Thursday, February 14, 2013

Entry 167: Avengers Covers #11 and #12

Look what I've got!


As usual, Justin Ponsor is killing it on the colors.

I know what you're thinking, "More Avengers covers? Didn't you just do a blog entry that included 3 Avengers covers? And already you have more? What's going on here, Dustin? Is this ALL you draw now? Avengers covers?... I mean, draw something else, man. This whole Avengers cover thing is getting old."

Well guess what-- you're not the boss of me. Okay? You don't tell me what to draw. Marvel does. I am Marvel's dancing monkey NOT YOURS! Okay pal?

Moving on.

So, the image that I've posted above is my cover for Avengers #12. My instruction here was that these characters are in the Savage Lands and that it has a lighter, almost vacation-like feel to it. You'll see in my sketch for this cover that I initially had them wearing casual clothing to reflect a kind of vacation feel. We ended up deciding to go with costumes. I like it better with the costumes. But the thing that got me excited was that it's the Savage Lands and that means Dinosaurs! They didn't even ask for it to feature Dinosaurs but I had to put some in there right? I mean this is the Savage Lands. So my first thought was, "I'm not drawing a T-Rex or a Triceratops." The T-Rex is so played out at this point, I don't care how loud it appears to be roaring, I'm yawning. So the first thing I did was turn to my good buddy, Ben Bates, and asked him "what's your favorite Dinosaur?" He said a Protoceratops. To which I started to laugh. This is exactly why I'm friends with Bates. He has a natural aversion to the obvious path. I said, "There WILL be a Protoceratops on this Avengers cover." That got me thinking of Dinotopia. My Protoceratops is basically Bix from Dinotopia. And as I was flipping through a Dinotopia book for some inspiration I saw a Therizinosaurus and I thought, "I want to draw that." Throw in a Stegosaurus for good measure and the obligatory Pterodactyls and you've got my  Avengers #12 cover.

I like this cover. It seems unusual to me. I was afraid it might be too low key or something, but Jonathan and the guys and gals at Marvel liked it. It's one of my favorites in the run so far.

From one of my favorites to one that I have very mixed feelings about...

Avengers #11 cover

The idea I was given for this cover was to draw this particular group of characters in Asian-inspired versions of their costumes, for example, Ironman in Anime-inspired armor, that sort of thing. As a fan of Japanese Manga my mind was full of ways to make Japanese versions of these characters, but they didn't ask for all Japanese-inspired costumes. Also I know that Shang-Chi is Chinese, so what sense does it make having all the characters in Japanese costumes? I started sketching some ideas, but every Japanese-inspired costume seemed more iconic and recognisable than any Chinese costumes I could think of. On top of that, what about every other country in Asia? On top of that, I needed to have covers 11 and 12 done within a week or something like that. I wasn't sure what I should do with it. I decided to sketch something, even if it was mostly Japanese-inspired, and see what everyone else thought of it. So I sent the sketches for this and the #12 cover. This looked good to everyone. Maybe it was because we were tight on time, but we went ahead with it as it was.

I regret not putting more effort into finding creative solutions to making this cover more multicultural, or at least more Chinese, and less Japanese. I had a lot of little excuses for doing this cover this way, but ultimately I fear it makes me look a little culturally ignorant.

All of that said, I had a lot of fun drawing this one. It was pure fun.

Spiderwoman is inspired by Sailor Moon. I had so much fun making her costume like that. Blackwidow is a kind of Masamun Shiro-Appleseed-Ghost in the Shell kind of thing. Captain Marvel is like a Samurai. Really, this is just because her costume lended itself so well to it. I will say that there are ancient Chinese armors that are very similar. (Check out my Zhang Heng S.H.I.E.L.D. cover.) Shang Chi is just in his current costume. Cannonball could be a reference to a lot of different things, the most obvious being Power Rangers. And Sunspot is dressed like a ninja. Side note: if there were a bow staff in there I would have had all the Ninja Turtle weapons accounted for.

On a separate note, another regret:

I had no idea how much Blackwidow was boobing out until I saw it in color. The irony is that I don't even like drawing her with her top zipped down. It doesn't make sense, but because this cover is a
complete fantasy, you will never see the characters in these costumes, I thought it was okay. After I saw it in color I thought, "Oh boy. Too much."

So there you have it.

I swear I care more about Chinese people and not being offensive to them than I do about Dinosaurs and pleasing Dinosaur nerds. Even though the attention I gave these covers could speak to the contrary.

I don't know. What do you think?

Here are the sketches followed by the black and white versions.

Blogged and blogged.


  1. As a comic book fan of Asian (Cantonese speaking Chinese) I applaud you for at least admitting your designs weren't Chinese inspired and for even mentioning that there's a difference.

    Your run on S.H.I.E.L.D. is an inspiration, so I'll let you slide.. but the next time you encounter a sitch like this, just draw everyone as characters from Monkey King's Journey to the West and everything will be jake. Make Tony Stark the guy with the pig face. :)

    1. Ha Ha! Thanks. I really appreciate your comment. And yeah, if I ever encounter a very similar situation, You'll get your pig face Tony Stark.

  2. The cover for #11 looks lovely. But considering the issue takes place in Hong Kong, it does come off as a bit ignorant unfortunately - which I know wasn't the intention. Although I think the concept behind the cover lends itself more towards an anime-inspired look, you could have given the characters more Chinese styled aesthetics (clothing, armor and weapons). It would have still maintained an anime feel, but also been more culturally relevant. Another idea could have been to use an 80's kung fu movie theme for the cover. Anyway, it's not a terribly big deal. Like I said, the cover still looks fantastic, and it's nice to see Shang-Chi take center stage.

    1. One thing I could have mentioned is that many times the suggestion for what the cover should be is all that I'm going on. Sometimes I have a script that I can read. In the case of the Shang-Chi cover, I was going purely on the suggestion. I actually thought that there was a chance this issue took place in Japan since Kobe Japan is one of the origin bomb locations. I didn't know it was set in Hong Kong until the solicitations came out.

      At any rate, I do appreciate the comment, and I'm glad you still think it looks nice-- even if it is wrong.

  3. Your art is so amazing. You're really good. I can't wait for your Avengers arc to start. I wish I could draw as good as you. Do you have any tips of the trade you could share for how to be a better peciller? Any insight would be helpuful. Thanks, and I can't wait to see your Avengers arc. The Starbrand looks awesome, did you do his design?

  4. any chance we will get a shield update 5?

  5. That Protoceratops looks shy and adorable.