Ed Piskor's 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. Catch up here. — Eds.
Editing, especially the subtle art of reduction, is probably one of the most important skills for good storytelling. A silent page or sequence is rarely a bad thing in my POV. Less is more and it’s something I’m slowly adopting as practice. It takes confidence to rely solely on images to get one’s story across.
So here we have a psychic battle sequence between Charles Xavier and Amahl Farouk. For those of you who didn’t see last week’s commentary, I strongly urge you to give issue 117 of Uncanny X-Men a read as it supplies the source material for this strip and is probably the finest comic that came out that month in December of ‘77.
It should go without saying that I want to capture the spirit of my source material but I also have other influences at play. For this page, Cronenberg came to mind. I also had Katsuhiro Otomo in mind, not because of Akira really, but because of Domu, an earlier manga where he gave a test-run to explore some similar themes, including psychic warfare. I drew this page about a month before season 1 of Stranger Things came out and when I saw the program I immediately thought, “These Duffer Brothers are sharing my exact wavelength at this given moment.”
Wisely and respectfully, Marvel has given me plenty of rope to do what I need to for this project. I’ve received very few notes from the editors regarding my approach. One effort to stave off ever having to waste time redrawing things is that I basically draw a quick and dirty version of every page to show the editors so that they can see what I’m thinking. I remember when I submitted this page, my editor at the time, Daniel Ketchum, specifically told me to make sure I didn’t draw Xavier’s genitals when his limbs are akimbo. I wasn’t gonna draw his junk anyhow.
Probably one of the things I hear most from readers, and the editors liked it to, is the fez breaking the panel border in the last panel.
The first X-Men Grand Design collection is now available for purchase on Amazon! Stay tuned for another strip this time next week.
You can pre-order X-Men: Grand Design, Second Genesis on Amazon today.
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