‘Ghost Rider’ #1 Artist Aaron Kuder Thinks Hell Would Have a Modern Arsenal
Kuder breaks down how the Brothers Ghost Rider evolve from page to panel.
On the heels of the debut of GHOST RIDER #1, we’re bringing you an inside look behind the art with Aaron Kuder, one of Marvel’s Young Guns and the artist on the Spirit of Vengeance’s latest miniseries. As Kuder said recently, we are products of our environment, and when Hell is your environment, the Brothers Ghost Rider are bound to make an appearance.
Kuder is working with veteran Marvel writer Ed Brisson on this oversized issue and they are revving their engines to bring you Johnny Blaze, the King of Hell, and his brother Danny Ketch who never wanted the fiery mantle to begin with!
Kuder takes us through his thoughts and motivations in this issue and pores over character designs, familiar and new, hellish and human. But let’s take a step back and see what Kuder says about his first steps into the supernatural underbelly that Ghost Rider’s Johnny and Danny live and breathe. To get to know Danny prior to drawing him, Kuder started with the first issue starring Danny, Howard Mackie, and Javier Saltares’ issue from 1990. “GHOST RIDER #1 was the first GR issue I bought, though I knew the Johnny Blaze character from other issues in past.”
“With any new project, I start by familiarizing (or in this case re-familiarizing) myself with the characters. I’ll dig up old issues, particularly trying to find the earliest references for each character. That helps me focus on what I see as the core truths of what makes them unique.”
“For example, Johnny, before anything else, is a stunt performer/daredevil motorcycle driver. So he’s going to be more headstrong and willing to dive into danger. In contrast, Danny took on the mantle of Ghost Rider to protect his family... and eventually seek vengeance for them. Danny’s core truth it that even though he doesn’t want to be Ghost Rider, he does what he has to even if he suffers because of it. Once I feel like I’ve got a good handle on the characters ‘truths,’ I doodle.”
SCRIPT TO ART: PAGES 1-2
On collaborating with Brisson, Kuder broke down how the story evolved from panel to page. “Originally, the first two pages were four panels each in the script... I added panels to create a stronger visual rhythm. You’ll note that on each page, each panel is the same (or a similar) size as the rest of the panels on the page. By doing this I created an equal weight of importance between each moment. Everything that happens should hit the reader with an equal amount of visual/emotional impact. It’s like setting up a drummer’s beat in a song, a boom, boom, boom to lead the reader into a strong introductory splash of our main character (or one of them),” said Kuder.
Kuder went on to say how the pages changed from the script to art, “Originally, the scene started out as a demon sacrifice that opens a gate to Earth, but it was on an altar, and I think Ed intended it to be on more of a table instead of that weird rock plank I drew. I tweaked it so we could have a long dramatic body/head drop.
WEAPONS FROM HELL: PAGES 3-4
In tackling page three, Kuder’s favorite part, while not usually his go-to thing, was giving the demons guns. “So often we see mystical characters sporting swords, spears, and various mid-evil weaponry… Why?!? I would think Hell would have a much more modern arsenal at hand. Plus it’s always way fun to draw completely bizarre creatures. To see how far I can push the weird side of stuff.”
Kuder also recalled that Ed really liked the bird-headed, insect-legged demon down on the bottom left. When it came to drawing Ghost Rider’s signature equipment like his chains, we asked how much he loved drawing them. He said, “Almost not at all… lol... they’re a pain!”
GHOST RIDER JOHNNY BLAZE: PAGE 5
“Kuder builds on Ghost Rider’s history in the art by taking a look back at Ghost Rider Johnny Blaze’s original design. “I incorporated elements of Johnny’s original costume as a throwback to his iconic look. Then I added texture to try to give him a burnt look (even Hell’s too hot for GR).”
“When it came to Johnny on Earth, I wanted to push the humanity of him, but also show Hell’s influence. So I gave him a ‘chill’- looking shirt. Made it red for Hell – all the kings of Hell should wear red. And then at the last minute I gave him back his iconic shades. This I didn’t even send up the editorial flag pole. Just thought he should have his mojo back.”
On featuring Johnny so prominently here, Kuder said that “it goes back to creating a visual rhythm. Showing what’s important in equal measure. Johnny’s humanity is just as important as the spirit of Ghost Rider here. I don’t want to give away anything important to the story, but I think it’s fair to say both Johnny and Danny have some soul searching coming up.”
ROUGHS TO INKS: PAGE 10
Regarding Kuder’s process from rough sketch to inks, Kuder tweaks the roughs as he goes mostly in the background elements.
With page 10, Kuder’s goal was to highlight Danny’s bike. “Danny’s classic bike had a shell around it. I stripped it down to show the guts of the machine. This wasn’t just an attempt to make it look cooler. I did this to reflect Danny’s personal state of mind. He’s at a low point in his life, and it’s bleeding through to his Ghost Rider persona. He’s beaten down, and his bike should look like it’s barely holding together.”
Diving deep into GHOST RIDER #1’s character designs, Kuder notes the tipping points that led to each of their final looks and that includes Johnny and Danny’s bikes because they are effectively extensions of those character’s personalities. He mentioned that he had a lot of freedom to create whatever he envisioned. “There was not a lot of back and forth about that stuff. I did present a couple different versions of Eyeless, and I believe Ed did show a slight preference for the version we see in the issue.”
Said Kuder: “Eyeless is a demon that has a bit of a role in the first issue. I wanted to make sure I gave Ed and Chris options so it would impact the reader with the intention Ed needed in the story.”
“Danny’s bike is a reflection of everything he’s going through – it has all the same bones of his classic ride, but it’s been through hell... literally.”
GHOST RIDER DANNY KETCH
In this splash page, when asked about his motivations behind Danny’s Ghost Rider, Kuder said that he, “was just playing around with Danny and his burden. The duality of him and Ghost Rider, how much Ghost Rider is weighing down on Danny.”
See the final versions of all these characters and more when ALL HELLS BREAK LOOSE in the first installment of GHOST RIDER!
Find out more about Marvel’s Young Guns – The Next Generation of Elite Artists!
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