Marvel is returning to the Grand Design format for a new series spotlighting the jade giant himself. Hulk: Grand Design will come from Eisner Award-winning cartoonist Jim Rugg, who will retell and reinterpret the full run of the original Incredible Hulk series, from its debut in the ’60s through its ’90s conclusion.
The first book of the two-part series, Hulk: Grand Design – Monster, will arrive in March, and encompass the first 300 issues of the series. The second book, subtitled Madness, lands in April, and will cover the rest of the series, including the many different personalities that Hulk developed.
“Hulk was the first comics character I liked,” Rugg told The Beat via email of his decision to tackle the character. “When I was 6, I had a Hulk bowl and cup set. It featured the Hulk busting through a wall on one side (John Romita art?) and his origin on the other side. I stared at that and read his origin over and over…the most powerful creature to ever walk the Earth… Hulk is one of the all-time great and most recognizable comic book characters.”
“For a project like Grand Design, I think it’s vital to feel a connection to the character,” Rugg said. “I never want to feel like making comics is a job. So it was important to me that my Grand Design featured a character that I wanted to spend a year or so with – the Hulk was the perfect choice for me! Hulk’s the best! He’s a monster. He looks great. He’s not really a “super hero”. What’s better than monster comics?”
Hulk: Grand Design follows the format pioneered by Ed Piskor in the six-part X-Men: Grand Design series, and continued by Tom Scioli in a two-part series focused on the Fantastic Four. Rugg and Piskor co-host the Cartoonist Kayfabe YouTube series, which Scioli has appeared on a number of times. Asked if there was any friendly competition to ‘one-up’ his friends with his Hulk series, Rugg admitted, “I do want Hulk: Grand Design to look good next to X-Men: Grand Design and Fantastic Four: Grand Design. Those are handsome books. I feel obligated to hold up my part and create a book that belongs in that space. Alright. Fine. I guess there’s a little competition!”
Rugg, a Best Publication Design Eisner Award winner for Little Nemo: Dream A Little Dream in 2015, also stressed that his approach to Hulk: Grand Design is, appropriately, very design-oriented: “I wanted to fit as much into Grand Design as I could, so I approached each page as its own design. Old Sunday newspaper comic strips, advertising, posters – each page was a new canvas for me to tell a piece of Hulk’s story and to celebrate the various stories, styles, interpretations, history, and media of the Hulk. I used everything I could – pencil, ink, ballpoint pens, notebook paper, bristol board, iPad, Apple pencil, Photoshop, old comics, newsprint, scanner, printer, markers, Microns, rapidographs, sable hair brushes, Japanese pen nibs, Hunt 102s. ink washes…I also thought about Hulk in the world – TV, cartoons, movies, newspaper strip, Rolling Stone cover model! Hulk has had a remarkable run. Anything I could come up with to showcase Hulk’s colorful story and rich history, I tried to do.”
“It’s rare for a character to sell enough to last hundreds of issues and decades of time and still connect with audiences,” Rugg continued. “It takes a character who can be interpreted by different readers, creators, and generations. Hulk: Grand Design is biography, history, pop culture, and art book.”
Check out a few more preview pages from Hulk: Grand Design – Monster below, including an incredible recreation by Rugg of the cover of Wolverine’s first appearance in Incredible Hulk #181. Look for the first issue of the two-part Hulk: Grand Design series to arrive in stores in March of next year.