All-New Young Guns artist Valerio Schiti clearly relishes tackling the diverse number of heroes and villains that populate NEW AVENGERS. He possesses a clear grasp of what fuels the core appeal of each character and brought that to the page.
Schiti opened up his sketchbook to share his work and his views with us exclusively on Marvel.com.
Valerio Schiti: Though he has a really peculiar physical appearance, in my opinion the Beast’s most important characteristic is without any doubt his spirit. It's the one thing that always gets to me. Basically Hank McCoy is a good person, the purest of all NEW AVENGERS together with Reed Richards. So from my first sketches, my intention was to convey this goodness of his. To achieve [this] I focused on him being a scientist, a teacher and a friend; that is to say that I focused my attention on Hank rather than the Beast; on the man rather than the monster.
Valerio Schiti: Black Bolt doesn't appear much in these stories but when he enters the scene his actions speak for him and define him as the resolute and majestic character that he is. Compared with the other Avengers I tried to picture him always taller and with a more muscular physique just to show his royal status and his serious nature.
Valerio Schiti: Actually the Black Panther that appears in the book has a more simple costume than the one that appears in the sketch. The fact is that [writer] Jonathan Hickman wrote many scenes in which T'Challa's costume becomes invisible, projects force-fields and materializes energy daggers. So I thought that it was kind of cool to make the costume look really basic. Thus the readers would have been amazed by his capabilities; and at the same time the costume would have looked to be made with a technology so advanced to be practically invisible.
Valerio Schiti: Creating the design of the Black Panthers from the past was one of the most amusing things of this run. For every costume I was inspired obviously by history or ethnic groups, but I added some elements that recur in every design: leather clothes, golden necklaces and animal bones, fur coats and most importantly the blue-striped cloth typical of the Black Panther's costume. The idea was to stress tradition, the heritage that's part of being the Black Panther, as if every chosen one had inherited even the costume of his predecessor—of course maybe customizing it a little bit and creating the minimal design that he wears now.
Marvel.com: Do you also consider his distinctive use of his eyebrows a key to getting Doctor Strange’s look just right?
Valerio Schiti: Absolutely! Yes! I wanted him to look pretty smart, sharp, a man that has lived a lot of extraordinary experiences and that knows unspeakable rites and spells and, most important of all, knows how to use them. I was inspired by Vincent Price; at first I also thought of drawing him just with his mustache, but, together with editors Tom Brevoort and Wil Moss, we decided to keep the goatee to respect continuity.
Valerio Schiti: The design that appears in the book is more classic than the one in the sketch. I focused on two things particularly: shades and metal on the mask. The Doom that you’ll see in NEW AVENGERS #24 has his face always in the shadows and that is to show the character’s dark and at the same time reflective attitude. On the contrary the mask is really rough; it doesn’t look like a hi-tech gizmo. This choice reflects on the story and it’s a way to tell Doom's nature. He doesn’t need decorations, he doesn’t need a shiny, polished mask; Doom’s a king and he’s royal even with a piece of iron instead of his face.
Valerio Schiti: I really like this version of Iron Man suit, it’s a very strong version. The color and the shape of the helmet and the eyes make it look even more “wicked.” I think it fits more a story like the one from NEW AVENGERS. Generally speaking, for an artist it’s always fun to work with armors or costumes that have a lot of details. And it would be even more fun to create them. The problem is, if you create a super-detailed costume, could you handle it through [the entire] book? You always have to look for balance.”
Valerio Schiti: In situations like this one a sketch like this can help you a lot when you have to draw a wounded character in more than one page. You can see exactly where the injuries are so that they remain in the same places. This sketch turned out to be useful for [artist] Kev Walker too when he was drawing NEW AVENGERS #22. I'm not sure to which extent you in the USA know Saint Seiya – Knights of the Zodiac. In Italy they were very popular when I was a kid. Usually during the fights the characters remained with half or even a few pieces of armor. That's where the inspiration for Iron Man’s partial armor breakdown comes from.”
Marvel.com: Unlike his father, Kristoff does not need to hide his face. But he clearly emulates his father in this costume.
Valerio Schiti: It’s true, he looks a lot like his father. I didn't want their costumes to be identical, though. They often appear in the same scenes so I didn’t want to mess with the readers. I took the chance and I created a new costume that resembled Doom’s, but I drew it as if it was more sophisticated, belonging to a man who was more accustomed to royalty and luxury. Let’s say Doom’s more like a medieval monarch and Kristoff more a 1800s-like emperor.
Marvel.com: The first thing I noticed with your approach to Mister Fantastic, how quickly did you realize you wanted to give him the absent-minded professor hairstyle?
Valerio Schiti: [Laughs] I really enjoyed drawing Reed and you are absolutely right, I wanted him to look exactly like a genius professor that doesn't care much for his looks. In all of the stories I read Mister Fantastic has always been a lab rat and I didn’t understand why he was looking so picture-perfect! Also I thought of drawing him tall and very thin, as if his looks would suggest his powers.
Valerio Schiti: A lot of readers appreciated Namor’s new haircut and I'm really happy for that. Actually the look came quite naturally, I was looking for a real modern haircut that would have given the same weird effect of his classic haircut. But in my opinion the essential feature to really show Namor’s attitude is his gaze, he has to look always bored and not interested. I hope I got that one right; I really wanted to express his superiority complex. And needless to say, he has to be super-handsome!”
Valerio Schiti: The Hulk’s costume is his body, his muscles. The Hulk doesn’t need a real costume! It’s a really basic character, almost primitive I'd daresay. And I think Jonathan Hickman got the Hulk’s real essence: ‘Hulk is the strongest there is.’ Stop.
Pick up NEW AVENGERS #24 for Valerio Schiti’s next work, plus keep checking Marvel.com for the latest on the All-New Young Guns!