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Artist André Araújo’s not only really getting into his work on EDGE OF VENOMVERSE #4—which you can read August 9—it’s almost as if he’s merging with the famous symbiote himself to create the perfect storm of a comic book with writer—and Yellowcard lead singer—Ryan Key. Take a look into his art with this special sketchbook spotlight, and catch a glimpse of what’s cooking in Old Man Logan’s dire future…
Marvel.com: André, what are your artistic inspirations in terms of figure design and layouts?
André Araújo: People that have followed my work—both here at Marvel and my creator owned work Man Plus—know I’m a huge fan of Moebius and Otomo, taking inspiration from them in regards to pretty much everything: figures, layouts, designs, themes. But many more names come to mind, with a similar impact on my work: Druillet, Hermann, Shirow, Toriyama, Leinil Yu, Frank Quitely, Sean Murphy, Samura, Urasawa…among many others.
Marvel.com: When you first read the script for this issue, what sorts of things were you immediately struck by? What did you feel you needed to bring to this one?
André Araújo: I was immediately struck by the conflict in the center of the story. I won’t spoil it, of course, but I knew it would demand some care as it wasn’t simply mindless action. So adding weight to the events on the book was my main concern, because I knew that, from the characters and situations that were on the script, the fun factor would always be there.
Marvel.com: Old Man Logan is such a fascinating character—what goes in to your portrayal of him here? How do you balance such things as strength and sympathy in him?
André Araújo: It’s all in the details, I think. Because he is Wolverine, but not the Wolverine we know. At least not entirely. So there’s a need to incorporate the old traits we all know and love about Logan, but we’re taking into account the rather dramatic story that led from Logan to Old Man Logan. It can’t be exactly the same character. So there are the subtle changes in clothing, hair, dialogue, movements. When you add it all up, you have Old Man Logan.
Marvel.com: Your rough layouts seem pretty tight. What’s a typical day like for you drawing a book like this? Where do you begin on a page?
André Araújo: After I get the script I’ll read it and draw all of the layouts, which is usually a two-thirds of a day’s process. In this step, it’s very easy [to make a fix] if something isn’t working properly; that’s why I draw them pretty tight. I take into account the composition, pose, angle, perspective, balloon position—all of it. Then I start doing the pages. I draw traditionally, ink on paper, and I start with a blank page—some artists start drawing over the layouts, which is clever, but I love a white piece of paper—it’s the part where everything is possible. I usually work in chunks of 10 pages, meaning I pencil 10, then ink the same 10 and move on. This is to prevent me from moving around too much from tool to tool, but it’s broken in chunks to avoid getting tedious. I pencil 10 pages in one week and I ink 10 in another week. That means it takes me four to five weeks to draw one issue of 20 to 24 pages.
Marvel.com: What do you enjoy most on a story like this? The more organic, down-to-earth elements or the fantastical parts?
André Araújo: It’s a combination of both. All artists love the great action splash pages, the big spread of a city where you can showcase all your skills, but you need the mundane, the routine parts, so that the big pieces have impact. So that’s how I love to craft my stories: showing all the down-to-earth bits and then surprising readers with a splash or a spread where I can flex my muscles and give the story an important/spectacular moment.
André Araújo and Ryan Key suit up Old Man Logan with a symbiote in EDGE OF VENOMVERSE #4, available August 9!
Simon Spurrier and Tigh Walker just might tip the scales in favor of the symbiotes in the pages of EDGE OF VENOMVERSE #3. The July 26-dropping issue brings a new Venomized character into the fold: Ghost Rider! With the Spirit of Vengeance, otherwise known as Robbie Reyes, on the side of the symbiotes, it may seem impossible for the good guys to pull out a win—but we’ve got faith in them.
While we wait on the big event, we talk with Walker about bringing these two deadly designs together, working towards a monumental story, and working with Spurrier!
Marvel.com: When creating the look of this symbiote-possessed Ghost Rider, what were the key elements of each individual icon that had to come through in the finished product?
Tigh Walker: One thing that I really hoped to carry over from both characters was that slick black oiliness against those clean, crisp white designs. From Venom, the spider, and from Ghost Rider, those bold blocky lines. So I tried to combine those two iconic shapes into something new but familiar for the Host Rider.
More specifically, I really wanted to include Venom’s tangle of teeth, tentacle-y tongue and scraggy eye shape.
Then, I was also looking to borrow Ghost Rider’s skeletal schnoz, cheek bar thing—I don’t know what it is but I dig it!—and that fountain of forehead flames.
