X-Men: Grand Design: Busting up the Nazis

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 4; read the rest first — Eds.

Director’s commentary

If this were an Avengers comic, Captain America wouldn't worry about protocol or mission objectives in order to save the kid being menaced by nazis. This is an X-Men book so Wolverine gets to be the antsy guy ready to pounce. It’s immaterial regardless because Magneto handles his own business.

This page is inspired by the classic standalone issue 268 of Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee set in 1941 with a young Captain America meeting Wolvie for the first time. There was also a great episode of the classic ‘90s X-Men cartoon called Old Soldiers (written by Wolverine co-creator Len Wein) that featured this dynamic duo. Both, the comic and the cartoon are equally awesome and you should check them out at any cost.

The splash panel with Cap’s shield busting up the nazis is a good formal use of comics which couldn’t exactly translate into other media. I don’t often include sound effects but I wanted to slow the reader down enough to communicate that each smack from the shield was its own unit of time. When you look at that image as a whole, time is traveling at the speed of that star-spangled shield.

When I do use sound effects I like them to look the way Wally Wood drew them (for those keeping score at home). Read the rest

X-Men: Grand Design: The Xaviers

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 3; read page 1 first — Eds.

Director’s commentary

Long before the X-Men publisher was called Marvel it was known as Timely. The heroes (The Fin, Original Human Torch, Blonde Phantom, Blazing Skull, Angel, The Destroy, The Witness, and Vision) in the first panels represent the more popular creations from Timely's "Golden-Age". Because this comic is a veiled world-building exercise, I will take the opportunity to include characters from the extended Marvel pantheon into X-Men: Grand Design whenever possible.

The Sub-Mariner tidal wave that engulfed New York City in the last strip provided me the opportunity to come up with some sort of explanation for how Charles came to have a giant estate and an even bigger disposable income (Danger Rooms and Blackbird Jets aren't cheap). As far as I know this has never been covered in a major way before, though we do know early on that his father is a scientist.

Panel 4: The battleship floating over the submerged city, absorbing solar energy to then evaporate the water was a fun challenge to compose and I can live with the resulting illustration. As an artist, the beauty of such a project is that it really stretches one’s drawing chops with all that’s required. One page is World War II imagery. Read the rest

X-Men: Grand Design: Mutant History

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 2; read page 1 first — Eds.

Director's Commentary

My goal with X-Men: Grand Design is to take the thousands of pages that make up Uncanny X-Men issues 1-281 and try to make a complete, concise, and satisfying 240 page story which includes all the most important elements, but none of the fat, redundancy, or deus ex machina from the series .

The X-Men and mutants, in general, are the quintessential marginalized underdogs of the Marvel Universe.I wanted to use this page to give readers the scoop on how mutants work in my version X-Men because it is slightly divorced from what's been established in the classic run.

The Marvel comics of the early ‘60s grew out of the Atlas comics of the ‘50s which were the product of a post-Hiroshima/Nagasaki ‘40s. The Atlas magazines used nuclear, atomic energy and mad-science as a McGuffin to explain the creation of many of their monsters. It’s no stretch to imagine these ideas seemed to factor into the X-Men origin. The two best-known X-Men writers, Stan Lee and, Chris Claremont suggest that mutants were the 20th century product of nuclear testing, fallout, etc. I like the idea that mutation has always been a part of our world. Where would evolution be without it? Read the rest

The first page of X-Men: Grand Design, with author and artist Ed Piskor's commentary

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. — Eds.

My work on X-Men would never have been possible without the popularity my work has achieved thanks to Boing Boing publishing Hip Hop Family Tree for four and a half years. It's a pleasure to bring the Marvel mutants to the Happy Mutants for this limited serialization of X-Men: Grand Design. I created each page to function as its own unique and complete episode/strip that, when read in total, would tell a bigger story. Over the course of the next few weeks I'll be posting a page at a time, and providing a director’s commentary with every strip, to give you some insight into where my mind was when while creating the whole tale. Strip 1

One of my cardinal rules for purchasing comics as a lad was never to buy a story that was halfway through being told. If I saw “Part 3” on the cover or splash page I was out. This left few options, but one consistent purchase was Marvel’s What If… volume 2 (early 1990s). The conceit was that Uatu The Watch would stand-in as defacto EC horror host, a la The Crypt Keeper, and give us an alternative-reality tale of a famous Marvel story (Example: What if...The Fantastic Four fought Dr. Doom without their powers?). Read the rest

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