'Agents of SHIELD': New initiative art teases team divide -- EXCLUSIVE

Last week, EW exclusively debuted the first in a series of new art from Marvel and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Art of Level Seven.” Each week, as we move towards the show’s May season finale, Marvel is releasing a different piece, which will tie in directly with the events of that week’s upcoming episode.

EW is proud to help Marvel introduce the art in advance of episode 18, “Providence,” which will air next Tuesday, April 15 at 9 p.m. ET. (Note that due to a scheduling change, ABC will air 2 hours of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. with a repeat of “Turn, Turn, Turn” at 8 and the new episode airing at 9.) The piece, which details the big events of this past week’s outing and teases both the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the appearance of Hydra, was crafted by Paolo Rivera, who has designed multiple posters for Marvel Studios as well as Eisner-award winning comics.

EW again spoke with Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. executive producer Jeff Bell about this week’s concept, and how it ties in to Tuesday’s episode.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: After seeing the art for this week, I was struck by how emotional my response was. How much of that was the artist’s own concept, and how much of that came from knowing what the episode was about?
JEFF BELL: This is what he does blatantly — he takes these character,s and finds these moments, and finds a composition that puts it together, as he did with The Winter Soldier art. I think it’s more of an emotional piece than some sort of an illustrative metaphor. Some of the others will have more of a metaphor at the center. What I love about this one is that at first glance, it’s, “oh look, there’s our team.” But with what we know about episode 17 now, you take a closer look and the Hydra logo has the S.H.I.E.L.D. eagle in the middle of it, which we call “Shydra” — which I think is brilliant. And just the fact that Raina and Ward are in Coulson, and how the team is split behind Coulson…I even love the steam, the icy breath.

The other thing I noticed right away is how strategically every character is placed here — FitzSimmons being on opposite sides of each other, Skye on the outskirts. It really captures where all the characters were at the end of episode 17.
Agreed. And the illustration also captures so much emotionally of each character. He [Rivera] is fantastic and did a beautiful job, and I think it’s a great second poster for us.

Each piece in this series seems to be completely different in both emotion and concept. Did you pick your artists with a specific tone in mind for each episode?
Rather than trying to force each artist into a certain family, we just sort of embraced the uniqueness of each person, and I think you’ll see that as we go forward. And, you know, again, I can’t take credit for brilliantly casting each of these artists for the piece. But I do think they were well-chosen, and I think you’ll see the strength of each one.

This initiative shows a distinct commitment to connecting with your audience.
Absolutely. This is not an attempt to make a couple of bucks and capitalize on people when you get a piece of it. Our writers are waking up at 12:55 so they can log online and buy posters. These are things that we as creators and fans love, so it makes it really special — and the fact that other people are responding well to it, we hope, will draw more people to the show [and] also give other people ways to enjoy the show, and find other ways to connect.

How far in advance did the artists know what episodes and plots they’d be designing concepts for?
Everything is connected. Everyone got the heads up, and everyone sort of had time. There’s a plan in place and as the stories come forward and the scripts are done and the scenes are being shot.

I love that one of the things to come out of these pieces is a shared emotional investment in the show’s characters.
I think that’s one of the things Paolo does so beautifully — captures the moment with a glance. It’s fantastic. One of the things that the posters do is try to focus on the emotional feel of the piece rather than just, “here’s the illustration of a plot point.” I think all of them have that quality, and we’re looking forward to capturing that aspect of it. We want it to be specific to the episode, but I do feel what we try to do in television, and what art does well, is try to capture an emotional moment. Without getting too far ahead, the next one also has a really strong emotional component to it for 19.

As a reminder, this art — as well as all future art in the series — will be available for purchase as a limited edition high quality print exclusively through MarvelStore.com starting at 1am PST tomorrow.

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