Mark Bagley Fan Expo 08 Interview

1.What was your first assignment?

NIGHTMASK. New Universe was going down in flames, and Marvel flew me down to New York to meet all the editors, and guy I saw on the last day was Greg Wright, who was eyeing for talent so he hired me for a few issues of NIGHTMASK.

2.What comic book characters did you most prominently follow as a reader?

Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, pretty much Marvel. I was a Marvel guy.

3.Let’s talk about Ultimate Spider-Man. Is it true that you were originally signed on for the opening six-issue arc? What was your reaction when Brian Michael Bendis pitched you the idea?

It was only meant to be a six-issue miniseries. It was gonna be like a revamp, sort of like what John Byrne sort of did. I forget what they called it. I turned it down three times and I’d never heard of Bendis. I never knew how good he was.

4.Your redesigns of most of the protagonists and antagonists seem to possess an even balance between the original retro look and a more contemporary appearance. In your opinion, what should artists keep in mind when faced with redesigning a hero or villain’s look for a story?

If I understand your question, there is some you can do more with. I mean you couldn’t redesign the Kingpin to not be a big, fat, white guy. You couldn’t redesign Carnage not to be a red bloody guy. You just gotta tweak it a little bit. One of the guys I felt I could really go to town on was Electro because that costume is so dated for what it was. It was a beautiful costume, though. It’s such a classic costume, but I felt like we were going in such a different direction that I could change it. It depends on how much of a direction you want to go.

5.Why did you decide to leave the book after issue #110, especially since you and Brian broke Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s record of most consecutive issues on a title by the same creative team? How did Brian take the news?

I just felt like it was time. The record turned into a thing and then it seemed like now that that’s done, it was time for a change. I was still loving the book; I still read the book. It was time to try something a little different.

6.Why did you decide to move to DC Comics?

Kurt Busiek called me to do something like TRINITY, and the timing was right. Marvel didn’t really have a project that played to my strengths at that time. They loved me; they wanted me to stay, but I felt like it was time.

7.Two of the revamps you and Brian incepted during your run (i.e. Peter’s hair, Eddie Brock now a childhood friend working for Doc Connors) have made it into mainstream animation via the Spectacular Spider-Man series. Have you had a chance to check it out yet?

I don’t get the KidsWB. But I saw the promos.

8.How would you rate your replacement, artist Stuart Immonen?

He’s great. I still buy the book. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time.

9.In Trinity, you’re given the coolest cars in the garage – Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman. However you’ve penciled Batman in a 1996 one-shot with Spider-Man. How different is your take on the Dark Knight as opposed to what you did back then?

I just change as an artist. I’m going at him now more like it’s my character. Back then, in the crossover thing, I didn’t feel like I had any right or bones to change him at all. But now, it’s just a little more tweaking.

10.In the first few issues you abandoned the tradition of placing Clark Kent in a business suit with slicked back hair and put him in casual wear (the letterman jacket, blue jeans, and regular styled hair). Did any recent Superman-related media influence that decision or was it just a choice of your own to be different?

No, I dress characters as how I see them in my head. Like Bruce Wayne – and Kurt was really impressed. In the first issue, Bruce Wayne is shown in a pullover shirt, kind of relaxed.. He’s a rich guy, out on the dock; he’s not gonna wear a suit. I dress characters as how I think – I don’t know it’s like acting! That’s how I approach it.

11.It being Superman’s 70th anniversary and all, what do you think is the secret of the character’s longevity in popular culture? What does he mean to you as a character in the comic book genre?

He seems like a really great character. He’s the real, first, pure superhero-like character. He just hit at the right time and sparked an industry basically. So, that’s what I have to say about that.

12.Lastly, what advice would you give someone considering to a) learn how to draw comics, and b) break into the business?

A) Study the form; study how to do storytelling, study like how the greats have done it before. Gil Kane, John Romita, and those guys, John Buscema and Jack Kirby. Study how to tell a visual story. Most guys today don’t know how to draw a visual story; they just draw a pretty picture. And also learn how to draw. A lot of guys that go to art school now only learn Photoshop and their drawing skills never improve. B) Practice, practice, practice. Go to cons where they have portfolio reviews, every company has a submissions editor. Keep trying. Don’t be afraid to be rejected. I got rejected a lot!


13.What was your background in art before you first started Marvel Comics?

Drawing comics since I was a kid, practice-wise. Went to art school after the army, got into technicals and visuals. I just immersed myself. It’s like anything; you’re not going to be a good golfer if you don’t immerse yourself in golf. You’re not going to be a professional painter if you don’t [immerse yourself in art]. What really makes me mad is when I meet fans, someone who wants to be a comic book artist, and they come to me with different sized pages and not the right materials. They haven’t invested time to learn the tools. To get any job you need to do that.

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