Artist Tom Reilly Revisits the Silver Age in 'X-Men: Marvels Snapshots' #1
Get the artist's insight as he joins Jay Edidin for today's new issue!
Writer Jay Edidin and artist Tom Reilly explore the troubled youth of Scott Summers; before he was one the greatest X-Men leaders, he was a lonely teenager stuck in a sinister Nebraska orphanage. When the Fantastic Four make their groundbreaking debut, Scott’s eyes open up a new world where anything is possible...
Read what Reilly has to say about taking readers back to the Silver Age right here!
Cyclops’ tragic origin story—the Summers family's fateful plane crash—is a moment X-Men fans know well, having seen it depicted numerous times throughout the years. How did you approach this iconic scene to make it feel unique?
It was tricky! I only had about three panels worth of space to showcase this part of Cyclops’ origin, so I had to get creative about what to show and when to show it. The layout to the page is pretty cool, I think. I went through a few different iterations before I ended up there, but I think it neatly and succinctly shows you everything you need to know.
This story mostly takes place prior to Scott Summers putting on an X-Men costume, with some of it even taking place before he dons his trademark ruby quartz glasses. What approach did you take to depicting Scott at this pivotal moment in his early life?
When we first meet Scott, he’s kind of going through the motions of his daily life, and he’s this loner kid. He doesn’t really fit in with any group, he’s maybe got one friend in the whole orphanage. A lot of kids get freaked out by the extremely painful looking headaches he gets (due to his budding mutant abilities, of course). Events transpire in the book that change Scott’s mindset a bit, and depicting that evolution from someone who feels kind of lost to someone who feels they’ve found a purpose is something I tried to pay a lot of attention to.
Scott is witnessing the in-universe birth of the modern Marvel Super Heroes, AKA the beginning of the Marvel Comics Silver Age of the 1960s. What kind of elements did you include to convey this classic time period?
For all the Super Hero based stuff, sticking them in their era appropriate costumes did the trick. It was super fun to go back and figure out which suit the heroes should be sporting at that point in time. And those looks don’t get much play nowadays, so it was fun to be able to draw them professionally.
For everything else, I had to do a lot of research about how everyday objects looked in the '60s. This is the nitty gritty stuff that the ordinary person would have no interest in finding out, like specific models of school desks manufactured in or around the early '60s. Kurt Busiek, who curated this series and was awesome to work with, was a great help in this regard. He’d let me know if the car I was drawing was made in 1964 instead of 1963, stuff like that. And between him, writer Jay Edidin (the world’s biggest Cyclops fan) and editor Darren Shan, the team had an encyclopedic knowledge of Marvel Comics continuity. This issue is near airtight in that regard, any errors there may be were probably made by me.
Throughout the story, you get to draw some of Marvel’s biggest heroes in action, notably the Fantastic Four. How did it feel drawing Marvel’s First Family at the start of their Super Hero career?
It’s kind of hard to describe honestly. The first time I ever get to draw the Fantastic Four and it’s one of the crazier pages I’ve done professionally, it was a blast. And it was a lot of fun to draw these characters from the MARVELS perspective, with regular people treating these heroes like celebrities. Placing the viewer with Scott, on the outside looking into that world, was a fun artistic challenge.
What was your inspiration behind the fearsome Doctor Mantis?
Jay pretty much had the idea for the character from the jump, I went back and forth with him to fine tune her into what she became. In terms of design, I really wanted to tap into that zany energy that the Silver Age comics from the '60s had. Everyone was fighting giant monsters all the time, and it was nuts. Alex Toth’s character designs for Hannah-Barbera were also a big inspiration. It was fun to think of this character as sort of a “villain of the week” that you’d see in an old Fantastic Four or Spider-Man cartoon, kind of silly but also kind of big and scary.
What other Marvel heroes are you itching to draw?
As for characters I’d like to draw, Spider-Man is always #1, gotta swing for the fences. I’d also like to try my hand at Moon Knight, he’s been in great hands artistically over the past few years. Doing a Shaw Brothers inspired Iron Fist book would be awesome too. And now that he’s back at Marvel, Conan the Barbarian would be sick, sword and sorcery stuff is my jam. I could keep going for a while, but I’ll stop there!
What’s your all-time favorite Cyclops look?
It’s gotta be the '90s Jim Lee look. It’s funny, the outfit is pretty much comprised of design elements that you normally wouldn’t associate with Cyclops. The “X” harness and leg straps seem like they serve no practical purpose. He has a belt with about 70 pouches on it, what does he put in those? All these kind of strange components come together to form one tough, tactical look somehow. It’s one of the more understated examples of '90s excess and radness. And when you add his jacket on top it gets that extra cool factor, no one pulls off the jacket like Slim.
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