Class Notes Profile: Intergalactic Artist

Kevin West makes his living on Earth illustrating otherworldly comic heroes

Illustrator Kevin West worked on the Guardians of the Galaxy comic-book series, which recently became a feature-length 3-D film. (Image by Darrell Hoemann Photography)
Kevin West makes his living on Earth illustrating otherworldly comic heroes

Kevin West ’87 FAA has seen a number of the comic book characters he’s illustrated on paper—Superman, Spider-Man, Captain America and The Avengers—make an enormously successful leap to the big screen, but he’s got a special place in his heart for Guardians of the Galaxy.

That’s because from 1992-95, West was the regular artist on the Guardians of the Galaxy monthly series, when it remained confined to the pages of a book. But now, with the release this past August of an eponymous, feature-length Guardians of the Galaxy film, Marvel Comics’ spacefaring superheroes have achieved A-list status. Starring a string of big-name actors (among them, Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Glenn Close, Vin Diesel, John C. Reilly, Benicio Del Torro and Bradley Cooper), the movie—souped up in 3-D and IMAX 3-D—has vaulted the Guardians into the stratosphere of superhero icons.

West says Guardians was “an awesome book to work on” because it featured aliens, spaceships and a variety of worlds—a challenge for creative artists, as everything has to be made up.

“When drawing Spider-Man, a huge percentage of his adventures occur on Earth, with cities as the backdrop—places you see out your window,” West explains. “When your characters live in a spaceship and cruise around the galaxy, it’s all wide open. There aren’t a lot of books that have those exclusively sci-fi themes, so being able to work on one was a great experience.”

These days, West, who also illustrates children’s books and product designs, is drawing the Guardians again for Upper Deck, a sports-card producer. And the artist hasn’t forgotten his favorite figures, such as Thanos, who exudes power.

“When Thanos shows up,” West warns, “people immediately know a bad time is coming.”