Roads Not Taken: How Marvel UK’s Motormouth might have looked

During the development of the “Genesis 1992Marvel UK universe in the early 1990s, Editorial Director Paul Neary explored different paths for its core characters, developing the look of them over at least a year with numerous artists before settling on their final appearance and origins.

One of the earliest characters he developed was cocky space and time travelling teenager Motormouth, and it appears that not only did he create the character, but he may have designed her too, as one early drawing featured in two promotional booklets has now attributed to him.

United Kingdom Comic Art Convention Marvel UK Booklet

Artist Richard Whitaker has suggested this early image of Motormouth is the work of Marvel UK’s then Editorial Director back in 1991, Paul Neary, recalling seeing similar images at the time while he as working on the project

Before commissioning Gary Frank to draw her initial adventures for her title, which launched in June 1992, Paul had been working with then relative newcomer, Richard Whitaker, brother of the late artist and colourist Steve Whitaker, on early designs for Motormouth – and he was originally hired to draw the strip too, but the commission was suddenly withdrawn, without explanation.

Early design work for Marvel UK’s Motormouth by Richard Whitaker

Early design work for Marvel UK’s Motormouth by Richard Whitaker

(Richard’s published credits for MUK include two Doctor Who strips during my editorship, “A Glitch in Time” for Doctor Who Magazine Issue 179, and “Conflict of Interests” for DWM Issue 183).

Now living in France and actively seeking work as an artist again after a few year’s break, Richard recalls his time working for Marvel UK with mixed emotions.

“Not bad memories, more disappointing as I wanted to draw Motormouth, and waited over a year before editors decided to axe me,” he reveals. “I did quite a lot of work on the character but I don’t think it was used at all.”

As for why he was passed over, Richard says nothing was ever explained at the time.

“I was very green,” he acknowledges, “and actually needed mentoring, as I’m self taught, no art college. C’est la vie, eh?”

Art by Richard Whitaker

Art by Richard Whitaker

Living on a boat today, Richard has been prompted to start promoting himself as an artist again recently, “which I’m doing quite shamelessly on Instagram at present,” he tells us.

Art by Richard Whitaker

“I’ve also set up a small digital studio to work with so I can draw and paint digitally, which is a useful practicality nowadays.”

We wish him the very best of luck on his return to the field.

You can check out more of Richard’s work here on Instagram

Categories: British Comics, downthetubes Comics News, downthetubes News

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