Archived: Doe on X-Men: The 198, Immonen on Nextwave

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Note: A version of this entry originally appeared on Jan. 28, 2006, at Supernaturally, my work and idea blog.

I've been meaning to link to PopImage's interview with artist Juan Doe, who borrows from Soviet propaganda posters and modern street art to create the striking covers for Marvel's X-Men: The 198 miniseries.
... We decided to base it in the roots of a propaganda campaign, each cover with a theme inherit to the story: "uprising," "revolution" and "death." We were working with some powerful ideas and were definitely on the same page. I loved David Hines' outline and the character of the project. Afterwards, it was just about sitting down and actualizing something.

They never asked me to do anything specific or draw a certain way; I believe they wanted a truly fresh approach, so I had free reign, a blank canvas for every piece. I thought that was really bold of them to allow me that much exploration, but it worked out great. I was able to design and interpret the whole cover, right down to designing the logo and type treatment. In the end, I think that my previous works in other arenas encouraged Marvel to use me for this project but there was no template for what the work should look like. That was a very exciting condition to work under-it allowed for a very natural vision to come through.
Back in December, I wrote about the covers for Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen's Nextwave series. Last week, Broken Frontier did the same, talking with the artist about his approach and process.
... In a rare moment of creative fraternity, Warren and I balked at the idea of the covers looking like everything else. I had a notion that they could maybe look like the cold austere work of Peter Saville, and Warren mentioned the Designer's Republic. After a long period of trial and error, and seriously deep thought on my part, I came up with a kind of "non-concept"-- that the covers would have nothing in common at all, except the layout; something in the upper three fifths and something else in the lower three fifths. I emailed "sketches" (essentially digital collages), which everyone loved, to my utter surprise. They are each, basically, a mess. But carefully constructed messes.
The article includes some of Immonen's early digital collages, which help to give the covers that energetic "found art"/pop culture mashup feel.

Hm. It seems strange to be discussing innovative, or even good, covers for Marvel titles, particularly given the publisher's penchant in recent years for generic, pinup-style images. Maybe Nextwave and The 198 are signs that the House of Ideas is turning the corner, at least when it comes to design.

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