10 Questions for Mark Irwin

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.

Question 4: What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?

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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