One of the best things about a convention like C2E2 is the chance for not just comic fans but those with dreams of working in the industry to meet and talk with the creators they love. Marvel's first panel of the con, Making Comics the Marvel Way, does exactly that.
In previous years, fans and creators had the opportunity to attend panels that discussed the tricks and tactics that could hopefully lead to getting that first job in the comics industry. this year, Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski, along with writer Jason Aaron, artist Russell Dauterman, and colorist Matthew Wilson chose to lead a panel that focused more on the process after getting the job. Editors Sarah Brunstad and Will Moss also attended the panel.
Cebulski started the panel by noting that in this age of internet, its much easier to know how to break into the business and felt that learning more about that what comes next would be more useful. That, of course, all starts with the writing. Marvel icon, Stan Lee, was well known for 'the Marvel Way' that allowed him to write so many titles. Today's comic writers more often provide full scripts. This lets the writer act more like a director of the story while still allowing for leeway from the artist. Jason Aaron also added that he prefers to write full scripts, every writer has their own method that best serves them.
The next step is the art. Russell Dauterman works in all digital using Photoshop but starts with layouts. The audience was shown side-by-side images of Jason Aaron's script next to Dauterman's initial layout for a page of War of the Realms #1 which looked like a very rough sketch of various character poses and location on the page. An interesting tidbit was that each character was color coded – such as green for She-Hulk, blue for Captain America, and red for Spider-man – in order for the individual characters to be found. Aaron and Dauterman commented that this was a very useful shorthand as the communicate back and forth and that most of their collaboration came over extensive email chains rather than face to face.
Dauterman also discussed the process of character design, something that he says is one of his most favorite things. It lets the artist truly make the costume say something about the character and have the artist put their mark on the characters.
Like Dauterman, Matthew Wilson also uses Photoshop for coloring. After that comes lettering and then the editing process. Each and everyone of these steps continues the ongoing collaborations. Jason Aaron tries to do a dialogue pass after the art has been completed, but does not always get to do so.
Towards the end of the panel, discussion moved on to covers and all the panelists remarked how important the cover of an individual book is. Sarah Brunstad complimented Dauterman on the fact that he incorporates the Logo and trade dress which helps the editors immensely. Dauterman described his work on the gatefold cover for 'War of the Realms'. He needed it to establish the epic nature of the story that is being told and started with an even rougher rough layout sketch than usual followed by a second more detailed layout sketch, stating that artist are often required to provide multiple covers and that covers are looked at more deeply than interior as they are the initial selling point for the book.