An Interview with Mark McKenna
If you’ve been collecting comics for any amount of time, there’s a good chance that you’ve seen Mark McKenna’s work – because he’s worked on almost everything. His professional credits start back in January of 1986, and include virtually every major title over the last three decades from Marvel, DC and beyond: Batman, X-Men, Justice League, Iron Man, The Amazing Spider-Man, Star Wars: The Old Republic…the list goes on and on.
More than 450 comics and 7,000 pages later, Mark is still doing what he does best, and he has some new and exciting projects on the go. I had a chance to chat with him about his new Halloween themed sci-fi/action book, some upcoming projects for 2013, and I ask him a bunch of crazy questions as well…it wouldn’t be a Blake Northcott interview if I didn’t.
Blake Northcott: Hey Mark! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me.
Mark McKenna: It’s completely my pleasure, Blake!
BN: I had the pleasure of reading your new book Combat Jacks – why don’t you tell everyone a little bit about it, and how the concept came together.
MM: Sure! Combat Jacks started as dinnertime discussion between my son and I. We were wondering why there was never a movie that had monster pumpkins as the creature, and I thought, jeez, why don’t I do this as a one shot for Halloween?
I set up the premise and created a Kickstarter to raise funds for printing and putting an art team together.
BN: Very cool! I noticed you credited your son in the book. So how was your experience with Kickstarter? Was it your first time, and how did it work out?
MM: It was actually my second Kickstarter. I did one for my kids book property Banana Tail where I wanted to do a portfolio of prints by top creators.
I liked the experience. The thing is, if you don’t reach your goal, you don’t get the revenue, so you have to be modest about your goals.
BN: How did the creative team come together for Combat Jacks?
MM: Well, I knew I wanted to write it. I was looking for a good penciler – somebody that could give me solid art that I could use my twenty-eight years of experience to improve upon. That was the hope, anyway!
I was friends with colorists and letterers and opted to give the work to those who needed it most and fit into the project’s budget.
I had done a few commissions with Kate Finnegan and I asked her about it; she was thrilled, and John Hunt came on board to letter. I used my big shot friends, Jason Baroody, Tom Raney and Mike McKone to pencil and color the cover…
MM: I would love to do one or two a year, yes! In fact I have a sequel in my mind.
BN: Can you share any details, or is all of that under wraps until 2013?
MM: I can go a few ways with Book Two: one, of course, is a rescue mission, headed by an even tougher band of marines; hopefully headed by a well know celebrity that I want to attach to the project.
The other would be an attack on earth, or I can do a prequel to the book.
BN: It sounds like you have a lot of ideas for future installments! For people who weren’t part of the original Combat Jacks Kickstarter campaign, where can people get the book?
MM: It’s available in comic shops now, both in the U.S. and internationally – I saw a picture of a shop in Germany with copies of Combat Jacks on the shelf.
Although it was under-ordered, retailers can still re-order now. Retailers who want to purchase Combat Jacks can order twenty copies at a fifty percent discount, and receive a bonus one-in-twenty Billy Tucci variant cover.
The other place to get it is at the official Combat Jacks website.
BN: In addition to Combat Jacks and your Banana Tails projects, I know you’ve always got inking work on the go. What books are you currently working on, or what do you have coming up?
MM: As far as Banana Tail I have the Banana Tail Halloween Special which i had hoped to get out this Halloween, along with Combat Jacks, but the amount of work putting Jacks together ate a lot of my time up.
I’m also working on a one-hundred page graphic novel called Angel Falling that will be printed by IDW, and a zombie comic called St. Francis School for Zombies, both being released early next year.
BN: Now I like to ask some general questions…ready for the speed round?
BN: Best movie of 2012 so far?
MM: The Avengers.
BN: Best comic book movie of all time?
MM: The Avengers.
BN: I agree! So you’re stuck on a desert island with one graphic novel. Which one do you choose?
BN: The Watchmen: Great graphic novel, or the greatest graphic novel?
MM: Very good graphic Novel.
BN: What flavor should more things be available in?
MM: Mint chocolate chip.
BN: Nice…the answer I was looking for was ‘bacon’, but I will accept that. Name one penciler you’d like to collaborate with and ink his work – someone you haven’t worked with before.
MM: Jim Lee. Sorry, Jim ‘Bacon’ Lee.
BN: Is that your nickname for him?
MM: (laughs) It is now.
BN: If an epic movie gets made about the history of comics, who would play you?
MM: Rob Lowe…no, wait…Kenny Rodgers.
BN: (laughs) Alright, what epic Marvel versus DC battle would you like to see?
MM: Impossible Man versus Mister Mxyzptlk.
BN: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
MM: Besides looking through women’s clothing? I’d like to have the power cosmic to shoot from my hands.
BN: What would you shoot it at?
MM: The Philadelphia Eagles and Boston Red Sox.
BN: Good choice. And one last question: If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
MM: Welcome to the pearly gates. You took more than a couple of Mulligan’s on your way here, I see.
BN: Your version of God sounds very forgiving. Thank you so much for your time, Mark. That was a lot of fun.
MM: Thanks for your fun interview. It was low fat and I highly recommend it!
You can check out Combat Jacks, Banana Tails and all things Mark McKenna at the following URLs: