Invincible co-creator Cory Walker stands alongside legendary artists like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditto in the pantheon of great comic-book character designers. His Mark Grayson, Atom-Eve, and Omni-Man (just to name a few) have become so iconic in the last 25 years that they’ve retained their original looks for Amazon Prime’s adult animated Invincible, on which Walker serves as lead designer. We caught up with Walker at this year’s SDCC 2023, where he reflected on Invincible‘s milestone anniversary and shared what’s next for him…
Is it surprising to you that Invincible is as beloved as it is after 25 years?
It’s pretty incredible. I didn’t really see it coming. A lot of this has happened during the pandemic when the show kicked off. This is my first San Diego Comic-Con since then. Just seeing this Skybound booth setup and everything is a little bit bonkers. [Laughs.]
Because of the pandemic, did you feel somewhat removed from the excitement the show was initially generating?
Yeah, the experience has generally just been seeing stuff online, which was a big surprise. I wasn’t sure how well the show would be received and was surprised when everybody loved it.
One of the great things about your work is your character designs. They acknowledge past superhero costume designs, and they pay homage to them; but at the same time, you follow your own path. They don’t feel derivative.
I’m not a trained designer or anything. I just know what I like. So the things that appealed to me as a young man – watching Batman: The Animated Series, the design sensibilities, the costumes, just the comics at the time. When I was 12 in 1992, a lot of the costumes were not as covered in geometric shapes, textures, and stuff like that. I just like simplicity. I feel like simplicity is timeless. When something is designed around whatever the popular movies of the day are, it gets dated pretty quickly.
Your work is a welcome break from the dominant aesthetic in, say, superhero movies these days. Where we see every last pore in the mesh of a costume. Simplicity is beautiful.
I’ve been lucky with my successes in that regard, I think. There are people who do really great stuff with the busier approach. But the bad influence of that is on people who don’t understand what they’re doing, and just see the shapes. The people who just slap shapes on everything. My taste in comic book costume design benefited us in the show. Because little had to be done to make them animation friendly.
Watching the first season, did any of your favorite moments differ from how you’d originally illustrated them?
Yeah. I feel like this is a basic answer, but the scene with Omni-Man and the Guardians at the end of the first episode is really great. Just the way it plays out was a huge departure from the comic, where we were trying to save the surprise for the page turn. You just have these quick flash panels of people getting absolutely destroyed, then you get the Omni-Man reveal. It’s just so much more effective to do what was done for the show. But in the comic, I think it was the right decision at that time.
Who were some of your big inspirations as a young artist?
My all-time favorite comic artist is Mike Mignola.
He’s another artist who favors simplicity.
Yeah, and I love Alex Toth. I liked all the big guys when I was younger – your Jim Lees and your Rob Liefelds. All the Image guys, really. Erik Larsen, even though he’s one of my favorite Spider-Man artists. I don’t know, it was weird when I was a kid because I didn’t have a good comic shop. It was just whatever I could get at the gas station at that time. So I couldn’t really collect something in a run. For a long time I wasn’t really exposed to artists consistently. Until there was a comic shop in the next town over. Then you could educate yourself and become a connoisseur. [Laughs.]
What are you currently working on?
Just bits here and there for the show. I’ll occasionally help out with some draw-overs or expressions, that type of thing. Then I’m working on the new covers for the new format Invincible. The 6×9 format. Drawing all those covers has been a lot of fun. Then Robert and I have Science Dog to wrap up. That’ll be the priority when those covers are wrapped up, so we can get that second book out!
INVINCIBLE™ © 2023 Robert Kirkman, LLC & Cory Walker. SKYBOUND and all related images are owned by Skybound, LLC. IMAGE COMICS and all related images are owned by Image Comics, Inc. All rights reserved.