EXCLUSIVE: Mark Evans Interview

Evans Comics Group Team

#UFB: How are you today? Thanks for taking a moment to speak with United Fanboyz. Would you like to acknowledge anyone?

Absolutely, I just want to really give major props to my Evans Comics Group Team, which is Jorge Alberto Cortes, who is doing a ridiculously sick job on color, and the recent coup of acquiring the talents of Wayne Schultz, who is going to be giving me major assistance on BG layouts. We’ve got a lean, mean crew that is ready to throw down, Orange County, Cali style!
I want to give a major shout out to United Fanboyz! You guys have a really compelling website that takes chances on talent on the edges, just on the bubble of breaking out in the Comic Industry, and giving them exposure! You guys have the BEST taglines! You just have to read the features! Articles like Wonder Woman Belongs in the Kitchen, Thor theDark World: How Loki saved Marvel…My fave tagline this month is Last of Us:Ellie is a Lesbo, Get Over It.
You guys just have some warm and fuzzy anarchy goin’ on over there, don’t you?

#UFB: You have an exceptional style of art, what would you call your style?

I like to call my work The New Sexy. I used to do some Fashion Illustration a while back, and those elongated proportions seeped into my comic work. I love drawing really attractive women and men! I have a crazy mashup of influences and styles.
I was this weird guy who was this artist who was flirting with either a career as an artist or Prog Rock drummer. My Dad saw that I was this really strange eccentric, but sort of creative, so he threw me into a serious institute of higher learning, which was a reallllly interesting experience!

I was really fortunate to attend Art Center College of design, which had an absolutely ridiculous drawing department, at the time. It was stupid how loaded they were with all of these Master Draughtsmen teaching you how to draw the figure.
You had people like Harry Carmean, Verne Wilson, Burne Hogarth, Lou and Carol Police, Lori Madden and Kathryn Wirch teaching there. Then, someone like Steve Biek, one of the absolute sickest Fashion Illustrators around, would come in and sub once and a while.

Working at Warner Brothers Television Animation was a huge influence on me; hanging out with all of these really amazing artists was like putting 110 octane fuel in my inspiration engine! I was turned on to sooooo many influences by so many cats from serious Art Schools, like Cal Arts, Rhode Island School of Design, Pratt Institute on the East Coast who really knew their art history!

#UFB: Would you say you have people that influenced you? 

As far as influences, I’d have to say, Joe Mad, J. Scott Campbell, Neal Adams, Hirschfeld, Michael Turner’s Fathom stuff, the Disney hand animated films when they went into their Design Period, like Aladdin, Hercules and Mulan, Leyendecker, Hokusai, Bernini, Roger Dean, John Singer Sargeant, Sorolla, Pontormo, John Kricfalusi of Ren and Stimpy fame, Chuck Jones, to film directors like Michael Mann and Christopher Nolan. The main root of my work is I’m all about shape.
Shape occurs in everything, be it the contour of an arm, to the negative space of the sky between a couple of buildings. Stop me if I’m getting too heavy…

#UFB: Are you working on something presently?

I’m so glad you asked! I’m working on my new project Lorelei and Max which is a sophisticated, multi-layered Sci-Fi tale, interlaced with some Gothic Supernatural overtones. Let’s see, we’ve got robots, vampires, terrorists, mutants, cyborgs, time travel, assembled in a meticulously laid out continuity, with compelling bits of asymmetrical narrative running through the storyline. Kind of Christopher Nolanesque….

Of course, the art is going to be seriously epic, and the colors are going to be gorgeous. We’re in our little office in Newport Beach, California in the OC, keeping to our pledge of NO FILLER! 100% radness!

#UFB: What genre in comics are you most interested in?

Y’know, that’s a tricky question. I tend to like books that focus more on 2-3 characters, rather than the whole freakin’ X Universe of 7 to 9 character teams, where you sort of tickle at the interactions, but not get deep into their character flaws or idiosyncrasies. I like books like Batman, Daredevil, Wolverine, where you get to peel away the layers of a tormented psyche of the hero, like a bruised and overripe onion. Or Electra, a gorgeous but deadly flower with slightly damaged petals…
That’s why I love Christopher Nolan; so many intertwining layers. With Nolan, you think you’ve got it all figured out, then BAM!!!, he suddenly pulls a sudden left or right, and you’re like, “What the hell just happened?! Nolan’s take on the Joker was all about layers. I want to bring that to comics.

I like exotic Sci-Fi genres and Period pieces, as well. Steam Punk is always intriguing. I would say any forum where I can draw gorgeous scantily clad ladies and Lean stylish muscular Studs with big exotic armament, blowing stuff up in inventive new ways. LOL!

#UFB: How do you feel about the current state of comic books?

Interesting question; I think, with the advent of films like the Batman Trilogy, the Iron Man franchise, Spiderman, Avengers, and even films like Man of Steel, and Pacific Rim, they demonstrate the huge profit potential that can come from comic book properties. For example,  Iron Man alone, as well as Avengers alone made more money than the Box office of
American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska and Philomena COMBINED. By the way, all of the aforementioned films were nominees for Best picture at the 2014 Oscars. And don’t even think that Hollywood doesn’t realize that.

So now, the Comic Book Creator is a highly valued commodity in the Entertainment Industry. When I say Comic book Creator, I’m not speaking of the All Star penciller, writer, inker, colorist who is working on established characters for, say , Marvel or DC, being essentially work for hire. I’m talking about guys who write, draw, color etc., but they do all of these things with their own universe and their own characters. Look at Stan Lee, Bob Kane who created Batman, Jack Kirby who helped create most of the Marvel Universe, Mark Silvestri who created the Top Cow Universe, as well as Michael Turner with Fathom, and Todd McFarlane with Spawn. They created these characters, which comic fans love, plus they reaped the rich financial rewards of ancillary rights and royalties...with the unfortunate exception of Jack Kirby, *sigh*.

With the advent of Facebook and the networking of all of these comic fan groups, there is a whole new level of networking possibilities, and talent collaboration. Facebook, in concert with new media crowd funding platforms, like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and a host of others, are enabling guys with great talent, but not a spectacular budget to get their stuff out there on a really vast scale. If you have a really well thought out promo video with great design and production quality, you could raise anywhere from $6,000 to upwards of 60-$70,000 for your project in a month!

I wanted to add one other point regarding the so called “second line” of comic creators, namely the inkers and colorists. Personally, I don’t think inkers and colorists get nearly enough credit; it always irritated me that you see the writer and penciller in big type, and the inker and colorist in much smaller type. The inkers of quality are busting their butts, man! And quality colorists, like I have found in Jorge, are putting TIME into the images! What would Fathom have been without the penultimate talents of guys like Peter Steigerwald’s amazing color textures and Joe Weems sublime inking over Turner’s pencils? Back in the day, Tom Palmer’s inks over Neal Adams Inhumans/Avengers stuff was killer!

As far as what’s going on today, I’m seeing great leaps in terms of color in comics; it’s amazing. In terms of the quality of pencillers, it’s not as cool overall as that fabulous time during the Image Age, where you had Silvestri, Mad, Keown, McFarlane, Capullo, Campbell…guys, who not only could really draw well, but had an instantly recognizable style! You could open up a book and instantly know the penciller in the book, without having to check the credits, for their stuff was that individual. These days, I don’t know what’s up, but around 2008, the writers started taking over the visual creative reins and turning the art into a lot less of kinetic action poses, and more of talking heads with witty dialogue. News in: Last time I checked, comics are a VISUAL medium. I loved how in the Silver Age, you had guys like John Buscema,  Michael Golden and Neal Adams who were taking the wild unbridled energy of Kirby, and shedding that light through a prism of more sophisticated anatomy-those guys came from the great draughtsmen before them, like Burne Hogarth from Tarzan, Alex Raymond from Flash Gordon, And cartoonists who had awesome drawing chops like Al Capp, Jack Davis, Mort Drucker, Walt Kelly, and Wally Wood. The artists today are all sort of looking alike now; we need a LOT more flavor.

One thing that irritates me beyond the pale are the Bait and Switch tactics that are employed by pretty much every comic company, from DC to Marvel to Dark Horse and beyond. You see this comic on the stand with a fabulous cover; intrigued, you pick up the book, open it up, and what do you see? Filler; weak drawing, careless inking, and mediocre coloring. Unfortunately, that’s the case in about 85% of the books that you see on the stands these days.

"Just A Sketch..."

That’s when I made a pledge to myself that every book that is going to come from Evans Comics Group was going to be a diamond. My crew and I are dedicated to the business model of Lamborghini, as opposed to GM. GM produces well over 400,000 vehicles in a year, whereas Lamborghini builds just 200 cars a year. But they’re Lamborghinis. There’s a palpable difference between a Timex and a Rolex.

I want to turn out a book every 2 months, but, if it’s getting really close to deadline, and I see that the last 2 pages of the book need 1 extra week to get the final pencils, ink, and color to the level of the preceding pages, then I’m going to take that extra week. Believe me, the Fans will appreciate it. It’s all about quality.

Evans comics will only be releasing in the coming years about 3 titles, tops. I feel that’s about the maximum I can personally oversee without losing quality control. But, hey, that would be 18 books a year, which will all be diamonds. I want ECG comics to be nominated every year for an Eisner Award in the categories of writing, penciling, inking, and color. If our books aren’t nominated every year, then we aren’t doing our job.

#UFB: What are you currently reading?

Right now, I’ve been getting into the really interesting looks that Phil Noto is throwing on Black Widow. You open a book with his stuff in it-you instantly know it’s Noto. Jae Lee is an interesting designer, but I’d like to see more action poses. One of the guys whose stuff is just bursting with vigor is John Romita Jr.! I can hardly wait to see the job he’ll do on Superman, and with Klaus Janson inking over Romita’s pencils, it’ll be absolutely awesome! Romita is one of the last bastions of super rad action poses! People need to study Romita’s posing! Adam Kubert is rad, as well. People! Foreshortened action poses are awesome, just ask Bruce Timm and Sean Cheeks Galloway!

I’m enjoying Walt Simonson’s recent stuff; great poses-the anatomy is a little dicey, but the energy is totally there! As a former storyboard guy, Simonson’s sense of scale is the closest I’ve ever seen to actual storyboards for tentpole Summer Blockbusters. Someone in Hollywood needs to get Simonson to direct a film; I bet it would be absolutely epic. Simonson’s sense of scale is up there with Cameron, Michael Bay, and Del Toro. I can hardly wait to see Mad’s Inhumans stuff; it’s been delayed-so what, don’t rush it, Mad. I’d rather wait the extra month and see it totally amazing, rather then rushed. I kinda wish Mad was getting inked again.

#UFB: How can people see your art online?

So far, only on FB, but once the Kickstarter drops very soon, there will be a website, and the comics will be released for iPads, tablets, smartphones, etc. We’re going to be releasing 6 issues a year. Once the downloads reach a certain number over the course of an 8 week sales period, we will start publishing hard copies. We’re also toying with publishing a compilation book of all 6 issues in a one shot, once a year, semi hard cover, complete with development art sketches.

But we aren’t going to be doing is making that crucial error that a lot of creators do which is publish a LOT of hard copies, but they haven’t established their brand yet, so they end up with 5,000 really nice books collecting dust in their closet, not purchased, and no comic book shop will touch them, because the fans don’t know who the hell they are. One thing I learned from working at WB. Build your brand.


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