With all the news coming out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe about Captain America: Civil War, Steve McNiven talks to us about illustrating the original Marvel Comics Event that is the inspiration for the new film.
Q1: When you started working on Civil War, did you realize at that time how important the story would become in Marvel history and that it would influence future stories across the entire Marvel Universe for the next decade?
Steve McNiven: My only sense of the importance of the story at the time was how it seemed to me that we had the full support of Marvel behind us in telling the story. A creator at Marvel always gets the support they need from the various offices they work within, be it the Avengers or Spider-Man offices, etc. But on this book it seemed that all of the Marvel offices were in some way actively moving along with the story, which is a huge honor, not to mention a fair bit of pressure to succeed in deserving their trust.
Q2: You were able to illustrate every major character in the Marvel Universe in massive battles…was it challenging to fit all of that action into 7 issues?
SM: Well Mark [Millar] did the heavy lifting there with the writing of the plot but as to fitting each character into the pages, well that's why I love working with Mark. He gives you the space needed to show all those characters, and deliver the scene in a meaningful, character-driven way. In scenes with multiple major characters talking or fighting, it was never just an excuse for us to put a bazillion characters on the page as some sort of comic book Where's Waldo (which I have seen done quite a few times unfortunately) , but always in service to the story Mark set out to create. For sheer amount of drawing time though, those multiple figure pages can be a huge amount of work, without a doubt, and can lead to more than a few sleepless nights!
Q3: Whose side were you on – Iron Man or Captain America?
SM: Funny, I have been asked this question many a time! I think that to be able to sum up a series in one straightforward question like that speaks for why the book has had so much success. The first time I was asked that question I think was at a con in Barcelona, and I have kept to my answer since. In a nutshell: In reading comics we are privy to the inner workings of a characters mind and so it is easy for us to judge the moral and ethical stance of the person, be it Tony Stark ( Iron Man) or Steve Rogers ( Captain America). In that regard I would definitely be on the side of Cap. But in the real world there is no way to know a person in the way you do when reading comics. The idea of super powered people fighting it out on the streets would be pretty terrifying and having no idea of their motivations, I think I would be firmly on Tony's side with the whole aspect of registration.
Q4: Whose death did you get the most fan mail over – the New Warriors or Goliath?
SM: I am a bit of a recluse so I don't really get any fan mail, although my daughter has had me set up a tumblr account ( mcnivenart) so that is changing , but at the time the editors over at marvel would have gotten the brunt of fan mail ( probably more like hate mail) over those deaths. But looking online, as I occasionally do when a book of mine hits the stands, I would have to say Goliath upset far more people.
Q5: Out of the entire series, what was your favorite portion to illustrate?
SM: That's a hard one, but probably when Spider-Man revealed his identity to the world, and JJJ collapsed. Drama with a bit of humor to me is a fun day of drawing. But then there is the final act of Captain America's surrender, which I thought was so well written by Mark and a scene I worked and reworked to make sure it was the best storytelling I could do. Of course there are many others as well, which was why I had so much fun drawing the series!
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