“Supercrooks would have to be the best work I’ve ever done” Leinil Yu on his latest collaboration with Mark Millar

Leinil Yu burst onto the comics scene in the late 90s after winning a Wizard magazine drawing board competition, but he followed that up with awesome runs on some of Marvel’s biggest titles like Wolverine and Uncanny X-Men. His spiky, unconventional style is part anime, part abstract but always phenomenally detailed and totally unique. However it was his work with Brian Bendis on Secret Invasion and Mark Millar on Ultimate Avengers that really helped bring him to the attention of mainstream comics fans. That latter run in particular helped build his relationship with Millar and developed into the fantastic creator-owned title, Superior, which was released via Icon Comics last year and is coming to a [no doubt explosive] conclusion very soon. With another collaboration with Millar called Supercrooks, launching soon I got in touch with Leinil to ask him about what it was like to work with some of the comics industry’s best writers and what was next for the man from Manilla?

You’ve been working a lot with Mark Millar on books like Superior and Supercrooks recently, do you enjoy the freedom of working on smaller creator owned books compared to working for Marvel and DC?

LY: There is certainly more freedom driven by the fact that it’s our own universe and it is mostly straight out of our imaginations. Designing new characters is always fun to do. I do enjoy working for Marvel and DC though, despite having to have an awareness of their respective, established histories.

Will we be seeing any more from Superior? What was your highlight of working on the book – was there a particular part of the story or sequence which you are particularly proud of?
I particularly love the quiet scenes with Chris and Maddie as well the wild ones like the Space Station crash. I LOVE reading Milar’s dialogues. He really has a gift for these things… making them all sound believable, warm and interesting. I couldn’t be happier.

Could you tell us a bit more about what we can look forward to with Supercrooks? How would you describe the style of the book and what has been your highlight working on it so far? Who has been your favourite character to draw for example?
Supercrooks would have to be the best work I’ve ever done. I’m spending extra long on each page and making sure that layouts, poses, gestures and facial expressions. 19 issues in with Millar and he still makes me nervous. haha.

Best and hardest part would be the design phase involving hundreds of variations between all of them. Favorite character to draw would be The Gladiator and The Heat, the catalyst of the story.

To what extent do you work digitally (or do you prefer pen and ink?) and does working digitally help or hinder you when it comes to working with a writer like Mark Millar? (I presume you are both working in different countries on different time zones?)
LY: I do all my design sketches and page layouts digitally. It’s easy to imagine how it’s useful in that regard. In the olden days, without access to a photocopier, coming up with variations of a single design would be daunting. With Photoshop and a Wacom, altering details here and there is done swiftly with very little effort. Altering color design is almost effortless. Moreover, rearranging, resizing and flipping panels is almost impossible to do outside the digital realm. I couldn’t layout pages any other way anymore. Lastly, I sometimes color my covers with Photoshop which is a lot of fun.

Are you an iPhone/iPad user? If you are do you read comics on them and what do you think of them as a way to read comics?
LY: I still prefer my TPBs and Hardcovers but I’ve read a few on the ipad and it seems pleasant enough. I can’t wait to see it on the retina display iPad 3 though. I especially enjoy the panel transition animation they do. Also, With Marvel’s Infinite comics, it can only get better.

How do you feel about the growth of digital comics? Is it good or bad for the comics industry and do you think it is affecting how you produce your work? Are you changing designs of layout for example to accommodate digital readers?
LY: As of now, I hasn’t affected the way I draw. But It could quickly change if people embraced the new format Infinite comics utilizes. Clever page transitions and all.

Which writers, artists or characters you would love to work with in the future? And what are your hopes and aims for your work in the future? More independent books or a return to Marvel/DC?
I would always stick to my roots and make my presence felt in the Marvel/DC universe. That is where my fanbase is and it’s where they’ve grown to like me. I do love doing collaborative work with Millar as well as come up with a title that’s completely my own. There’s no reason not to diversify. I’ll most likely do some mainstream work before doing my future creator-owned projectJ.

Finally, who’s work do you currently admire most and what books would you recommend to readers who like your work to check out?
So many good artists that I admire that it’s hard to enumerate all of them. Recently, I love Sean Murphy’s Joe the Barbarian. Also Sarah Pichelli’s Ultimate Spiderman is hella cool. Image’s Non-player is of course breath-taking. So many good stuff around.

Superior is available via Xxx and Supercrook will be released in April. You can also follow Leinil on Twitter @leinilyu