Earlier this week, we previewed tonight’s event with “Deadpool” illustrator Mike Hawthorne at the HIVE artspace in York. It may come as a surprise to some of you, but we here at Fly (read: basically me) are not perfect people. And I admit, I made a mistake, albeit a hilarious one, by accidentally leaving off the “L” in “Deadpool” in the description of the article. Hawthorne, who (as an illustrator for “Deadpool” obviously) appreciates a good bit of humor was quick to point it out and post it to Facebook. I knew he’d be a fun interview and emailed him a few questions.
Mike Andrelczyk: I actually just saw “Deadpool” the other night. I really liked it and I’m not a huge comic book person. I’ll generally gravitate to realistic or humorous stuff like Harvey Pekar and R. Crumb or surreal stories that break the fourth wall, so maybe for that reason I really enjoyed “Deadpool.”
Mike Hawthorne: Funny you mention (Pekar), I got to work with him once. I illustrated a short story of his. Cool guy. Classic stuff!! The movie is pretty great, and pretty true to the comic. They even used a couple of gags we did in the comic.
MA: Maybe I’ll have to make a trip to the comic store. My co-worker was recommending some “Swamp Thing” from the ’80s I believe, and “Sandman,” which I’d heard of before. What kind of comics do you read?
MH: “Swamp Thing” is great. Also, try “Love and Rockets.” Jaime Hernandez is the best. Right now I’m really digging the series “LOW,” and “Southern Bastards.” “Love and Rockets” are my go-to favorite. “Stray Bullets” too. Lots of amazing books at the moment!
MA: I was wondering how the creation of big “Deadpool”-style comics works. Do the writers storyboard it out for you? Are a portion of how the panels will actually look up to you?
MH: I normally get a script, which is essentially a kind of screen play. It breaks down the action and dialogue by page and panel. I take that, read it about four times, all the while working out the visuals in my head. Then I do small thumbnail layouts, sketching out the panel break down, page design, and pose out the scenes. At that point I start researching whatever the script calls for. Stuff like settings, style of dress, types of cars or guns, etc.
Once that’s gathered I’ll start the pages, which are about 11″x17,” roughly penciling in the figures, figuring the perspective, planning out the action, till I’m happy with the overall look. Then it’s just a matter of tightening it all up and either inking it or sending it to another artist called an “Inker” to ink the line art over my pencils.
MA: What do you think of the “Deadpool” character?
MH: I think, in his way, he’s perfect for me. He’s flawed, wicked, funny, but, I don’t know…good? I mean, he’s a terrible person, but you love him anyway cause it’s not coming from a bad place. That make sense?
MA: Were you a fan before you got the job drawing the character?
MH: Honestly, no. I hadn’t read any “Deadpool” until I took the gig. I didn’t know what I was missing. He inured himself to me with each new script. Gerry, my partner on the series, writes “Deadpool” in a way that you can’t help but fall for the guy. Now I’m hooked!
MA: I know you didn’t take your kids to the movie, but what did you think of the movie?
MH: I loved it! Seriously, it’s so much fun! They got him just right. I don’t just mean the gags and the holidays scene. They got how vulnerable a character he is, and the Pagliacci nature of his character. I give it three thumbs up!
MA: When do you think you’ll show your kids your work on the “Deadpool” books?
MH: Oh, dude!… Never?! Haha! I want to keep my pristine image in their eyes a little while longer!
MA: Were you surprised by its success?
MH: Honestly, no. The book is super popular, and love for the character has been growing for decades. I saw kids wearing Deadpool shirts and stuff long before the movie. He was always big, he just wasn’t mainstream. Thing was, he couldn’t adapt to the mainstream so it kinda had to come to him. That’s why he works as an R-rated superhero flick, and why I’m not sure other characters will. You have to come to Deadpool without a lot of expectations and take him as he is. If you do that, you fall for him.
MA: Do you incorporate anything of your own personality into the drawings of the characters?
MH: Oh, yeah. Definitely. This book allows me to throw my humor into it. I love that about the book.
MA: I really liked “Raising Crazy” – especially one you posted called “Loss.” Very beautiful. Do you prefer to do your own realistic stories or do you like working on superhero stories?
MH: I published my first comic book in 1999, and “Deadpool” was my first true superhero series. So that kind of book is not my default. I wanted to dabble in every genre that I could, from sci-fi to rom-com, and I still want to stretch creatively. With that said I’ve come to enjoy superhero comics a great deal, it’s like drawing an action movie with each issue. So I don’t think I can say I have a preference. I want to do it all!
MA: Can you talk about your new collaboration with Story Supply Co.?
MH: I came to their work as a fan. I dug what they were doing, and loved the pocket staple sketchbook. I knew immediately I had to work with them! I pitched the idea of an artist sketchbook line and Vito was as excited as I was. I’d show him sketches for cover ideas and themes, Vito and Gabe would look it over and loved it. We just kinda clicked creatively, and now I have a line of sketchbooks. The world is crazy, man.
MA: You moved from New York to York, PA, did sketching help you adapt to living in a new place.
MH: I don’t think so. I mean, yes, it’s how I tend to express myself. I just don’t know that it was connected to our move. My earliest memories of drawing were in New York, so I was already hooked before we moved.
MA: Is drawing and creating art your way of dealing with the world?
MH: Nah, not really. It’s not like I come home and dump all my feelings onto the page. It’s more about my basic, lizard-brain level need to just draw. To make marks. To draw is to live.
MA: What do you like about living and working in York?
MH: I think it kinda grew on me. Like a fungus! No, seriously though, I like the humble nature of the place. Comics, and the entertainment business in general, are full of “hot shots”, emphasis on the quotations. It would be easy to start feeling like that, but I don’t know that a place like York City would put up with it. Someone would tell you to chill out and have a drink! I like that.
MA: How much time do you spend drawing every day?
MH: Oh, man!…. Wow…. I mean, if I’m not working on something for a client then I’m usually sketching. So I’m at it all day – and night some times. I’d say at least 10 hours a day, if I’m not pulling an all-nighter!
MA: How do you combat carpal tunnel?
MH: This one is tough. Mostly I just try to stay loose, stretch my arm as much as possible. I also see a chiropractor, Dr. Phil at Yorktowne. I’ve gone to him for years and dude keeps me healthy and drawing.
MA: What’s next for you?
MH: Right now, it’s lots more “Deadpool!” I’m on the book for the foreseeable future. I also have the last volume of my French series “Oms en Serie” coming out, and some more creator own projects in the work. I have an upcoming exhibition at the Geppi Museum in Baltimore, too.
Meet Mike Hawthorn tonight from 5-9 p.m. at the HIVE artspace (126 E. King St.) in York during the opening for its “The Art of Illustration & Narrative” exhibit, which runs through July 30.