By Abdulkareem Baba Aminu
Famous for a character-defining take on Marvel’s red-and-gold Avenger, Adi Granov became a superstar artist after his red-hot collaboration with Warren Ellis, Iron Man: Extremis. He’s responsible for the design/look of the movies’ Iron Man armor and he’s also known for iconic cover work for a variety of Marvel’s titles over the years. Bleeding Cool cornered him for a chat. Herewith are excerpts.
Abdulkareem Baba Aminu: After the Iron Man: Extremis arc became an instant hit, you haven’t worked on another extended storyline. Why?
Adi Granov: Mainly because my painted style is very time-consuming and it’s difficult to make it work with my and Marvel’s schedules. I’d consider doing something again in a less laborious style, but at the moment I’m happier doing the variety of things I get to do.
ABA: Can you describe the creative process with Warren Ellis when you guys put out Extremis?
AG: He wrote the script and I illustrated it. We met up once while I was working on the first issue and discussed various elements he then implemented into the story. But aside from that, there wasn’t much communication. I really liked working with him as he really knew what he was doing and allowed me to do what I felt was right without interference.
ABA: Have both of you discussed working together again in the future?
AG: A while ago, yes. We worked on a short X-men story and have talked about doing something longer, but we both got busy with other work.
ABA: Exactly how much input did you have bringing the Iron Man armor from the pages of the comic to the screen?
AG: Quite a bit. Once it was decided that my designs of him were the direction everyone liked, the whole team at Marvel Studios and Stan Winston (later Legacy Effects) focused on that. I worked with the artists at both companies to make Iron Man come to life and look as close to my artwork as possible. I did designs and keyframe illustrations which were then translated into the scenes in the films.
ABA: Why didn’t you work on any of the Iron Man 3 armors?
AG: I worked on some of the pre-production, especially the Extremis-related stuff, but by the third film, the whole visual direction was so well-established from the previous movies that the in-house studio artists could easily handle it. I am not an in-house film artist, I am an external consultant, so I provide my ideas which the studio guys then implement or interpret.
ABA: What role did you play in the production of Joss Whedon’s Avengers movie?
AG: Same as on the Iron Man films. I provided ideas and artwork for characters and scenes.
ABA: What/who are your artistic influences?
AG: Mostly European comics and American poster artists, with a few Manga artists thrown in. I’ve always been a huge fan of Moebius, Toppi, Liberatore, Otomo, Syd Mead, etc., as well as Drew Struzan and Amsel. I’m a big fan of a lot of more recent artists, but I don’t want to make a list for the fear of missing some out.
ABA: Will fans ever see any major DC work from you?
AG: I don’t know. I’m very happy with Marvel, and I do a lot of work outside of comics, so for the moment things will stay largely as they are.
ABA: Finally, what’s your ‘Breaking into Comics’ story?
AG: I was already working as an illustrator and a concept artist for many years prior to doing comic work, so I didn’t have an overnight kind of story. I had a decent portfolio of work which I showed to a company at SDCC and they offered me work. Then one thing led to another until I received an email from Marvel offering me work.
Abdulkareem Baba Aminu is a Bleeding Cool contributor, award-winning journalist, cartoonist and artist. The Nigeria-based writer has reviewed comics, novels, movies and music for a variety of platforms. He is currently the Editor of the Weekly Trust (the Saturday edition of the Daily Trust, one of the most influential newspapers in his country). You can follow him on Twitter @KareemReal
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