Welcome, X-Fans, to another uncanny edition of X-Men Monday at AIPT!
Humor, heart, action, the teleportation of a moon! Oh, and puking — lots of puking.
If you’ve been reading Simon Spurrier’s Way of X, you’ve seen it all — and more. Bringing all those memorable visuals to life has been artist Bob Quinn. Way of X, coupled with the action-packed Cable: Reloaded, prove that Bob has an eXciting career ahead of him.
And, with X-Men: The Onslaught Revelation on sale September 22, it was just time for Bob to make his X-Men Monday debut!
AIPT: Welcome to X-Men Monday, Bob! Let’s start at the beginning — what was your first X-Men eXperience?
Bob: I think my first introduction to the X-Men was probably the cartoon. The thing that’s coming out now that, luckily, I haven’t gotten too much crap for is that I was not the world’s biggest comic book reader coming up. I read a lot of comic strips. For the longest time, I thought I was going to be like Charles Schulz or Bill Watterson. But most of the time, I’d watch Batman: The Animated Series or X-Men. That was sort of like my comic book intake more or less.
But as time went on, I think around high school, somebody had a copy of X-Men: Fatal Attractions where Wolverine had all the adamantium pulled out of his body. It was one of those moments where I picked it up and was like, “Oh my God, what is this?” And then I was like, OK, comic books are pretty rad. I kind of fell off for a minute and then came back in the Image ‘90s because, obviously, I’m an artist. So all that artwork at that point was like eyeball candy. I was also a big Scottie Young fan and then Scottie did New X-Men for a minute. And that got me into the Academy X stuff. So that’s sort of my journey through the X-Men basically — it was all based on what people were drawing.
AIPT: I get questions about those Academy X kids all the time — they’re very popular. Do you have any favorites?
Bob: Yeah, I like Pixie a lot. So when they were like, “Pixie’s in Way of X,” I was like, “Hell yeah, let’s go!” And then, obviously, I was a big X-23, Laura Kinney fan. I like Rockslide and Anole. Those are my favorite kids in the Academy X days. There are a lot of Hellion fans out there begging me to throw him in the background somewhere.
AIPT: Oh, I’m sure. Way of X is such a wild, inventive series — in an already very inventive X-Men era. How did you get roped into working with Si on this book?
Bob: I had just come off of Champions and I just kind of emailed and was like, “Hey, you guys got anything else for me?” That was kind of how it went. I knew that they’d been trying to line up something that had been a little bit more substantial for me for a minute. And then they were like, “Hey, we have something in the X-Men office.” I thought that sounded good. Then they were like, “Si Spurrier’s writing it.” And I was like, “Oh really?” I realized this was going to be pretty cool. They sort of pitched it to me as a psychedelic X-Men experience.
I had been looking for opportunities to sort of get weirder with my art, if that makes any sense. They sent me the initial script and write-up of what it was. Now that we’ve gotten to the conclusion, it’s definitely some of the most challenging pages I’ve ever had to draw. But also, some of the most rewarding. And I think it definitely pushed me in ways I wasn’t expecting. And I think I definitely grew as an artist as a result, which I’m eternally grateful for to both X-Men editorial as well as Si for just writing the craziest crap and then going, “OK, Bob, figure it out.”
AIPT: What’s it like collaborating with Si as an artist? His X-Men Monday interviews have been fascinating. I can’t even begin to imagine what his scripts, notes or conversations are like.
Bob: I mean, Si’s great. He typically has a pretty strong opinion of what he wants. But you know, if you have a better version of it, he’s obviously very open to going, “Oh yeah, that’s a cool solution to the sort of problem that I’ve given you on the page.” But yeah, he’s great. I love him. He’s very thoughtful. He tells stories that I think are interesting. I think, you know, he tells stories that are in certain ways important, right? The X-Men are obviously a metaphor. And I think he plays into that. He’s a guy with a point of view. He’s got something to say. And to that end, I think it’s a lot of fun. He’s just a great collaborator.
And I like the types of stories he tells. I think we have a lot of similar sensibilities as well, which has been good. The moment I knew that was the first time he was like, “And then, everybody pukes.” I was like, “Oh, OK. Yeah, this is my guy, he gets me.” I don’t know if he wrote more puking scenes into it because I liked drawing it, but yeah. He’s got a good sense of humor and a good sense of story. He tells interesting stories. I can’t sing the guy’s praises enough as you can tell.
AIPT: Well, Si’s writing has certainly been interesting — but so has your art. Your style can be action-packed, menacing, comical, emotional — how would you describe your art style?
Bob: I’m such an amalgamation of everybody that I like, I think to a certain extent. But then, when I look back at my pages, I can definitely see my origins in comic strips. Like, I ran a horrible webcomic for three years — maybe four — and I can definitely see it in my staging. If there’s a comedy beat in a script, I will definitely default to tons of space at the top for dialogue. It looks like a comic strip to a certain extent. I think that’s part of the reason why the jokes play — I hope.
And then, through this series, I’ve done my best to grow my dynamism. Just sort of pushing action and pushing more dramatic angles and stuff like that. When I started out, I was super worried. I’d look back at my pages and go, “I don’t know if the drama is there.” I didn’t know if it was exciting enough. I was really concerned about it to the point that I was writing to my editors going, “Guys, you guys need to push me further, I’m not sure I’m delivering on this series.”
I was so worried about it because I was so excited to be working on an X-Men book and I always loved Nightcrawler. When I got the book, I was so excited to be working on it, and I was so sure that I wasn’t ready for it, but I was going to do everything I could to rise to this challenge. But style-wise, I don’t know — I try to keep things light. I try to keep it bouncy if I can. Again, there’s a certain amount of cartooning and it’s just because that’s where I come from.
