This October, the new God of Thunder kicks up a wicked storm in THOR—and artist Russell Dauterman finds himself right in the epicenter.
Only a few months after making a spectacular Marvel debut on CYCLOPS with Greg Rucka, Dauterman will be helping to launch the bold new era of Avengers NOW! with a female Thor wielding Mjolnir. How did he get here? He’s not even entirely sure!
“The past few months have been pretty crazy,” Dauterman says with a laugh. “I was just settling in on CYCLOPS and loved working with everyone in the X-Office and Greg and [colorist Chris Sotomayor], who are amazing. I’d worked out the schedule with my editors so I would be taking a little break to get married. When I came back from honeymooning, I checked in with editorial to get back to work; later that day I was offered the THOR gig.
“I actually don’t know all the details of what went down while I was gone, but I think there were some discussions at Marvel about my work and I think [THOR editor] Wil [Moss] pushed me for the project, which I’m very grateful for. I definitely was not expecting to leave [CYCLOPS] so soon, let alone be put on something like THOR, but I’m really, really thrilled.”
Helming the new series as writer will be Jason Aaron, who already has a solid two years of Norse action under his belt with THOR: GOD OF THUNDER. Dauterman joins a creative and editorial team ready to make a mark on the mythology of the Marvel Universe.
“[THOR: GOD OF THUNDER] is one of my favorite books from the last couple years, so getting to work with [Jason], especially in similar territory, is a treat,” says the artist. “[Editors] Wil and Jon [Moisan] have been great, too, giving really helpful feedback and being super supportive. And, Matt Wilson is coloring the book! He’s one of the best.
“Really I just want to tell a good story. I’ve always gravitated toward strong female characters; with Thor, I hope to help shape one who’s nuanced, special, and whose stories people enjoy.”
In addition to the sketch work that Russell provided, Marvel.com also got our hands on exclusive pages from THOR #1 and asked him to give his commentary…
Marvel.com: One of your great strengths as an artist is being able to convey emotion powerfully through things like facial expressions and body language. How did you approach showing the former Thor’s despair on this page? What tools did you use? And was it challenging to depict a typically proud character in such a state?
Russell Dauterman: First off, thanks! I appreciate that. Working out the facial expressions and body language are some of my favorite things about drawing comics. Usually that involves me trying to act out the emotions of the scene and taking reference photos of myself as I'm doing it. I’m sure that looks ridiculous, but it works!
For this page, Jason did a great job of describing Thor Odinson’s emotional state, talking about how he was withdrawn and pleading with Mjolnir “like a jilted lover.” I love that description—it really helped. I tried to play up that desperation in his face.
I actually really liked getting to draw a more vulnerable Odinson. Classic Thor has been drawn so many times looking heroic and powerful, and drawn so well like that, so it was refreshing for me to get to do something different.
Marvel.com: I love the perspective of the last panel from Mjolnir’s POV; was that in Jason’s script or did you come up with it?
Russell Dauterman: That was something I added. The script said that Odinson was reaching for the hammer and described what he was feeling. At first, I had a side shot of Odinson’s hand, but it didn’t look great compositionally and didn’t have much impact. So, I tried a few other options and then thought it would be cool to show the perspective from the other side of this “break up,” especially since panel three is from Odinson’s perspective. And that allowed for a front-on look at his face, which I tried to make look pretty desperate.
Marvel.com: What are we seeing on this page? After going heavy on emotion previously—and some here as well—how do you transition to action?
Russell Dauterman: On this page, Odinson’s parents try to help him in different ways. Odin gets frustrated and tries to lift the hammer himself, which devolves into him getting super pissed and just blasting it with energy. Freyja takes a calmer approach and tries to comfort her son about the whole unworthy situation, but he’s so shell-shocked that Freyja ends up holding him, basically cradling him like a child.
The transition to action usually happens with page layout for me; I try to use panel shapes to reflect the mood of what's going on. On page seven, things are pretty calm and straightforward, so that page has a more traditional layout than this one, where panels start to get skewed. Things definitely get more skew-y as the issue progresses!
Marvel.com: A really creepy approach to Malekith here—what are your influences as far as his design?
Russell Dauterman: Yeah, creepy was definitely what I was going for! My starting point for his design was Malekith’s original look, by Walt Simonson. I love that design with the crazy hair and Roman-style skirt. I knew I wanted to keep that silhouette, but modernize it. So, I de-80’s-ed the hair, trying to make it almost like a cape, shortened the sleeves, and added some armor elements, hopefully elf-ish looking; can’t really see it in this page, but the full design works in his star motif, too. Also, I worked with Jason and editors Wil Moss and Jon Moisan on the color scheme to make it a little more modern/subtle than previous versions.
Marvel.com: What went into creating the new look for the former Thor? What did you feel you needed to convey?
Russell Dauterman: That costume was actually designed before I came on board by the great Esad Ribic. I think it captures the derelict state we find original Thor in at the beginning of the series—he’s pretty bummed out.
I did work out how I was going to draw Thor and Unworthy Thor with some character models before I started issue #1, though. Basically I was just figuring out proportions and deciding how I was going to draw their faces, hair, and how I was going to interpret the designs.
The new THOR #1 by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman brings the thunder on October 1!