Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
Longtime readers of this column are aware of just how much I love Scott Summers–the Krakoan Captain Commander known as Cyclops! I even organized seven straight days of original content focused on Slim for this very website back in January 2019 (click here to read all of AIPT’s Cyclops Week articles).
So, when the House of Ideas announced X-Men: Marvels Snapshots #1, focused entirely on Scott’s pre-X-Men days… was there any doubt X-Men Monday wasn’t going to go all out with coverage? I already spoke to the one-shot’s color artist Chris O’Halloran a few weeks back in X-Men Monday #69, and now it’s artist Tom Reilly’s time in the ruby-quartz spotlight!
AIPT: Welcome to X-Men Monday, Tom! Let’s start by going back to the beginning: what was your first X-Men eXperience?
Tom: My first time seeing the X-Men was a toss-up between the 2000 film and one of their guest appearances in Ultimate Spider-Man. The early 2000s was a big year for X-Men stuff that had nothing to do with the regular X-Men, I guess. But I liked what I saw, and it led me to discover the main continuity X-Men stuff. They’ve been some of my favorite characters ever since.
AIPT: I love your art style and it’s great to see you illustrating Cyclops. Who would you consider to be your major artistic influences?
Tom: My answer to this could take up the whole interview–I’ll try to pare it down! Alex Toth is probably the big one. Doing more with less is what he was (more or less) known for, and I’ve always got that on my mind when I approach the drawing table. Artists with that. I’m a big fan of Ferdinando Tacconi’s work too. It has a distinct cartoony feel to it that’s just fun to look at, while still maintaining aspects of realism. There are also some more modern artists, like Chris Samnee and Doc Shaner. Those guys’ work is what got me back into comics and what made me seriously consider this line of work in the first place.
AIPT: Good stuff! In an Instagram post, you mentioned Cyclops is your favorite X-Man. What do you love about Scott Summers?
View this post on Instagram
The reason for my Instagram absence revealed: I’m the artist on X-Men: Marvels Snapshots! Cyclops is hands down my favorite X-Man, so I’ll be drawing my ass off for this one. Very excited to be part of the MARVELS legacy. https://www.marvel.com/amp/articles/comics/kurt-busiek-assembles-amazing-talent-for-marvel-snapshots
Tom: Being an artist, most of my preferences for characters are based on visuals. I think Cyclops has one of the coolest looks out of any superhero. The visor is one of the raddest accessories in all of comics. And he has great hair. Like Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing levels of hair greatness. Character-wise, he’s not afraid to be perceived as a jerk to get the job done. And get the job done he does, every time. People rip on Cyclops for being a wet blanket, but he’s the ultimate tough-love dude. He wants what’s best for his teammates and he knows that they’re capable of achieving. He may be a hardass, but he’s got everyone’s’ backs at the end of the day.
AIPT: Well said–and agreed on that hair. What was it like to work with Jay Edidin on X-Men: Marvels Snapshots? Not only is Jay an X-Men eXpert but another fan of Cyclops.
Tom: Jay’s not just another Cyclops fan, he’s THE Cyclops fan. I couldn’t imagine someone as tailor-made to write this story as he is. He gets the character like few others do, and he gets how to write fun scripts for guys like me, who like to draw fun stuff. Working with Jay on this issue was honestly the highlight of my comics career so far, it was so awesome.
AIPT: So without spoiling, what can Cyclops fans expect from this one-shot?
Tom: I’m seriously not sure what I’m at liberty to say. I can confirm that Scott Summers, Cyclops, is in the book. And you learn a thing or two about the journey that Scott Summers the boy takes to become Scott Summers the man. There are also at least four other major Marvel characters that appear in it. That’s kind of a doozy of a clue, so I’m gonna leave it there.
AIPT: I know you did some X-Factor costume redesigns for fun awhile back (and recently added Wolverine to the mix). Do you have a dream X-Men project?
Tom: Any X-related project would be a dream one for me, really. This Cyclops book was a dream project for sure. But doing an X-Factor book with those original 5 X-Men would probably be the big one. Maybe they could be a special forces type team that does missions that the regular X-Men have trouble doing. They do collectively have the most X-perience, you figure they’d probably make the best team!
AIPT: I certainly wouldn’t say no to more Tom Reilly O5. Switching gears, this past May, you offered 4 x 6 commissions in exchange for donations to Black Lives Matter-related causes and ended up raising over $3,000. First, nice work! Second, how did it feel to be able to use your talents to help fight the good fight?
Tom: I don’t know that I’d call this fighting. I’d save that term for the protestors who continue to go out there every day and, sometimes literally, fight for what’s right. I figured doing these portraits would be a good way to spread some awareness and also get other people involved. Not everybody is necessarily equipped to protest, but there are lots of different ways to try and help.
AIPT: How many sketches did you end up doing and, creatively, what did you love about the process?
Tom: I ended up doing about 80 sketches. I took about 20 more than I planned to, considering what they were for. In all honesty, I’m still mailing some of them out, it’s a bit tough with what’s going on with the USPS right now. Creatively, it was fun to get so many requests for characters that I’d never tried to draw before. Playing around and figuring out how I would draw all these different established characters was very creatively rewarding, and always made for a great artistic exercise. I never thought I would draw a portrait of Jerry Seinfeld, ever, but I can now check that off the list.
AIPT: Readers, I highly recommend checking out all of Tom’s sketches, which you can see here. Tom, are you currently working on any new projects?
Tom: I’m not currently working on anything, actually. I was on a book that was canceled a little bit into quarantine, on the issue right before mine. So I’m kicking back for the time being and just trying to do some relaxing. I’m currently building a Gundam model, he looks like a little football player and he’s pretty sick.
AIPT: Bummer about that book, but good to hear you’re taking advantage of the chance to recharge. Finally, I saw that you’re a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. I’ve spent a good amount of time in Providence myself, so if you’ll indulge me for a second… what was your favorite spot in Providence to grab a bite to eat while there?
Tom: There are a lot of great food spots in Providence, but I have to give the shoutout to Louis Family Restaurant. Probably the weirdest little diner I’ve ever been to, but the food is good and very cheap. They open at 5 a.m., so you could go right there after a night of hard work at the studio. You can order anything off the menu from the time they open to the time they close. You can’t get a beer until 6 a.m., though. If anyone out there ever heads to Providence, that’s where I’d tell them to go. Guy Fieri went there and he loved it, you probably would too.
AIPT: I’ve never been there, but in Guy we trust. Now you know where to go, Rhode Island-based readers! Thanks for the tip, Tom, and thanks so much for taking the time to chat!
X-Men: Marvels Snapshots #1 goes on sale September 16, X-Fans, so be sure to pick up a copy. Also, keep it tuned to AIPT because later today, we’ve got another edition of X-Men Monday coming, featuring my interview with the writer of this highly anticipated comic, Jay Edidin! See you then!