AIPT: Well, first — Way of X looks great. Rest assured knowing you’ve delivered. And second, the art in Cable: Reloaded was on a whole other level and reflects all your different influences. How much fun was it drawing that tie-in to “The Last Annihilation?”
Bob: The script was so over the top. The second I read it, I was like, “Well, this is obviously Marc Silvestri. This is obviously Rob Liefeld.” I literally pulled out a stack of Cyberforce books and I kept looking back and was like, “Nope, it’s not big enough.” Every page, I looked at the layout and I’d go, “No, no, no, this needs to feel huge.” So any opportunity I had to do something that was huge, I would take it. Then, you know, I would just cross hatch a little bit more and I’d look for an opportunity to put in needless little details that look like technology. I need to draw more tiny hairs on his arm. There need to be more of those shiny render lines on his metal arm and stuff, you know? Normally, I tend to keep things pretty simple.
So yeah, everything in that book, I just tried to do bigger and more ’90s. Because that’s how it read to me. But the thing that was really cool about the process on that book is how Al Ewing works — it was really organic. I got five pages of the script and thought it was hilarious. So I started to draw the first five pages and then Al saw what I was doing and he was like, “Oh, I really want to push this into the ’90s.” And I was like, “Yeah, let’s keep going.” I think it sort of is a little tongue in cheek because I love those books from an artwork perspective, but I went back and read a couple of them recently and was like, yeah, they look cool, but I don’t know if this is actually a good book.
AIPT: [Laughs] A very relatable problem for readers who got into comics in the ’90s. Now, for the readers who are unfamiliar, can you explain the Soft Serve saga?
Bob: [Laughs] So, I’m like one of the few people that likes to go to the laundromat because we actually have a really cool one near where I live. It has a nice little seating area outside and there’s a really delicious donut shop near it. My wife and I would go and do the laundry. And then while we were waiting for things to finish up, I had a little sketchbook, so I’d just sit there and draw. And one day I drew a very stupid cartoon of this lady in an X-Men outfit holding an ice cream cone. And it said, “No, Professor Xavier, I poop ice cream. I poop ice cream better than anybody.” And that’s just what it was. It was a dumb little cartoon.
And one day, there was this huge scene that had everybody going to the Hellfire Gala. And there’s a little spot in the background, like really tiny. And I was just like, let’s see if anybody notices. So I drew her really, really tiny into the background with a thing of ice cream — like sticking it into somebody’s face and the person kind of recoiling. I was just like, let’s see if anybody’s paying attention. So all of a sudden, the book came out and there she was in the background and I was like, “I did it!”
But it was just a joke and I just put it on Twitter like, here’s a stupid, silly thing I did. And I didn’t think anyone was going to give a crap. I thought a couple of people were going to go, “Ew gross” and then move on.
AIPT: Your first mistake with X-Men fans.
Bob: But they didn’t and it really tripped me out because I literally thought no one cared. And then all of a sudden, I’m getting sent these Reddit posts. And then I found out it was like the No. 1 most-visited page on the Marvel Fandom Wiki and I was absolutely mortified. This was not supposed to be anything serious. Nobody was supposed to put it on some Wiki somewhere. This is not something anybody was supposed to ask Si Spurrier about.
And then for those of you asking, she’s not gross. Her body is a portal to an ice cream dimension. So it’s not like she’s actually pooping ice cream. It’s very sanitary.
AIPT: Well, I’m glad we could clear that up — someone update that page! Now, I’ve seen you talk about your art bucket list. Who’s on there you haven’t gotten to yet?
Bob: The one character that I really, really, really want to do a book with is Gabby Kinney. I’m a huge fan of that All-New Wolverine run that Tom Taylor did — I have all the trade collections. I think she’s hilarious. I would love to do a book with the original Honey Badger — please, no Scout. Yeah, that’s the big one.
AIPT: Finally, without spoiling anything, what can we expect from X-Men: The Onslaught Revelation?
Bob: Man. I don’t even know what to say about this book. It’s incredibly weird. It’s totally wild. It was the most challenging thing I’ve ever had to draw. I can’t properly describe it. It’s funny. It’s strange. It was difficult. It was like mind-numbingly challenging at times as I went, “I don’t know how I’m going to do this.” I remember reading the script and going, “Si. what is this? What are you doing to me?” But somehow I think we pulled it off. I don’t know, it’s a real head-trip. I don’t super know how to describe it, but I really hope people think it’s cool because it’s definitely the most challenging and weirdest thing I’ve ever had to draw in my life.
AIPT: And I saw in the preview art you’re drawing the Cruci-Ball. You’re drawing another party right after the Hellfire Gala!
Bob: Oh, all I have to say is you have no idea. Like, you thought the Hellfire Gala was cool. Wait until you see this crap. You’re not even going to understand what we did. We make the Hellfire Gala look like a baby party for stupid diaper babies. What you’ve seen so far is the fun, sort of crazy rave part of it. But you haven’t seen what happens after. The head-trip after party of the rave that is happening. It is crazy.
AIPT: Who doesn’t love a good X-Rave? But overall, I think you should be proud — you’ve illustrated every issue in this run and I think it’s all going to look great in the eventual Way of X collection.
Bob: I think it’s a special book to a lot of people. And like I said, in the beginning, I wasn’t sure if I was ready for it when I got it. I definitely felt by the end of it, that I was doing my best work and I did my best on the series to make sure that every page I turned in was better than the one I did previously. I hope that remains true throughout.
AIPT: I’m sure you crushed it, Bob. Thanks for taking the time to chat! And remember, X-Fans — X-Men: The Onslaught Revelation goes on sale September 22. Want a preview? Here are some eXclusive preview images from X-Men Senior Editor Jordan D. White!
Until neXt time, X-Fans, stay eXceptional!
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