I really wanted to make him something you might actually be scared of if you met him in real life. I mean, I’m sure if you met him in real life he’d be totally disarming. His name would be Stu or something, and he’d be a dentist or an accountant and he’d have two corgis, a favorite movie, and a song that made him cry every time he heard it; he’d be a lovely guy. But because it’s not real life and both Venom and Ghost Rider are a tad horrifying on their own, it was important that that quality be mirrored in the Host Rider.
Marvel.com: How was the actual design process for this combined character? Was there a lot of back and forth about getting him to look just right?
Tigh Walker: My first impulse was to go out, grab a Ghost Rider and a Venom costume, put them on at the same time, stand in front of the mirror, take some pics and send them to [editors] Devin [Lewis and] Allison [Stock] for feedback. But the sales clerk thought I was saying denim, not Venom, and basically I got some sweet jean shorts that I didn’t want instead.
I’m just kidding. I totally wanted the jean shorts. They’re amazing and do wonders for my calves.
For the design, Devin/Allison initially sent me a few really nice covers that had been done previously, so I had those as a reference to begin with. Then after reading the script, I had a fairly solid idea of what I thought this [fiery]/goopy/toothy guy should look like.
For the Host Rider himself there wasn’t too much back and forth, but there was a bit for his mount/vehicle, just to get that sweet puppy looking right.
There were a lot of designs for this issue and every one of them was insanely fun to work on. So much so that I’ve started Venomizing random things at home. Toothbrush? Venomized. Grape soda? Venomized. My fish, Fin Diesel? Venomized. It’s pretty fun, you should totally try it. Or don’t, I’m not the boss of you, do what you like.
Marvel.com: With a Venomized Ghost Rider you’ve got two very different kinetic elements at play between the symbiote and the latter’s fire. How was it playing with those two from panel to panel?
Tigh Walker: It was interesting to find a balance for sure. Both of those elements can get pretty busy visually just on their own, so it was fun to marry them and find ways to have them co-exist.
I found that the fire really helped show large sweeping movement because you can have it trailing off of the Host Rider in fun ways. There were also cues from Simon about which element should be favored and when, which really helped.
For his weapons, the Host Rider uses a sort of fiery flail type thingy sometimes, but he can also shoot chains—like webbing—that are covered in that slick, black symbiote goopy stuff. So there are opportunities to showcase it all.
Marvel.com: Both Venom and Ghost Rider are pretty powerful on their own, but combined they sound almost unstoppable. Is it fun playing with that level of ability on the page?
Tigh Walker: Look TJ, by now I feel like we’re friends, so I’m not going to sit here and lie to you: it really is. It’s super fun. It was a challenge to try and convey that amount of energy on the pages, but I tried to fit as much in as possible. Oddly, as I was drawing this issue, every now and again I caught myself smiling giddily for no other reason than the page was just crazy fun to be drawing. And I don’t normally smile, like, ever. Not even for pictures.
Marvel.com: How has it been working with Simon and editorial on this important lead up to a big event?
Tigh Walker: Working with Simon/Devin/Allison has been sincerely fantastic.
I can’t really say enough about Simon’s script for this issue. Immediately after reading it for the first time I stood up, screamed “Are you kidding me right now?!?” at some random cat that just happened to be in my living room, ran down three flights of stairs and whipped an egg salad sandwich at a parked car. So basically, Simon owes me an egg salad sandwich. That’s how good his script is. It’s egg salad all over a car good.
Devin and Allison are super great to work with and I’m very honored and excited to be a part of the lead up and to see where the story takes us. I’ll tell you what though, if I ever get a chance to meet them—they’re both getting hugs. And I’m not even a hugger, like at all, so it’s sure to be extra awkward for all of us.
EDGE OF VENOMVERSE #3 by Simon Spurrier and Tigh Walker roars into stores on July 26.
Symbiotes will continue sweeping the nation in the pages of EDGE OF VENOMVERSE #2! The July 12-hitting issue from Christopher Hastings and Irene Strychalski will shift focus from X-23 in the previous entry to another highly dangerous character: Gwenpool!
After meeting and joining forces with her Symbiote, the new entity dubbed “Venpool” will continue her wild adventures, this time stumbling upon something that will have huge repercussions moving forward into the event. We talked with Strychalski about designing Venpool, working with Hastings, and lending her skills to a big time comic book event.
Marvel.com: Your issue of EDGE OF VENOMVERSE focuses on Gwenpool. How was it integrating the symbiote elements with her existing look?
Irene Strychalski: Gwen has such an animated, over-the-top personality, that my first instinct when designing Venpool was definitely to exaggerate lots of body parts.
