By Joshua Stone
Leading into this year’s SDCC, there were certain creators I was hoping to be able to get some time with to conduct an interview. One of these people was David Mack. Mack, best known as the creator of Kabuki and his amazing writing and artwork on Daredevil and the gorgeous covers for Alias, had a very busy SDCC, with the announcements for his cover work for the upcoming Fight Club 2 series coming from Dark Horse Comics, and a new Kickstarter campaign, The Temple of Art, that heavily features his work, and finishes funding, having surpassed its goal, on August 20th. Somewhere in between all that Mack was able to set aside a few minutes to talk to me and sign a couple prints of his I had recently purchased.
Joshua Stone: You’ve had three Kickstarters you’ve been involved with in some major way in the last year, what’s attracted you to being involved with these different projects?
David Mack: I’ve never done a Kickstarter on my own, but the first one I was involved in was the Muse book of my drawing work.
JS: Which I’m looking forward to receiving soon.
DM: Oh good. It’s the Century Guild Gallery, which exhibits my figure drawings. I had a couple of exhibits with them in the last year. One in their Chicago gallery of my work with Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, and a different exhibit with my work and Klimt and Schiele in Los Angeles last year as well, and then also an exhibit with my work with Clive Barker and Dave McKean at their LA gallery in October. They put together this wonderful book and they just chose to launch it as a Kickstarter to get participation from the readership and the people who are interested in the book. So it was Tom Negovan of Century Guild that put that together and made it happen and I was happy to share it. I didn’t really know that much about how Kickstarter worked, but it seemed like people really enjoyed being active participants in making it happen.
JS: It blew up, it was so successful. It was originally going to be an 8.5” X 11” book.
DM: They were able to make it much larger. [11” X 14”] I think his initial goal was $20,000 and it made that in the first 3-4 days. Then he said if it makes $45,000 we would make it twice as big. I think it eventually got $55,000 plus. [$56,493 to be exact] So he was able to make it full size and add some extras and all the bells and whistles for the printing. The paper is just magnificent. The texture and stock and scale of the book, and the ink quality. When you touch it, it really feels like your looking at the original artwork. It really gives the impression like your thumbing through the actual books of artwork of the drawings.
And most recently the Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream project. I didn’t know that was going to be a Kickstarter either. They asked me to contribute to it. This is the 20th anniversary of Kabuki, so I did a “Little Kabuki in Dreamland” kind of homage to Nemo. It sort of has the vocabulary of the Little Nemo Winsor McCay style of storytelling with some of the themes of my Kabuki story. I did that as my contribution and they offered that on Kickstarter as well and it did incredible. I think they were asking $50,000 because it’s such a large, giant book. Full scale, like the size of the other Nemo books.
JS: Like the original newspaper strips.
DM: Yeah, open newspaper size. I think they got $155,000 [$154,478] from all the contributors.
Most recently there was a project by a photographer friend of mine, Allan Amato. He is making a documentary film about other artists and having an exhibit and book with it as well called The Temple of Art. [See the recent Bleeding Cool interview to hear Mack talk more in-depth about Temple of the Art] He decided to also launch it as a Kickstarter, and with all the artists involved, it’s myself, Dave McKean, Grant Morrison, Bill Sienkiewicz, Kent Williams. Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer are executive producing it, there’s a lot of people involved who can spread the word a lot.
JS: I was in the first 25.
JS: I want to go back and ask about Nemo. You guys did the Kickstarter and IDW is doing a new Nemo book as well. What do you think brought the interest around to Nemo again?
DM: I don’t know. It’s over a hundred years old, so it’s interesting that the vocabulary that he established in that newspaper strip is still the kind of the grammar we still use in comic books presently. So I imagine people really like to look back and see how sophisticated it was, even for a hundred years ago.
JS: I know about Fight Club 2 and it’s going to be huge, but any new Kabuki as well?
DM: I have a brand new Kabuki story in the new first issue of Dark Horse Presents which comes out August 20, 2014 [*this week], and so I have plans to do more Kabuki as well. And it’s the 20th anniversary of Kabuki and so far I’ve got 7 volumes of Kabuki in hardcover and paperback, but there are some of those that are running out of print right now, so if anybody wants to try and get the existing copies in paperback and hardcover they should grab those before they’re entirely out of print. Then probably what we’ll do next for the anniversary is release a big omnibus or larger size editions.
JS: Remastered maybe?
DM: Yeah, remastered. I’ll do some extra things; it will be oversized. There has never been any oversized Kabuki before and so we’re kind of thinking of offering it in a brand new format people hadn’t seen before.
JS: It was interesting, today I attended a panel on Will Eisner, and some of his students he taught at school were there, Joe Quesada and Batton Lash. They were talking about how he brought his original Spirit art to class and there were patches that covered up things and he said it was things he had done 20 years ago and he knew he could do better now, so he redid the piece and covered it up.
DM: It’s hard to resist that, I mean I have to wrestle with that, going back over the material. Looking at that very first Kabuki volume I did as my senior thesis in college, I was 20 years old, so I appreciate it and there’s kind of a naïve charm to it but there’s a certain amount of rawness involved too and there’s a fine line of like, you know some wording is too heavy handed and maybe I’ll change a word here or there. So I want to do that, but I don’t want to change too much that it sort of changes what it is. Yeah, I kind of wrestle with that but I do find myself doing the same thing you mentioned with Will Eisner, drawing some new panels here and there, and word choices, just changing a word here or there too.
JS: Thank you very much.
DM: You’re very welcome.
JS: Oh, are you going to be on Who Charted? again?
DM: I don’t think it’s been announced, but I’ll be on this Monday. [The episode was already released, but it can still be heard, along with Mack’s two other appearances on the very funny podcast, on iTunes or here. Mack is very amusing on all of them and discusses how Fight Club 2 came about on the most recent episode.]
JS: I was expecting it to be before the convention.
DM: It’s with Kulap, [Kulap Vilaysack, cohost along with Howard “Dragon Boy Suede” Kremer. Gail Simone actually named one of her characters in The Movement, Katharsis, Kulap Vilaysack. Simone also used Vilaysack’s ethnic background, Laotian, and her look as part of the character] who is not coming to the convention, but we already scheduled it. Normally, I do Who Charted? before the convention, but we’re going to do one the Monday after the convention. I can tell her everything that happened here that she missed.
JS: Alright, thank you again.
DM: Thank you.
Here are those prints that I mentioned Mack signed for me. If you like them, there are still copies for sale here:
Further musings of Joshua Stone can be read on Twitter @1NerdyOne.