Age of Ultron

Wednesday Q&A: Phil Jimenez

The acclaimed artist returns to Marvel with a guest stint on Fearless Defenders!

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Fearless Defenders #4AU preview pencils by Phil Jimenez

By Jim Beard

Artist Phil Jimenez’ newest labors will be taking on the newest team to carry on the legacy of the Defenders. He’ll be providing a special variant cover for this month’s FEARLESS DEFENDERS #3 and both interiors and cover for May’s FEARLESS DEFENDERS #4, the Age of Ultron tie-issue.

We spoke to Jimenez, who displays not only his passion for his art, but explains that one special character in particular drew him in to the project, a legendary figure for whom he possesses a definite affinity.

Marvel.com: Phil, how did this FEARLESS DEFENDERS gig come about for you? What really attracted you to doing it?

Phil Jimenez: A simple phone call from editor Ellie Pyle, actually. She just wanted to know if I'd be interested in doing some redesign work on an old character: the Marvel Comics version of Hippolyta. I'm known for my take on mythological women, and quite frankly, I thought the challenge would be fun. I love costume design, and I really "get" characters like Hippolyta, so I thought I could bring something special to the mix.

Marvel.com: When approaching the new design of Warrior Woman—Hippolyta—what was everyone involved looking for

Phil Jimenez: Marvel wanted a character that could stand toe-to-toe, visually and literally with Valkyrie and Misty Knight. I also wanted to keep her in a costume that fit with the mythological worlds of the Marvel Universe, which definitely have a distinct design sensibility—thank you, Jack Kirby!—and are not entirely rooted in "reality." So the idea was to create a physically imposing character while maintaining a distinctly mythological look that would work in the Marvel Universe. I used previous versions of her—she last appeared in INCREDIBLE HERCULES a couple of years ago—and we took elements of that design, [like] her large mane of hair, the bird helmet, and mixed and matched them with armor and other pieces inspired by current fashion and actual armor that I found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The winged harpy on the bodice was meant as both fearful emblem and playful homage.

Fearless Defenders #4AU preview pencils by Phil Jimenez

There was quite a debate about skirt vs. pants; I really, really wanted her in a skirt, to delineate her visually from Valkyrie but also to maintain the Grecian "feel" as well as a hint of sexy. Plus, I like the idea that this character is now so powerful, she can wear whatever she wants. Oh, except heels, maybe!

If nothing else, I think I bring a bit of regality, scale, and uniqueness to the character, and a look that makes her visually distinct from the other Defenders, and most other characters in the Marvel Universe!

Marvel.com: For the FEARLESS DEFENDERS #3 variant cover, what was essential there? What's your philosophy for a dramatic cover design overall?

Phil Jimenez: Oh, I definitely wanted to pay homage to all the images of Hercules busting free of his chains; INCREDIBLE HERCULES#126 is the one that sticks out most in my head. But I wanted her face forward, and I wanted her expression to be not one of struggle, but of almost haughty ease; mortal-forged chains mean nothing to the daughter of Ares, after all!

I am probably a little old school in my approach to covers, but I think they must suggest a hint of what's happening in the book; they must entice a reader to want to look inside the book and to buy it. And they should showcase the characters in a compelling, dynamic, and memorable way! Oh, and Marvel should be able to use them in multiple ways for trades, for licensed products, and as reference for film, TV, and toys.

Marvel.com: What about you doing the interiors on the Age of Ultron tie-in for the book? What's exciting you about the script?

Phil Jimenez: Omigod, I love it! I get to draw Hippolyta, Wolverine, Doctor Doom—as ever, I am reminded what an incredible job I have, playing with iconic characters that people know all over the globe. I simply wish I had more time to do the pages justice!

Fearless Defenders #4AU preview pencils by Phil Jimenez
Marvel.com: With so many great female characters in the book, do you have a favorite Defender yet?

Phil Jimenez: Hippolyta, of course. Followed closely by Misty Knight and Dani Moonstar; both are characters I've loved since I was a kid. I think it's actually really amazing that those two characters—both women, both minorities—have these long, storied pasts at Marvel, and are being showcased in a book like this. Beyond that, they're unique in terms of their character and characterization; they each bring something so different and wonderful to the roster's table. And I'm a sucker for anyone with a bionic arm, especially a character as visually fabulous as Misty Knight.

Marvel.com: And on an Ultron story, what engages you more in drawing, the tech designs or the people?

Phil Jimenez: In my story, what I've found most engaging is drawing the people of the Marvel Universe, the people of Latveria, for example. Doctor Doom. Hippolyta and the other Defenders. Each and every one has a unique aesthetic, a body language, a way of conveying story visually. That is always the most fun. I took this assignment knowing I'd only have a few weeks to complete it, but the research alone could eat up half that time, if I let it! That's how much I love figuring out that stuff. The set pieces, the "extras" all of it; the world building always seems like so much fun, but in this particular case, showcasing the people has been the most engaging!

Marvel.com: What's a typical day for you like to do artwork? Any traditions you have or methods to your process?

Phil Jimenez: I haven't had a typical work day in months. But generally, I wake up around 8:00-8:30, and then pencil on and off throughout the day—or ink, or write—in lots of fits and spurts, trying to remember to eat and go to the gym in there when I can. I often wonder if one day I'll be able to focus on just one project instead of many. I'm not sure how my ADHD would feel about that…

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