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Paving the Road to Infinity: Dustin Weaver Pt. 1

The artist goes through his career at Marvel, beginning with the X-Men and moving through S.H.I.E.L.D.!

Infinity #2 preview art by Dustin Weaver

By Jim Beard

Stars line the road to INFINITY.

Want proof? Look no further than the star-studded artistic line-up joining writer Jonathan Hickman on the principal series, including Jim Cheung, Jerome Opena and Dustin Weaver.

In a relatively short span of time, Weaver’s artistry has become known and lauded from such titles as X-MEN: KINGBREAKER, S.H.I.E.L.D., and AVENGERS. Through these assignments, the artist has learned much and he puts all the knowledge to prime use, as readers will witness, on September 4 in INFINITY #2.

Weaver’s path to a place in the Marvel firmament began at an opportune meeting with editor Nick Lowe at the San Diego Comic Con, circa 2008.

Marvel.com: Dustin, what came out of that meeting with Nick Lowe for you? What appealed to you about working for Marvel?

Dustin Weaver: We met by chance but [Nick] was familiar with my work on Star Wars [at Dark Horse Comics]. He thought I was good and asked if I'd be interested in doing some stuff for Marvel. As it happened, I was interested. The rest is history.

Some of the first comics I ever bought were UNCANNY X-MEN #275-277; you know the Jim Lee, Claremont issues with the Starjammers and the Shi'ar. Those issues had a big impact on me. Honestly a project like X-MEN: KINGBREAKER was one of the things that I would have wanted to do at Marvel. I was lucky it was the first thing that I got to do.

X-Men: Kingbreaker art by Dustin Weaver

Marvel.com: Who’d be your number one choice of all the X-Men to work with in the future?

Dustin Weaver: I'd love to draw and write or co-write a Wolverine comic. I think Wolverine is a great character that I think still has a lot of potential.

Marvel.com: What was it like in 2009 to both dip into the X-Men universe with X-MEN: KINGBREAKER and tie into the War of Kings event?

Dustin Weaver: It was a little daunting. Having had that history of being a fan of the X-Men, I think I put pressure on myself to measure up. The experience I had working on Star Wars was useful in tackling the space sci-fi stuff in KINGBREAKER.

Marvel.com: That lead to a gig on X-MEN LEGACY later that year; did you feel any weight to the pedigree behind the series?

Dustin Weaver: Yeah! I did feel the weight. I only did two issues and the story mostly focused on Rogue, Gambit, Danger, and Trance. So I didn't have a lot of juggling to do [with a lot of characters]. I had a lot of fun on those two issues.

S.H.I.E.L.D. art by Dustin Weaver

In 2010, the artist immersed himself in one of the most unique projects in Marvel history: a new S.H.I.E.L.D. series that not only introduced him to writer Jonathan Hickman, but also promised rich historical stories that would detail the heretofore secret origin of the clandestine operation. Then, in 2011, the series began again with a new #1.

Marvel.com: How did you get into the S.H.I.E.L.D. project? What was your initial take on the series and what was expected from you as artist?

Dustin Weaver: I got involved with S.H.I.E.L.D. after Nick told me the idea and asked if I would be interested in it. Right away I knew that the demands would be great, as far as creating new characters, new places, researching, and gathering reference. But the idea of getting to create something original in the Marvel Universe, to make what is almost a creator-owned type comic for Marvel was the best kind of book I could hope to be working on.

I'm not sure what [was] expected from [me as] the artist. Different projects have different demands. How well the artist meets those demands can determine if a story is reaching its full potential, or if it's effective at all. S.H.I.E.L.D. was a particularly demanding series.

S.H.I.E.L.D. art by Dustin Weaver

Marvel.com: How did you develop your working relationship with Jonathan Hickman on S.H.I.E.L.D.? What did he look to you to bring to the book in the art?

Dustin Weaver: It's hard for me to say what Jonathan looked to me to bring. I do know that there were a lot of little ideas that I brought to the art that he would start referencing and working into the story. With every project I work on I try to bring as many ideas as I can. I want what I do to be something that no one else would have done. Some projects offer more opportunities for that than others. S.H.I.E.L.D. was full of those opportunities. I think the nature of our collaboration was that we had a similar sensibility. Our visions for the series were in sync and we drew inspiration from each other...at least that's how it felt to me.

Marvel.com: With the series’ historical aspect, what was the research like for you?

Dustin Weaver: I found doing this kind of research came with some frustrations. I would try to get as much reference as I could find on a historical period, and use as many cool ideas from it as I could. Then, later, after that sequence was drawn, I'd happen to find some other bit of reference that would have been perfect. It seemed I could never do enough research. But, since Jonathan liked to jump around in the timeline, often times we'd return to that period and I'd get to use the idea.

S.H.I.E.L.D. art by Dustin Weaver

I still have, on my computer, big files full of reference for every time period in S.H.I.E.L.D.

Marvel.com: What are some of your proudest personal moments on the series?

Dustin Weaver: At this point S.H.I.E.L.D. Vol. 2 #5 and 6 are not out, but #5 is all drawn. I drew it all from a very loose outline and consequently the issue has a lot more of me in it. Depending on how it all comes together in the final product, it could easily be my proudest moment.

Issue #3 from Vol. 2 is one that I'm also proud of. In that issue the Celestial, the Star Child, destroys the Immortal city. It was something that I really wanted to do and Jonathan basically said lets do it. The fact that the story telling is carried completely through the visuals is something I'm proud of.

Infinity #2 preview art by Dustin Weaver

Beyond that, there are a lot of moments that I'm proud of. Many of them are places where Jonathan gave me something really cool to draw, like the Celestial in S.H.I.E.L.D. #1, or the Star Child's birth from the sun in #4, or, I don't know, he gave me a lot of cool stuff to draw. But there are a lot of small moments that I'm particularly fond of, like when Nathanial Richards leaves his family, or when Morda is killed.

Though S.H.I.E.L.D. went on hiatus after four issues in late 2011, Weaver’s movement through the halls of Marvel continued forward. He landed on ASTONISHING X-MEN in 2012 and began to produce covers for the series that resonated with its fans.

Marvel.com: How does it feel to have been involved with such a monumental issue like ASTONISHING X-MEN #51? What was going through your head when you were drawing Northstar’s wedding?

Astonishing X-Men #51 cover by Dustin Weaver

Dustin Weaver: I loved doing that. It was a real honor for me. I liked getting to do a wedding cover. Comics have a kind of tradition of wedding covers and it was a real honor to get to contribute to that genre. But of course the real honor was getting to be a part of something positive and pro equal rights for [the gay community].

I really wanted to make the cover joyous and bright. I'm often feeling the emotions I'm trying to evoke in an image, so with that cover I felt really happy the whole time.

In part two of our exclusive interview with Weaver, he discusses his entry into the world of the Avengers and how he came to be involved in INFINITY.

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