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Secret Avengers Sketchbook: Mike Deodato

The artist of SECRET AVENGERS gives us an exclusive peek at his designs for Steve Rogers' elite team and more

SECRET AVENGERS #3 inked preview art by Mike Deodato
By Kevin Mahadeo

Artist Mike Deodato expresses complete and utter exhilaration over the opportunity to work on the new monthly series SECRET AVENGERS for a few very simple reasons:

"The royalties! The fame! The total and utter adulation from the fans," he jokes. "A big cast keeps me hopping; it's hard to grow stale on a project when bringing to life so many characters, each with different faces, bodies, personalities, and so forth. I'm not the type of artist who has two body types, two faces, and just screws on a different hairstyle to each character. They have to be individual people to me. They have to live and breathe on the page."

Deodato certainly gets his fill of unique individuals on the Ed Brubaker-penned series as SECRET AVENGERS features a diverse cast from all across the Marvel Universe, from All-American hero Steve Rogers to space-faring human rocket Nova.

Despite the word "Secret" appearing in series' title, Deodato opt not to keep his original designs and sketches on the characters under lock and key. The artist opens up his sketchbook and gives us a look inside at his original concepts for the revealing SECRET AVENGERS promo pieces, yet-unseen designs for agents of the mysterious Shadow Empire and more.

War Machine promo sketch by Mike Deodato

Deodato: I had the War Machine action figure right next to me. [Laughs] No, not really. In every case, I try to do a presentation drawing to define the character, personality or power, so that in a nutshell we get the feeling for the character in a single illustration. You can tell me how well I succeeded in each case. Of course, some of it had to do with me looking at the artillery on his shoulders and figuring out a pose through which his center of gravity would make sense.

Beast promo sketch by Mike Deodato

Deodato: If [drawing all that hair] were easy, they'd hire someone else to do it! [Laughs] At this point in my life, I know how to draw everything pretty well, so it's not a matter of "hard to draw." It's all about interpreting the character-the look, the personality, the movement. That being said, I did do a pretty good job rendering the fur to give the impression of real fur, didn't I?

Steve Rogers preliminary promo sketch by Mike Deodato

Deodato: I could accept 100 percent of the credit for the re-design, but then [artist] Marko Djurdevic would slug me, rightly so. He deserves 100 percent of the credit for the re-design. I'm just trying to draw his design as well as I can.

Steve Rogers promo sketch by Mike Deodato

Deodato: I puzzled and puzzled till my puzzler was sore. Then Tom Brevoort asked me for another drawing I'd not drawn before. Perhaps he wanted the character's pose to simply be as powerfully iconic as I could muster.

Moon Knight preliminary promo sketch by Mike Deodato

Deodato: [On Moon Knight's original design being the one ultimately going to Steve Rogers]:"Never throw away a good idea!" [Laughs] I remain flexible to whatever an editor wants.

Moon Knight promo sketch by Mike Deodato
Deodato: In the end, it made sense to pull Moon Knight inward and cast him more in shadow.  It fit the character better, so it was the right decision.
Nova preliminary promo sketch by Mike Deodato

Deodato: "Rocket Man," man. Elton John said it all!

Nova promo sketch by Mike Deodato

Deodato: This guy Nova was originally billed as "The Human Rocket," so having him standing around just didn't seem right. Put the guy in maximum motion!

Valkyrie promo sketch by Mike Deodato

Deodato: Not only did a spear add a coolness factor, it gave her something to do with the hand that wasn't holding the sword. Besides, when we first saw Valkyrie, on John Buscema's very fine cover for AVENGERS #83, she was holding a spear. Later on, they gave her some sort of staff so she couldn't pop somebody with something they'd need a Band-Aid for, but the combined sword and staff on my version gave her balance and a bit of savagery.

Shadow Empire Agent sketch by Mike Deodato

Deodato: When all else fails, read the script! [Laughs] I don't think it gives too much away to quote the script:  "-And as we see the jet zoom away into the stars and the sky, we see two figures in shadow on a rooftop, who were watching. They are in dark uniforms that we can't quite make out yet, almost like what SHIELD used to wear, but with masks that cover their heads like Hydra costumes or Danger Diabolik - these are soldiers of the Shadow Empire, who will be our main recurring bad guys, so you need to design some cool evil superspy uniforms for them to wear, Mike."

So I aim to please. The editor liked it and off we go!

Archon sketch by Mike Deodato

Deodato: My influence for Archon is, of course, Jack Kirby. With the mighty Marvel Universe, it almost has to be, doesn't it? As the script read: "This guy is the Archon - imagine a sci-fi guardian of the gateway to the end of reality as designed by Jack Kirby, basically. He's big and thick and powerful, either an alien or an artificial life-form, we can't totally tell. Think someone that could have been a herald of Galactus, crossed with a Celestial kind of thing, too."

A tall order, but not entirely without precedent.

SECRET AVENGERS cover sketch number one by Mike Deodato

Deodato: I tend to create a lot of cover ideas.  I think by now I've sketched thousands.  Sometimes Marvel needs covers for publicity ahead of locking down the story, so they need eye-catching covers that, unfortunately, aren't anchored to any specific story. 

SECRET AVENGERS cover sketch number two by Mike Deodato

Deodato: When feasible, I try to create something with a sense of design, so it's not just another characters-run-at-you kind of cover. 

SECRET AVENGERS cover sketch number three by Mike Deodato

Deodato: Concept or story-based covers seem best, to my way of thinking, but even for a "create some covers with the cast" kind of general editorial direction, I try to come up with the most interesting images in the time allowed, so it will catch your eye and make you want to slap down your hard-earned dollars for each issue.

SECRET AVENGERS #2 hits stores June 30!


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      This art looks... sketchy! (ba-dum-crash!)


      I wish I could take one of his drawings.


      who the hell is that guy Archon??? By the way cool stuff indeed!


      Great art work, I hope they add new members maybe Iron Spider(could be Ben reilly)HINT HINT!!!!