P:R Approved: Matthew Humphreys’ X-Men, Animated!

Note: Marvel’s X-Men have made their way to the animated world on numerous occasions with varied styles and subject matters, but artist Matthew Humphreys has single-handedly created, for me at least, the measuring stick of what X-Men cartoons should be. Below you’ll see the inspired takes on 20 of the X-Men’s top characters, taking each character’s styles over the years and distilling them down to a fun overall design with an energetic, bouncy style. I’m usually not one for fan-driven campaigns, but this makes me re-think that. Who’s with me? – Chris A.

43 comments on “P:R Approved: Matthew Humphreys’ X-Men, Animated!
  1. Really nice characterization, really good illustrations, and design wise, 500 points for beasts pants leg zippers. What i like the most is the different silhouettes, all kinds of size and built, look at that tiny x23…love it.

  2. The designs are really nice, though I don’t think the X-Men are suited to a cartoon aimed at young children (and yeah, I realize that there have been 3 or 4 such series them produced). Still, a fun piece, and it’s great that he used the real Psylocke.

  3. Yeah, Cyclops not in that line up makes me nervous but the way things look Storm was in charge of the team when she rocked the punk look. PLEASE DON’T HAVE WOLVERINE IN CHARGE, it makes him a weak character.

  4. That entire last row could be excluded (from any proposed X-men toon, great artwork though) or traded for Cyclops…why isn’t he or Marvel Girl here? But Deadpool did make me laugh with the up-skirt thing.

    Kitty needs some work, I prefer the covert Shadowcat look to the bubbly Sprite look that this feels like. Also, Pyslocke seems out of place sporting a mask here…nobody else has one (well, except Wolverine but I like the unmasked look he has here) and the hood is sufficient…not to mention trying to hide your ID while having bright pink hair seems like conflicting ideas.

    The rest are pretty much dead on with Wolverine and Beast as my favorites. Outstanding.

  5. Jay: Humphreys’ design looks to be drawing from the late 80s /early 90s X-Men line-up (with some exceptions), when Cyclops and Marvel Girl weren’t part of the team but instead in X-Factor.

  6. Loving it! Really like how Marrow looks. Not a fan of Barefoot Arachangel (I just don’t get why he wear no shoes) and everyone else is great!

    @Chris if that were the case wouldn’t Beast, Archangel, and iceman be on X-factor too?

  7. It’s worth noting that he drew these for the fun of it, not as a cartoon series proposal (going by his comments on Deviantart anyway; perhaps I missed something). So if, say, Cyclops is missing, it’s just because Cyclops isn’t among his favorite characters.

    I absolutely love the Nightcrawler costume redesign; it’s one of those creative decisions that seems super-obvious in hindsight, but I’ve never seen anyone think to base his costume on a gymast’s before. You clearly see the old Cockrum outfit in there, but streamlined. So good.

  8. I’m sorry Chris but I’m not with you this time,the design are great and remember me one of the most exciting eras of the X-Men,the australian era,the design is cool and really funny,expecially the new punk hairs for Gladiator,Iceman with his Age of Apocalypse style and Wolverine,finally drawed as short.
    But the style is also too much childish and cheerful for the adult thematics of the X-men,racism,violence,genocides,racial segregation and many other,I don’t think transform the X-Men into the new Avengers Cartoons would be a great idea.

  9. Itlas: Marvel has done X-Men stories successfully for kids and teenagers for decades, in comics, animated series and video games. I can understand you personally not wanting to read those stories but they have been shown to work very successfully for those audiences. And it’s not like this would take away from the more adult-oriented X-Men you like.

  10. Maybe I just watch too many cartoons, but when I look at this the word “childish” doesn’t come into my mind. It’s very stylized, but to me there’s no reason you wouldn’t be able to tell mature stories with this style. I mean, if you look at something like The Incredibles (or anything from Pixar for that matter), way more cartoony than this, but very sophisticated in it’s storytelling, with real stakes and adult themes. Animation doesn’t have to be so rigid. You don’t have to go for realism to tell stories with some depth.

    These designs are brilliant.

  11. Although the X-Men often deal with serious issues, I feel like comics these days tend to take themselves too seriously. Not that they shouldn’t or can’t touch on or be grounded in adult themes, but I get a little tired of all the drama and high stakes and over-the-top violence/massive death tolls sometimes. I prefer stories that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike without leaning too far to either side, however I understand that may be a difficult line to straddle at times. That being said, it’s refreshing to see these characters portrayed in a more lighthearted way. And now, having said THAT, the style here doesn’t entirely work for me. I love that these characters are drawn in a way that’s mostly reminiscent of the 90′s comics I grew up reading, but the concept here is a strange middle ground between their 90′s style and a more updated approach. Some seem more modern, while others feel entirely straight out of the 90′s. The personality given to each of the characters is amazing though. Also, this is completely random, but does Nate Grey ever remind anyone else of Trunks from DBZ? I’m not a big anime fan, but I did watch DBZ all the time as a kid, and I always felt like those two shared a lot of similarities. Great job, Mr. Humphreys!

  12. @thestray I agree ,character design doesn’t have to be John romita looking to give you a good story.Not that there is anything wrong with that style,but there are plenty of shows with simple character designs but with fantastic animation and storytelling.Look at Batman TAS,The Spectacular Spider-man,these shows capture this so well.

