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Young Guns

Young Guns: The New Guns

Six more artists join the Young Guns pantheon

By Marc Strom Last week in his MyCup o' Joe column on MySpace Comic Books, Marvel Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada announced the latest sextet of burgeoning artistic stars who would be notching their guns as the House of Ideas' latest round of Young Guns in 2009: Daniel Acuña (ETERNALS), Stefano Casselli (AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE), Mike Choi (X-FORCE), Marko Djurdjevic (DAREDEVIL covers), Rafa Sandoval (INCREDIBLE HERCULES) and Khoi Pham (MIGHTY AVENGERS).

These six superstars-in-the-making will join an elite class of amazing artists upon their assumption of the Young Guns label. Begun in 2004 and continued in 2006, the Young Guns program has produced some of the hottest creators working in comics today, including the draftsmen responsible for bringing CIVIL WAR, SECRET INVASION and other blockbuster Marvel events to life. Now, after our two-part retrospective of the previous Young Guns, we have a full rundown of the newest class! In addition to their current workload, each of the Young Guns will also contribute a variant cover to the first six issues of DARK AVENGERS, with each artist highlighting a different team member. CLASS OF 2009

DANIEL ACUÑA Daniel Acuña's lush, painterly work took Marvel by storm in 2008 with his debut on ETERNALS, picking up from 2006's hit limited series. After finishing six issues on that series, Acuña's art will next appear in UNCANNY X-MEN ANNUAL #2 on January 21. "There's not much to say except that Daniel's art is absolutely stunning," raves ETERNALS editor Mark Paniccia. "Whenever we'd get a new page for ETERNALS we'd all just sit in a trance, staring at our monitors."

STEFANO CASSELLI After working on the hit limited series CIVIL WAR: YOUNG AVENGERS/RUNAWAYS in 2006, Casselli helped launch AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE in 2007, a title he recently left to prepare for his upcoming gig working on SECRET WARRIORS alongside writers Brian Michael Bendis and Jonathan Hickman. "Stefano Casselli has a terrific, bouncy, energetic style that's reminiscent of J. Scott Campbell without simply being a knock-off," says Tom Brevoort, editor of both AVENGERS: THE INITIATIVE and SECRET WARRIORS. "He's grown tremendously with every assignment, and he's poised to break out into something special-which is why he's a Young Gun."

MIKE CHOI Mike Choi, along with his fiancée and colorist Sonia Oback, has already made his imprint on the Marvel Universe illustrating a number of X-Men projects, including the six-part X-23: TARGET X limited series and a stint on UNCANNY X-MEN with writer Ed Brubaker which helped set up the team's current status quo. Currently he's wrapping up an arc on X-FORCE before digging into the upcoming X-FORCE/CABLE: MESSIAH WAR PROLOGUE. "I think it's really exciting," Choi describes his new Young Guns status. "I couldn't sleep the day I found out, and not telling anyone until I saw it literally in print was really hard, because I didn't want to get my hopes all the way up until it was 100% official. The only person I told when I'd first heard was Sonia, because it affects her professionally as well, and I used it as one of the reasons to marry me as she became my fiancée two minutes after. So, yes, being a Young Gun does help you get the ladies."

MARKO DJURDJEVIC The German artist made a splash at Marvel beginning in 2006 with his stunning covers for series such as BLADE, DAREDEVIL and THUNDERBOLTS. More recently he's branched into doing interior artwork with THOR #7-8. "[Being named one of the Young Guns is] like a children's birthday party, everybody gets scrambled eggs and you're the one with the eggs sunny side up," the artist humorously explains. Editor Warren Simons, who has worked with Djurdjevic on THOR and DAREDEVIL, tells us that the title of Young Gun is a bit of a misnomer with this artist: "While Marko might be a 'Young Gun' in our industry, his work has been anything but that of a young artist's. From the terrific storytelling to the beautiful rendering to the kinetic action that seems to pack every panel, you can tell that Marko's an artist who's put in the thousands of hours necessary to learn his craft."

KHOI PHAM After a number of one-shots and limited series, Pham helped kick off INCREDIBLE HERCULES in 2007, drawing the first four-issue story arc before jumping over to MIGHTY AVENGERS, where his gorgeous pencils continue to make the team Earth's Mightiest Heroes. For Pham, being included in the Young Guns has special meaning given the caliber of work his fellow "classmates" are producing. "I feel totally out of place-have you seen the stuff the other guys do? Wow. I'm awed to be in such company. Being a Young Gun means a lot, and I intend to represent Marvel as best that I can." "I can't wait for everyone to see the stuff [new MIGHTY AVENGERS writer] Dan [Slott] and I are working on," Pham says of his current workload. "Add some Danny Miki inks and some Jason Keith colors and you've got something really special. I'm really pleased with it, and I hope everyone likes it."

RAFA SANDOVAL One of the most recent Young Guns to make his Marvel premiere, Rafa Sandoval helped usher Marvel's favorite demi-god through the Secret Invasion in INCREDIBLE HERCULES #116-120, while he currently brings the Young X-Men to life in their own title. When he found out he'd be one of the newest Young Guns, Sandoval says he was "very surprised and simultaneously very, very happy. It's a huge honor to be part of Young Guns with such great artists, and I am humbled that Marvel gave me the invitation to join this incredibly talented group. I look at the next year as a Young Guns artist as a great responsibility-and am focusing to deliver nothing but my best work." Look for more coverage of the new Young Guns coming in 2009! Check out the official Marvel Shop for the best mighty Marvel merchandise!

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