Alan Davis ‘assists’ on Astonishing X-Men; and the effect of double-shipping on artists

By Steve Morris

As spotted by Jarrod on the CBR forums (hi Jarrod!), a Mike Perkins fight sequence from next week’s Astonishing X-Men #55 clearly pays tribute to a previous fight sequence drawn years ago by Alan Davis for Uncanny X-Men. As you can see in the images below, Perkins has taken aspects of Davis’ original fight sequence and resequenced it to act as the storyboard for his version of the fight, in both cases an example of a gymnastic male taking a formal female fighting style. While Gambit takes the place of Nightcrawler, so Tyger Tiger replaces Sage. Here’s the page from Perkins, with the Davis pages following:

While clearly Perkins has still drawn the fight scene in Astonishing – this isn’t like-for-like work – the poses are replicated at several points. It’s still Perkins work, but it borrows heavily from Davis’ previous storyboarding. I suppose, if you’re going to follow anybody’s example, you may as well follow Davis, right?

This may well be a phenomenon we’ll be seeing more and more often now, as artists are asked to turn around issues in a shorter amount of time, for a more intense amount of time, to catch up with double shipping. Artists like Rafa Sandoval or Greg Land, for example, are both known for replicating images like facial expressions and body language whenever a story requires. In the scene below, Land was asked in the script to draw triplets, so he simply replicates one image three times in order to get the affect. Whereas previously mainsteam artists had time to work on their comics, now there is increasing pressure to get something out in a shorter period of time, and it’s starting to show.

This issue I believe represents the sixth issue Perkins will have worked on in five months, with Gabriel Hernandez Walta filling in for an issue partway through. Meanwhile you can see other examples of this elsewhere in comics, most notably at DC. DC have been totally open about their storyboarding process, by which artists like Keith Giffen or Francis Manapul have laid out pages for other artists to draw. You still get a consistent sense of structure from the art, but there’s a different person laying out the details within that structure. Again, it helps share the burden of time, meaning more comics get out faster.

It’s the nature of the business, now: double-shipping is a big thing for Marvel, and DC have pledged to get issues out on time every month. As a result, artists are having to work to tougher deadlines than ever before — and that’s going to lead to more examples of assistance in future.