STUDIO TOURS: Joe Quesada

Mon, December 18th, 2006 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Jonah Weiland, Executive Producer/Publisher

This week, I'm excited to announce a new series of articles on CBR called STUDIO TOURS! Quite simply, we're asking comic creators of all sorts to let us into their sanctuary - their studio/office - and show us around.

I've always been fascinated by the design and layout of my favorite writers and artists offices. I've visited a number of creator studios and they run the gamut of sparsely decorated offices with simple set-ups and little distractions, to intricately designed and laid out studios filled with art, books, toys, computers, drafting tables, video games, you name it. What's true in all cases is the work space is set-up in such a manner as to foster as comfortable an environment as possible for the creator to work in. From visiting these studios over the years, I've picked up on suggestions for my own office, whether it be a specific sectional desk, layout ideas or a creative way in which to hang art. It's always fun to see what happens behind the curtain, as it were, and I'm glad we've got the chance to take our readers into some great studios.

To celebrate the launch of this new series, we're going to bring you three different studios this week, then go to a weekly format beginning next Wednesday and every Wednesday after that. We think you'll enjoy this look behind the curtain into the creative process.

Are you a comics creator who'd like to show off your digs? Drop me an e-mail and let's talk about scheduling a look at your studio.

Before I introduce our first participant, I'd like to thank B. Clay Moore for his help and support in getting the STUDIO TOURS series off the ground.

Allright, to start things, the owner of our first studio really needs no introduction - Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada. I remember picking up the first issue of 1992's "The Ray" mini-series from DC Comics and was hooked on Joe's style, but it was his work on "Batman: Sword of Azrael" that turned me into a life-long fan. Since then he's worked for both Marvel and DC, ran his own publishing company with Jimmy Palmiotti in Event Comics, created the Marvel Knights imprint at Marvel and finally moving on to the EiC position at Marvel. While Joe's duties as EiC mean he spends less time behind the drawing table than he used to, Joe can still be found contributing variant covers and the occasional series when time permits.

Joe eagerly accepted my invitation to let readers into his home studio. Joe sat in his studio and took pictures in the round and went one step further - he Photoshopped those images together to create a panorama that really gives you a good sense of what the room is like. It occurred to me that for some, loading that image and scrolling back and forth might be cumbersome, so I asked my friend Lori Shannon for some help. Among the many hats Lori wears, she's quite expert at creating Quicktime VR videos. So, I asked if there was anything she could do with the panorama that Joe sent us. She took apart Joe's photos, reassembled them and created a QTVR out of that panorama that'll help give you a feeling for what it would be like to stand in the middle of Joe's studio. So, now you have your choice of a close-up look at the panorama, or one you can move around in. Thanks, Lori!

So, before I hand things over to Joe, I want to thank him for agreeing to participate and launch this new series. We'll be back on Wednesday with a look at "PvP" creator Scott Kurtz's studio and again on Friday as artist Frank Cho takes us into his lair.

Allright, here's Joe!

Story continues below

Well, Jonah, here it is, just as you requested, some pics of my studio at home. While my immediate impulse was to straighten up a bit, I figured that if what CBR was looking for was a real inside look, then why cheat the fans and misrepresent my sloppiness. By the way, for those who are wondering, I'm actually considered freakishly neat by most artists I've met. Okay, lets get on with this.

The first series of shots make an in-the-round view, standing right in front of my drawing table in the center of my studio from my point of view. You'll have to scroll right to left to get the effect.

To see the above QuicktimeVR file, you need Apple's Quicktime player. To move around, left click on the video and drag it right or left.
If you can't get the Quicktime to work, or want a more detailed look at the room, click the photo above to launch a full sized version of the panorama.

A > Here's the entrance, there's a big pocket sliding door that's open at the moment so any sort of riff-raff can wander in, I'll explain in a bit. By the way, in the background behind the door is the deployment area for Christmas central. In other words, where my wife is wrapping, packing and shipping presents while also preparing for our tree trimming party.

B > Lots of junk, including a change machine, a bag of spare light bulbs, a framed Mucha print, some old Warner Bros. cartoon sculpts and a remote control hovercraft (don't ask).

