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Monday Q&A: David Marquez

The incoming artist of All-New X-Men shares his favorite characters to draw, how to follow Stuart Immonen and more!

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All-New X-Men #6 preview art by David Marquez

By Brett White

The first arc of Marvel's acclaimed new series ALL-NEW X-MEN has hooked readers with its time-twisting plot and heartbreaking angst, courtesy of writer Brian Michael Bendis and the dynamic pencils and storytelling abilities of Stuart Immonen.

Now after an opening salvo of issues that got comic fans buzzing about the unconventional return of Jean Grey and the unexpected reappearance of the Xavier Institute, artist David Marquez, fresh off a run on ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN with Bendis, joins the creative team as the stakes for mutantkind's future continue to be raised.

We spoke with Marquez about his new assignment and just how deep his love for the X-Men goes.

Marvel.com: 2012 was a very big year for you, with taking over the art duties on ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN to great acclaim. Now you're kicking off 2013 with a hot, new X-Men series. What would the David Marquez of 2011 think of all this?

David Marquez: Heck, my head is reeling even now! I’ve been very fortunate to land the opportunity to work on such great books in my brief tenure at Marvel. I grew up as a Marvel kid and spent the last decade working to break into comics, and every time I stop to look back it feels utterly surreal. But at the same time, I’ve put a ton of work into all the books I’ve drawn, and I feel completely at home spending long hours behind the drafting table. That part of things really isn’t any different, whether it was for drawing all those submission pages back in the day, or drawing Miles [Morales in ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN] or the X-Men today.

Marvel.com: How did you get involved with ALL-NEW X-MEN, and how does it feel to follow Stuart Immonen?

All-New X-Men #6 preview art by David Marquez

David Marquez: Really, I think it boiled down to good timing. Over the past year I’ve become friends with a bunch of folks at the Marvel offices, and I’d spoken to [editors] Nick Lowe and Jordan White about someday doing some work with them in the X-Office. And with nearly a year’s worth of work on ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN, Brian and I seem to have really clicked as a team. As it happened, they were looking for someone to relieve Stuart Immonen for a few issues, and I had a few issues off ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN while Sara Pichelli makes her triumphant return to draw the "Venom" arc on that book. I guess all my subliminal messaging paid off, and my name popped up on the list of artists to consider. I was amazed and flattered when Nick gave me a call to offer me the gig, and I jumped at the chance!

Following Stuart is both daunting and inspiring. I’ve admired his work since Shockrockets, and every project he’s done since then has been better than the last. The art he’s been making for ALL-NEW X-MEN has set the bar higher than ever. But instead of letting myself be intimidated by the incredible work he’s doing, I’ve taken it as a challenge to produce the best art of my career, and I’m very proud of the work I’m doing on this book!

Marvel.com: Is it at all daunting to be drawing the X-Men? What's your history with the characters?

David Marquez: Oh man, you just opened Pandora's Box. I was a total X-Men kid. Growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s, I was all over the Chris Claremont and Jim Lee era X-MEN. In fact, it was during the first few issues of their “adjectiveless” X-MEN that I first started trying to draw. I was maybe eight at the time. So my love of drawing and comics really has their seed in this property.

All-New X-Men #6 preview art by David Marquez

While I fell out of comics for a few years, I got back into them in a serious way during college when Grant Morrison’s NEW X-MEN was coming out. Around the same time, I went back and read just about the entire series from the beginning, thanks to Marvel’s Essential X-Men line of trades, all in time for Joss Whedon and John Cassaday’s ASTONISHING X-MEN. And I just soaked it all up. I could go on and on, but yeah, I bleed blue and gold…and orange. Hook ‘em!

Marvel.com: In a way, you're also following in Jack Kirby's footsteps by drawing the X-Men as they were during his tenure on the series. Are you looking back to the 60’s at all to draw this comic?

