Marvel Comics Signs Artist Behind ‘Miles Morales: Spider-Man’

San Antonio comic book artist Chris Allen has been following the adventures of Spider-Man since he was a child, retracing the comics of Spidey with his older brother Curtis in Florida. He now has the great power and responsibility to draw Spider-Man as an official Marvel Comics artist.

Marvel recently named Allen a member of its 2023 class of “Stormbreakers,” an elite group of illustrators from around the world that the publisher spotlights with exclusive deals and marketing. Among the artists gathered this year, Allen is the only one in the United States.

This image released by Sony Pictures Animation shows Miles Morales, voiced by Shameik Moore, in a scene from the Oscar-winning film “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”

Sony Pictures Animation/Associated Press

Lately, Allen has made his mark drawing Miles Morales, the black Latino teenager who took on the role of Spider-Man in the comics in 2011 and broke into the mainstream with the Oscar-winning animated film 2018 “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.”

In recent issues of “Miles Morales: Spider-Man,” Allen did his own little Miles story. He is the first in-book artist to draw the character in his new costume, a streetwear outfit inspired by the animated film. He also co-created Spider-Smasher, an adult version of Miles’ little sister, Billie, from an alternate reality. (Ah, comic books.)

Later this month, Marvel will release Allen’s first-ever cover for the company, with an alternate cover for “Miles Morales: Spider-Man” #42 out September 28.

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Allen has drawn for several independent comic book publishers, including San Antonio-based Antarctic Press, and illustrated other dynamic characters, such as Sonic the Hedgehog and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But for a longtime industry veteran, the major league call at Marvel makes the 50-year-old feel like a kid again.

“It’s a medium where you can literally do anything you can imagine, you can tell any story you can imagine,” he said. “And the more you hone this craft, the more tools you have in your toolbox to tell compelling stories. Ultimately, for me anyway, I was very lucky and very fortunate to be in this space as long as I have been because I recognize the human value of imagination.

Allen speaks from experience. While Marvel promotes his Stormbreakers as the best “rising” artists in the industry, he’s been illustrating comics since he was 16.

Allen grew up in Winter Park, Florida, just northeast of Orlando. During high school art class, his teacher caught him drawing superheroes instead of his homework. Rather than give him detention for doodles, the instructor introduced him to Bill Black, founder of what is now AC Comics in Orlando. She then gave Allen credit for the class for any work he did for Black.

He built his portfolio by networking with other comic companies, often ghost drawing backgrounds for other artists. Then he got a call from Curtis, his brother, who had done digital color for Antarctic Press.

The San Antonio publisher needed an artist to replace a title in its “Warrior Nun” franchise, which is now a Netflix series. Allen moved here in 1997 and has been an Alamo City artist ever since.

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Allen describes his comic style as classic, favoring the golden age of the medium from the late 1930s to 1950s and the silver age from the early 1950s to the early 1970s. His biggest inspiration is the late Reed Crandall, a comic book illustrator often referred to as an “artist’s artist” for his detailed and sketchy depictions of Golden Age heroes such as Flash Gordon and the flying ace Blackhawk of the World War II, as well as for his work. in horror and science fiction comics.

Writers who worked with Allen also praise him for his artistic attention to detail.

“The comics are a collaborative effort, but the artist does all the heavy lifting,” horror writer Brian Keene, who worked with Allen on the series, said via email. ‘Antarctic Press “The Last Zombie”. “You can write all the pretty words you want, but ultimately it’s up to the artist to bring those words to life. And Chris never failed to deliver.

Keene said “Last Zombie” was his first non-Marvel or DC Comics work, meaning it belonged to the creator.

“So, as you can imagine, I wanted it to shine,” he said. “And it happened, and Chris was one of the reasons. We were very lucky that Chris worked on it.

Chris Allen, a comic book artist in San Antonio, and his wife Nora, display one of his original pieces on Thursday, September 15, 2022. He just landed an exclusive contract with Marvel Comics.  Allen currently illustrates "Miles Morales: Spider-Man" the biracial character who has become increasingly popular since her debut a decade ago.

Chris Allen, a comic book artist in San Antonio, and his wife Nora, display one of his original pieces on Thursday, September 15, 2022. He just landed an exclusive contract with Marvel Comics. Allen currently portrays “Miles Morales: Spider-Man,” the biracial character who has grown in popularity since his debut a decade ago.

Billy Calzada/staff photographer

Allen actually made his Marvel debut several years ago as a freelancer, illustrating two-issue preludes for Marvel’s hit films “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” in 2017 and “Ant-Man and the Galaxy”. Wasp” in 2018. The following year, he finally got his chance with the crawler he had sketched as a kid when he illustrated the Marvel one-shot “Spider-Man: Reptilian Rage.” “

Then came Allen’s first ongoing series with “Miles Morales: Spider-Man.”

Allen’s “Miles Morales” work with writer Saladin Ahmed saw the young hero juggle a date while battling the villainous Taskmaster and travel the Spider-Verse to battle his evil clone Selim in an alternate reality where his dead uncle Aaron is still alive. (Again, comics.)

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Issue #42 of this month’s “Miles Morales” marks Allen’s latest issue with the character. In the meantime, he’s finishing a two-issue tale for “X-Force,” the long-running X-Men spinoff. Allen’s next artistic adventure kicks off with “X-Force” #34 in November, when Wolverine and his team of Marvel mutants sail to the stars to battle space pirates.

And while he can’t reveal his next big Marvel project just yet, he said it will mark his first No. 1 in an ongoing series. And it will feature another major Marvel superhero who has gained popularity in recent years thanks to a big-screen arc.

Let those spider senses tingle.

[email protected] | Twitter: @reneguz

Lisa M. Horner