  13. Alright! I’ve got a few things to say but to start; AWESOME!
    Storm is so fun and and Psylocke in her true form is great to see! And your Rogue though not how I think of rogue is hilarious, and looks like she’d be a fan favorite on an animated series featuring this sassy, thick accented, big haired mutant brawler!

  14. I absolutely love love love Rouge’s and Domino’s designs here, they are super sleek and stylish

  15. @JSG Not to mention some of the other cartoons of the last 10 years which have managed to be light and stylized while still telling some quite dark and mature stories, such as Avatar: the Last Airbender and Generator Rex. Also, while more ‘standard’ comic book styles may give greater realism or what have you, it also makes them a tremendous pain in the ass to animate.

    My only gripe is a standard one of mine – I would really like to see a bit more of that stylized variety of body types shown in the male characters applied to the female characters. While there is some variation between the female characters, obviously, I would prefer there be a greater range of body types on display.

  16. am i the only one that got bothered that Kurt seems to be wearing a bathing suit? scarlet witch’s bathing suit?
    love the others but a bit conflicted with marrows awesome elongated spine and tail but the clunky footwear…

  17. Jamie: Actually, that suit Humphreys has drawn Nightcrawler in is one that’s been used in comics for awhile now. Do you read X-men comics?

  18. Love this stuff. Matt’s work always blows me away.

    To the more critical commenters, if you don’t enjoy the art style or a particular character design, it’s only a matter of your personal taste. Matt’s work here is of top-notch quality and pitch-perfect in tone, whether it clicks with your aesthetics or not. The consistency of his designs for this diverse group is the point, and he knocked it out of the park.

    Neer-Do-Well, I totally agree that there need to be much more diverse body types for women (in comics in general), and their physiques here don’t vary too greatly. Seeing as all these ladies were already established as physically fit, standard comic book woman in thr comics (whether realistic or not), Matt’s X-Ladies follow suit, and mostly vary in height and waist-size.

    That being said, they do have subtle differences I enjoy. Rogue’s waist in particular emphasizes her overall curves (in fact, her physique has the most thick-to-thin diversity with some pretty sharp angles), Domino looks to be the most broad-shouldered and buffed up (for some reason she keeps reminding me of Chris Sprouse’s work on Tom Strong), the younger ladies have the softest, curves with no severe plane changes (Kitty, Jubilee and X-23) and I love how short X-23 is, with little to no curves from her ribcage to her hips. She looks like she has a strong core.

    Of all these women, Marrow probably presented the best opportunity to vary a female body type, since she is an ‘ugly’ character (waaaaay back in Uncanny #325), but since her initial appearance, death at the hands of Storm, and resurrection, she was redesigned and given a full head of trendy hair and the usual superheroine body type. Her grotesqueness then only became expressed by her bone protrusions. I like what Matt did with them, basically just armoring her up and giving her a wide, sunken-eyed face, like Marrow-by-way-of-Desdemona-from-Gargoyles.

  19. I really like these! Not a big fan of that look for Kitty, but otherwise, I really like all the designs and characterizations. Good clean lines and very distinct characters. Nice job!!

  20. Whoa, whoa, whoa—this Nightcrawler costume has been used in the comics? I really thought it was a new design. Where can I see this in print? What general era? I’m not a constant X-Men reader but I thought I’d seen all his costume iterations up to his death.

  21. Whoa, whoa, whoa—this Nightcrawler costume has been used in the comics? I really thought it was a new design. Where can I see this in print? What general era? I’m not a constant X-Men reader but I thought I’d seen all his costume iterations up to his death.

  22. Kitty and Jubilee are excellent, but I question Beast’s design: his head doesn’t seem to fit quite right with his body. Perhaps with such wide shoulders I’m assuming a neck that would be about as thick as his head appears. Also, Wolverine’s calves appear massive.
    All in all, I love the designs here especially all of the little interactions amongst the line-up – Deadpool’s breaking of the fourth wall is a great addition.

  23. Are you talking about the costume at the top of Nightcrawler’s wikipedia page?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nightcrawler_(comics)

    Because that looks quite different to me (x on chest, neckline, shoulders, gloves, boots, pattern on arms and legs).

    I like the costume because it’s clearly been rethought to accentuate his gymnastics and swashbuckling, but it’s still recognizably his costume.

  24. I love all the designs except for Gladiator. I just can’t get behind that hairdo. Everything else is pitch- perfect. His ability to capture each character’s distinct personality is really impressive. I also enjoy the stylization. And as others have mentioned, simply b/c something is stylized doesn’t mean you can’t take it seriously. I think it this was a cartoon it would do a nice job of balancing serious themes with a healthy amount of fun.

  25. I love all of these, especially Deadpool! Though… does anyone else see Guido Sarducci in Forge? It’s creepy, but somehow makes the character even better to hear him spout technobabble with that voice

  26. I love these redsigns, some are just slight tweaks but they work so perfectly. Would love to see a cartoon with this look. Also the Deadpool/Shadowcat angle made me really laugh.

    Great job.

  27. All I can say is that I want to watch the show that has these character designs. I want to watch it so bad!

  28. I’m fine with the fact Cyclops isn’t there, because then Storm would lead, which I love because she is my favorite x-man. The only thing is that I was it wasn’t Mohawk Storm… with the exception of that, I would have no reason to not watch this show.

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