Jean Grey for Hellfire Gala 🔥✨
Initial designs and concepts (+ a textless version for club members!) 💖
Marvel reached out to me a while ago to design Jean Grey’s look and create a cover for their annual event, the 🔥 HELLFIRE GALA 🔥, and how could I refuse? I gotta be honest, I’ve only drawn Jean on a couple other occasions on group X-men covers so while this wasn’t my first time depicting her, I wasn’t coming into this with any kind of established opinions or baggage—which was super freeing and allowed me to just focus on having fun. Had I been assigned Storm or Jubilee I probably would have felt a little more weighed down and/or stressed, since I’ve drawn both those characters many more times and I’d have a lot of my own illustrations to compare whatever new version I designed to.
So, head empty, baggage-free, I started brainstorming designs. First, I indulged in some wide leg pants and a dramatic cape, though I did figure even while I was drawing this one that there would be slim chances it’d be selected. 😂 Still though, I had to shoot my shot! Next, I wanted to do something that invoked her original Marvel Girl look in a subtle way. It’s quite a daunting task to follow up Russell on just about anything, but especially when it comes to the Hellfire Gala, which he pretty much led on the design front last year! I’m a huge fan of his work and wanted to make sure I offered at least one option that included some nods to his Jean design, so I tried to work in those elements here. Lastly, I thought I’d give her something that felt totally different—kind of ethereal, with celestial design elements peppered throughout.
Editorial came back with their selection—look 2! And shortly after, I got started on some actual cover concepts. I knew I wanted to make it really dramatic, so I chose to pull inspiration from fashion shoots in front of epic mansions and baroque-style interiors. Unfortunately I forgot that the X-Men are currently in Krakoa which has a much more organic feel, so while the team at Marvel liked option A, they requested that I add some botanicals somewhere to help tie it in better.
And botanicals were indeed added! I may have gone a little overboard! It has been known to happen! 😂 Here’s the final cover, complete with Tom’s brilliant logo design. As you can see, it’ll be a variant for X-Men RED #4, available at your local comic shop in June!
And finally, for JBC members, I’m including a textless version that you can use for wallpapers/etc. Thank you as always for your support! 🙏🏼💖
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