Early on in Logan, an olden, beaten-down Wolverine comes across a pile of vintage X-Men comics, dismissing the stories as hyperbolic at best and fabricated at worst. The comics are more than a throwaway gag, though: they propel some of the film’s plot and its questions about heroism and the mythologizing of the past. That is to say, any random Uncanny X-Men comic wouldn’t have worked.
Speaking to Slashfilm in February, director James Mangold noted that Marvel permitted him to use X-Men comics in the film, provided none were real issues. So, he turned to Marvel’s chief creative officer Joe Quesada and artist Dan Panosian to create his own.
To learn more about these custom X-Men issues, we spoke with Panosian over email.
Minor spoilers for Logan ahead.
A longtime comic fan, Panosian noted that his father introduced him to comic books when he was a kid, and he was particularly drawn to X-Men. “[This] was kind of a dream job for me,” he told The Verge. “Logan is one of my all-time favorite characters, so it was a tremendous honor to be a part of this film.”
Panosian joined the project after the film’s storyboard artist, fellow Marvel comics artist Gabriel Hardman, recommended him for the job. “They needed someone who could pencil / ink / color and letter covers and interior pages, which are jobs that are generally split up and handed to individual artists that specialize in each category.”
In all, Panosian created 10 fake covers for the comics used in the film, while “Joe Quesada penciled four pages that I inked / colored and lettered that you see featured throughout the film.” With Logan hitting theaters, he recently posted some additional artwork to Twitter, part of an additional four-page story that he wrote “just in case the actors flipped through the pages of the other faux comic books.”
The comic books featured in the film were designed to look like the comics from the 1980s, the kind Panosian enjoyed when he was younger. “The whole project is a like love letter to that generation of work. Stories and art that influenced and inspired so many writers and artists working today.”
Panosian also liked the idea of a contrast between the campy retro comics and the somber modern movie. “The colors and art itself juxtaposed against the raw and savage world in the film capture just how much innocence has been lost over time,” he explained.
He received open-ended directions on what the covers should look like. “The themes were easy to select,” he noted, because the films covered many of the same elements as the stories that he had grown up reading.
As to whether fans will see the books in real life? Panosian isn’t sure, but hopes that the art will appear in a special feature on the home releases somewhere down the road. “It would be a shame not to for comic book fans.”