Avengers Artist Javier Garrón Introduces the Mephistos of the Multiverse
Something wicked this way comes to the Marvel Multiverse…
It’s about to be Mephisto’s Multiverse, and the Avengers are just living in it. As the Devil himself made clear in Jason Aaron and Javier Garrón’s AVENGERS #55, he plans to take over every reality in his path – and he won’t be alone. Naturally, he has turned to the only ally he can count on: himself. All 616 versions of him, in fact.
To illustrate the gravity of this looming threat, Garrón produced 79 unique versions of Mephisto in a massive double-page spread. Now, speaking to Marvel.com, Garrón breaks down the challenge of creating this level of Mephisto madness on a deadline, several of his favorite references and all of the surprises he discovered along the way. He also explains what, exactly, makes a Mephisto a Mephisto, teases the Avengers’ Mephisto-filled future and more.
MARVEL.COM: I spent a while really exploring this page, so I can’t imagine how long it took to create it. From conception to the final copy, how long did that process take you? Where do you even get started with a spread like this?
JAVIER GARRÓN: Well, it certainly took a lot of time! I did it quite a while ago, but I remember it took, as expected, way more than scheduled originally. If an easy single page takes a day, a more detailed one (more background-heavy, more crowded or detail-filled) takes a day and a half… I guessed this would take double that. Three days. It ended up four-ish.
As for process, for me, it’s all structure. You lay out the foundations and build up from there. What’s that in this case? In this case, the goal was to fit as many Mephistos as I could. I’m a huge, massive George Perez fan. Even though I can’t even aspire to be 1% as good as he is, I try my best to pay tribute to him. My goal was to make one of his classic super crowded double spreads, like in the INFINITY GAUNTLET or his AVENGERS run.
So, I started sketching bodies in the double spread, fitting as many as I could. One extra notch there was that every Mephisto should be different: taller, smaller, wider, slimmer, human-shaped, half-human shaped, not at all human-shaped… You start from the foreground and make your way to the background, adding bodies each time more in the distance, until those shapes are too small to add any differentiating detail.
Once I had that, I counted the characters that were on the page: I managed to fit 79 main, recognizable figures. I wanted more! I must admit I was a bit disappointed in myself. But the clock is also running, the deadline looming and you have to move forward.
So, I had 79 figures to fill in with detail. I took the ones Jason [Aaron] listed, I also went back and searched for the ones [Ed] McGuinness had drawn in the series in back issues (to add some sort of continuity) and also the few ones I drew myself. I wrote all that down, and then I started writing everything I could think of to fill the rest of the blank spots. Once I had the list, I started doing the pencil work on the spread, adding details on each one, and then inking. Always looking at the clock!
MARVEL.COM: How many Mephistos did the script call for? Did Jason have any suggestions for you as you were putting this together?
JAVIER GARRÓN: Jason is the most encouraging partner-in-crime you could ask for! His scripts are beautifully written, filled with detailed and evocative texts that inspire and push you to raise the artistic bar.
In this case, the script talked about 616 Mephistos, which is not a casual or random number and has a very Marvel meaning. Obviously, it’s not possible to draw 616 characters in a double spread; that’s not the goal, but to give at least that sensation. It should be an enormous, massive, colossal, and unstoppable army of devils. Each one the same character, but at the same time, completely different being from very different realities.
And of course, the script had a lot of Mephistos listed! Comics are team work and it’s always about adding cool things on top of cool things on top of other extra cool things. Jason gave me not only a super awesome and strong list of things, but also an extensive and expansive field for me to run wild.
MARVEL.COM: There are some very different takes on Mephisto in here, like Mech Mephisto and Dragon Mephisto. What did each iteration need in order to capture the true spirit of the character?
JAVIER GARRÓN: I can’t call myself an expert in character design – I walk in the shadows of giants in that subject – but one thing I’ve learned listening to the real master is that the general shape is essential. Even without watching the details, on a first glimpse, each silhouette must be different and as much iconic as possible.
That’s the first thing, but the second one is also essential. We’re not talking here about completely new characters. Every single one is a version of an already existing one. So, all of them should read “Mephisto” when you see them. You achieve that through the character’s classic details, like the hairstyle, the grin, pose or receding line.
I’m talking all the time about black and white art because that’s what I do, but it’s vital and essential and absolutely half of the magic to have a good color artist, and here we have a master in David Curiel, a complete genius. If a Mephisto looks like a Mephisto, if this comic is dazzling and epic and vibrant, [it] is because of his endless talent.
MARVEL.COM: As you were brainstorming ideas, what was your unlikeliest source of inspiration for these pages?
JAVIER GARRÓN: Once you’ve tried comics, movies and series, which are kind of the most obvious (but good, duh) sources, I find myself turning to surrealist choices. Kind of the ones that don’t feel a good fit at first, but because of that absurd nature, by contrast, they complement each other, like sour and sweet.
