Catching up with "Civil War's" Steve McNiven

Wed, November 22nd, 2006 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
CBR News Team, Editor

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Since the launch of Marvel's "Civil War" mini-series, the events in those pages have wowed comic fans worldwide. The team of writer Mark Millar and artist Steve McNiven have captured the imaginations of readers, sparking lengthy debate on forums like CBR's own Civil War Forum.

Our friends Mike Malve and Jake Bell at Atomic Comics recently caught up with McNiven and asked him ten questions about the series and his process. They've allowed us to reprint that Q&A and we present it to you the CBR reader below.

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Could you recount for us some of the reasons behind the delay for "Civil War?" What are some of the advantages that came from pushing back publishing instead of rushing through or using fill-in artists?

That is a question better suited to [Editor] Tom Brevoort and the guys that make the publishing decisions at Marvel. I'm in no position to make any decisions as to when or why Marvel will publish anything. From my end, the delays were caused by the difficulty of drawing a giant company crossover. One thing that I do to allow Marvel enough time to make scheduling decisions like the one they did, is to send a scan of each page of pencil art when it is done so Marvel knows exactly where I am and at what pace I am producing work. It came as big a surprise to me as to anyone else when they decided to rearrange the schedule to allow me the chance to finish "Civil War" myself. As to their reasons, I can't figure them out because in my mind the book was rolling along at that point and just about any competent artist could step in and the book would continue to sell. So I just take the compliment as it is and continue to do the best work that I am capable of.

How is working with Mark Millar different from your experience with other writers?

Well, since signing with Marvel three years ago, having never drawn a single superhero (I drew "Meridian" before Marvel and that was my first pro work) I've found myself teamed up with some of the best writers around. Roberto Sarcasa, Warren Ellis, Brian Bendis and Mark Millar. All of these guys are accomplished writers, albeit each has his own sensibilities.

What's great about Mark is that he has a very cinematic approach to his storytelling, a direction that I try to go in with my art. And of course he's a Scottish madman full of insane action and gripping drama that makes every day at the table a roller coaster ride. Definitely worth the hard work!

Issue #4 proved to be a very divisive issue among fans, with people either loving it or hating it. What were some of the reactions you heard on either side?

I'd say that using the "clone" word would set off a few bells with the older Marvel readers, that's for sure. Sad thing is, most of my mates don't read comics and reading online critic stuff just doesn't work for me. When I go to conventions all I hear is the good stuff, probably 'cause I usually have my daughter next to me and you know every one fears the wrath of a seven year old.

My wife liked the book, does that count?

After working on one of the most successful series in recent years, how much will you be able to boost your page rate from now on?

Page rate? What's that?

"Civil War" received a lot of mainstream media exposure. Are you noticing more fans who may not regularly read comics?

When I go to cons I have met a few folks who have come back in from word about "Civil War" and, I gotta tell ya, it's a great thing to hear.

Drawing a series that touches nearly every character in the Marvel Universe means having to draw nearly every character in the Marvel Universe. Who has been your favorite character to draw so far? Who has been the worst? Any characters you'd especially like to draw again?

I love drawing Cap, though I don't feel I've been successful in capturing him yet. Worst? Gotta be that pumpkin headed guy. Honestly, a flaming pumpkin on your head is supposed to be frightening? To who?

What has been your favorite scene or single panel to draw?

Too many to count really. The whole thing has been a hell of a ride and the best is yet to come!

What are some of the differences between drawing a limited series that has a defined beginning and end versus an ongoing series where you most likely follow another artist and will ultimately be succeeded by someone else?

It all comes down to storytelling and whether you have a writer who knows what he/she is doing. Doesn't matter what format it comes in, mini or ongoing, popular character or has been, you need a well written story or it's all for nothing.

Stylistically, did you approach this project differently than you would something else because of its "summer blockbuster" nature?

I've only been drawing superhero comics for three years, comics of any kind for five, so I don't have a bag of styles to choose from. Just one and I make it up as I go along. It's all about the storytelling anyway. Styles come and go. Often faster that you can master them, but good storytelling never goes out of style.

Allright, final question - how would you feel if Bullseye and Venom were your neighborhood safety monitors?

My daughter could drop the two of them without breaking a sweat. She'd have them playing tea party in no time.

The above was originally posted on November 15th at the Atomic Comics Web site.

 
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