Unplug Avengers A.I. Pt. 3

Artist Andre Lima Araujo discusses his collaborations as well as brining a touch of humanity to robots and more!

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Avengers A.I. #2 sketch by André Lima Araújo

By Paul Montgomery

To conclude our perusal of the nuts and bolts assembly of AVENGERS A.I. with artist André Lima Araújo, the discussion turns to collaboration. Though scanners and printers, a whole assortment of automated systems, enter the process of comic creation along the way; it all starts with some human ingenuity.

Marvel.com: Tell me about that well-oiled machine, your collaboration with writer Sam Humphries.

André Lima Araújo: My relationship with Sam is great. He is a great writer, enthusiastic, friendly, hard-working, clever and open to other ideas. It's a true collaboration in the sense that we discuss many things back and forth, instead of delivering each other only finished products. He takes care of most of the plotting but we talk a lot about narrative and sequences and he allows me the freedom to change certain things that I feel would work better, like adding a panel here or there or reorganizing some bits. And what makes me more enthusiastic about it is that we're only in the beginning.

Avengers A.I. #2 inks by André Lima Araújo

Marvel.com: Which visuals have presented the steepest design challenges so far?

André Lima Araújo: No one element in particular stands out. Not that I find it easy, it's more the other way around. I try to show everything from as many angles as possible to the reader, which means to draw all the details on every component of the page, several times. I try to go for different camera angles, always pull back from time to time to show the characters’ position in relation to each other and to their setting, show the backgrounds with detail, etc. So the overall thing for me, either on AVENGERS A.I. or any other book, is a nice challenge that I like to tackle. 

Avengers A.I. #2 art by André Lima Araújo

That being said, the backgrounds, technically speaking, are always the more time consuming elements. Particularly when I'm using two, three, or even four vanishing points to create the right perspective, drawing all the buildings, rooftops and windows—like the hospital on page two of issue #2—or all the pipes and details on an oil platform; keep an eye out for issue #4. Not to mention a certain spread in issue #3.

Marvel.com: When we think of robots, we often see them in shades of gray or more earthy, muted tones. This is a very colorful book. How involved are you in the color process with Frank D'Armata?

André Lima Araújo: Sam, [series editor] Lauren Sankovitch and I talked about the coloring style we wanted for the book and "colorful," "clean," "low texture usage" and "plane separation" were some things we agreed right from the bat. After Frank was added to the team, we told him what we're looking for. He colored AGE OF ULTRON #10AI—which I also drew—before tackling AVENGERS A.I. which was nice as we had some room to adjust things there.

Because Frank is really good, he went straight away into something we all enjoyed and liked and he's keeping at it nicely and consistently. We all keep involved in the coloring process as things move forward, and Frank sends us low-res versions of his colors every time he finishes a page, where we all have a say in any adjustment we think is needed.

Avengers A.I. #2 sketch by André Lima Araújo

Marvel.com: In drawing the androids and cyborgs of AVENGERS A.I., do you have a hard distinction for each character as to their ability to express emotion?

André Lima Araújo: No. And the reason for that is because an android is supposed to be an artificial human being, and these androids on AVENGERS A.I. are extremely advanced, so they should be able to mimic perfectly human behavior, including the ability to express emotions like people do. So I draw all of them—androids, cyborgs, regular people—in the same way regarding their "humanity." Where they manifest their differences is through their specific powers and, here or there, some quirk attitudes, that give away their true nature.

Avengers A.I. #2 inks by André Lima Araújo

Marvel.com: Are there any differences for you in drawing a "good" machine versus an "evil" machine? As you've said, many of these machines are very lifelike in appearance, but some are more traditionally robotic and utilitarian. Does expression ever enter into the equation for machines that technically lack emotion?

André Lima Araújo: Absolutely. There's always certain design elements that you can add to give it a certain look that elevates the characteristics you want to make stand out. For the Sentinel in issue #2, that was one of my concerns. It had to look menacing, but also relatable at some extent, so I made sure I could play well with its body language when I was designing him and that his overall appearance could go both ways. Those elements brought together with certain camera angles and some little tricks allow you to extract the right expression of characters that, for example, have no movable parts in their face.

Avengers A.I. #2 art by André Lima Araújo

Another example could be Dimitrios’ speech in the end of issue #2. The expression there relied exclusively on body language and camera angles.

Marvel.com: If each member of the AVENGERS A.I. team were a consumer product, say an automobile or a type of electronic device... 

André Lima Araújo: The car analogy is perfect because it's what Sam used in a document he wrote regarding the powers and abilities of each character. If Marvel Universe robots were cars, he wrote that Doombot would be like a Hummer "solid, high performing, but not cutting edge," Victor would be a Porsche "more advance, high performance, but still not bleeding edge technology" and Vision a "next-generation Tesla sports car." I guess in this analogy Hank Pym would be someone like Elon Musk; with superpowers.

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