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Bryan Hitch (born 22 April 1970) is a British comics artist. Hitch began his career in the United Kingdom for Marvel UK, working on titles such as Action Force and Death's Head, before gaining prominence on American titles such as Wildstorm's Stormwatch and The Authority, DC Comics' JLA, and Marvel Comics' The Ultimates.
Hitch's artwork and designs have appeared in direct-to-video animated films, television, and major feature films, such as the 2009 film Star Trek, for which he has been praised by director J. J. Abrams.
Bryan Hitch began reading comics at an early age, likening them to his "underage drug habit", and the newsagent in northern England where he would buy his books from his "dealer". The newsagent was next door to a cinema, and as Hitch explains, he could go straight from enjoying Christopher Reeve Superman films and other genre films to the store to buy Superman comics drawn by artists such as Curt Swan and José Luis García-López.
Hitch entered the comics industry after submitting "Teeth Like Flint", an Action Force sample story he wrote and drew to Marvel UK, using a style that was fashionable at the time. Marvel UK gave him his first professional commission in May or June 1987, approximately a month and a half after his 17th birthday.
Hitch worked with Simon Furman on Transformers and Death's Head. He did some work at Marvel Comics and DC Comics during the late 1980s and early 1990s, in particular his run on The Sensational She-Hulk, and continued drawing for Marvel UK. After that imprint closed, he provided the art for an issue of Teen Titans and a couple of series at Valiant Comics before returning to Marvel where he would work with inker Paul Neary. It was in the late 1990s that he got a series of high-profile assignments, which would mainly include Neary on inks. At Wildstorm, he worked with Warren Ellis in rebooting Stormwatch and launching The Authority. This led to a year on JLA with Mark Waid which included the JLA: Heaven's Ladder tabloid-format one-shot. Hitch and Neary then returned to Marvel and joined Mark Millar on The Ultimates, The Ultimates 2, and Fantastic Four.
Hitch's career has been marked by lateness of books, perhaps due to his high detailing. Examples include his run JLA, which was broken up by fill-in artists, a situation which he blamed on bad scheduling on DC Comics' part. There were long delays in between issues of The Ultimates, which was due to the birth of his child, two house moves, and an office move. What would have been his final issue of Fantastic Four with Mark Millar was drawn instead by fill-in artist Stuart Immonen. Hitch stresses that Marvel was more supportive of him during his tardiness than DC.
Hitch provided cover artwork for the November 2006 issue of the British film magazine Empire, for a cover feature on comic book movies. He was a character design artist for Ultimate Avengers and Ultimate Avengers 2 animated films. He was a character design artist for the video game Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction. He was brought aboard the project due to his rendition of the Hulk in The Ultimates. He was hired by the BBC as the concept artist for the 2005 relaunch of the Doctor Who television series, having particular input into the design of the TARDIS interior set. Hitch contributed designs to the starship piloted by Spock in the 2009 feature film Star Trek, for which director J. J. Abrams has praised him.
Hitch's cover to Fantastic Four #554 (April 2008) is featured in the opening title sequence of the 2010 History Channel television series, Stan Lee's Superhumans. That same year, Impact Books published Bryan Hitch's Ultimate Comics Studio, examination of Hitch's approach and techniques toward his craft, as well as practical tips provided by Hitch on various aspects of the visual storytelling process, and how to develop a career in the comics field. Studio, which features a foreword by Joss Whedon, contains both past artworks of Hitch's, as well as original artwork produced specifically for the book.
In 2012, Hitch was one of several artists to illustrate a variant cover for Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead #100, which was released 11 July at the San Diego Comic-Con. The following year, Hitch illustrated the Image Comics series America's Got Powers, with writer Jonathan Ross. He illustrated six issues of the ten-issue miniseries Age of Ultron. Hitch and writer Brad Meltzer collaborated on a retelling of Batman's first appearance for Detective Comics vol. 2 #27 in January 2014. March 2014 saw the debut of Hitch's creator-owned series, Real Heroes, written and illustrated by Hitch, who describes the concept as "the cast of Avengers does Galaxy Quest." In 2015, Hitch returned DC to write and draw Justice League of America. He and artist Tony Daniel collaborated on a new Justice League series in 2016 as part of the DC Rebirth relaunch.
Film director Josh Trank has described himself as a "huge fan" of Hitch's artwork, and was inspired by Hitch's depiction of Reed Richards working in his garage in The Ultimates to approach focus on Richards as a young man in the 2015 Fantastic Four film.
Hitch does not consider himself an artist or comic artist, but a storyteller, explaining that illustration for him is simply a medium to tell a story.
Hitch is particular about his studio workspace, which does not contain a TV or sofa, stating that such things belong in the lounge for relaxation. In addition to a large drawing board and extra desk space for his computer equipment and lightbox, he keeps copious book shelves. Despite using a professional drawing board, he emphasises that any inexpensive board large enough to hold the paper is sufficient, as he himself mostly uses a piece of roughly cut chip-board leaning on the edge of his desk. He uses an Apple iMac desktop computer, flatbed scanner and Photoshop to modify his artwork digitally.
Hitch begins with multiple rough sketches employing different camera angles on paper with a blue pencil, which tends to be less visible in photocopies or scans, and then select the desired elements from the rough sketch with a graphite pencil. After picking the initial shapes, he will further emphasise his selections with a red marker pen and other coloured pens, continuing to attempt different variations. He will then, depending on how late in the day it is, either redraw the illustration on a sheet of layout paper or use his lightbox to tighten and clean up the drawing, emphasising that the lightbox should not be a mere exercise in tracing, but an opportunity to refine or change elements in the drawing to make it "clean" enough to be inked. When Hitch transfers the drawing to the final art board, he does initial layouts with a 2H pencil, which feels provides the necessary accuracy and detail, and uses an erasable blue pencil to mark panel frames and vanishing points, which he introduces after the rough stage. He chooses not to put too much time or polish into this stage, preferring to work quickly, lightly and instinctively. He uses a mechanical pencil with 0.9mm 2H lead at this stage for fine outlines and detail work, and a traditional pencil for more organic work, including softer lines, shading large areas and creating more fluid motion. The "best tool of all", according to him, is a traditional pencil cut with a craft knife, which he says can produce a variety of marks, and be used for detail, shading and general sketching. Hitch believes the best results combine both the mechanical and the knife-sharpened traditional pencil.
Regarding inking, Hitch says, "Inking isn't about tracing, or taking someone else's pencil drawing and making it your own. It's about being aware of and respectful about the original artist's intentions. It's also about making your own artistic judgements based on your interpretation of the piece. The skill is then honing your technique to be able to actually deliver a strong, inked piece that is just how the artist wanted it to be." For feathering, Hitch uses a size 0 sable brush, which he says provide a wider range of sensitive marks than synthetic brushes, despite being softer and harder to use. For more free-hand hatching, Hitch uses a Gillott 1960 dip pen, though he prefers to use more solid areas of black to large amounts of rendering.