If you don’t already know the name David Marquez, you will soon. The All-New X-Men artist began his career as an animator on Richard Linklater’s trippy A Scanner Darkly and has since left rotoscoping Keanu Reeves behind to become one of the hottest artists in comics, creating dynamic pieces for titles like Ultimate Spider-Man with Brian Michael Bendis, Syndrome, and Marvel NOW’s All-New X-Men. We caught up with the rising star and all-around nice dude to talk Marvel milestones, putting his own spin on the X-Men, and his forthcoming creator-owned work, The Joyners in 3D, which is, well, in 3D. 3D, people! That’s one more “D” than we’re used to getting in our comics!
Nerdist: You’ve come a long way since working on A Scanner Darkly. Now you have two series with Brian Michael Bendis and an upcoming creator-owned series, The Joyners in 3D with R.J. Ryan. Tell us about your work habits. How do you stay focused?
David Marquez: It’s really a matter of prioritizing. I have a daily and weekly goal for the work I need to accomplish, all based on whatever my deadlines happen to be. Everything flows around that. But it’s important to make sure I’m not working 100% of the time, as easy as it is for me to get lost in my work. So I work out, I practice Aikido, and make sure to carve out some quality time with my fiancée. All work and no play makes David a dull boy. And less productive.
At first, bouncing back and forth between my work-for-hire projects and The Joyners in 3D took some adjustment. JI3D is done in a VERY different style than my mainstream work, but the same basic work flow applies in both cases, if with some slight modifications. I’m over halfway done drawing JI3D now, and by this point, it’s considerably easier to jump right in.
N: Does your process vary based on with whom you’re working?
DM: It really boils down to cultivating a relationship with each writer. By this point, R.J. Ryan and I have been working together for nearly 4 years, and we have a really good rhythm going. While he doesn’t have a ton of work currently in the marketplace, Josh (as he’s known to friends) is a writer people seriously need to keep an eye out for. His writing is the equal of any of in the business – intensely intimate and personal, while leaving tons of room for laughter and tears alike.
Brian Bendis and I are now beginning our second year as a writer/artist team, and I think we’ve really clicked. His scripts constantly challenge me, while giving me ample opportunity to draw the kinds of stuff I love: intense emotional scenes where I get to play with a ton of facial acting and body language, and viscerally kinetic action. I’m incredibly fortunate to have been able to team up with two incredible writers.
N: Talk to us about All-New X-Men. This is the original X-Men brought back to the current timeline. What can we expect from the book?
DM: As with all of Brian’s books, there’s a huge focus on the interaction between characters and their emotional arcs. The Original 5 X-Men are stuck in what is, to them, a truly dystopian future, and the true extent and enormity of their situation is only now starting to sink in. In the first story arc, Brian and Stuart put the X-Men, past and present, on a speeding train, culminating in the decision that the Original 5 were going to be sticking around. For my arc, you really see each team member slowly coming to grips with that decision.
Oh, and there are a ton of awesome fight scenes.
N: You were also part of one of the biggest events of last year – the introduction of Miles Morales in Ultimate Spider-Man. Will All-New X-Men shake up the Marvel Universe’s status quo in a similar way?
DM: Absolutely! Miles Morales in Ultimate Spider-Man introduced us to an entirely new character learning how to become a superhero, and we get to learn about the challenges – physical and emotional – with him. With All-New X-Men, we are reintroduced to characters we’ve loved and cherished for years, but in a form still so innocent and naïve that the world is, for them, entirely new. Just like with Miles, we as readers and fans gain a fresh perspective on the world of the modern Marvel Universe, in all its glory and in all its flaws.
N: How do you go about setting the visual tone for a book like All-New X-Men? What has been the most challenging part? Can I hold you to your Twitter declaration that “all my future character designs will be monochromatic unitards?”
DM: Ha ha, well, I haven’t had a chance to design any characters yet, so you’ll just have to wait and see. But regarding the visual tone, I’m very much taking a cue from Stuart Immonen’s work on the first 5 issues. Stuart is one of the best artists in the business, and had a really definitive take on the characters and world of the X-Men that made a huge impact on readers, myself included. It’s important to me to give readers a sense of continuity as I take on the responsibility of drawing this book for the next 3 issues. I don’t mean that I’m attempting to mimic Stuart’s style, but I want the feel of the art to be consistent with the issues that came before. What that’s really boiled down to is seriously upping my game. I’m always very consciously working to improve my craft, and this issue gave me all sorts of new challenges that forced me to grow and learn as an artist. And it’s paying off; I unequivocally believe this is the best work of my career to date.
N: Tell us about The Joyners in 3D, which you’re doing for Archaia. It’s been described as a dark twist on The Jetsons. Also, it’s in 3D. What’s the deal, man?
DM: I’ve heard a number of comparisons along the lines of The Jetsons meets The Ice Storm or American Beauty. This is a story of the family of the future falling apart. There’s certainly a satirical note to the tale. In a future where poverty, hunger, and pollution have been eliminated, we still have to deal with the biggest threat humanity faces: human nature.
As for why 3D? First and foremost for me, as an artist, because it’s a challenge. Our goal with this book is to transcend the gimmick of 3D. 3D lends itself to great use as an incredible artistic and storytelling tool, from framing, composition and emphasis to giving a very visceral feel to the wide open spaces of this future’s cities in the sky. A huge part of this hinges on the fact that I’m doing all the conversion myself, giving me complete control of the 3D from the very conception of each page, and through each stage of its completion. And no one has done a full-length, ambitiously charter driven graphic novel DESIGNED to be in 3D. We’re incredibly excited to be the first.
N: What sort of freedom does creator-owned work offer compared to working for a bigger publisher on a preexisting franchise?
DM: The biggest freedom comes from not having to worry about whether certain artistic or creative decisions fail to serve, or are inappropriate for, a certain brand. With a creator-owned book like The Joyners in 3D, we can do whatever we want. Now, that obviously comes with its own challenges, as there’s no safety net, but, honestly, that just pushes us to produce the best book we’re capable of.
N: Many of our readers aspire to enter industries like the one you’re in. What do you know now that you wish you had known when you were first starting out?
DM: As important as work is, taking time for yourself is just as important. As long as you nail your deadline.
N: We have to ask – what comics are you reading and enjoying right now?
DM: There are a ton. I’m reading all of the Marvel NOW titles, and also really enjoy Hawkeye, Daredevil and Daredevil: End of Days from Marvel. I’m also reading Swamp Thing, Animal Man and Batman from DC, fantastic books. And there are a ton of indie books I’m really enjoying: Manhattan Projects, Saga, America’s Got Powers, Fatale, Black Kiss 2 and tons more. I have a stack a couple feet high from the last year I’m still getting caught up on. Drawing comics takes up a ton of time!
Oh, and I’ve also been reading through Akira for the first time. Such an awesome book.
N: You’re in for a treat with Akira. I wish I was reading it for the first time again. Last question! What is in your ideal burrito?