‘MARVEL ZOMBIES 2’
Artist Sean Phillips takes us on a gore tour of his creative process
By Jake Rossen
Posted December 17, 2007 6:25 PM
After dining on Galactus, you’d think that the gluttonous zombies of writer Robert Kirkman’s imagination would be loosening their belts and resting. But 40 years later, they’ve returned to Earth just as hungry as ever.
Marvel Zombies 2 #3 ships next week, and the stakes are even higher as Wasp and T’Challa struggle to maintain their humanity while thirsting for some tasty flesh. To that end, we thought we’d pick artist Sean Phillips’ brain on the secrets to illustrating the plight of the living dead.
WIZARD: From a design perspective, how do you “zombify” a character? What's the secret? Where do you start?
PHILLIPS: Those teeth! I just followed what Greg Land did in the Marvel Zombies’ original appearance in Ultimate Fantastic Four—blank eyes, and what I thought was no lips. Unfortunately, I was working from small JPEGs of his pages and didn’t quite get it right. Apart from that, it’s just my natural style with the heavy blacks that I played up.
What’s your work process like in getting a page done?
PHILLIPS: After drawing very rough thumbnails to work out the storytelling, it’s straight to the actual pages. I pencil a page very loosely in about 20 minutes and then it’s all done in the inks.
How gory is too gory? Have you ever been asked to tone it down?
PHIILLIPS: I've been able to do whatever I like. No one has asked me to hold back. Although, with Spider-Man eating Mary Jane, I did keep it all off panel and very vague. It just didn’t seem right to show that.
Does Robert Kirkman give you advice, like “more gore”?
PHILLIPS: Nah, but I don’t think what we do is that gory. I spent around 10 years drawing horror books for Vertigo and vampires for 2000 AD before Marvel Zombies. Some of that stuff was far more explicit.
Who has been the most fun to zombify?
PHILLIPS: The Hulk! I'd like to draw a straight Hulk story one day.
Who would be least effective as a zombie?
PHILLIPS: Werewolf by Night?
The latest toy customizing craze is to take action figures and “zombify” them. How does it feel to have helped start a trend?
PHILLIPS: I’m just waiting for the day when people make zombie versions of characters from [Phillips’ and Ed Brubaker’s comic noir] Criminal.
You can zombify any Marvel employee. Who is it?
PHILLIPS: Anyone who isn't needed to sign the checks.
Are zombies legally dead? Could they spend their own life insurance policy?
PHILLIPS: Where could they spend it? Brains R Us?
Serious question. Would Reed Richards’ brain taste better than Hulk’s because he’s smarter?
PHILLIPS: It might, but it may be a bit stringy.