The first time I saw Kevin Wada's work was on the cover of 2015's indie comic Fresh Romance (Rosy Press), then on the iconic variant cover he did for Marvel's A-Force, in which She-Hulk, Storm, Medusa, Nico Minoru, Black Widow, and Singularity are all hanging out on a stoop in Brooklyn. His use of soft watercolors mixed with realistic diversity and an amazing talent for putting emotion into his facial features are what make Wada's style both beautiful and distinctive.
A cover artist with a fashion design background, Wada rarely does interiors. But writer Kieron Gillen is such a fan that he and Jamie McKelvie created The Wicked + The Divine #23 — also known as Pantheon Monthly — specifically for Wada. The issue was a one-time departure from the popular Image Comics series in which it was laid out to look like a fashion magazine. Wada provided the beautiful cover and splash page art of each god "interviewed."
Best known for his work on She-Hulk (Marvel) and his run on Iceman (Marvel), Wada is currently working on the highly anticipated BOOM! reboot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, due out in January. SYFY WIRE got a chance to find out more about his influences and process.
Is it true that you got into comics by way of drawing fashion fan art?
True! I did this little series of X-Men as fashion illustrations and it took off online before I even knew what "taking off" was. [It] got me under the eyes of an editor at Marvel who gave me my first ongoing gig, She-Hulk.
You've built a career on cover art. Is it tough coming up with essentially a single page comic every time?
It's honestly way easier, possibly the easiest thing to contribute to an issue. I get to devote a good amount of time to a single image, whereas interior artists/colorists are hard at work on pages upon pages. It's nice to be able to focus on details and rendering that would otherwise be impractical.
What's your favorite cover so far?
Oh gosh, that's a hard one. I'd have to look through my archives.
I did a variant for Hellcat that has her and She-Hulk singing karaoke that encapsulates a lot of what I enjoy [about] drawing. They're in fun civilian clothes, the image is playful and light-hearted — very slice of life-y. I tried to push myself with the lighting in that one too to make it look like a snapshot (I'm notoriously bad at lighting). All in all a cover I'm very proud of.
Has any if your covert art influenced the story or interior art?
I'm not sure — you'd have to ask the writers and interior artists of the books I've contributed to.
Usually, I follow the lead of whatever the artist and writer have established for the characters and the world they inhabit. One would hope to influence the creative team they work with in some manner, but I'll be left wondering forever.
What's one character you've always wanted to draw?
I haven't gotten the chance at a Wonder Woman cover yet and I'd really love the opportunity. She's iconic. It would be an honor to do a rendition of her.
You have a truly distinctive style. What tools do you use?
I mainly use watercolor and color pencil, and after I scan my pieces there's usually some Photoshop manipulation as well. If I'm running low on time or I'm trying to achieve an effect I can't do traditionally, I allow digital to come to the rescue.
What advice do you have for young artists out there who are trying to break into cover work?
Make your online presence robust and up to date. I also think consistency with usernames makes it nice and easy for people to find you.
You never know who will find you and on what platform. Update frequently and do whatever you can to get noticed. Fan art, a series of themed illustrations, whatever it takes.
We just saw your new Buffy cover that dropped this week. Got anything else coming up?
I have a few pieces I'm getting the ball rolling on in the YA novel sector and some personal projects I'm trying to get off the ground as well.