Since Daniel Acuña burst onto the scene a few years back, first as a cover artist for “JLA” and “Outsiders” and later as an interior artist on “Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters,” his style has easily become one of the most recognizable – and arguably original – in the entire industry.
Still living in his native Spain, Acuña signed an exclusive with Marvel Comics in 2007 and has contributed a number of covers and served as the interior artist on the relaunched “Eternals” series.
His next assignment, his biggest to date, was announced at the Marvel: X-Men panel at Comic-Con International: Acuña will take over regular art duties on “X-Men: Legacy” beginning in September with Annual #1.
CBR News checked in with Acuña about his move to the Rogue-centric X-book and found a creator who above all is passionate about his craft and the people working closely with him.
CBR News: First off, were you a big fan of the X-Men growing up in Spain? And if so, did you have a favorite team member?
I was a fan of all comic books, not any above the rest, because I didn’t buy the books, my oldest brother did. Of the X-Men, my favorite characters were Cyclops and Nightcrawler.
Did you have a favorite X-Men artist?
I’d have to go back to the Byrne/Claremont era to answer that question. It was really spectacular. I’m not going to be the one to say anything new about them, of course, so my reference on the X-Men has to be how Byrne drew the characters.
I like how he used to draw Cyclops, especially. Nobody has ever drawn the character as well as he did. Of course, Dave Cockrum is also a big influence for me.
Currently, the main characters of “X-Men: Legacy” are Rogue, Gambit and Danger. Can you talk a bit about each of the characters and what, in particular, you find most appealing about each of their looks?
Honestly, before I started drawing them they were the characters I was least interested on from the team (laughs). But that made it more interesting and forces me to work more. But now that I’m some pages in, I can say they are changing my mind. As characters, all three of them are really interesting, but I think I could do some work in making Rogue’s and Gambit’s look better – mostly Gambit, who’s some sort of ‘rebel without a cause’ character. So... an outsider with a black and fuchsia suit, with metallic knee pads? He’s not a super hero, per se, in attitude and motivations, so, why does he dress like one? I’m trying to think on something to make it all fit, visually and in my head.
Have you sought out older back issues featuring Rogue, in particular, to get a better feel for the characters?
When I start a new book, I always try to do the most thorough research I can and check how other artists have drawn the characters and how the character works visually, and also in terms of his or her motivations. It’s very important to know all you can about the character you are going to draw to try and imbue some personality into it when you draw it.
Can you share whether or not any other X-Men will be featured in upcoming issues of “X-Men: Legacy?”
No, sorry, I can’t say.
Why are the X-Men a good fit for your style of art?
I guess, as is with every single good character, because they have a strong personality. They are not typical archetypes and I think that’s why I can reflect them well. But maybe I should answer that question when I’ve spent some more time on the book. Now it’s just talk without any facts to prove my words.
For those unfamiliar with your style, can you share some details about how you get your unique look?
Thank you for the ‘unique look’ part. I see myself as a part of the modernist school of art. The one made famous by the French poster artists. I come from that root and also from the tradition of American illustrators like Leyendecker, Rockwell, Drew Struzan and Adam Hughes. So my style would be halfway between realism or naturalism in relation to the page’s color and design or to cartoon in the style of art. But really, I think this is something for everybody other than me to define.
Will you be supplying covers for the series, as well? Does illustrating covers offer a different challenge than illustrating interiors?
Yes, I will do the covers, too. It’s different to do a cover than an interior, of course. When you do a cover you know you have to attract the reader with that single image and also suggest everything he will read in the interior pages of the book, so you can shine as a virtuoso and detailed artist, as an expressive and emotional one. When you work on the interiors, the art has to serve the storytelling and you have to "control" yourself more. You always have to remember to think about the page as a whole. Every single panel has to work separately and as a whole. I remember some pages I did some years ago, every panel tried to be a cover illustration, very rich in detail, sure, but as a page they were a disaster. It was impossible to see anything, and it didn’t attract the reader’s eye to read it. In the end, I think you just have to be able to focus on the most important aspects of what you have to do in each case.
What is Mike Carey like as a collaborator? Does he let you run wild, or does he supply a fairly detailed list of requests to include on each page?
I’ve only had the pleasure of working with one of his scripts yet, but I can already say that he’s really great. He gives me all the info I need and flexibility in the way I decide to tackle the storytelling. But hey, ask me in three months just in case I change my mind (laughs). Seriously, I’m very happy to work with a writer of Mike Carey’s stature.
Are there other characters at Marvel, X-Men or otherwise, you are anxious to illustrate for the publisher?
When I think about the X-Men, I don’t think on separate characters, you just think about drawing all of them in action. But as I said before, Cyclops is my favorite character.
Are you currently working on any other projects?
Aside from “Legacy,” the last thing I’ve done is a cover for “Guardians of the Universe.”