Sunday, August 12, 2007

Legion's new artist: Francis Manapul

Newsarama and Wizard both have interviews with Francis Manapul, who is now exclusive to DC and will be taking over the Legion after Dennis Calero's arc is complete. Everyone is being coy about who the new writer is, though (more on that in my next post). Go read the interviews, there's more there than I have here.

Here's what looks like the cover to issue 38. Notice that Supergirl and Mon-El are not in the image. Make of that what you will. Biggest costume tweaks: Saturn Girl (in a reverse of her pink bikini), Brainiac 5, Karate Kid, and Colossal Boy.

Do the math – the Legion of Super-Heroes first appeared in 1958’s Adventure Comics #247. And what year follows 2007?

Yeah, it’s a safe bet that DC Comics has some plans afoot for the 50th anniversary of the super teen team from the future, and part of that will begin in December with a creative team change. DC’s mum on the identity of the writer, but has revelaed that the new artist coming on to the series with issue #37 will be Francis (Iron and the Maiden, Witchblade) Manapul.

Newsarama: First of all Francis, is this for a finite run, or are you the open-ended, “regular” artist?

Francis Manapul: My run begins with issue #37 which is planned to be released I believe, right around the anniversary of the Legion. I'm hoping to stick around for as long as the writer decides to stay.

NRAMA: And is that writer Tony Bedard?

FM: No. And that’s all I can say about that. [laughs]

NRAMA: So tell us from an artist standpoint how one approaches a series like Legion. Obviously there is no need to pour through reference manuals for backgrounds? Or is there? Do you reference science and science fiction in creating the future work of Legion, or just used the current run as your guide?

FM: When I came into the project to be quite honest I knew very little about the characters and their world. So rather than a hindrance I thought this would be to my advantage since I'll be approaching the book with fresh eyes and hopefully bring something new to their world. The backgrounds are definitely more fun to work on since there is no set rules on how buildings look like in the future, so I feel quite free messing around with little reference. However, I have looked at Barry Kitson’s run and I'm trying to keep some elements of that to have some sort of consistency.

NRAMA: Will you be doing any character redesign work or will the current looks carry over to your run?

FM: Yes I'll be doing some tinkering with their look. I'm quite fond of Dave Cockrum’s designs so I'm trying to work in some elements of that along with Barry Kitson’s contribution. Mostly I'm trying to simplify rather than modernize. I think simplicity carries over and creates a timeless look.

Wizard (with my emphasis added in bold)
WIZARD: How did your exclusive at DC come about?

MANAPUL: I’ve basically been freelancing for the past year and a half working on Iron and the Maiden and the French graphic novel. Usually, the route most people take having worked for Top Cow is to go work for Marvel or DC, and I thought when I eventually worked for them I’d like to get back to doing an ongoing series like I did on Witchblade, and I realized that’s probably a two-year undertaking. I thought, “I’ll freelance for a year and get to do some of these cool projects.” Around that time I decided it’s time to decide what I’m going to do eight months down the line. So I started talking to Mike Martz and Mike Carlin over at DC about possibilities of what I could do over there. It just made a lot of sense to sign an exclusive over there if I wanted to do an ongoing book. A lot of times if you decide to do an ongoing book as a freelancer a lot of things get thrown in your way and you might get sidetracked and leave. Whereas this way, I figure if I’m going to stick to one project, I might as well stick to one company.

Wizard: Did they have a project in mind when they announced it to you?

MANAPUL: It was a weird process because initially I was supposed to work on three other things, which I didn’t feel was the right thing for me to do. When I decided to work on Legion it coincided with the contract, and I decided if I was going to do an ongoing book it just made more sense to do the contract, and we both agreed that that was probably a good idea. Initially there were a couple of books pitched my way, and while they were kind of interesting and I would have gotten to draw one of the characters that I’ve loved since I was a kid, not to tease anyone, but the writer who will be doing the book that I’m working on is more the bigger announcement.

Wizard: What can you say about the team lineup and what the book is going to look like when you come on? Are you going to be doing any redesigns?

MANAPUL: Yeah, I’ve actually done some redesigns for the characters. But it’s not really even a redesign more than it is simplification of what’s there. I always thought that when you simplify something that it makes it more timeless. A lot of times when you modernize something it’s really only modern for a year or two. I’ve been looking at a lot of the Dave Cockrum stuff from back in the ‘70s. I’ve been looking at that in terms of where I want it to go. The cover to the first issue that I’m working on will feature all of them in their new costumes, but as far as I know it will be slowly worked into the new story.


Eric TF Bat said...

You remember that #38 is always highly relevant for LSH, right? Superboy died in #38 of LSH v3, and after the Five Year Gap, the Earth was destroyed in #38 of v4. There hasn't been a #38 since, if Wikipedia is to be believed: Legionnaires and The Legion finished their combined run around #30, and the postboot LSH continued its numbering from the v3 #62. So this is the first #38 since then, and they seem to be keeping the tradition. I wonder what will blow up...

Mike said...

" . . . is more the bigger announcement" ? Well, I'm glad he's not the writer! (although I'm loving the art)

Hal Shipman said...

I'm not loving the art. Both because of fucked up anatomy (Colossal Boy now had no neck and Jo's biceps look like he's had insane implants) and because the costume changes look like they're blurring the lines between the current Legion and the original.