Our interview subject today is Mark Irwin. Judging by the picture he submitted of himself, I’m thinking he’s a former student at Ridgemont High. Hmmm.
Anyway, he’s a surfer dude who got his start in the comics business as an inker in the mid-90’s. He initially worked on a wide variety of books for Wildstorm and Image. Since then, he’s inked hundreds of comics including titles featuring Batman, Spider-Man, the X-Men, Hulk, Justice League, and Aliens.
He’s currently the Art Director for Upper Deck’s entertainment division. He also writes the creator-owned comic book Jack Secret, and handles design jobs for his company Creative Militia. You can see more of Mark’s work at deviantart.com and www.jack-secret.com.
Question 1: When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics for a living?
When I was a kid. Always liked to draw, and make up stories. Comics were cool, so it made sense.
Question 2: Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?
No one in particular; just the SoCal lifestyle. I surf, enjoy music and my family — just try to do a lot of things not directly related to comics. Balance is key in life.
Question 3: Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?
Joe Kubert. Going to his school was the best thing I ever did for myself. It taught me how to work hard, how to network, and what it took to make it in the art world, not just comics.
Talk and work with lots of different creators, read a lot, listen to music, surf, spend time with my kids. It all keeps the creative juices flowing.
Question 5: Describe your typical work routine.
By day, I work at Upper Deck as an art director for their entertainment division. By night, I ink or write, depending on deadlines, until about 2:00 AM. Kind of like a superhero! A very tired superhero.
Question 6: What writing, drawing, or other tools do you use?
I ink with different nibs, brushes and markers. I write in Microsoft Word. I do a little in Photoshop as well, for the design work stuff.
Question 7: What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?
The writing. It’s hard to do, and requires constant attention by way of editing, re-writes, etc.
Question 8: What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why?
Eventually, it’ll be Jack Secret, but for now, I did a gallery show in December — my first. Having my peers show up and get excited about work that wasn’t inking was really satisfying. I hope to do another soon!
Question 9: We’ve all met very talented newcomers who are trying to get their first professional projects. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator?
Don’t have an ego. Don’t rely on ‘style’ over substance. Do work hard.
Question 10: Time to get philosophical: What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?
Everything in balance. I am fortunate to have a wonderful family and a pretty cool series of projects and hobbies. Concentrating on any one of those things too much leads to the detriment of the others, so, everything in balance.
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