Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
As you’re well aware, the latest volume of Cable has come to a close. Tragic for fans of the series (like me), as it was not just loaded with heart, but several lough-out-loud moments like this…
Who ever thought Jean Grey reaction shots would bring me such joy? (More on the biggest one later.) Of course, that joy wouldn’t be possible without Cable’s creative team: writer Gerry Duggan and artist Phil Noto. Fortunately for us, one-half of that dynamic duo — the Phil half — agreed to return to X-Men Monday to answer a few questions. (That’s right, “return” — Phil briefly appeared in X-Men Monday #24. It’s where this photo comes from!)
AIPT: Welcome back to X-Men Monday, Phil! Let’s go back to the beginning. What was your first X-Men eXperience as a fan?
Phil: I didn’t read too many superhero comics growing up except for The Dark Knight Returns. It was more Star Wars comics, Bill Sienkiewicz’s Dune adaptation and a whole bunch of ElfQuest during my middle school years.
My first real X-Men experience was actually the ’90s cartoon. I was totally hooked and started diving into the comics soon after that.
AIPT: X-Fan Ron C astutely pointed out that yours is one of comics’ most unique styles — you can spot a “Noto” from a mile away. What artists have inspired your artwork?
Phil: Since I wasn’t immersed in comics growing up, I didn’t really come into the industry with any kind of traditional comic style. I studied illustration in college and was heavily influenced by the illustrators of the ’50s and ’60s. Robert McGinnis, Bob Peak, Coby Whitmore, Al Parker and then some contemporary comic guys — Sienkiewicz, Kent Williams, Adam Hughes, Mike Mignola.
AIPT: You’ve done a number of very stylish “retro” pieces, placing ‘60s Marvel characters on magazine covers and so on. What is it about that ‘60s, retro aesthetic that appeals to you as an artist?
Phil: That goes back to my love of that period of stylized art. And also Alex Ross’ Marvels really struck a chord with me because it really set the tone for a retro mid-century superhero look outside of the very graphic Kirby/Ditko look of the time. It’s just second nature for me to draw like that now and it works out since it’s still somewhat unique these days.
AIPT: Your artwork also shows off incredible comedic timing. The Quiet Council scene in X-Men #16 comes to mind, along with all those great Jean Grey reaction shots. To what do you attribute this aspect of your art. Are you a big comedy fan?
Phil: First of all yes, I’m a big comedy fan. I’ve always loved the low-key stuff more than the big physical comedy-bits, especially in the last 20 years or so with The Office, Arrested Development, Parks and Recreation, etc.
Nothing makes me happier than being able to capture that same kind of comedy on a comic page. It also has roots in my previous career in Disney Animation and having to make those same kinds of comedy-bits work in an animated film.
AIPT: Speaking of Jean, X-Fan Danny was curious to learn who your muse was for the now-iconic shot of Jean reacting to Cable’s mention of “Doug’s large wife.”
Phil: Haha 🙂 That’s actually just me in a mirror.
AIPT: Amazing. And speaking of Doug’s large wife — as the artist behind Doug and Bei’s wedding in Excalibur #14, did you also design Bei’s appearance under her helmet? And if so, how did you come up with that look?
Phil: Yes, I did design helmet-less Bei. I took a lot of inspiration from ancient Egypt, tying into Pepe Larraz’s designs of the Arakkii.
AIPT: And speaking of helmet-less Bei — here’s an eXclusive look at Phil’s design, X-Fans!
NeXt up, X-Fan comicbookfan22 was wondering what steps you work through to arrive at a completed page. Can you share any insight into your creative process?
Phil: I start off doing very rough layouts in Photoshop and then tighten them up a bit before I both ink the pages and flat the colors in Clip Studio. After that, I do the final colors back in Photoshop. All of this is usually done with my iMac and Wacom Cintiq 16 Pro.
AIPT: And to better illustrate Phil’s artistic process, here are two pages from Cable in various stages.
Those pages serve as a reminder of how Cable was such a special series that effortlessly blended adventure, romance, comedy and sci-fi action. Looking back on the run, what are you most proud of?
Phil: In the end, I’m just very happy that we were able to take a fairly new character that lots of people were wary of and produce a 12-issue run that was very well-received. And also, the reaction to my Jean/Doug’s-large-wife panel really made me happy 🙂
AIPT: X-Fan JB Uchoa wanted to know which character you liked drawing the most in Cable.
Phil: Domino. I’m a big Domino fan and have never gotten the chance to draw her in any official capacity.
AIPT: Glad Cable changed that! Finally, it was recently revealed that you’ll be illustrating Marauders #25. Is it safe to assume you have more X-Projects on the way now that Cable’s wrapped?
Phil: I’m thrilled to be doing more X-Stuff with Gerry on Marauders and while I can’t really talk about stuff past that right now, I can say that I think the fans will be very excited.
AIPT: That’s what we love to hear! Thanks for taking the time to talk, Phil — and keep up the amazing work! Now, speaking of amazing work, how would all you X-Fans like to see three eXclusive preview images from this week’s X-Men #2?
I thought so. Special thanks go to X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White for those sneak peeks!
Until neXt time, X-Fans, stay eXceptional!
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