Hello and welcome to the new weekly Comic Booked column, British Showcase! Each week will be taking a look at some of the best British talent working in comics. Each week we will focus on an individual, a company or comic book of distinction.
This week is the first installment, so what better way to kick things off than to feature the amazing artist Mark Beer! Mark is a multi-platform artist with a huge range of different skills and an impressive portfolio of work to his name. Mark works with the most basic tools such as pencils and paper right up to cutting edge technology such as digital 3D computer rendering. As well as comics, Mark works as a conceptual artist for Movies and video games.
- Hi Mark and thanks for taking the time to talk to our readers. Can we kick things off with you telling us a little bit about yourself?
Professionally I’ve been working for the last 4 years. I graduated from an illustration course in 2008 and have been building up a portfolio and networking from there. I’ve always drawn since I can remember really. I used to draw from my comic books and from cartoons. I distinctly remember being fascinated by Looney Toons and comics in equal measure. The same with film; I guess I soaked up comics and film like a sponge throughout my life. I have never really distinguished between the different mediums and still don’t I guess. I try to do as much as I can in whatever I can. But yeah it started with plastering my bedroom wall with comic drawings.
- So what do you love most about comic book art and film imagery?
Well for me it’s always been about escapism, being in another world and someone else’s story. I’m always looking for something cinematic in both, something exciting and yet on some level believable. I remember watching John Carpenter’s Halloween for the first time and all the shadow play and camera angles left a big impression on me. The same with Star Wars, particularly The Empire Strikes Back and Superman the Movie. They were so epic and big on screen it really was like another world. Comics were the same, that mixture of the epic of John Byrne’s Superman and the dark horror comics I tried to find. I remember drawing from a horror comic and thinking this is what I want to do with my life. Well maybe I didn’t think it, but I felt it. The comic was called “Scream” I think a British comic.
- It is clear to see in your artwork that you have a love of horror. How much has horror influenced you as an artist and your style of artwork?
Horror has greatly impacted me and my look. After my comic book phase in my teens my wall was a mass of horror movie, comic and heavy metal posters. Again I didn’t see the distinction between them, they all shared a certain look or attitude, I was a Fangoria kid so I read about all the great directors and was introduced to the FX work of people like Kevin Yagher, Stan Winston, Tom Savini, and many more. It’s what has spawned my 3D concepts. It’s a nice outlet to creatively explore the different sides of you and in different media too. It’s what led me into film concepts.
- What projects are you working on at the moment and is there anything you are excited about in particular?
I’m working on a new horror film with Director Tim Bui and very excited about it. He has a very particular eye so it’s great collaborating with him and his producer Michael Abbot. I’m also developing a comic with a screenwriter named Seth Resnik which is pretty amazing. On the comic front I’m trying to break up some time to do a painted comic. It’s my passion to do this full time. Currently I’m working with writer Dean Mitchell on “Killer B*****s of the zombie holocaust.” It’s a horror/sci-fi survival comic that has many genres thrown into this great concept that Dean has come up with. The penciler is the talented Alberto Rodriguez. Dean and I met earlier this year at the London comic-con. We were discussing the look of the comic and we decided that a particular look for it was going to make it something special. So I ended up painting it grey scale for extra dimension and adding selected colors on certain things. Kinda like they did in Schindler’s List and Sin City, I think the style is now called “splash of color.” So yes, I’m very excited for it! I’m actually finishing up shading the last page of issue one now.
- Wow, sounds like you have got loads on your plate. As a freelance artist, what are your biggest challenges and how do you overcome them?
Well I basically have thrown out sleeping as something I do on a nightly basis! It’s a hard grind to try and do this as a career and make ends meet. But if it was easy everybody would do it, so you really have to be in it for the right reasons. So passion is something you must keep and refuel. You really can’t wait for inspiration, you really have to work through that and keep inspired. So keeping your work fresh, looking at it with objectivity is definitely something you have to do. But moving forward striving for better is always a good thing. I don’t think artists “peak.”
- Sleep is for wimps! What are your goals or plans for the future?
Well Dean’s looking for “Killer b*****s” to be published at the moment and the response has been good, so if that gets picked up I’ll be working on that! So that’s a very real possibility. Also I hope to bring out a cartoon strip over at inkbot.net. I know Christian Rubiano over there and we’ve been wanting to work together for a while. He’s a great guy and really has supported me. The same with my brother Karl, who’s supported me through thick and thin, really wouldn’t have been able to do it without him. I’m also going to sculpt and sell my own line of busts and statues. I’m psyched about that coming together for early next year. The first line of busts will be Greek mythology themed. All the classic monsters will be the first releases-The Minotaur, Medusa and the Cyclops etc. Back on the comic front my dream project is to paint a horror comic. It’s something I’m trying to free time up for. I really think that the horror genre in comics can reach new heights and I want to be part of it.
Fantastic stuff. Well thanks for taking the time to talk to us and also for showing some of your outstanding artwork. I personally look forward to seeing your current and future projects. Mark has kindly shared some great images with us but if you want to see more you can check out his online portfolios with these links.