He tweeted about accepting commissions a few days before my 30th birthday. I figured it was a sign and went for it. And boy, am I glad I did.
I am over the moon. I have expressed my enthusiasm for Ibañez’s work on the Storm solo before; how I thought he and Greg Pak had liberated her from the racist stereotypes she had often embodied, and made her human. To me, there was no way Ibañez could improve his Storm, because she was already perfect. That was before he put a book in her hands, and gave me a cataclysmic nerdgasm.
Strangely, the drawing also makes me feel like I’ve contributed a tiiiiiny bit to the creation of the Storm character. Like I’ve expanded her by commissioning this somehow. Of course, this feeling has everything to do with the fact that an official creator produced the piece. It’s like seeing my headcanon canonised. Or rather, my headcanon with a stamp of approval. Or something. IT’S WEIRD I TELL YOU.
And I now own said tiiiiny bit of Storm, too. In practice, anyway. This is yet another reason why I found the commission experience to be very interesting: notions of ownership, authorship, and authority got all muddled. It was probably good for me, coming from a TV fandom where creators tend not to involve fans in the creative process, to feel like I finally had a say in the creation of my fan object. Not that I really dared ask for anything too precise – it felt improper to do so. Old habits die hard. In any case, here’s the story in pictures.
My initial request was for “casual Storm, in her own clothes, in the style Mr Ibañez did for the Storm comic”. Vague to say the least. I didn’t have a precise idea of what I wanted, and, as I said, I didn’t want to be difficult. I was happy to leave it to his discretion. This is what he first came up with:
I assume he made two sketches to give me options, because I had been so vague. It worked beautifully. I fell in love (hard) with the semi-profile on the right, but also felt like I had to keep the reading idea. It was the kind of thing for which I hadn’t dared ask because it felt too personal- it made her like me. As far as the outfit went, I had envisioned the sort of stylish clothes and accessories he had given her in the comic, but once again, his choice hit home, as this is the kind of clothes I wear. So I simply requested he combines the reading and the profile. This is the next sketch:
It was starting to take form and it was wonderful, but I wanted to make sure she didn’t look too absorbed. I’m not sure reading faces are appealing, and in any case, a focused look would have excluded the viewer (me). So, remembering the lovely, subtle facial expressions Ibañez had given her in the comic, I asked for a little smile. One that would both be inviting and show she was enjoying herself.
And just because, he added the chairs, and all of a sudden she was teacher Ororo reading on her day off, and I was happy. The lightning bolt earrings had appeared, too, so excitement was in order.
You’ve seen the finished product, so you know how perfect it turned out, but let me tell you, it is twenty times more beautiful in the flesh. Looking at it, I forget that it’s Storm for a second (that’s saying a lot), and I marvel at every detail. I lack the vocabulary to praise the technique, but one thing is for sure: Victor Ibañez is fucking talented. And generous – he didn’t have to add the background, in fact he typically charges extra for it.
Oh, and there’s also the matter of what I found tucked behind Nerdy Ororo when I finally removed it from the protective pocket:
At which point I began flailing my arms and tweeting kiss-blowing emojis, and things got generally embarrassing.
Long story short, if you get the chance and the funds, I recommend you commission a drawing from the artists that draw your faves. It’s a tad magical. I’m off to staring at Ororo now. As if I didn’t do enough of that before…The question is, what do you think she’s reading? I think it’s something humanistic and insightful. Probably some Audre Lorde ❤
I paid 115€ for Nerdy Ororo (trackable postage included), sent by Paypal to TheArt4You, who represent Victor Ibañez.
TheArt4You is on Facebook and blogspot. They don’t seem to use their email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) all that much -they even asked me to send the payment to another address- but they answer queries on Facebook messenger within a few hours. They were brilliant. I was kept up to date at all times, they relayed my queries to Ibañez without fail, and our exchanges were always very friendly.
1. I’m referring to the The X-Files people. Compared to the creators of more recent shows, Chris & co don’t interact with us that much, especially on social media. The XF family might be a bit old school.