed does a gizmo, he says to the all-powerful being, oh you wouldn’t defeat the real Fantastic Four. OK, bring all the Fantastic Four here and he was going to cheat and bring everybody. I always knew that was going to be the setup for the first story and I thought it’d be fun. I don’t like the way that readers feel like they’ve read everything or they know everything about the Marvel Universe. I like there being hidden stories and I thought it’d be funny to add one extra person who had never officially been in Fantastic Four, then you find out they were in a story Johnny would definitely not want to be in canon. He was like, no that doesn’t count. Some day Johnny Storm is replaced on the Fantastic Four by Iceman for an adventure for reasons–I know what the reasons are–and he’s never accepted that as an official Fantastic Four story. We’ll get to it.
AiPT!: Does Jonathan Hickman know about it?
Slott: I think Jonathan Hickman knows the shape of the universe, so it’s kind of hard to get anything past Jonathan Hickman.
AiPT!: And finally, X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White wasn’t at FAN EXPO Boston, but we’ve got someone who worked alongside him–Valiant Entertainment editor Heather Antos!
AiPT!: I know you worked with Jordan on Marvel’s Star Wars line, did you ever work on X-Men?
[Heather holds up a blank-cover X-Men ’92 comic.]
AiPT!: Oh, you were on X-Men ’92?
Heather Antos: I was X-Men ’92.
AiPT!: Awesome–what was that like?
Antos: Oh my gosh, it was super fun. It was actually one of my first projects I did there at Marvel, and so to walk in and like, here–work on the comic of the cartoon you grew up watching–was pretty cool. Especially because David Nakayama, who did the covers for us also did the cover art for the boxes for the animated series’ DVDs. It all went full circle.
AiPT!: Do you have a favorite X-Men character?
Antos: Jubilee. JUBILEE! How could you not? Jubilee’s the best–hands down.
AiPT!: And do you have a favorite X-Men story?
Antos: I will say the new Hickman stuff is lining up to be pretty amazing.
AiPT!: You’ve had a chance to read it?
Antos: Oh yeah. Yeah, yeah. I was still there when all those conversations were going on, so I’m excited to see how it all plays out.
AiPT!: Finally, after having worked with Jordan White for so long, what is one thing you know about him you can share with the X-Men Monday audience?
Antos: Oh my gosh… so when Jordan is having a bad day, he puts on Evil Dead in the background to cheer himself up. So he’ll set up his iPad just to have in the corner of his desk and Evil Dead will be playing so he can turn and look and it’s his favorite movie.
AiPT!: Thank you, Heather, for that eXtra insight into the mind of Jordan–and a GIANT-SIZE THANKS to all the creators who took the time to chat at FAN EXPO Boston this past weekend! AiPT! is based in Boston, so it’s always a treat getting to attend our hometown comic convention.
Now, if Heather talking about Jordan made you miss everybody’s favorite X-Men Senior Editor, fear not–Jordan returns next week for the uncanny 25th edition of X-Men Monday at AiPT! Time flies when you’re carefully navigating spoiler questions. Anyway, such a momentous occasion calls for something special, so stay tuned–you won’t be sorry…
What? No! Of course I’m not going to tell you what we’ve got planned. This is the ultra-secretive Hickman era, after all. Cool?
Fine, OK, one thing I can say is next week, X-Men Monday gets an all-new, all-different look. We cool now?
That’s more like it! Have an eXceptional week, X-Fans! See you Monday, August 26!