Days ahead of the X-Men: Dark Phoenix home video release from 20th Century Fox, The Beat had the chance to catch up with one of three comics artists who were commissioned to create exclusive art cards for the Wal-Mart release: Emma Kubert. During a brief chat at Rose City Comic Con 2019, Kubert talked about her love of the Chris Claremont/John Byrne comic saga, the DC Comics omnibus that made her fall in love with comic books, and more.
Samantha Puc: How did you get involved in this project with 20th Century Fox?
Emma Kubert: I was an artist at WonderCon, just selling my art there. One person came up to me and said he was a big fan of my dad’s stuff — I come from a family of comic book artists (Kubert’s grandfather is the legendary Joe Kubert, her father is artist Andy Kubert, and her uncle is Adam Kubert) — and I went with him to sell some of my own stuff. This guy said he was a big fan of my dad’s stuff and then he looked at my stuff and he was like, “An up-and-coming female comic book artist? The daughter of a comic book artist, the granddaughter of another comic book artist? I have an opportunity for you; I work at 20th Century Fox and they’re looking for artists like this.” I was like, “Hello! That’s me!” Because that sounded awesome, because Dark Phoenix is one of my favorite characters in the Marvel Universe.
Puc: Were you given specific guidelines or were you given full creative freedom over what you wanted to do?
Kubert: There were only a couple specific things. They wanted [Jean] to look like Sophie Turner and I think there were a couple specific ways they wanted to portray the powers, but most of it was my own style. I decided that I wanted to put backgrounds; I was just into that, doing it my own way. It was cool.
Puc: From where did you draw inspiration for these pieces?
Kubert: I had already read The Dark Phoenix Saga, but for this, I wanted to see what came from the movie. I watched the trailers and I wanted to really draw from that, but also use my knowledge of what the comic character is, too. One poster, she’s sitting in the alleyway and it’s raining — that was in the trailer — but I was thinking about what kind of character she is and how she has this vulnerability but she’s the most powerful entity in the whole universe, and that snowballed into what I decided to do.
Puc: You said that Dark Phoenix is one of your favorite characters in the Marvel Universe. Who are your others, in X-Men or just in the general MU?
Kubert: I always go for redheads, so Dark Phoenix — I liked her look, but then reading more about her and everything, I also liked her entire character. I also like Thor a lot. Thor is very cool. Spider-Gwen was always a favorite. She’s just so cool. She’s so cool.
Puc: Have you been reading Jonathan Hickman’s new X-Men books?
Kubert: I haven’t, but I want to. I have [the issues] at home; I just haven’t read any.
Puc: Other than the Dark Phoenix saga, do you have any favorite X-Men stories that you would be interested in exploring as an artist?
Kubert: Like, all of them. I mean, really, the X-Men are such cool characters. They’re the outcasts of the superhero world and that’s just the coolest thing is that you can do anything with them. They can have so many different kinds of powers. I was watching Legion, the [FX] show, and my mind was blown just watching it. It was so cool. There’s just so much you can do with the X-Men, so any character, whether I create it or not, would be awesome to explore.
Puc: If you had a mutant power, what would it be? Or if you could have a mutant power, which one would you want?
Kubert: If I could have a mutant power… I mean, honestly, I would just go for the full Phoenix Force, personally. That’s really the only one I can think of, because it’s the most powerful.
Puc: Other than working on this project for Fox, what else do you have in the works?
Kubert: I just finished a small story for DC Comics that’s Teen Titans GO! but it’s actually done in my own style, so it’s like — the Teen Titans go to camp. It was done in a superhero way similar to how I did the Dark Phoenix art, which was really, really fun to do, to interpret those cartoony characters in my own way.
I’m also working on something for Image Comics with Rusty Glad. It’s creator-owned, it’s called Inkblot, and it’s actually a fantasy comic. It will be published in May or April 2020. I would say if you like Harry Potter or Game of Thrones kind of stories, that’s what it is. You’re following a little black cat who can weave in and out of different realms, but you’re meeting different characters, going on different adventures, and just having a good time. But it all connects in the end.
Puc: You said you come from a family of comic book artists, so have you essentially been drawing since you could hold a pen?
Kubert: I mean, I’ve just always been a creative kid. I love my family and growing up in such a creative environment — I liked it. I liked doing it, but I didn’t like comics until I was 19 or 20.
Puc: What was the aversion to comics, do you think?
Kubert: My family are more artists than comics people. For me, I like drawing anything, whether it’s fantasy or landscapes or comics, whatever. That’s the same with [my family], too. Being surrounded by comics growing up, I guess it was teen rebellion. Being around it all the time, I didn’t know what else there was, especially in the art world, so I wanted to explore more. I kind of just found my way back to what I like to do, which is comics.
Puc: Was there any particular title, story, or creator that really made you think, “Yes! I want to pursue comics”?
Kubert: I interned at DC Comics when I was 19, when they were in the New York offices. When I was there, I was a pre-press intern, so I would read over final copies and help correct them before they went to print. My boss was like, “I think you’d like to read this,” and it was a giant omnibus of the Amanda Conner Harley Quinn. He was like, “I think you’ll like this, so I think you should read this while you proofread.” I was like, “Okay!” So as I was reading it, I realized, “This is so fun!” That’s all I ever wanted, was just fun stories. I love Amanda Conner and her art. It was just such a fun read, so I just kept reading after that and I was like, “I think this is what I was looking to do. I think so.”
Puc: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Kubert: I had a great time working on this stuff!
X-Men: Dark Phoenix hits stores on Tuesday, Sept. 17. The Wal-Mart exclusive Blu-ray release includes six art prints by Kubert, Paulina Ganucheau, and Afua Richardson. Check out Kubert’s Dark Phoenix art below and to keep up with her work on social media, follow her on Twitter @EmmaKubert.
Rose City Comic Con attendees can also visit Booth KK06 in Artist Alley on Saturday to get posters signed by Kubert from 2-4 p.m.