Comics

Rocket: Heists and Hinjinks

Adam Gorham opens his sketchbook, filled with space raccoons and more!

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Everyone’s favorite tough-talking, diminutive tactical genius stands poised to blast into solo action once again on May 10. The new ongoing series ROCKET from Al Ewing and Adam Gorham will present the not-a-raccoon as a galactic-level thief who’s putting together a variety of capers to help a friend. Of course, to do that he’ll need a team.

We spoke with one of the most important members of that squad, Gorham, about drawing furry animals, setting up heists, and exploring Rocket’s past!

Marvel.com: It sounds like you’ll be digging into some of Rocket’s unexplored past in this series; did that give you the opportunity to design some new characters or draw some old favorites in classic costumes?

Adam Gorham: Absolutely on both counts. From the very first page we’re seeing Rocket in a suit leaping like a Hong Kong action star. My aim was to convey that this is a new flavor of the character. My artistic leanings tend to be ink-heavy, “gritty,” dark, and that lends itself to this new series, especially as it goes along. So while Rocket and his crew don flashy suits, I did have a chance to draw characters in their recognizable outfits while adding some flourishes that would set them apart from previous appearances.

What’s also very cool for me personally is, when I’m drawing backgrounds or crowd scenes, being able to draw aliens from various races in the cosmic Marvel universe. Peppering in a Skull or Strontian or Kymellian—it’s fun! It feels very much like going through a toy box and going wild.

Marvel.com: This series also deals with some intricate heist plot points. Do you enjoy working with what sounds like a more structured script to bring that all across?

Adam Gorham: I’m enjoying it. It feels like I’m constructing something. It’s sometimes challenging, but those are challenges I’m happy to meet. As we continue to work, I feel like I draw a little bit more for Al and he writes a little bit more for me. One neat thing about our ROCKET book, and it’s a credit to Al’s inventiveness as a writer, is how a new caper is introduced and handled in every issue. It’s pretty grand to read his issues play out.

The challenge then for me is not just drawing interesting pages, but to make sure vital information is given to the reader so the payoffs are earned. To that end though, I have had freedom to improvise with the visuals while making sure the necessary beats are hit. That’s the funny thing about going from script to art. It’s a little like how furniture instructions read pretty cut and dried, but when you’re assembling all the pieces in your living space, things can get messy. So I’ve had great support and freedom for adding new visuals that flesh out the story.

Marvel.com: Along those same lines, how has it been working with Al on this series so far?

Adam Gorham: It’s been swell. I’ve met Al once, saw him several times over a convention weekend. We had the chance to get a feel for one another’s personalities and discussed our views on what we want our Rocket to be. He’s a charming fellow and I felt very reassured our book would be something special. He’s very receptive to my input and supportive of my art. One of my favorite moments so far has been reading a script and seeing “here’s that thing you asked for.”

Marvel.com: Rocket will team up with some special folks to pull off this heist. What can you tell us about the design process for them?

Adam Gorham: The Technet! Can we say that? They’re on the cover! I was largely unfamiliar with them when I started this book. Drawing them initially threw me for a loop because of their cartoonish dimensions. When I first drew them something felt…off. So I started over. And over. I had to keep at them until they made sense to me.

I had to learn to reconcile drawing this hard-nosed noir story populated with these outlandish characters. It’s the kind of thing that doesn’t sound difficult in theory but tripped me up in practice. I found my way though. You’ll notice these characters have a certain grit to them now since passing through the Gorham Filter.

Marvel.com: With Rocket, you’re drawing an animal-based character. Do you use different references for him than you would more obviously human characters?

Adam Gorham: From the outset I wanted this Rocket to be very much mine. One of the first things I did to prepare was buy a notebook dedicated to Rocket and drew him repeatedly until the character made sense to me. I didn’t want to rely on the Guardians films to bring him to life, although they surely informed my idea of Rocket. Surprisingly, I’ve stayed largely away from actual raccoons. My thinking goes something like, there are humans on [Earth], and in space there are aliens that are humanoid. Rocket is “raccoonoid;” raccoon-like, but free to be his own thing. So I’ve used a combination of self-reference, my seven-year-old, my dog, red pandas, and some raccoons. He evolves a bit with every issue. Each time I draw him I get more familiar with the guy. I think it’s something special.

Join the gang with Al Ewing and Adam Gorham with ROCKET #1, coming May 10!