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Artist Mike Hawthorne Discusses Deadpool, Creating Art, Future Projects

Prolific Deadpool artist Mike Hawthorne created some of the character’s most iconic images. In addition to the Merc with a Mouth, his work has been featured in many titles from indie gems to mainstream hits, including the recently announced assignment on Daredevil. Other fresh news is that Hawthorne has consigned some of his original art to Hake’s Auctions for their current premier event. Hawthorne recently took a break from his schedule to talk to Scoop about his work on Deadpool, his artistic process and influences, and his art in the Hake’s auction.

Scoop: When you were drawing as a kid what clicked that made you realize it was more than just a hobby?
Mike Hawthorne (MH):
I think it was when I discovered comic shops, saw the names of actual creators in the credits of my favorite comics, and realized “Wow, this is an actual job I can have!?” 

Scoop: Which artists have influenced you?
Too many! Early on it was folks like Jim Lee and Mark Silvestri, later artists like Moebius, Will Eisner, Claire Wendling, and Los Bros Hernandez! 

Not to mention all the painters I’ve loved, from [Diego] Velázquez to Caravaggio. 

Scoop: When you started working in the comics industry, what was the most valuable thing you learned early on about making a comic book?
I think it was to respect the reader. Try to make the book worth every penny and then some! Always remember that every comic is someone’s first comic, so you have to try to make each one count!

Scoop: What’s your preferred working environment? Do you listen to music, do you like being near windows, do you use a large desk?
I have a huge desk, totally vertical because I work standing. Definitely near a window to get as much natural light as possible. Music is always, from hip-hop to salsa with a few podcasts thrown in.

Scoop: One of the big reasons people enjoy reading Deadpool is for his sense of humor. What important touches did you use to convey that in the art?
I always tried to make it clear there was a guy behind the mask. I’d draw his expression then put the mask on him, so we can read his feelings and emotions. I felt it made for a better interaction with him and you always felt you were connecting with the guy.

Scoop: You created many iconic pages and covers while working on Deadpool. Which ones standout as your favorites?
Oooh, tough questions… I think my favorites are from our Spacepool arc. So much crazy stuff happened, and I loved every minute of it. A close second was the opening action scene to Deadpool #1, when he drops into South Korea. Fun, Mission: Impossible kind of stuff! 

Scoop: Deadpool is one of the most popular characters created in the last 30 years. How did that influence you while working on the title?
He’s the big draw, so I tried to keep that in mind when drawing him. He’s a cultural icon at this point, so messing with his “look” too much would be distracting. I tried to keep in mind how beloved he is, and give fans a version they would continue to love and root for. 

Scoop: Some of your original Deadpool art is going to be offered at Hake’s Auctions. Tell me about what you consigned?
MH: I’m kind of surprised at what I’m parting with, because these are some of my favorites. We have a couple of covers from my last Deadpool arc, which is dear to my heart. I also have an X-Men cover featuring Venomized versions of the original X-Men. These were part of a big Venom event Marvel did, and I got to redesign a dozen or so characters for them, including these classics! 

I’m also parting with some of my Superior Spider-Man pages, inked by one of my all-time favorites, Wade Von Grawbadger! Love his work! These pages are laser sharp!

Scoop: Why did you choose to consign your art at Hake’s?
I’ve known [Hake’s Production Manager Todd Sheffer], [President Alex Winter], and [Senior Cataloger Mike Bollinger] a really long time and they’re great guys. I don’t have to worry about handing the art over, I know they’ll take good care of the pieces. I trust them to be professional and courteous. I don’t hand over art lightly, but I didn’t worry one bit about trusting these guys with my babies! 

Scoop: In a previous interview, you mentioned that you’d like to go back to Hysteria, the series you created. Is that still a potential future project?
There is… but I can’t say too much. We have a three-pronged approach for how I may do it, and it may not be what people expect. Stay tuned! 

Scoop: How did The Un-Men series challenge you artistically?
It allowed me to get a little moody, less cartoony. With the Un-Men I could be as dark, scary and terrible! I had a great time getting gruesome with the Un-Men!

Scoop: What attracted you to working on Queen & Country?
Easy, working with Greg [Rucka] and getting to do a classic spy thriller! Wish I’d had more time with it, the book was way off track schedule wise before I came on and I stupidly agreed to double time it to catch it up, even inking 20 pages over two days, but otherwise I was proud of that book and would have enjoyed doing more! 

Scoop: How do you approach creating covers versus interior art?
You have to tell the story you want in one panel, so you have to be concise. You also have to hit folks over the head, get them excited to pickup the book from across the store. So, excitement is a must. 

Scoop: Since you work in comics, are you also a comic and/or original art collector? If so, what do you collect?
I have a very minor collection. Mostly stuff from my good friends. Maybe I’ll start keeping an eye on Hake’s for some goodies! 

Scoop: What are you working on now?
I just wrapped up an issue of Immortal Hulk, and prepping for a new series at Marvel (can’t say what yet).

[Editor’s Note: This interview took place before the announcement that Hawthorne would be joining Daredevil.]

We’re also putting together my new artbook, a collection of figure drawings called “Life Studied.”

Lastly, my new auto-bio comic Happiness Will Follow hits store in July and August, so we’re in the midst of promotion for that.

Busy times!

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