by Harper W. Harris
Kevin Wada has been one of my favorite cover artists since he started on She-Hulk; it was one of those rare but wonderful circumstances where the cover artist seemed to really play a key role in the creative team, and his unique style was part of what made that book such a standout. Since then he’s gone on to provide covers for many series and continues to become more and more of a fan favorite. HeroesCon 2015 kept him busy and his commissions list full, but I got a chance to have a brief chat with him on Sunday about his interesting path to comics, his process, and what to expect in the future.
Harper W. Harris: We are here with Kevin Wada, one of my absolute favorite artists and the cover artist of some of my favorite books. How is your con going?
Kevin Wada: I am doing great, I feel re-energized and I’m ready to end the con on a strong note!
HH: You have a really interesting story about how you came into comics from outside of the comics industry, could you elaborate a little on that?
KW: I had done this series of X-Men as fashion illustrations and it went viral. Because it was popular I continued it, making more ambitious projects. When the new X-Men team launched and it was all women, I did an illustration of that. I think this is what happened: Brian Wood bought a print of that from my store and I tweeted to him like, “Thank you!” and I think he passed my name along to editors at Marvel. Then I got my first X-Men variant and then the editor that I worked with who was amazing really wanted to get me on an ongoing book and that’s how She-Hulk happened.
HH: Have you been a fan of comics your whole life? Were you an avid reader or did you come to it from more of the art side of things?
KW: I always say I was sort of orbiting ‘planet comic’. My cousin was really into comics, and he was like my best friend growing up, so I always had this very loose handle of superheroes and all that kind of stuff. I loved it–I loved it aesthetically, I loved the drama of it all–but I wasn’t a hardcore reader, it was very, very casual. So I have this nostalgic affinity and it kind of makes me feel very comfortable. But I’m not going to know the history of every single character.
HH: You have a really unique style. Can you talk a little bit about what your process is and what your materials are?
KW: I work in watercolor, but other than that it’s a pretty straightforward process. It’s pencils to either colored pencils or pen on top of that, and then I use the watercolor to flesh it all out. Often, but not always, there’s some digital editing going on. It’s not unlike retouching a photo–I’ll correct colors, I’ll correct like if an eye looks a little wonky I’ll fix that. One thing I usually have to correct in the computer is my sense of value, my sense of value is horrible. I’ll push my lights, I’ll push my darks, and really make the image pop.
HH: You work primarily as a cover artist with some of the most talked about covers in the industry. What is your creative process for coming up with an idea for a cover? Do you typically know a lot about what the content of the issue is going to be before you start?
KW: That really depends on who you’re working with and what their schedule is, and if they’re on top of things. I’ll often get a one sentence synopsis and a one sentence concept that they want me to push, and then you kind of just have to go. It’s kind of scary because you have this really horrible idea of what the story is or what the themes are, so luckily it’s just one issue and then you’re on to the next one!
HH: One of the things I love about your covers is that you’ve got a great ability to tell a story with a single, wordless image. Do you have an interest in pursuing that kind of storytelling in interiors, from a panel-to-panel perspective?
KW: We’ll see, it’s a totally different beast. I haven’t flexed that muscle since college. I don’t know how good I’d be at it–I’m down to learn, I know it’ll be a lot of work and that’s scary because I’m very lazy (laughs). So I don’t know, we’ll see…time will tell.
HH: Where can people find your stuff, and what are you working on now that you’re excited about?
KW: You can find me @KevinWada everywhere, Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, I’m on Facebook but I don’t really use it. Coming up is a lot of Catwoman covers and a lot of DC variants, they’ve been throwing tons of work my way. I have an A-Force variant for Marvel, some character designs coming out…that’s about it!