Geoff Shaw and Dee Cunniffe Talk Crossover Art Process at SDCC

As Bleeding Cool just reported, the new Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw creator-owned offering from Image Comics will be Crossover, the epic story of a mainstream comics event bleeding into the real world. Joining Shaw and Cates, who has himself been a major architect of Marvel Comics events recently, is editor Mark Waid, colorist Dee Cunniffe, and letterer John J. Hill. In the creative team's Comic-Con@Home panel this evening, moderated by comics artist Megan Hutchison, a major point was made of the art process that is bringing Crossover's unique story to life. "When you read this book," Cates warned viewers, "you're gonna see things that you've literally never seen before done in a comic book."

Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw's Crossover #1 cover. Credit: Image Comics.
Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw's Crossover #1 cover. Credit: Image Comics.

Being careful not to spoil too much of the story, Donny Cates continued, speaking directly to colorist Dee Conniffe: "There's certain pieces of it that used to color differently because there are elements in the book that don't come from our world." Dee, grinning as he joked about how carefully he had to tread in order to not reveal too much, added:

"I was thinking about it for like two and a half years and formulating ideas. I hadn't actually seen the art of that stage and I didn't know where Geoff was going with it, but [when] the first few pages arrived in, I was like 'Yes, this is exactly how I pictured it.' Those first few five or six pages that we were working on they took a long time, because we were trying to create a visual language. […] Tthere's so many different kind of things we are playing with. Is it going to be in black and white, is it full color, is it line art, is it other? Every page is mentally challenging but it's a great challenge."

Donny Cates talks Crossover artwork. Credit: Image Spotlight panel from SDCC's Comic-Con@Home.
Donny Cates talks Crossover artwork. Credit: Image Spotlight panel from SDCC's Comic-Con@Home.
Geoff Shaw talks Crossover artwork. Credit: Image Spotlight panel from SDCC's Comic-Con@Home.
Geoff Shaw talks Crossover artwork. Credit: Image Spotlight panel from SDCC's Comic-Con@Home.

Geoff Shaw continued with a quote that makes this book seem as if it will play with form in surprising ways:

"I was just as daunted but excited by the scope of it. We were taking on something that I'd never seen before in a comic book. How to do that, it took longer than I expected to even wrap my head visually around what we were doing. When I got the first script, you know, you take it in such a cool… you, I think, managed to wrangle it in and give us a cast of characters that really showcased and allowed us to get into this world. Visually, yeah, it was it was definitely a challenge. [Dee and I] had to bounce things back and forth a lot to visualize this vocabulary that we were kind of creating."

Donny Cates, who has worked on many series with Shaw, added that the sixth issue of Crossover contains a scene that made him think: "I don't think I've ever been crueler to Geoff" with a sequence that Cates calls one of the most epic and historic scenes in comic book history.

As far as what inspired Cates to write a script, with Crossover, that would lead to such mind-bending artwork, the Thor writer spoke of HBO's The Leftovers. The Leftovers also started with a big event (in this case, the sudden disappearance of a large portion of the population) and, from there, explored the characters. Notably, The Leftovers also played with the form to great success, and it seems, from their discussion of the art process, that Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, and Dee Cunniffe have taken inspiration from the show's penchant for pushing against the limitations of a television show as much as they have its story.

Catch the whole conversation here, and don't miss Rich Johnston's piece that breaks the news on Crossover's story.

About Theo Dwyer

Theo Dwyer writes about comics, film, and games.