David Marquez: Absolutely! I have a stack of comic reference and inspiration at my desk, including the ESSENTIAL UNCANNY X-MEN VOL. 1—which I suppose is technically a misnomer, since this was before the book acquired the “Uncanny” moniker*—collecting their first 25 or so issues. And since this story features the characters circa X-MEN #8, I go back to those early issues constantly.

*David Marquez (n.) 1. X-Nerd.

Marvel.com: On ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN you got to put your art style—with rich, emotive expressions and fluid action sequences—to very good use. Is ALL-NEW X-MEN bringing any new qualities or aspects of your art to the surface?

David Marquez: Thanks! And yes, I’m definitely pushing myself in ALL-NEW X-MEN to explore new ways to add dynamism to my style. My editor, Nick Lowe, made the point that what really makes an X-book work, and super hero comics in general, is placing the characters front-and-center in a big way. And with a team book so stacked with amazing designs, you have to show them off!  So, among a dozen other mini self-improvement projects, I’ve been striving to design each page around at least one really impressive shot of a character. If you look at the work by guys like Olivier Coipel and Mark Brooks, they’ve really gotten this down to a science. Additionally, I really admire Stuart’s dynamic page layouts, and I’ve been drawing a ton of inspiration from the work he’s done on the book so far!

All-New X-Men #6 preview art by David Marquez

Marvel.com: Are there any X-Men that have become particularly fun to illustrate? Do you have a favorite?

David Marquez: It’s not terribly original, but man I love drawing Wolverine. Beyond Logan, both versions of Angel are a blast to draw, as are Cyclops, Kitty Pryde and Jean Grey. I mean the book is just so stacked with awesome characters! Every page has been a blast to draw!

Marvel.com: Brian Michael Bendis has given us a Beast that's a return to his more classic look, and allowed Stuart Immonen to make his mark there. Do you foresee getting to do the same with any X-Men during your arc on the book? Are there any characters that you interpret differently from how other artists have in the past?

David Marquez: I love Stuart’s new design [for Beast], and as to whether I’ll get to do similar redesigns, who knows? For the time being, I’m working on characters that have already been established visually, and I’m doing my best to be consistent with how they’ve been drawn before, while putting my own spin on the details for each. It’s important to me that every character has a unique look so that readers can easily tell them apart if seen out of costume, or even if the pages happened to be uncolored. But sure, down the line I’d love to take a crack at doing some redesigns!

Marvel.com: Both ALL-NEW X-MEN and ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN focus on the experiences of teenagers. Do you approach drawing teenagers differently than you do the adults? Are teen heroes more fun to draw?

David Marquez: I definitely approach drawing younger characters differently. At the very least, teenagers are physically different from adults—they have slighter frames, smoother faces and softer features. And I try to add the naiveté and always-on-the-surface emotional rawness that comes with youth. As powerful as they are, they are just kids, and it’s fun to try to remember what it was like for me at that age, and see if I can infuse at least a little bit of that in the page.

All-New X-Men #6 preview art by David Marquez

Marvel.com: You've really hit it off with Brian Michael Bendis, with both ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN and now ALL-NEW X-MEN. What does Brian bring to a script or story that makes him a great creative partner?

David Marquez: I feel so incredibly fortunate to have fallen into such a great creative collaboration with Brian. His scripts are always jam packed with the two things I love drawing most in comics: action and intense emotion. And the more we work together, the more he pushes me to continue improving those areas I love, as well as forcing me to tackle scenes, environments, characters and emotions that are well outside my comfort zone. It’s a great match in that he lets me draw what he knows I’ll enjoy, while always encouraging and pushing me to grow as an artist. And hopefully, I’m able to bring out the best in his scripts!

Marvel.com: You've now tackled three big chunks of the Marvel Universe with the Fantastic Four in their Season One graphic novel, Spider-Man and now the X-Men. Are there any other corners you'd like to try your hand at?

David Marquez: [Laughs] Marvel has been very good to me in letting me play with all of their toys, and I couldn’t imagine anything better than drawing ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN and ALL-NEW X-MEN. I hope I’ll have the opportunity to draw more of both in the future!

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