|Infinity #1 preview page by Jim Cheung|
By Jim Beard
On August 14, Jim Cheung leads an all-star assemblage of artists by kicking off INFINITY #1 with writer Jonathan Hickman.
Beyond his current project, Cheung sometimes plays favorites.
After a bevy of Marvel titles on which he honed his craft throughout the 1990’s plus such high-profile series in the new millennium as NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI, he reconnected with writer Allan Heinberg on a sprawling saga that stands not only as a kind of warm-up to INFINITY, but also as one of the artist’s own high-water marks.
Cheung calls it his “favorite project to date.”
Marvel.com: Jim, what did working on AVENGERS: THE CHILDREN’S CRUSADE feel like for you at the time?
Jim Cheung: It may have taken me a very long time to get through, but it felt like coming home to the Young Avengers. They may have moved on to a new creative team now, but I still feel a personal attachment to them, and hope that they will continue to thrive in the Marvel Universe for years to come.
Marvel.com: Any aspects of it that really stand out for you?
Jim Cheung: CHILDREN’S CRUSADE allowed me to play with almost all the toys in the Marvel chest that I ever wanted to. It was a blast to deal with Doctor Doom, Magneto and all those other characters that I grew up with, so even though the cast was gigantic, it was a pleasure to draw.
Marvel.com: You reunited with Allan Heinberg on the series; what was that like?
Jim Cheung: It was very easy. There are a handful of writers I've worked with whose scripts are just very easy to realize because they write from a visual perspective. They understand the visuals they're asking for and know whether it works on a page or not. Allan is one of those writers who tries to make each page hit a significant beat in the story, while at the same time trying to ensure it’s a page of art that he'd like to hang on his wall. It's a difficult craft, but one he mastered very quickly.
Cheung’s never stopped moving since then, never stopped looking for ways to make his art better. Above all, he insists that the work be fun, and he claims INFINITY allows him to do all that and more, in addition to working with one of Marvel’s superstar writers, Jonathan Hickman.
Marvel.com: How did INFINITY come about for you? What made you say "yes" to taking on the book?
Jim Cheung: The opportunity to work with Jonathan was something I'd been looking forward to for a while, and it just so happened that he was working on this event and needed an artist to lead with. Since I had just been doing covers for a few months, I was available for interiors, so it was good timing, I guess, on my part.
Marvel.com: This isn’t the first time you’ve worked on his concepts, right?
Jim Cheung: I had previously worked on covers for Jonathan's book, SECRET WARRIORS, and had seen his notes before, so I had an idea of the scale in which he plans things and knew it was going to be a challenge. Hopefully he won't be too disappointed with my results, or I'll have to face his fury the next time I see him at a con, but I am thrilled with the opportunity to kick off this event.
Marvel.com: On the whole, what's it like working with a writer like Jonathan? What's he doing here that inspires your creativity?
Jim Cheung: Jonathan's scripts have been tricky at times, but that's the same whenever I work with someone new. It usually takes a while before I understand their storytelling and pacing style enough to wrap my mind around it, and be able to interpret their vision onto paper. Since Jonathan is a great artist too, it can be tough to match that image in his head, so therein lies an added level of difficulty for me; making sure it doesn't suck and meets Jonathan's vision at the same time.
With INFINITY, Cheung’s smack dab in the middle of the Marvel Universe, with the chance to allow his imagination free rein and to design the scenes that promise to amaze readers.
Marvel.com: Any character designs or sequences that you're particularly proud of so far in INFINITY?
Jim Cheung: I would say that the current scene I'm drawing in INFINITY #6 has just been the most fun. I don't want to reveal too much just yet, since it is the last issue, but let’s just say that I'm hoping the results will have that epic feel that big blockbuster action movies can provide.
|Infinity #1 preview page by Jim Cheung|
Marvel.com: What's the coordination like between you and the rest of the INFINITY team of artists and editors? What are the challenges and rewards of this rotating form on the issues?
Jim Cheung: It's been a wonderful experience so far. It's been a while since I worked with other artists in such a manner where we would all share our pages as they're being finished. It's brought out a slight competitive edge where no one wants to turn in any poor pages, which has been fun and nauseating at the same time. [Laughs] [Editor] Tom Brevoort certainly pulled a whammy on the pencilers when he decided to do that, and I think we've all stepped up our game as a result.
I'd say that this coordinated effort has brought out the collaborative side of me also, because I like to believe we're all building this great story one page at a time, in ways that a lone penciler could not. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, and by working this way, I believe we'll have a much stronger product at the end of it. The proof is already visible in the recent pages I've seen from Jerome Opeña and Dustin Weaver, and hopefully the audience will agree when the books come out.