Marvel’s female characters do tend to be their very best, so here at The Beat we’ve been following Will Sliney (at a distance, so he doesn’t suspect) as he helps set up the all-female Fearless Defenders team. Whenever a new character joins the team, Will very kindly talks a little about them, and how he designs and draws them. With the current team already all individually profiled – Valkyrie, Misty Knight, Dani Moonstar and Warrior Woman – it seemed like a perfect time to talk about original creation Annabelle Riggs, an archaeologist who has inadvertently tagged along for the ride.
Annabelle is the first character created and conceived by Will and writer Cullen Bunn, so she holds a bit of a special place for them. Here’s a look at the character, and how Will went about creating her. Will has also been steadily building up a group shot of the team, and that continues on below!
Steve: Annabelle Riggs, then. This is the first character for Fearless Defenders you designed yourself. Before you started the design, what ideas did you have in mind for how you wanted the character to appear?
Will: I started designing Annabelle before I started on any of the pages for Fearless Defenders. To his credit, Cullen is really good at his character design and he gave me a lot to work with. We went for the girl next door crossed with Indiana Jones. She has to be extremely likeable, yet really tough. Nobody is going to walk over her no matter how outpowered she is.
Steve: How much of this work is done as collaboration between yourself Cullen? Do you go back and forth on character details, ideas about her personality, and so on?
Will: Cullen is really collaborative. I don’t know how he does it, but he is always online to help me out if I am stuck with something. We discussed Annabelle a lot at last year’s New York Comic Con. I think even back then, I had a feeling this was the start of someone who would end up being a real fan favorite.
Steve: She’s meant to be the point-of-view character for readers – the Kitty Pryde, so to speak. Do you consciously find yourself drawing her as a more ‘regular’ person in comparison to the others?
Will: Yes I think so. The way I think of it, a Marvel superhero is someone who will more than often be someone who towers over you in a really powerful manner, someone who is in elite condition. I wanted Annabelle to have a much more down to earth look about her. I often think of her as if it was me standing next to a Marvel hero, and how I would look compared to them. It does help you relate to the character as we are being brought along on her journey.
Steve: Annabelle is now a fully-fledged member of the team, complete with a hat and everything, What do you hope from Annabelle going into the future, as new artists take her on and play around with the character? Do you feel protective of her?
Will: Heh, I love that helmet. I am hoping to see it cosplayed soon.That would make my year! Do I feel protective of her? Of course, but I would be honored to see other artists work on her. Already I’ve seen a sketch by Stephanie Hans as she was preparing for her issue of the book, and it is wonderful to see. I know what’s in store for Annabelle and it’s really really great.
Steve: This week seems to have been an astonishing one for you – for starters, you’ve been curating the @Ireland twitter account, AND appeared on The Late Late Show in Ireland. How did this all come about, and how has the experience been?
Will: Yes, it was absolutely crazy! The Late Late show is the longest running talk show in the world and it’s a huge deal over here in Ireland. I was approached to curate the @ireland account to provide what would be a fairly unique voice for its followers. Being the twitter handle that it is, its tweets carry a loud voice.
I decided just to draw on demand for people, and before I knew it I was asked to present my work on the show. It was the most nerve-wracking experience ever, as the show is live, but I am delighted with how it turned out. At the very least it helped spread the word about both Fearless Defenders and my Celtic Warrior book!