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|THE ARTISTS: MICHAEL LARK|
Just a little interview that I found at FAN Overstreet's Universe with Michael Lark, the penciller of the Legend of the Hawkman.
FAN: What's the normal day like for you?
Michael Lark: Its easier to describe a normal work week, which for me runs from Thursday afternoon through the next Thursday morning. Im pretty adamant about only working from 8-5 Monday through Friday. I dont work nights and weekends any more at all. When I do, my work usually stinks - Im very much a creature of routine.
On Thursday afternoon and Friday, I do page breakdowns for 6-8 pages, which consists of pretty much stick-figure thumbnails (4 to an 8 ½ x 11 sheet of paper). Then I shoot or gather any photo references I might need. On Monday through Thursday mornings I draw those pages. Each day, I start by laying out the pages and roughing in the figures. I then tighten the drawings and add in the background details. My pencils are pretty tight - I fill in all the black areas and everything (none of those little "x"s for me, thank you!) When Im finished with them on Thursday morning, I go photocopy them and send them off to my tyrannical editors in New York.
When I ink, its a little less formal. I just try to ink 3-4 pages a day, first doing all the linework with pens, then filling in the blacks with brushes in the last couple of hours of the day.
FAN: When you work, what distracts you from getting your work done?
Michael Lark: E-mail interviews! Just kidding. I love to work on my yard and garden, so now that its Springtime thats a bit of a distraction. But really, anything that breaks up my routine is a distraction and slows me down. Appointments, repairmen, anything like that. My house is like a vacuum while I work. Its just me and my cat.
FAN: Do you listen to music while you work?
Michael Lark: Only when I ink. Inking is mindless work for me, and I need something to keep my brain from chattering away all day.
FAN: Whats the first comic you remember reading?
Michael Lark: A cool Neal Adams (I think) Batman book from the early '70s. I dont know what title it was, or who wrote it, but it involved Batman fighting some present day cattle rustlers. Anyone who remembers this issue and can tell me what it was, please pass the info on to me!
FAN: Who are your influences artistically?
Michael Lark: Toth, Toth, and Toth. As Ive been doing more superhero stuff, Ive been getting into Kirby a lot, too. Everything I see becomes an influence - either I say "Ooh, Id like to do something like THAT!" or I say "Yuck, I hope I never do anything like THAT!"
Also films are a big influence on me. I see a lot of movies. I have a friend who says Ill watch any piece of crap, and shes right.
FAN: Whats the best part of your job?
Michael Lark: Telling stories. Especially when there are interesting and complex character conflicts and motivations.
FAN: Whats the worst part of your job?
Michael Lark: Figuring out how to render things, especially when I dont have any reference for it. I dont consider myself an artist - Im a storyteller. Somebody like Alex Toth could draw a lamp and make it look good. I feel like Im lucky just to make it clear that theres a lamp there - forget making it look GOOD!
FAN: Do you get more work or less work done during baseball season?
Michael Lark: Thankfully, I dont have cable and the Rangers play mostly night games, so baseball does not affect my work schedule hardly at all.
FAN: What materials do you like to work with?
Michael Lark: Im always changing my tools. Right now I just use a cheap-o store-bought Pentel mechanical pencil that I never have to sharpen. The lead is about the same width as a pen tip, so I get a pretty good idea of how detailed my lines can get. I fill in the black areas with a plain old number 2 pencil that doesnt have a sharp point.
As far as inking, I never learned to use a brush or quill. I started out with tech pens, which was like torturing myself. Then I started using Micron Pigma markers, in ALL the widths, including the brush. Now Im experimenting with Rotring Artpens, which are like a cross between a quill and tech pen. Only problem is, they dont do very well with waterproof ink. Im still trying to find an ink that will work well in them without clogging up. I fill in my blacks with any old brush that I can find.
I use the DC board, rough surface. Its harder to ink on rough, but I like to pencil on it.
FAN: Which other creators would you like to work with?
Michael Lark: Wow, I like anyone who tells a good story. Id love to do more with both Ed Brubaker and Dean Motter. I also enjoyed working with Steve Seagle and Peter Milligan. Id work with any of them again. Right now Im working with Ben Raab, and thats going pretty well, too.
Two writers that Id definitely like to work with are Jeff Loeb and J.M. DeMatteis, but Im open to pretty much anyone who comes my way who writes a good script.
FAN: Did you like doing all the retro-futuristic styles in "Terminal City"?
Michael Lark: Oh, yeah. I love that look. Its hard to design, but thankfully Dean did a lot of that, and we had a lot of good ref to work from.
FAN: What kind of scripts did Dean Motter give you to work with, were they full scripts or just plot breakdowns?
Michael Lark: Neither. He just gave me dialogue and narration, with some direction thrown in. I did all the panel and page breaks myself.
FAN: What kinds of reactions did people have to the series?
Michael Lark: Well, I hear good things when I go to cons, and it was well received in the professional community, which is pretty flattering - I look at it and think that I was still learning a lot.
FAN: Will you being doing any more "Terminal City" stories?
Michael Lark: Of course, if we can. People still ask me when were going to do another one. (HINT HINT, DC!) Weve got a proposal in right now for a third story.
FAN: How did you get involved with "Scene of the Crime"?
Michael Lark: I was looking for work to do in 1998 after I finished Superman: War Of The Worlds. Shelly Roeberg, the editor, had just gotten Eds proposal, and asked me aboard. I was reluctant at first, because it was so dark, but when I talked to Ed and realized what he was trying to do with it, I fell in love with it.
FAN: Your style seems very well suited for a crime book. Is it something youve always wanted to do, or did it just happen?
Michael Lark: Well, Ive always dug that kind of story - Im really into Hammett, Chandler, and MacDonald. But I never expected to do a comic like this. Ive kind of been typecast as a period peice guy, and this was sort of a logical extension of that.
How is your approach different for a story like "Scene of the Crime" compared to a superhero story like your recent "JSA" material?
Michael Lark: I wanted it to be much darker and grittier than "JSA". Sean Phillips was a perfect match as an inker. Also, theres a lot more people just sitting around talking, so I kind of approach the page breakdowns a little differently - a lot of concern with rhythm and camera movement to make it interesting.
FAN: How involved are you in creating the story?
Michael Lark: Ed had already written the plot when I came on board. Im about 50% involved in how the story is finally presented - pacing of panels, length of scenes as far as pages go - but the characters and plots are pure Ed.
FAN: When this mini-series is over, are there plans for another story (presuming enough people live to continue it)?
Michael Lark: Absolutely. We pitched it as a series of minis. We just hope enough of you buy the book that theyll let us do another! And Im not telling who lives and who dies! After all, its a mystery!
FAN: Anything else youd like to mention?
Michael Lark: Be on the lookout for my new book - its a "Legends of the DCU" arc written by Ben Raab. Its a 2-issue Hawkman and Hawkgirl story, and its one of the most fun things Ive ever done. Im really excited about it, and so far everyone whos seen it really likes it. Dont know yet which issue numbers it will be, but Id expect it out in the Fall or late Summer.
FAN: If theres anyone who knows of any good starting pitchers available, please let me know so that I can pass it along to the Texas Rangers. Im willing to trade Pudge Rodriguez.
This section is dedicated to those artists and writers who have contributed at different times throughout the history of Hawkman. Check them out.
Ben Raab: Hawkman IndexLegend of the Hawkman #1-3, penciller
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