I mean, Venom already has some signature elements that are often exaggerated, like the freaky mouth and claws. But I gave Venpool these oversized claw-hands, big dinosaur legs, and a tail; because I felt like no matter how scary the symbiote was, it had to still look somewhat comical on her, and take on some of her traits. Luckily, the editors seemed to like that general direction.
I did have to make some edits, though, since the first draft leaned much more towards the Venom side, with the curly eyes and not much of Gwenpool’s signature cute pink. It started out as something much more sinister looking. [Editor] Devin [Lewis]’s feedback was to aim for a balance between the two characters. Which worked out for the better, of course, because I think a balance of both characters’ narrative tones is how this issue turned out: spontaneous and funny, but with horror slowly creeping in.
Marvel.com: One of the most fun aspects of Gwenpool is that she kind of sees the whole world she’s in as a comic book. How does that play into her view of being Venom-ized?
Irene Strychalski: Well, I think she jumps right into it and uses it to her full advantage! We don’t show her first meeting the symbiote. But I imagine it would not be a difficult adjustment, since she would know what Venom is all about. Both are rather indiscriminate about hurting people in this “fake comic world,” so they actually go together quite well. In a weird, they-are-both-totally-nuts way.
Marvel.com: What can you tell us about the kind of trouble Gwenpool gets into once she’s joined with the symbiote?
Irene Strychalski: I don’t know how much I can reveal. I think it would be fine to say that, since Gwen doesn’t normally have powers, being joined with the Venom symbiote gives her a lot of abilities that she didn’t have before; which all serves to make her even more brash and impulsive—because that’s totally what she needs. She develops a new crush and has a hard time convincing Venom that they shouldn’t kill everyone other than “The Cute Boy.”
Marvel.com: It’s teased that Gwenpool will come upon something that will be a huge factor in the upcoming event. What can you tell us about the design process for that particular item?
Irene Strychalski: If the something I’m thinking about is the same something that you’re talking about, that thing doesn’t come into play for this issue until the end. It makes quite an impression though. I got creeped out drawing it. It’s a very horror-inducing thing. But since it had a short appearance—and perhaps by it’s nature, too—I didn’t have to do much designing for it.
This is totally cryptic and confusing. But I’m sure the readers will understand once they read the book! The thing is scary.
Marvel.com: How was it working with Christopher on this lead-up to a big event?
Irene Strychalski: I had worked with Chris on a couple of issues of [UNBELIEVABLE GWENPOOL] before, so I knew I’d be getting a good story. Chris has a wonderful sense of humor and I think especially the way he writes comedy is very visual, so that helps me do my job down the line! [Laughs]
For this particular book I think the script came in after I finalized Venpool’s design, and Chris incorporated some stuff like her dino-tail into the action. Which was pretty cool.
EDGE OF VENOMVERSE #2 merges symbiote and Gwenpool thanks to Christopher Hastings and Irene Strychalski on July 12!
Eddie Brock returned to his symbiote roots this week in VENOM #150. That reunion will also lead to an immense Venom-ization of various characters across the Marvel Universe.
EDGE OF VENOMVERSE launches in June. Each issue focuses on a Venom-ized character with a different creative team. The first issue, by Matthew Rosenberg and Roland Boschi, will showcase X-23—aka the All-New Wolverine—and her struggles as she deals with not only escaping the Facility, but also the symbiote trying to take over her mind and body.
We talked with Boschi about combining Laura’s sharpness with the fluidity of the symbiotes, plus his experience working with Rosenberg on helping to set up this major event.
Marvel.com: This project is unique in that it’s using each issue to introduce a new character for the Venomverse story by a different creative team. How does that experience differ than some of your other work?
Roland Boschi: At first I previewed a sample of the amazing Venomverse covers when Marvel hired me on X-23. Then you realize that you’re part of a big crossover. It’s totally thrilling!
Marvel.com: The Venom version of X-23 looks like just about the most dangerous character of all time! How was it coming up with that look?
Roland Boschi: I truly enjoyed the character of Laura in the movie “Logan” recently, how versatile she can be, from the silent young girl to the savage killer. Mix that with Venom’s symbiote and there is indeed a scary character! I try to show [Laura’s] face through the dark tendrils as much as I can, especially when her humanity speaks before she unleashes the symbiote!
Marvel.com: What are the key elements of X-23’s character that will remain even given her Venom-induced transformation?
Roland Boschi: She is constantly fighting the hunger of the symbiote and it looks like she finally almost handles it. The claws, high velocity, and healing factor of X-23 remain, plus the vicious Venom skills!
