A close examination of Marvel’s All-New Young Guns brings to light a common thread: talented artists who love the collaborative process.
Italian-born-and-bred Young Gun artist Valerio Schiti, in particular, consistently dives hands first into any Marvel script that crosses his drawing table. Building upon increased popularity from his recent stint on MIGHTY AVENGERS, Schiti hopes to expand his ever-growing fan base beginning this week on NEW AVENGERS.
In this interview with Schiti, he discusses the enriching collaborations that led him to joining the new class of Young Guns.
Marvel.com: What first sparked your interest in working in comics?
Valerio Schiti: In one word? John Byrne. Ok, these are actually two words but it was definitely John Byrne’s fault! My mother bought me my first super hero comic book when I was a kid; it was one of Byrne’s run on FANTASTIC FOUR in the early 1980’s. Here it was 1988 or so because of the delay between the U.S. and Italian releases. I fell desperately in love with the characters, the poses, the drama and the action. I always liked drawing so how could I resist the urge to try to copy that amazing art? I even did some funny little comics for me and my friends at school; I think it’s the same for every comic artist in the business. It was so fun that I started dreaming to make it my real work one day. And I was so damn lucky to succeed.
Marvel.com: While many fans of your work first became aware of your run on JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, can you detail how you first start working at Marvel?
Valerio Schiti: My first contact with Marvel was a portfolio review with C.B. Cebulski here in Italy. I wasn’t ready to work as a professional but he noticed something in my art and asked me to do some sample pages. I really have to thank his sixth sense! It was the beginning of a long correspondence with Marvel: For the next couple of years, I did a variety of sample pages and they told me how to improve them. In the meantime I was working as an assistant for David Messina, Elena Casagrande and Sara Pichelli. Then in 2011 editors Stephen Walker and Sebastian Girner asked me to do a little backup story for GHOST RIDER #1—it was my debut on a Marvel book. After that I started a wonderful collaboration with IDW on titles like Dungeons & Dragons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Battle Beats and then the lovely Lauren Sankovitch called me back to Marvel to work on JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY with the amazing [writer] Kathryn Immonen.
Marvel.com: Fans of your work know that you have a love of Marvel history, working many classic Marvel monsters into your JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY run—what is it about Marvel's rich history that tempts you to bring characters back into the present day?
Valerio Schiti: I did a proper [amount of] research on Marvel monsters while I was working on JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, there’re so many of them! Thanks to Kathryn Immonen’s imagination I had the opportunity to bring some of them back to life with a new role. The giant monsters were initially created to entertain and astonish kids. On JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, Kathryn and I wanted to resurrect those creatures one more time to be as threatening and bizarre as they used to be. There was a lot of love in that work; let’s face it: everybody loves weird creatures in comics.
Marvel.com: Fans know they are reading a Schiti-drawn comic partially because of your great facial expressions. How did you hone that ability to draw such striking faces?
Valerio Schiti: I really love to enhance a character’s personality through their attitude and emotional reactions, the design and of course with the expressions. It’s easier on a comic book like JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY with an emphatic character like Lady Sif, a little harder in a dramatic book like NEW AVENGERS. I’m still honing, learning how to draw people’s expressions from a lot of artists like Sara Pichelli or Stuart Immonen and from Disney’s movies but the real secret is to keep a mirror on my desk. I always do every face a character does, all day long. No one except my girlfriend will see those silly faces—luckily for me!
Marvel.com: In recent months, you have been working a great deal in the Avengers universe, be it AVENGERS A.I., MIGHTY AVENGERS and soon NEW AVENGERS. Can you talk about the creative opportunities you have enjoyed getting to artistically swim deep in Avengers waters?
Valerio Schiti: There are two kinds of opportunities, coming from working on great characters and working with great people. As I said, I love to enhance a character’s personality, so can you imagine how fun it is to define the personality of iconic characters like She-Hulk or the Beast? It’s amazing! I had the best time ever, trying to personalize their costumes a bit, to show their emotions, to make every face distinctive and unique. Drawing the rage of the White Tiger, the sadness of Hank Pym, the strange kind of humanity of the Vision and the new life choices of Luke Cage was awesome.
And with great books comes great colleagues. I worked with some of the most talented writers in the business like Sam Humphries, Al Ewing and now Jonathan Hickman, with the color of amazing artists like Frank D’Armata and Frank Martin, with the supervision of editors Tom Brevoort, Wil Moss, Jacob Thomas and Jonathan Moisan. They always help, support and inspire me and that’s the greatest thing that an artist could have to do his best.
Marvel.com: If you were not working on NEW AVENGERS, is there a wish list of Marvel books you would love to get a chance to draw?
Valerio Schiti: NEW AVENGERS is so cool because you have the chance to try a little bit of every “Marvel family”: the Avengers, the mutants, the Fantastic Four, the sorcerers; but I’m still missing my favorite character ever: Peter Parker, our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man! I already met him in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY, in his Superior version, and it would be great to have the chance to work on his books!
Actually I love underrated characters too. I’m tempted by the potential of what a restyling and solid writing could do; something like we did with Sif. Marvel is doing amazing, breathtaking stuff with MOON KNIGHT, IRON FIST: THE LIVING WEAPON, HAWKEYE, ALL-NEW X-FACTOR, CAPTAIN MARVEL, SHE-HULK and ALL-NEW GHOST RIDER and it’d be cool to work on an all-new version of another secondary character.
Marvel.com: How has collaborating with a variety of Marvel's top writers and editors over the past few years helped you to become a better storyteller?
Valerio Schiti: As I said I had the opportunity to work with great experts, all of them are kind and helpful. I love teamwork and as many writers ask me for suggestions so I like to show my layouts, the core of my art, before inking. I need to include editors and writers in my creative process to avoid mistakes, enhance the pages potentialities and be sure that everything is clear. That’s one of the most important lessons I have learned from my colleagues: communication and clarity are key elements for great storytelling. Sometimes you need to sacrifice a cool shot for a clear one; a little less spectacular page could make a little more amazing book. It’s a question of balance and it’s easier looking for this balance with some help from a great team.
Follow Valerio’s work on NEW AVENGERS beginning this week and keep following Marvel.com for more coverage of the All-New Young Guns!