Interview conducted October, 2016
Q: Mike, how did you start off in this field?
M: I started by working for Comics publishers, Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, but in the beginning I worked for smaller guys like Pacific and Eclipse.
Q: Why did you stop?
M: I got what I felt was a raw deal from a company, and just decided to self-publish instead. That was made easier because back then the Internet and eBay was just starting.
Q: I've noticed a few other artists who've copied your business model.
M: I've helped quite a few, but I just did what I had to to survive and support a family.
Q: You got criticised a bit early on about this Frank Frazetta business?
M: That was something some fans seemed to have out for me. I guess they saw it as trying to unseat their object of admiration, but my only goal was to learn the best skills I could get.
Q: What's it been like being totally independent for so long?
M: Part of me quietly regrets it, probably, but the the creative freedom makes up for that. I could've been drawing characters I didn't invent all these years, but instead I've created quite a few myself.
Q: What got you interested in Drawing?
M: I have a memory that's so far back of seeing a hand drawing on TV, and something clicked in my head. Probably around 1963? After that, the main influence was Jack Kirby via Silver Age Marvel Comics.
Q: I can see in some Comics you use that sort of Kirby approach to storytelling?
M: Yeah, it just seems ultra-functional to me. But then again, a lot of the diagrammatic quality of the panels was being used all over back then by a lot of other artists.
Q: It's nice to see it still around.
M: Yeah, I don't see myself as a nostalgic type though, it just works practically like the plumbing under your sink.
Q: What's next for you, any new projects?
M: I've got lots of ideas, more than I can do, but anyone seeing my Sketchbooks knows about that.
Q: A lot of your concepts seem very outside the mainstream.
M: Well, that is the whole point to me. They are sort of like special needs children, who wouldn't have survived anywhere else. It's always astonishing that any of them have an audience, because odd as it sounds, I design almost everything for a non-existent audience.
Q: That's kind of opposite the conventional wisdom, isn't it? That creators should identify their "target audience" first?
M: And then create second? (laughs) No, I could never do it that way. I will do some sort of "gimme" element, like an alien planet scenario or warrior woman, but then the next variation has to be original.
Q: Like Tigress with her Victorian family in your "Tiki Tale" graphic novel?
M: Yeah, or like Clowns being the ones who are scared. That's where the interest lies for me, combining familiar elements in new and unfamiliar ways.
Q: That automatically puts you "out there".
M: Yeah, but when a reader does connect with the stuff, it restores my faith. It's funny, because I don't need an audience but I do!
Q: That's weird!
M: My Dad was so down on Comics we got conditioned that they were just trash, so that's always my first unconscious attitude when I sit down to create one. On the other hand, I try and take the "trash" very seriously, so there's this high-and-low culture thing going on together at the same time.
Q: "Trash and treasure"?
M: Or like in Minister Sinister, where grafitti on the sides of trains is essentially a rolling Art Gallery. And then you look closer at it and recognize something profound, like the touch of a Leonardo Da Vinci or something.
Q: Wow, that's deep!
M: And shallow at the same time.