Leinil Yu on the Past, Present, and Future of the X-Men
The superstar artist highlights his favorite moments from the Dawn of X so far—and previews what's still to come!
Back in the ‘90s, artist Leinil Francis Yu made a big splash with WOLVERINE (1988) before diving into X-MEN (1991) during Chris Claremont’s first return to the franchise. Yu went on to establish himself as a comic book superstar, and he’s still adding new chapters to his legend.
Yu is currently back on X-MEN (2019) almost two decades after his original run with Marvel’s mutant heroes. This time, Yu is teaming up with Dawn of X architect Jonathan Hickman to explore a new era for the team.
Marvel.com recently caught up with Yu as he looked back on his time working with Claremont and forward to his further collaborations with Hickman.
“It's been a long while since I did my X-Men run with Chris, but I can say I am a more competent artist now,” noted Yu. “I really wasn't ready for X-Men at the time, and I don't think I can stand looking at those pages. It was an honor working with THE X-Men writer in Claremont, but I was still struggling technically as an artist at that time.”
“I feel I am delivering better pages now with Jonathan's run, but not without bumps and hitches,” added Yu. “I wish I didn't have to skip some issues, but personal events led me to reduce my output. [I am] still happy overall with what I came up with.”
According to Yu, he faithfully follows Hickman’s scripts. But he also appreciates the small moments of spontaneous creativity. “I usually stick with the script and work around what is asked of me to keep things simple,” said Yu. “I take what freedom the script affords me without having to change the general essence. For issue #7, I added the flower crown worn by Aero. I loved the film Midsommar, and I think it was apt since they were in Krakoa.
Yu went on to tell us that mag #7 was his favorite issue from his current run. “I have lots of favorites, but issue #7's Crucible definitely stands out to me,” recalled Yu. “It was fun to draw the action sequence while maintaining the emotional weight of the event. Issue #9's space adventure was also a fun trip.”
And while the X-Men have reclaimed several of their previous costumes, Yu indicated that he still gets to demonstrate his design skills. “The complexity of coordinating multiple books doesn't leave much for costume choices,” said Yu. “I do get to design new characters, like the ladies [Hordeculture] in #3, with Jonathan's script in hand, and giving Summoner an androgynous look in #2.”
Yu also shared a surprising pick for the character that he enjoys drawing most of all. “It has to be Apocalypse,” he admitted. “I can't get enough of him, and I think I've drawn four Apocalypse covers thus far...[In addition to] Scott and Logan, I [also] enjoy drawing and reading the Summers family.”
Speaking of Apocalypse, Yu hinted that the immortal mutant and Magneto will both have major roles in upcoming issues...
“Magneto will be back in a big way soon, and Apocalypse will be central to the upcoming arc if I'm not mistaken,” he teased. “We are trying something that I think hasn't been done before, or not done with mainstream comics in a long while. I say that with confidence as my editors are still trying to figure things out themselves. It's gonna happen in issue #12. I have yet to finish it and I'm a bit nervous if I can pull it off. Stay tuned!”
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