Mike Deodato Jr recently met with JB Wesley by the pizza parlor outside our building, and here’s what happened:
JB Wesley: I’m only asking this because I have two young daughters. Tell me about the Beauty and the Beast project you worked on in the early 90s?
Mike: Is that the only reason, JB? Did your children strong-arm you into asking me? You mean there was nothing worthwhile in that work for you to ask on your own? Once upon a time, in the city of New York, Terminator 2′s Sarah Connor fell in love with Hellboy, and they lived happily ever after, til she died. BEAUTY AND THE BEAST was a straight adaptation of the Ron Koslow-created TV series, which starred Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman. Very lovely, soft-focus, evocative stuff against the harsh backdrop of the worst of the Big Apple, above and below the streets. The comic book, written by David Campiti, drawn and airbrush-painted by me, was the series that really launched me into the American market. I wish it had gone more than six issues — it’s still pretty great to look at.
JB Wesley: Ha! I totally didn’t mean it like that! My little one would have been super p’od if she knew her Daddy was WINterviewing and didn’t ask! Hey, do you often get to visit Brazil?
Mike: Yeah. Almost every day of my life. I live here, JB! I’m in a city called Joao Pessoa, where I’ve lived pretty much my whole life.
JB Wesley: Damn internet. I read you were in Orlando, FL. Who is/was your least favorite character or most difficult to draw?
Mike: Probably one of these Purifiers in this story I’m drawing right now!
JB Wesley: I heard your favorite Marvel character is Ben Grimm. My High School Mascot is The Thing. How cool is that?!
Mike: This is one of those “Six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon” kinds of things, right!
JB Wesley: Exactly! Hey, what does Tight Pencils mean?
Mike: It means pencil art that is penciled tightly, and finished enough that it doesn’t have to be inked. I drew quite a few books that way. Several years of work on WITCHES, TIGRA, THE HULK, and other titles.
JB Wesley: Thoughts on digital comics?
Mike: Anything that gets kids to read comics is a great thing. I’ve really gotten into my iPad that I bought recently, so I’m beginning to see the appeal. So much, in fact, that my own JADE WARRIORS mini-series is being serialized as a digital comic for free right now on jadewarriors.keenspot.com. That’s right — FREE! So don’t say that I never gave you anything! (Laughs)
JB Wesley: I won’t and thanks for the info, so what can the local comic book shop do to draw new and old readers in?
Mike: Invite me as a guest! As my agent has said, sticking a stand-up of Wolverine in the window is like Notre Dame Cathedral putting up a sign saying, “Catholics Welcome!” It’s preaching to the converted. They need to hype the rest of everything — the little kids’ comics, the TV show and novel and movie tie-ins — everything possible to get the mainstream readers into that store.
JB Wesley: I love your Wolverine: Origins #28. Take me through that project?
Mike: Sure! I got the script, read it, and drew it. I started at the beginning, worked my way through the middle and to the end, then stopped. Next question?
JB Wesley: Alright wiseguy, what was the last comic you read?
Mike: THE NEW AVENGERS #28. I don’t have a lot of time to go out and buy comics to read — sometimes I’ll read comics that people send me.
JB Wesley: Cool, so how long does it usually take to complete a project?
Mike: Most books I work on are monthlies, so it takes about a month to draw them. A couple of days less now, since the books are 20 pages of story now instead of 22. So figure about 28 days for a cover and interiors, leaving a couple of days open for some extra covers.
JB Wesley: Gotcha. Why are manhole covers round?
Mike: Because the holes themselves are round, JB! If the covers were square or rectangular or triangular, they wouldn’t fit the holes. Glad I was able to clear that one up for you. Think I’m kidding? A round manhole cover won’t accidentally fall into the manhole and doesn’t have corners that need to be lined up when putting it in place. It’s the most efficient shape! I’ll bet you thought I was joking.
JB Wesley: You, joking? C’mon, man. Where do you see the comicbook industry in the next 10 years?
Mike: At my feet, praising my latest, greatest artistic accomplishment! (Laughs) Preferably with better distribution than American comics have right now.
JB Wesley: Interesting. Who is your favorite villain to draw?
Mike: Hmmm….actually, I want the chance to draw The Leader, so my long-headed artist friend Will Conrad can be my reference.
JB Wesley: What was the first comic you ever read?
Mike: Probably a Brazilian comic book written and drawn by my father.
JB Wesley: What does the comicbook industry need more of?
Mike: More stores to sell them! It’s become too much of a niche market. Kids shouldn’t have to be driven to a place that sells comics.
JB Wesley: Where were you during the last 2 hours of 1999?
Mike: In my house with my family, ignoring the craziness going on outside. It wasn’t a big deal to me, because everyone hoping to celebrate the new millennium that night had miscounted, since the new century began January 1, 2001, not 2000.
JB Wesley: Thanks for clearing that up Mike! So, are you working on anything for Austin Comic Con?
Mike: Marvel pages. At home. My schedule is so tight, I had to cancel the Austin appearance. Will Conrad — The Leader himself! — will be there, though.
JB Wesley: What’s your favorite thing to do when not drawing?
Mike: Spending time with my lovely wife Paula!
Editor’s Note: Remember to enjoy Jade Warriors at jadewarriors.keenspot.com, and keep an eye out for The Cartoon Art Of Mike Deodato Jr!