Welcome Ed Piskor back to Boing Boing (previously), where he'll be offering an annotated page-by-page look at the first part of X-Men: Grand Design, his epic retelling of how Marvel comics' pantheon of heroes came to be. Here's page 6; read the rest first — Eds.
One of Chris Claremont’s greatest contributions to X-Men was fleshing out Magneto’s back-story to make him less of a mustache-twirling arch-villain and to imbue the character with some real motivation for his cause.
I knew a sequence involving Magneto and a concentration camp needed to be in this comic pretty early, but I was dreading the moment. I thought Claremont and John Bolton did a fantastic job on the backup stories in Classic X-Men when they first told this story and they handled this harrowing subject matter with great sensitivity and grace. That gave me a much-needed blueprint worth following.
As a creator, I opt to suspend my own disbelief in many ways for the fun of the story. This would be one of those cases. I know how old Magneto would be if he was a boy in the camps and there are very few older people who the X-Men would be worried about fighting. Readers, thankfully, enjoy going on the same ride and don’t trip too hard on such details. Alfred Hitchcock called the other kinds of audience members “The plausibles”. You’ll meet a few when visiting any given comments section on the internet regarding some pop culture subject matter. They’re usually not fun people to talk to at parties.
Panel 5: I establish this pink color as essentially being associated with Magneto and his powers. I may use it elsewhere at times but only sparingly. Generally speaking, if you see this color in the comic, Magneto isn’t far behind.
Panel 7: The image of the Nazi getting buck-shotted with nuts and bolts via Magneto was the first idea that came to mind for this page. Everything else was created around this image and the final panel. As I build every page I draw a fairly detailed rough to submit to Marvel so that they know everything I have planned. My rough for this page is very similar to this final printed strip and I remember wondering if this panel was pushing things editorially. I guess it’s not really gory but I certainly remember the days of yore when the comics code was in full effect.
Last panel: Some people see the dead Nazis in the watchtowers on their first pass. Some people see them later. I wonder if you noticed them on first read? They’re harder to see when printed at standard Floppy-size.