What I mean with this is that Mephisto is, well, a demon. The demon. Like, duh, right? So, you tend to go with dark, sinister, evil references, shapes and silhouettes. But Jason, being the genius he is, put this up front: one Mephisto is a cartoon pig Mephisto. A cartoon pig is like the least evil and devilish type of character you can think of. It’s super cute and cuddly. And that’s the master touch: evil can corrupt everything and evil can be everything, everywhere. So, if you lean into that spirit you have the most unexpected, yet – I think – great choices, like Howard the Duck Mephisto or a Lion King-inspired Mephisto.
MARVEL.COM: If you can remember, which version of Mephisto was the first you put to paper, and which was the very last?
JAVIER GARRÓN: I’m the kind of guy who eats a meal in order: first the side, and then the main course. That kind of applies to most everything; I do things in order. That structure that we talked about earlier with the spread, I started with the bigger figures in the forefront and then, level by level of depth, I made my way through the smaller figures in the background. But a double spread is really not a single, double-sized page, but actually two pages put together. So, there’s a left page and a right one. As with depth, I deal with width in order, from left to right.
The first figure I drew was the main Mephisto, the big one with the line of dialogue. That’s the center pillar of the spread. It’s also on the left spread and where all the other characters rest. I started with him, and then drew from front to back all the figures on the left side on the spread. Once I finished, I turned my attention to the right side, where the main, front figure is the Iron Inquisitor. From front to back, the last figure I drew was… the flying cat Mephisto!
MARVEL.COM: Which Mephisto is your favorite, and why? (I’m partial to the cat – Kitphisto? – myself.)
JAVIER GARRÓN: Kitphisto! I LOVE it! Settled, that’s the official name from now on!
We were talking about surreal, absurd (at first) choices, and that’s kind of a soft spot for me. That’s my favorite kind of humor, and we’re making here an extraordinarily epic, action-packed roller coaster of a comic, but also a super fun one!
There’s a certain evil mermaid sea witch that I love and a Staten Island energy vampire that drives me crazy, probably because I love the main source where they come from. It’s hard to pick one! I also adore the most unlikely ones, like the Mech or Howard the Mephisto, super big and very small. The absurd and the unexpected. That’s also a good definition for me, I guess.
MARVEL.COM: Obviously, there are quite a few references to pop culture in this spread. What, in your opinion, was the deepest cut you made here?
JAVIER GARRÓN: Good question! We had to tweak a few of them to avoid being too similar to the original thing, so now they’re kind of farther from the origin and thus a bit more complicated to see the resemblance (it worked!). But in terms of the reference itself, regardless of anything else, I think it’s a movie and music one.
There’s a certain singer-actor, who appeared as a cunning, evil wizard in a movie a long time ago… a movie with puppets! The movie it’s a-maze-ing! Maybe it’s the deepest cut, since it’s a kids’ cult movie from the 80s and I don’t know how popular or known it is right now for a broader, international audience. Many of the classics I grew up with in Spain (where I was born and live) are not so well known outside our borders, and I mean American or British films!
MARVEL.COM: Which Mephisto surprised you the most?
JAVIER GARRÓN: Hahaha, weeeell… I think it’s Kaiju Mephisto! For one, it’s literally a monster. But once it came [to] the moment to tackle it, I couldn’t just draw it like it’s always been represented! That’s no fun!
On top of that, it needed to read Mephisto somehow. But how do you make a giant, reptile-like, mutant monster from hell look like a certain devil? Well. It needed… hair. And for the life of me, it works like a rocket! It’s ridiculous, yet scary. It’s referential, yet unique in its very own way. I don’t recall having seen anything like it! So, there you go. Kaiju Mephisto has hair. Sorry, not sorry.
MARVEL.COM: At the end of the issue, we find out there are a whopping 616 versions of Mephisto. Were they any you couldn’t fit into this particular issue? If so, what are the odds we may see them down the line?
JAVIER GARRÓN: Ooooh, they’re coming! They’re here! The Avengers are facing a threat like no other in the history of the Marvel universe. Mephistos are pouring left and right, and every issue there are more and more coming. Everyone is different from the other. It’s an immeasurable, ever-changing and growing danger in an escalating situation.
For issue #55, we had to draw the line somewhere! Many, many of them were left out of the issue. But don’t worry, they’ll have their time in the spotlight! Something wicked this way comes!
MARVEL.COM: If you could tell the story of just one of these Mephistos, which would it be? Who do you think would have the most interesting story, and why?
JAVIER GARRÓN: Well, I think you’ve influenced me, because now all I can think of is Kitphisto! He wants to eat your soul, but he also wants you to pet him! Oh, the dilemma! He needs you but he hates you! That’s the kind of internal conflict that drives the most interesting characters since the Greek theater.
Kitphisto, torn between sleeping on your lap and torturing you in the deepest pit of hell! Kitphisto, he who devours your soul, but probably will toss it out like a ball of hair in his throat! Jason, prepare your shelf for another Eisner award – it’s coming!
To discover the Mephistos of the Multiverse for yourself, check out AVENGERS #55 by Jason Aaron and Javier Garrón, on sale now!
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