The Twelve: Counting Down

Artist Chris Weston prepares for the long-awaited conclusion of this acclaimed series!

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By Jim Beard

After a long hiatus, THE TWELVE returned this year to finish the tale of a dozen Golden Age heroes making their way in modern times. With the next installment, #10, headed our way February 28, and then the penultimate issue #11 coming on March 28, we checked in with artist Chris Weston to ask him a about how it felt diving back into the mystery and majesty of this series.

THE TWELVE #11 preview art by Chris Weston

“It's a huge relief,” he reports on his finishing the art on the book. “I love THE TWELVE; I think [writer] Joe Straczynski wrote a great script packed full of terrific characters, and I apologize for the long wait the readers have endured for the completion of this story. I'll take my portion of the blame for the delays on the chin. I felt the readers' frustration, and sometimes I shared it. I appreciate every single reader who hung in there and want them to know I worked long hours to make the final issues worthy of their patience.

“And, if I may, I'd like to thank [editor] Tom Brevoort too: his patience and generosity kept the book on track and he needs a round of applause too.”

Weston says the first thing that originally attracted him to the project back in 2007 lay in the series’ stand-alone status, “free from any long-term continuity,” as he describes it.

“I like stories with proper beginnings, middles and ends,” he elaborates. “I'm not a fan of ‘never-ending battles’ or soap operas. I instantly fell in love with all the characters and I worked hard to make them feel authentic. Too many super heroes seem to be the product of some cookie-cutter approach to character design. In contrast, Joe Straczynski had given them credible personalities and I wanted to reflect that in their body language. My enthusiasm for the characters never dwindled during the frequent delays in the book.”

Unsurprisingly, the somewhat-reluctant “lead” of THE WELVE, the Phantom Reporter, remains one of the artist’s top favorites from among those characters he loves, along with a certain ego-centric cast member.

The Phantom Reporter is my man,” Weston notes. “He's a great ‘ordinary joe in extraordinary circumstances’ character. Very moral, but tolerant and empathetic. Very stoic and understated; qualities I admire.

THE TWELVE #11 preview art by Chris Weston

“But for some perverse reason I'm also fond of Blue Blade, who's the exact opposite: loud, selfish and a little vulgar! I suspect that, character-wise, I'm probably more like the latter, despite my best intentions—and especially after a few pints!”

Above and beyond new developments among its characters, one of the eye-opening things that readers discovered in THE TWELVE #9, the first new issue, had to be the amazing consistency in the artist’s visuals, despite the long break in publication and other behind-the-scenes situations.

“My style had changed, and it took a little while to relearn the techniques I had used on the earlier issues of the book,” says Weston plainly. “During the delays I had been doing film storyboard work, which inevitably involved producing work that was looser and less realistic compared to comic-book art. But I didn't want to bring that approach back to THE TWELVE which had been tighter and reliant on photo-reference. The art had to remain consistent.”

Only three more issues of THE TWELVE remain to be released, with mysteries to be solved and crimes to be brought to light. The artist hints at a few of the upcoming surprises he’s illustrated and looks forward to springing on the series’ new and loyal followers.

“There's the best character reveal you'll have seen for years,” Weston teases. “I take my hat off to Joe for that one. And get your hankies ready, 'cause not all the characters are going to make it to the end of the series.

“They definitely won't be able to do any more series called THE TWELVE unless there's another stash of frozen heroes buried somewhere beneath Berlin—I'm sure there's probably hundreds!”
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