By Ryan Penagos
It's been nearly five years since Alex Ross's last Marvel project. Stop. Let that sink in.
That's five years without one of the most talented, best-selling, sometimes controversial and always entertaining artists in the history of comics. With MARVELS and the EARTH X trilogy (EARTH-X, UNIVERSE X and PARADISE X), Ross carved his name into the bedrock of the House of Ideas. And like that, he was gone.
After PARADISE X wrapped, he turned his attentions elsewhere, crafting new stories and creating gorgeous pieces of art across the landscape of American comics. Now, after years of waiting, wondering, thinking and hoping, Alex Ross has found his way back to the land of Spider-Man, Captain America and the FF, and will launch his next Marvel project in 2008.
"My return to Marvel comes due to Nick's [Barrucci, Publisher at Dynamite Entertainment] efforts to work with me at Marvel, to make a bridge between myself and the company," says Ross. "The whole time I was working on the Justice series for DC, there was conversation regarding this project."
"Bringing Alex to Marvel was exciting, if for no other reasons than Alex is one of my closest friends, and working together on this level was an extension of projects we've been working on for years," says Barrucci. "It's been a grand time. Alex has taken all of my half-baked ideas and made them relevant."
"Actually, the last time I was really in great business with Marvel was before [Marvel Publisher] Dan Buckley came in," adds Ross. "Dan is a friend from way back. He was instrumental in getting us, Jim Krueger and I, the positive deal that we had with the company for the EARTH X series."
"Everyone at Marvel is thrilled to have Alex back," says Buckley. "He's an industry giant and Alex's previous Marvel projects are the stuff of legend. Seeing the pieces come together on his return and what's to come—I know it'll be huge. And credit where credit's due: Nick Barrucci and the Dynamite crew have been absolutely instrumental in making it all work, and have been wonderful to work with."
TPB cover by
Also excited to see Ross back in the Marvel fold is editor Steve Wacker, who's had his eye on Ross since arriving at the House of Ideas in September, 2006. "I think it's an incredibly suggestive piece," Wacker says of Ross's first new Marvel painting, the "Return" piece. "It was a pleasant surprise since that was the first artwork I had seen after coming back from San Diego. It's a great example of what Alex is so good at: distilling various story elements down to the most compelling moment. I was first introduced to Alex's work via his work on MARVELS back in '93, so to me this does feel a little like a real homecoming."
"Steve and I barely started to work with each other on JSA at DC before Marvel wooed him away," explains Ross. "But I was one of the first calls that Steve made when he arrived at Marvel's offices to announce that he was my editor on this."
by Alex Ross
And now that Ross is back at Marvel, the question then becomes: What is he working on? Little can be said at this early stage, and the "Return" piece he's painted to mark his homecoming—which he estimates took seven to eight hours to complete—actually poses many more questions than it answers.
"Well to be fair to the process," teases Ross, "as much as we've talked about it this great length of time, we could wish for things we want to do, but honestly we couldn't really manufacture any good story until we had our first major meeting over the subject. I think that was earlier this year. There's a number of thoughts and hopes, but I was wracked with paranoia and worry. I hope I don't screw it up," laughs Ross.
We're not all that worried. Stay glued to Marvel.com for more Alex Ross news in the coming months.