Russell Dauterman Discusses His Marvel Art Kickstarter — And Enduring Love For The X-Men

The Marvel Art Of Russell Dauterman X-Men

It’s a great time to be an X-Men fan. But perhaps it’s an even better time to be artist Russell Dauterman. The renowned penciler got his start inspired by X-Men: The Animated Series, and has drawn everything from The Mighty Thor to X-Men and Scarlet Witch. And now, his 10 years at Marvel are being celebrated with The Marvel Art of Russell Dauterman, which has already more than funded its $10,000 Kickstarter goal by a factor of 20, as of this writing.

The new volume, part of Clover Press’ series of books highlighting noted Marvel artists, contains art from throughout Dauterman’s career. With the project already crushing it on the crowdfunding platform, we talked over email with the artist about his love for the X-Men, making a puzzle of his work, and his white whale characters.

Comic Book Club: Broad question first, but as someone who got started with falling in love with X-Men: The Animated Series, how are you feeling launching this Kickstarter as X-men fever has gotten reignited?

Russell Dauterman: Feels like I’m 9 years old again!  That was a wonderful time to be an X-Fan with the X-Men being (seemingly) omnipresent — on Pizza Hut boxes, soup cans, Pogs, primetime TV, everywhere.  Seeing people get wrapped up in X-Men again has been so exciting.  The best part of it, though, is that the X-Men content itself has been phenomenal.  Starting with Jonathan Hickman and Pepe Larraz’s HOUSE OF X and continuing through X-MEN ’97.  I’m thrilled to be a small part of X-Men canon with my work on the Krakoa era comics — definitely a dream-come-true for this nearly lifelong X-Fan.

I’m always curious with a book of this type, how do you establish a flow for it? What was important to you when arranging how the book itself was laid out?

I laid it out basically chronologically, although not strictly.  Since the book is ostensibly celebrating my 10 years at Marvel, I thought it’d be nice to start with the portfolio piece that got me hired a decade ago, then show some of my first Marvel project, CYCLOPS, and move into THOR.  Each of my big projects from THOR to X-MEN to SCARLET WITCH get time to shine.

What was it like looking over your earlier art? Did you want to go back and fix little things here and there? Or did you prefer to preserve as is?

Oh I always want to fix things, ask my editors!  The farther back I look, the easier it is for me to like the work — there’s enough distance there that I can appreciate it.  If the piece is something recent, I get bothered by the flaws more.  Looking back at my CYCLOPS work, I like the looseness of that — and I’ve been trying to work that back into my art.

Though you drew Thor for a good long while, you seem to be drawn to the female Marvel characters. What appeals to you about characters like Storm, Scarlet Witch, Jean Grey, etc. in particular?

Storm and Jean were the first Marvel characters I really loved as a kid — first through the animated series — and Wanda became a favorite soon after.  I’ve always been drawn to female characters, I’m not sure why — one of my earliest favorites was She-Ra, which definitely inspired my Thor run.  The first comic I remember reading, UNCANNY X-MEN #302, had an incredible John Romita Jr. double-page splash with Storm being awesome — wind swirling, hair billowing — I was hooked.

Personality-wise, I love how nuanced those characters are.  Wanda, in particular, has very relatable problems, despite being enormously powerful.  She wanted to do good as a member of a team, she wanted love, she struggles with mental health — of course, all of that gets blown out of proportion because of her powers and because it’s a superhero story.

How involved were you with making the puzzle being offered? When you’re creating puzzle art, do you need to create the artwork differently?

I’ve been very involved with everything, and thrilled to be working with Clover Press and Marvel on this.  The puzzle was Clover’s idea, and then I thought to use my costume covers for it — they’re a variant cover series where I draw one character in their various looks through the years.  Then Marvel had some helpful notes, Clover sent me the dimensions for the puzzle art, and I made the file by combining several pieces of art.  Clover will work with the printer to make that file an actual puzzle.  It’s all been very collaborative.  I love being able to offer all this merch with my art.

You’ve drawn so many Marvel characters at this point… Do you have a white whale you haven’t tackled yet?

I’ve been really lucky and grateful to draw my favorites already! I do have a wishlist for my costumes cover series though — I’d love for that to be an ongoing thing that I can keep coming back to over time.  Cyclops, Polaris, Magneto, Loki — they’re at the top of my list for costumes variants.  Today as I’m saying this, one of those actually got approved by Marvel!

The Marvel Art of Russell Dauterman is currently live on Kickstarter until May 17, so get pledging!

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