An interview with Mike Deodato Jr

By Ed Vinicombe on Jan 11th, 2015

Hey Mike, let’s start from the top. Explain a little about what you do & where you grew up.

Sure. I was born on Krypton and was rocketed to Earth as a baby where I grew up on a Kansas farm wait, that's not right. (Laughs.) I was born here in Brazil, where I grew up in a family that loved and appreciated comic books and comics art. I learn a lot about classic comics artists from all over the world while growing up. With my father -- who just passed away this month -- a comics author and artist himself, comics illustrations was in my DNA. I can't imagine being or doing anything else. So that's what I do, and have done, since childhood -- I draw comics.

What was it like to grow up in Brazil & did you always think you may follow in your Father’s footsteps and become an artist?

Hmmm. Drawing comics here in Brazil was always a challenge, financially. Rates were so terrible, nobody can make a living at it. But the moment I broke into the American market, I was on my way. I went from Beauty and the Beast and Quantum Leap and Lost in Space to Wonder Woman and The Avengersin a pretty shorty space of time. And now 20 years later, I'm still drawing Avengers books -- and loving it!

You’ve worked on some of the most iconic comic books out there. From Batman & Wonder Woman to The Amazing Spider-Man & The Incredible Hulk … wow! Tell us a little bit how these jobs come about and where did you get your big break?

It's not a secret that I've worked with a comics agency Glass House Graphics since the day it opened. David Campiti is my agent, and I got regular work through him on those Innovation comics -- Lost in Space and so on -- when he was publisher there. As soon as he left there in early '93, he landed me work at Continuity, Acclaim, DC, Dark Horse, Tundra, and Marvel -- it might even have been in that order! Paul Kupperberg championed me at DC, Ralph Macchio at Marvel. I am currently exclusive at Marvel and have been for more than a decade. I keep re-upping.

Could you walk us through a day at Marvel? Tell us how you collaborate with the writers and what the process looks like when you are working on a new comic book issue.

I get up, spend time with my wife and baby at breakfast, I go into my studio and open my Email, I get a script, I read through it several times to absorb it and let it become part of me, then I start layout out the whole thing and drawing from there. Believe it or not, I have practically no day-to-day contact with the writers, though I Email mt art files every day to my editors, like clockwork. I watch TV shows and Skype my friends while I work, though I take more breaks away from the art table these days to spend with my baby.

I do love the vast range of Marvel films. X-Men, Hulk, Thor and, most recently, Guardians of the Galaxy have all been so great. Is their much direct creative input from yourself and the language you have helped develop in the Marvel Universe into their film making process?

Marvel's 'Guardians of the Galaxy' released in 2014

Not really. I've asked to work on designing or storyboarding for the movies, but Marvel hasn't yet granted that wish. I was happy to see my name thanked on end credits of some Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episodes. I am far happier with the Marvel movies than the DC ones, I have to say. Warner Bros. has YET to do a Batman movie right, in my opinion. Where's the brilliant Sherlock Holmes-deductive acrobat we grew up reading from Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams? The guy can barely move and there's no sense of fun. Iron Man, The Avengers, Guardians -- those movies are FUN. Why bother doing a comic book movie if there's no sense of enjoyment. Man of Steel? Geez.

You’ve helped depict so many iconic Marvel characters as we know, however, is there one that you felt you have connected with the most? If so, why?

I think it changes. I love drawing The Hulk. I really enjoy drawing The Thing, though I don't get to do so often enough. When he was in an Avengers book for a few issues, I went back and studied what Kirby did, when Jack Kirby chose to draw him open-mouth with no teeth except for very rare occasions, as if they were retractable. So I adopted and honored that. Details like that make characters fascinating to me. It occurs to me I've never drawn the Fantastic Four series!

Your career is one of envy from many young illustrators and Marvel fanatics. Any words of advise for young designers yearning to become a part of this profession?

Spiderman's arch nemisis, Venom

Draw, draw, then draw some more. Learn to draw EVERYTHING first -- people, dogs, trees, clothing, cars, buildings. Learn how to draw hair compared to fur, cloth compared to metal, wood compared to plastic. Learn shading and perspective and texture. Then learn storytelling and consistency. For some fan artists, the desire to drawn comics is so strong, they want to blaze past the fundamentals and get to the fun part of drawing their favorite characters before mastering the actual drawing. That's like trying to become a surgeon without all those pesky medical school classes, interning, and degrees. Never stop growing and adapting and learning!

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