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Marvel Custom Solutions

The Marvel Life: Ty Pennington

Agent M speaks with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition's Ty Pennington, one of Earth's Mightiest Designers about comics and more!

By Ryan Penagos

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition art created by Marvel Custom Solutions and Todd Nauck

This Sunday, May 15 at 8 p.m./7 p.m. Central, Marvel Custom Solutions joins the heroes of ABC’s "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" for the most marvel-ous home renovation of the season! In anticipation of this titanic team-up, we talked with two of the terrifically talented EM:HE designers, Ty Pennington and Xzibit! See what they have to say about Marvel comics, movies, helping people and much more, starting with today's Ty Pennington interview! 

Marvel.com: What was it like working with the custom solutions group on this project?

Ty Pennington: Well, any chance you get to work with Marvel--especially for someone like me who grew up reading those sorts of [comics]--was a blast. What’s great is to be able to [let your] imagination just soar. Not only that, but getting to use the Phantom Camera to make it look insanely cool was just something we don’t get to do every day. [The Phantom Camera is a high speed camera used in the episode to help create amazing effects. - Agent M] To be able to shoot at that kind of shutter speed, to be able to really make it look like some of that was really happening was so cool. I mean it was awesome. For me, to be able to play around with that and create something so cool, like something that would happen in a Marvel comic was sort of a dream come true. I mean really, we never get to do something that cool.

Marvel.com: That’s awesome. I’m glad we could help make that happen. You said you read comics when you were younger. Do you have any specific heroes that you were into?

Havok & Wolverine: Meltdown #1 cover art by Jon J. Muth

Ty Pennington: These guys my brother and I met early on were really big time collectors and so clearly we got into the X-Men at an early age. They had some real rarities and really crazy stuff that [was] worth money. They wouldn’t even let us into that case [where they kept the comics]. I started following the X-Men at a really early age, and the Silver Surfer. And even into adulthood, with the graphic novels--especially when they started getting into some really cool watercolor illustrations and things like the HAVOK AND WOLVERINE: MELTDOWN series. There’s just some really cool stuff that came out. You know, I’ve been following that scene for a while; even things like Watchmen that came out of it back in that time were just great, let’s just say I think what was great was that comics finally got to be recognized as more than comics. It was great to see that respect given out there, because I think comics sometimes don’t really [get the respect for] what they really are.

Marvel.com: Yeah, the artform of comics is something to be respected. And it is worldwide, but to see it in America moreso now is wonderful. Your reference to the Havok/Wolverine story is fantastic; that’s a hardcore fan story right there.

Ty Pennington: Yeah man. I’m letting you know. I’m in. I’m a fan. It was great to be able to work with [Marvel Custom Solutions]. Hell, on another project I got to meet Stan Lee and I was like “Oh my god, this is amazing!”

Marvel.com: That's awesome! Stan's the man!

Ty Pennington: It was mindboggling. I meet some pretty big celebrities all the time, but meeting a guy like that... He’s just unaware of how many people’s lives he’s touched. And he’s okay with it. He’s totally blown away at how much a comic in its original mint condition can go for. Considering he was sitting there [making comics] and he never thought that they’d be worth anything, which is just amazing. It just blows you away.

Marvel.com: It totally does. So in this episode of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," the design crew members got super hero nicknames and powers. Did you get a nickname?

Ty Pennington: You know what’s funny is I basically just had the golden megaphone. Clearly my voice is loud enough, but with that amazing power, it was [almost] bone-crushing.

Chris Evans stars in Captain America: The First Avenger

Marvel.com: That’s awesome. Are you looking forward to the "Thor" and the "Captain America: The First Avengers" movies this summer?

Ty Pennington: Yeah. Oh my god, absolutely. Cap and Thor and the whole nine yards. I’m all about it. That’s pretty cool because Captain America has never really come out until now, right?

Marvel.com: Yep, this is his real debut on the big screen.

Ty Pennington: Wow. Yeah, I’m excited to see that. I love all of them, man. It’s great when you can tie them all in, too--which they do in the storylines in the comics [and it's] awesome. In "Thor" I thought I saw a glimpse of, and maybe I’m wrong, but I saw that maybe "Iron Man" shows up in another one because Stark is somehow connected.

Marvel.com: There’s a Stark reference and S.H.I.E.L.D is all throughout it. And then the end of the film after the credits, the scene completely ties it into everything we’re doing next. It’s all super connected, super fun.

Ty Pennington: Wow, I’m stoked. That’s awesome. To be able to wait this long, to wait until the technology has gotten to the point that you guys can really make it visually the way it should be, I guess maybe that’s why you waited so long. It’s incredible now. I can’t imagine trying to do it back in the 70s. There’s just no way you could have pulled it off. It’s amazing.

Marvel.com: Isn't it just? Anyway, back to EM:HE...

Ty Pennington:  Even our own celebrities are going to be awesome. Just looking down through the back of the camera and seeing what it looked like when Xzibit was walking down the hall acting like his mind was making the walls explode and seeing it in slo-mo looked so good. I can’t wait to see it on the show.

Marvel.com: What’s your favorite moment or memory from the show, from everything you guys have done? I think what you guys do is super cool and helping people has gotta be great.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition's Ty Pennington

Ty Pennington: Wow. That’s a tough question, man, because it’s like a parent saying what their favorite child is. Honestly, there are so many really, really incredible moments--whether it’s a kid seeing something they’ve really only dreamed of for the first time or just a real change in someone’s life knowing that they’re really going to have a place that’s now suited for them that makes them reconnect with their family. You know, sometimes they’re in a wheelchair, sometimes they’re not.

Sometimes it’s just the fact that we’ve been able to turn the page and start a new chapter. Sometimes it’s a look on a kid’s face. It’s a really incredible hug you get [when you know] what you did really made a difference and it’s going to last a lifetime. For me, it’s tough to say what just one thing was [my favorite], but it’s that gratification that what you’ve done in one week will last a family a lifetime. Clearly, some of the best moments are when that bus moves and you see in their face what huge change looks like. That’s just incredible.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition art created by Marvel Custom Solutions and Todd Nauck

There’s nothing like it when you’re right there. When someone has a reaction where they’re just running up and down the street high-fiving all these people that have been working on the house all week, seeing that elation that they just want to hug every single person there; it’s that community spirit that you can’t even describe because you know so many people came together to make it happen. To see that family member just go nuts and run up and down the street screaming and have a huge smile on their face, it’s pretty damn awesome.

Marvel.com: That sounds awesome. All right, last question: If you could pick one super-power, what would it be?

Ty Pennington: Probably the power of clarity. To communicate clearly. I’ve got probably the most patience of any man on the planet. But I think the power to communicate your vision clearly to other people would be awesome.

Marvel.com: Well there you go! I've never heard that one before, but it's actually quite cool. 

Follow @TyPennington, @extremehome and @Marvel on Twitter! 

Check out a preview of this episode of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" here and don't miss the full episode when it airs on Sunday May 15 at 8 p.m./7 p.m. Central on ABC.


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