John Romita Jr. is known as one of the definitive Marvel Comics artists. He's done numerous projects for the publisher and is probably best known for his work on Spider-Man over the years. Announced today at Comic-Con International in San Deigo, this October Romita will join writer Mark Millar for a twelve issue run on "Wolverine" starting with issue #20. CBR News caught up with Romita to learn more about what he has in store for the title.
Romita has recently been seen working on "Amazing Spider-Man" with J. Michael Straczynski, but the artist was beginning to feel that a change was in order. He'd been drawing Spider-Man for a while and was interested in cutting back on that for a bit and picking up a second title.
"The wheels went into motion and Marvel felt that taking a break from Spider-Man for some time would be prudent," Romita told CBR News earlier this week. "Not that I was getting stale or the character was getting stale. So I said all right and I can always come back to Spider-Man later. Marvel suggested Mark Millar and 'Wolverine' because Mark had been asking about working with me. That's simply how things worked. Very serendipitous. I always wanted to work with Mark, so I thought it was a great idea.
"So, I'm doing my run on 'Wolverine' and I'm also doing a second limited series that'll come out after the first of the year (working on that right now and finishing up the first issue, but I can't talk about that!) and then I'm doing 'The Gray Area' at night and on weekends, so I've got a full plate. Spider-Man is there to come back to if the cards fall properly. I'm not going to come back and kick anybody off any books, but at some point in the future if it gets to the point where they say we're ready to have you back, that's fine."
For the time being, the artist's time on the title will last the twelve issues of Mark Millar's run, but notes that he could conceivably stay on "Wolverine" longer and take on another monthly title at the same time. "It really depends on Mark, how well the book is doing and how much fun I'm having on 'Wolverine,'" said Romita.
So far the artist has finished the first two issues of his run on "Wolverine," but when asked to spill the beans on the story Mark Millar has cooked up for audiences, he admitted he simply isn't allowed to.
"I can't! This is getting so politically intrigued! I've got a big mouth. I've opened my mouth too many times before and [Marvel] keeps telling me to keep quiet. I can't even tell you what happens at the end of the first issue. I can't even tell you who the two guest stars are, but they're pretty cool. The main guest star will be running around for possibly the whole twelve issues. It's a great character, but I can't say anything more! I'm tempted, but I can't! It's all hush hush. I want to err on the side of silence. Give me one drink and I'd be opening my mouth right now."
While Romita Jr. may not have been allowed to reveal any story details, Marvel did reveal to CBR News that this storyline will involve members of the X-Men, Avengers, Fantastic Four and S.H.I.E.L.D.. In the first issue alone fans will find guest stars Nick Fury, Elektra, Kitty Pryde and a new villain.
Romita Jr. noted that there is a noticeable difference between working with Mark Millar and J. Michael Straczynski, both of which have unique styles and ways of telling their story.
"Mark is more demanding visually only because he wants more in amount, not necessarily more difficult," said Romita. "Look at the books Mark's worked on with Brian Hitch and see how crowded with people his books are. Same thing with 'Wolverine.' It's a cast of thousands and the locations are intense. In one moment, we're in the middle of the ocean on an aircraft carrier full of people. Then there's the sinking of this aircraft carrier and then there's sharks involved and people getting bitten to pieces. This is not Spider-Man in a closed room, this is Wolverine with thousands of people. With Straczynski it was always a crowded Times Square with a couple hundred people and cars and buildings, which was difficult, but there's a formula to drawing Manhattan that I've gotten used to. With Wolverine it's a whole new ball of wax with locations."
The change in settings and character have forced Romita to think about things a bit differently when laying out an issue of "Wolverine," a challenge he's more than willing to meet. The difference in the attitude and style between Spider-Man and Wolverine are obvious.
"Spider-Man is unlimited in his positions whereas Wolverine does one thing real well - he snarls and he flashes his claws. That's a limit with the character. Spider-Man is unlimited in what he does. He can jump, fly around on his web, etc.. That, for me, is a difficult adjustment."
Ask anyone who's talked to Romita about being a comic artist and you'll discover he's having fun, possibly more than any other comic artist out there. He truly enjoys his job and that "fun factor" is amplified even more so when Spider-Man is involved. The switch to "Wolverine" has proven interesting so far.
"There is a real learning curve on 'Wolverine,'" admitted Romita."The first two issues were hell! They were difficult because it just opened up a whole new area for me. The other title I'm working on at the same time is equally as new to me with a whole new avenue of locations and visuals (and by the way it's with a celebrity writer.). So I'm doing both of these titles, while I'm working on 'The Gray Area,' and they're all opening up new avenues for me, but that's a lot of the fun of it. I'm getting out reference on this and that. I had to get some reference on Japan, on Tokyo and Nagasaki and other areas where Wolverine makes a brief appearance. That makes it more difficult, but it's just difficult because it's something different as opposed to the same old same old. If I were 25 instead of 45 (I'm actually 47), if I was 20 years younger, I would probably be sweating over this. But now I've got a knack for doing these things and know how to help myself out in these situations.
"Still, this is the best job you can have with your clothes on!"