C > The upper bookcase contains, well, books (mostly reference), a Hubie Brooks game worn autographed hat, some assorted sculpts from Marvel characters to Underdog and Wallace and Gromit plush toys.

D > TV, Kabuki sculpt, model planes built by my dad and a Playstation that I think I've used twice.

E > My life size mannequin that my daughter christened Pinocchio (that's a microphone stand with windscreen in front of him), more books, more models and my only window to the outside world, which will be sealed off by next year as they put a brand new building right up against it.

F > My home recording studio, Boris Karloff's Frankenstein death mask, more sculpts and books and the little poster behind the mixing board is a reproduction of the circus poster John Lennon was looking at that inspired him to write, "For the Benefit of Mr. Kite."

G > Tons more reference books and the best Captain America sculpt ever (I believe based on a Ron Garney design). Behind Cap, and you can't quite get the effect in this picture, is the eternal burning, uh, plasma disc, errrr, flame? Okay, it screams, "fanman," but it really does look cool in person. No, seriously it does. Stop laughing.

H > The copier and Lobo's ass by Glen Fabry.

I > Okay, here's where the real business gets done, this is my wife Nanci's portion of the studio, while immensely neater than me by a long shot, within the confines of this room, she's a slob. Yet, somehow she's the most organized person I know.

J > Just more assorted junk. Right below this area is my daughter's slice of the studio.

K > Family photos, bound books, more junk and toys and a couple of P.O.s for some freelance advertising work.

L > The last remaining bit of unused space in the studio. I call it, "wall." My computer rig underneath it.

M > An original W.W.II poster encouraging Americans to buy War Bonds and a photo tree.

N > And now we're back at the start, yay!

Click the photos to enlarge.
Okay, remember when I mentioned riff-raff? Well, this is what I mean. This is Nutley, one of our four cats. Seems like Nutley has been with me forever and he loves to lay right in front of me as I work on the computer, hence the screen saver in his honor.
 
Oh yeah, as we pull out, check out the "raff" end of the duo. This is Zowie, she always sits by my feet when I'm working. What this insures is that no matter what time of day, whether it be these two, my daughter or Nance, my days of working in solitude are long passed me. Anyway, this is my home computer rig (man, I need to tuck in those wires). My G5 and Wacom tablet, which I've just begun exploring, my color printer, 11x17 scanner, paper shredder and a stray piece of lingerie. Made ya look!
 
Here's a good shot of my drawing board. The metal hydraulic base is close to 100 years old, believe it or not. The top has been refurbished. That lamp and light box have been with me since I started in 1990. Oh, yeah, and it looks like Zowie is settling in. By the way, wondering what's on my drawing table, well, let's take a look.
 
On the right I keep my pencils, rulers and stuff. There next to the light box, you can see some photo ref I took of myself for a page I'm working on. To the top of the light box is a mirror that I keep in front of me. It's an old animator's trick, you can use your own face to make facial expression in the mirror and it helps speed up the process.
 
Now, this is really secret info, so don't spread it around, at the top of my light board is a Xeroxed layout of the page I'm working on.
 
Oh, and to the left of my light box is the actual page I'm working on.
 
Here's a detail of Nanci's work area. I just like showing this because it's the one time I actually get to call her messy.
 
And my daughters little computer area. Where does this six year old like to draw you ask? Well, right next to me on my board. She pushes my junk over and gives me a small corner. Lucky for her she's cute.
 
I took this without a flash or tripod so it's a tad blurry, but I just wanted to convey, once and for all, how really cool the plasma disc looks behind Cap and how it's not a geekish thing to do. Come on, who's with me???
 
Here's my Marvel Knights trophy shelf, as I like to call it. Sculpts, a pair of sunglasses given to folk that worked on the movie, a near mint copy of DD#1 and a Star Trek communicator. What?
 
Well, that ends our whirlwind tour Studio Q as we leave our ever vigilant guardian at the gate, making sure that evil never crosses the threshold of her sacred domain… yeah, you're right, who am I kidding?

Wednesday - Scott Kurtz!

 
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