Marvel.com: Symbiotes have always been very striking visually as they seem like they’re always moving. Is that something you try to convey on the page?
Roland Boschi: Absolutely; make tendrils in motion and spread them all around the page as much as possible!
Marvel.com: How was it working with Matthew on this kick-off to a big event?
Roland Boschi: I haven’t had the chance to meet Matthew so far, but it’s a true honor to be working with him. The first reading of his script was immediately exciting with the action sequences and X-23 infected by the symbiote, but I enjoyed even more the second part, focused on teenagers, living their wild life and meeting Laura.
X-23 struggles with her symbiote in the pages of EDGE OF VENOMVERSE #1, out June 28 by Matthew Rosenberg and Roland Boschi!
A Venom comic written by Yellowcard frontman Ryan Key with art from Andrew Lima Araujo? Sounds like Marvel music to our ears! As we inch closer and closer to the major symbiote event of the summer, be sure to check out EDGE OF VENOMVERSE #4, an exciting story of fathers and sons—and T-Rexes—set after the events of the original “Old Man Logan” saga.
Before the sticky tendrils of the alien goo complete their takeover of the Marvel Universe, however, we had a chat with Key about his first-ever comic—childhood classroom doodles notwithstanding—writing an epilogue of sorts to a beloved story, and how this issue will directly set the stage for the summer’s Venomverse.
Marvel.com: We’ll be seeing some iconic X-Men characters in EDGE OF VENOMVERSE #4, which is set after the events of “Old Man Logan.” Can you talk a little bit about your approach to writing a follow-up to this classic story?
Ryan Key: At the start I was given basic instructions: “We need Old Man Logan to encounter the Venom T-Rex from the original story and end up in the symbiote suit somehow.” I was pretty much free to build the story around that. Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s original story left me with a lot of really cool toys to play with and I decided to pick up the thread not long after that. In the last scene of “Old Man Logan,” Logan is riding off into the sunset with the Hulk’s infant son, Banner Jr. strapped to his back. Even though he’d lost his whole family, Logan has so much hope in that moment. He’s going to raise this kid he’s adopted to be a hero—they’re gonna save the world together. I don’t want to spoil too much, but I can say, Logan’s past eventually catches up to him and it has huge consequences for him and Banner Jr.
Marvel.com: In a way, the Venomverse is the flip side of the popular Spider-Verse. What’s it like to explore this “dark side” of the Spider-Man universe that is now bleeding into the Marvel Universe at large?
Ryan Key: I was beyond excited when I found out I was going to get to work with Venom for my first ever attempt at writing a comic. I don’t know if you can count the comics I wrote and drew during class as a kid. Spider-Man was a huge part of my childhood and Venom has always been, without a doubt, one of my all-time favorite villains in the Marvel Universe. I feel like Logan has always had a “dark side” himself and this version of him in his older age where he slips into this apathy we saw in the first [“Old Man Logan”], provided an opportunity to fuse him with the symbiote and awaken that rage we’ve always seen from him. Just the thought of Wolverine in a Venom suit was more than enough to get me on board for this!
Marvel.com: How does it feel to help set up this major summer event?
Ryan Key: I am so honored to have been asked to write this book. If you had told me 30 years ago when I was starting to get into comics that I would be writing my own for Marvel someday I don’t know that I could have even comprehended that! This has been such an amazing process. I have learned so much about how creating a book is done. I was definitely nervous at first, but as it all started to come together I was just too excited for words. It has been incredible.
Marvel.com: How will your story specifically help set up the Venomverse?
Ryan Key: At a certain point a symbiote suited Logan gets pulled away from the adventure he’s on at the start of my story by some unknown force. I can’t say where he goes, or why this happens, but readers will immediately see that there’s something much bigger going on—and it’s all connected to the symbiote!
Marvel.com: What are you most looking forward to with this issue?
Ryan Key: I am like a kid on Christmas Eve waiting to see the artwork for the first time. I am still sort of pinching myself to make sure this is all really happening! I am just so excited to see the words come to life through the art.
Marvel.com: As a musician, do you find anything similar between writing music and writings comics?
Ryan Key: I have always told stories in a lot of my lyrics so I think there is a loose connection there. However writing a script for a comic is definitely a new adventure. I really hope that people enjoy this story so that I might get the opportunity to write more in the future.
Marvel.com: What would you say is Venom’s and/or the Venom symbiote’s theme song?
Ryan Key: Without a doubt, “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine.
Stay tuned to Marvel.com and our social channels this week for more information about Venomverse!