Mike Perkins is a very well accomplished artist and inker, working on such books as Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, Elektra, Captain America, and Union Jack to name just a few. So sit back and join me as I interview, in my opinion, one of the greatest artists in the comic book industry today.
Comic Addiction: To start off, who where your greatest comic book influences when you where a kid?
Mike Perkins: Artistically I’d definitely have to say the 2000ad artists – Mike McMahon, Dave Gibbons, Ian Gibson – but primarily Steve Dillon and Brian Bolland. We had the Marvel reprints over in the UK, which I had been reading from an early age and it was these that set me on the path to being a comic artist but I think I didn’t realize I could do that until Chris Claremont and Herb Trimpe’s Captain Britain was specifically created for the British market. I was six at the time – and knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life!
CA: Growing up did you ever think you would actually be drawing for a company like Marvel?
MP: Definitely! I had long reaching plans ahead of me and working for Marvel has always been one of the goals of those plans.
CA: How did you get started working for Marvel Comics?
MP: Well, years before my American Marvel debut, I’d actually been working for Marvel UK on some of their juvenile line of comics – Wind in the Willows, Biker Mice from Mars – as well as having strips published in 2000ad. This led to work at Caliber, DC, Dark Horse, Games Workshop and eventually CrossGen. When CrossGen folded Marvel was kind enough to pick up my work visa requirements in order for me to stay in the States (I’d moved to Florida when I got the call from CrossGen). Then they got me working straight away on District X, The Elektra Movie Adaptation and Spellbinders.
CA: I noticed that you have done quit a few covers over the last few years, is there one in particular you like the most?
MP: I’d always love to do more cover work actually. There’s a challenge there to get across an entire story in one image but still design it visually. I’d say that my favorite run of covers would have to be on Kiss Kiss Bang Bang for CrossGen. It was set in the 60’s and I found that I could really play with those specific elements. I tried to utilize a similar design sense on the Union Jack covers.
CA: I first noticed your work on Captain America, your pencils and inks blew me away. Now I have to ask, how did you land a sweet gig like Cap?
MP: Sheer talent, my friend!!! Actually, I’d been helping Steve Epting out on the inks since issue 8 whilst penciling Spellbinders and the Cap editorial office were wondering if it was something I’d like to take over constantly. At the time I was coming to the end of the Spellbinders run and, as much as I love inking, I was really looking for my next penciling job. I mentioned this and they countered with the offer of me penciling and inking alternate arcs alongside Steve. I was defiantly up for that!!
CA: Ed Brubaker, in my opinion, is one of the best writers in comics. How did you like penciling for Ed?
MP: I whole-heartedly agree with your opinion. I’ve been following his writing since his Scene of the Crime series and had been aware of his work before then ( Deadenders, Lowlife) – so he’d been one of those writers on my list of “people I’d love to work with”. Ed’s scripts are very visual but he also leaves you enough wiggle room should you want to add beats to the story.
CA: Did he have a lot of direction for the layout of the books, or did he leave most of that up to you?
MP: Apart from the usual script direction I think we’re pretty much in tune with each other about the flow of the story. For me the whole thing about comics is how to get the storytelling across. The story is the most important thing and it’s my job to get the writers vision across in as clear a way as possible.
CA: Now I know you penciled and inked both story arcs on Captain America, how long did it take you to complete an issue?
MP: I’d say it usually takes me a month to pencil and ink a book but – as was the case with the Civil War tie-ins when I was also penciling Union Jack at the same time – sometimes less. I believe issue #23(the Winter Soldier and hologram Fury issue) was completed in three weeks – and, visually, that turned out to be one of my favorite issues!
CA: Do you prefer to do both pencils and inks or just pencils on a single book?
MP: Overall, I prefer to do both pencils and inks. For me it’s more of a singular vision – it’s almost exactly what I’ve seen in my mind’s eye when I’ve penciled and inked myself.
CA: With the recent events of Captain America #25, how do you think Cap’s death will affect the series and the marvel universe as a whole?
MP: As shocking as the events in #25 were, speaking as a fan, the events in #26 are even more astounding. I was slack-jawed when I read the script and thrilled that I got to draw such an important scene. I think the reverberations of Cap’s death will be felt throughout the entire Marvel Universe for some time.
