He’s been a leader and a revolutionary, a husband and a father, a hero and a villain–He’s Cyclops, the first X-Man. The many roles Scott Summers has played since his debut in 1963 have made him one of the X-Men and comics’ most complex characters. In honor of Slim’s full-fledged return from the dead in this week’s Uncanny X-Men Annual #1, AiPT! is proud to present: CYCLOPS WEEK!
If you follow Marvel artist Sean Izaakse on Twitter, you know that he loves Cyclops. Like, really loves Cyclops. Izaakse’s such a fan of Scott Summers that when it came time to start planning AiPT!’s Cyclops Week, he was at the top of my interview wish list. Fortunately, the Champions artist was down to chat about why he relates to Cyclops, superhero costume design and much more!
AiPT!: I’d like to kick things off with a two-part question. First, what do you love about Cyclops as a character?
Sean Izaakse: What do I love about Cyclops? Scott Summers is my favorite mutant, X-Man and one of my top-3 Favorite Marvel characters. Let’s go with the easiest reason first–HE SHOOTS FORCE BEAMS OUT OF HIS EYES!!! How freaking cool is that!?
Okay now that that’s out of the way, the main reason is that I sort of can relate to him in no small way. Pretty soon after I finished high school, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer and basically told me I need to work and look after the family while he went through his operations and chemo and he couldn’t work. He never really recovered (long story). But pretty much since then I have been looking after my family. So I completely connect with Cyclops and the responsibility he has towards not only leading the X-Men, but with protecting the mutant race. They’re ALL family to him and he sees it as his responsibility to ensure their safety and prosperity. Even giving up his own happiness at times. For me, personally, I connected deeply with that.
AiPT!: Thank you for sharing that, Sean. The second part of my question is, as an artist, what do you love about Cyclops from a visual perspective?
Izaakse: Well, in case no one noticed–HE SHOOTS FORCE BEAMS OUT OF HIS EYES!!! Hehe. Seriously, though, the fun of drawing Cyclops would be in drawing how the environment reacts to his optic blasts. Trying to get that sense of power that he lets loose on his opponents and enemies. Also his cool visor, it’s his stand-out feature, not unlike Captain America and his shield or Thor and Mjolnir.
AiPT!: In a Deviant Art post featuring your take on Chris Samnee’s Cyclops redesign, you mentioned that Scott’s had so many awful costumes. So, I have to ask–what are some of Cyclops’ best looks, in your opinion?
Izaakse: Best Looks for me:
Dave Cockrum/John Byrne-era blue costume with yellow briefs
Blue and white X-Factor costume
’90s Jim Lee costume (of course)
Astonishing X-Men blue and gold trim costume
AiPT!: You also did a slick redesign of Scott’s brother Havok. In your opinion, what makes for a great superhero costume?
Izaakse: Thanks! That design I did of him is so old and makes me cringe when I look at it now. Hopefully I’ll get some time to do a new new redesign. For me the two things that make a great superhero costume is firstly, the silhouette. Being able to immediately and easily identify who the character is when he’s in the shadows is what makes for a great design. Also the design should inform who the character is and what their deal is. And secondly, for me, some of the best costumes come from very simple and not overly complicated designs. As an artist working in comics, coming up with a slick design that’s not overly complicated is paramount since you’ll be drawing these characters over and over hundreds of times in hundreds of ways. A design you can easily memorize and not have to go back and check references when you’re on deadlines is a bonus.
AiPT!: Looking at your art credits on Marvel.com, it looks like you haven’t had a chance to draw Cyclops in any X-Men comics. Is that a professional goal of yours?
Izaakse: I’ve drawn him in one panel in Uncanny Avengers. It was a particular highlight for me. And he’s high on my list of characters I would like to work on during my career at Marvel. I have ideas and scenes in my head that I would love to draw of Scott Summers. Fingers crossed it happens one day and I get to put my own stamp on this character that means a lot to me.
AiPT!: What artists would you say have influenced your art style?
Izaakse: I’m just gonna put a bunch of names here: Alan Davis and Stuart Immonen are huge influences on my style. But to a degree, all these people had various influences on my art development as I grew up: George Perez, John Byrne, Kevin Maguire, Tom Grummet, Mike Wieringo, Adam Hughes, Mark Bagley and, of course, Jim Lee.
AiPT!: What comics are you currently working on and is there anything coming up you can tease?
Izaakse: I am currently working on Avengers: No Road Home, the big Avengers crossover starting in February. I’m basically getting to draw a bunch of Avengers and… dom dom dom CONAN!! That’s all I can say. I don’t want to spoil the craziness that happens in this series. Needless to say you absolutely should check it out. You won’t believe what I get to draw and how huge this story is. It’s a ton of fun which is what I love about comics.
AiPT!: You’re very active on Twitter, which is cool to see. In your opinion, how important is it for creators to be active and engaged in the comics community, on both the professional and fan ends of the spectrum?
Izaakse: It’s a double-edged sword. I’ve met and become friends with some of my comic book idols and even met some lovely fans of my work. And not to mention the opportunities that have come up from being active online.
But the other side is also true, the worst side of fandom and the internet is also active and if you let it, it can get very disheartening. But thankfully I manage my social interactions and focus on the positive.
AiPT!: OK, one more Cyclops fan question before we wrap up. Scott and Jean Grey or Scott and Emma Frost?
Izaakse: I’ve never liked Scott and Jean together. I feel they are the perfect toxic couple. Separately, they’re wonderful and strong engaging characters. But they bring out the worst in each other. When Scott met Jean, he was an awkward kid shoved into this roll as a leader while still trying to find his place and he emotionally leaned on Jean, which wasn’t fair on her either while she was still discovering the extent of her power, and the emergence of the Phoenix and Logan’s advances.
And I feel that every time those two get together, they default into those roles. They work tons better as exes who are now friends. They’ve been through a lot together and that kinda bonding doesn’t go away. Them being friends is the type of relationship they can both grow into and make for engaging stories.
Scott and Emma are my jam. Emma see’s and loves Scott for the strength she sees in him, and despite her nature she nurtures that and helps propel him forward under his own strength. They don’t lean on each other so much, but are more equal, stronger together. Also, Emma calls Scott out on his crap, and he inspires her. Its a nice match up. Heck, she loved him so much she changed her ways. I love seeing those two together.
But since that hasn’t happened in awhile and with Scott’s return, it would be interesting to see what new relationships Scott, Emma and Jean might end up in.
AiPT!: Thanks for taking the time to chat, Sean! And, hopefully, we’ll see you penciling future Cyclops adventures!