CA: Your work on Union jack is astounding, how did you end up working on the mini-series?
MP: Just after I’d accepted the Captain America alternate arcs I was at the Chicago convention and ended up talking to Andy Schmidt. I’d realized that I’d need something else to work on during the time I wasn’t doing the Cap arcs and seeing as Union Jack was involved in the recent Captain America run (albeit briefly at that time), I figured we could keep it in the same family of comics – and, this being just after the London bombings, I suggested a Union Jack story with him dealing with terrorism in his homeland. At that point Andy walked away. I really didn’t think the idea was that bad! But then he returned with a proposal along the same lines, written by Chris Gage. Enthused by this I put together a promo piece to accompany the pitch – and we got the commission.
CA: Chris Gage wrote an excellent story for this mini series, had you worked with him before this?
MP: I’d read, and really enjoyed, the Deadshot mini and, at that time, I think that was one of the only things that Chris had done which was out there. To me it was one of my deepest ambitions to work on a Union Jack comic so when I’d read the pitch and proposal – swiftly followed by the first script – I was more enthused than ever.
CA: What was your favorite thing about doing Union Jack?
MP: Like I said, I was working on the Civil War Cap issues at the same time and those issues are overflowing with emotional resonance and deep characterization so, to be simultaneously working on an all out action series was fantastic. The fact that the characters all had their own voices and agendas was a bonus. I also had the opportunity to redesign a few of the heroes and villains involved – such as Sabra, The Arabian Knight and Zaran and Machete. That’s always fun. And then there’s that iconic Union Jack costume!
CA: Are there any plans for another mini or ongoing series?
MP: I’d love to do another mini alongside Chris but the sales didn’t set the charts alight. The trade collection hits the stands in July so, should it sell in vast amounts, we may get the chance.
CA: I’d like to change gears a bit and talk about your inking. I noticed that you inked issue #2 of X-men: Deadly Genesis with Scott Hanna. How does one share inking duties on a book?
MP: I believe Marvel was looking for an inker for Trevor Hairsine and they asked me to do a couple of pages. Those two pages are the reason I got credited on issue 2.
CA: We’ve talked a lot about your work at Marvel, but you have done inking with a few different companies; DC, Crossgen, Top Cow. You have inked a lot of artists work, are some easier to ink than others?
MP: I don’t think that “easier” is the appropriate description. There are different approaches to different pencillers. If you compare a Rick Leonardi to a Phil Winslade then you’re going to get a diversity of style but that’s not to say that one is easier than the other.
CA: Whose pencils did you enjoy inking the most?
MP: That’s a tough one – because, when I get the chance, I love inking other pencillers. Rick Leonardi was a joy to ink. His work is so free and fluid. I’d been a big fan of George Perez from an early age so it’s always a pleasure to ink his pencils. If I had to choose I’d say it has to be Butch Guice. Everything is there in his pencils but you get a sense that you can also add to them when you pick up that brush. There’s such a sense of place and a level of professionalism to his work that it’s hard not to love inking those pages. I also have to say this because he sits next to me in the studio and I don’t want any thrown object hitting the side of my head!
CA: What are you working on now and what do you have coming out in 2007?
MP: I’ve currently got the script to Cap#28 waiting patiently for me to finish the penciling and inking on the Annihilation Conquest Prologue. I’m also working on another five issue series with Chris Gage which hasn’t been announced yet – so I’ll leave that to Marvel. As well as all that I’m also wrapping up the inks over Butch on the Mandalay volumes for Humanoids.
CA: One final question Mike, what title would you most like to pencil for? (Favorite character or title)
MP: Strangely enough, I’d love to illustrate a Deathlok book. Seriously! I think that everyone who’s reading this should write to Marvel and tell them to put me on a Deathlok book!!
I’d like to thank Mike for taking the time to do this interview with me and I hope everyone enjoyed it. Be sure to stop by Mikes web site at http://www.mikeperkinsart.com and feel free an leave me acomment or two. this interview will also be posted at comicaddiction.com