Mike Perkins is Amazing. It is truly that simple.

Mike Perkins is Amazing. It is truly that simple.

Mike Perkins is a legend. His artistic talent is actually rather scary. The photo he provided me for this interview suggests he might potentionally serve as a very good James Bond adversary….. regardless of such things I found Mike to be an utterly lovely human being and chatting to him was freakishly good fun….and to the very best of my knowledge he has NOT planned any BOND type schemes to take over the entire world....Yet!!!

I didn't ask him about every comic he has ever worked upon because that would take a very long time indeed, but he was kind enough to answer all the questions I asked of him.

Paul: What was the first comic you recall buying or enjoying? I am essentially asking how old may you have been or where may it have been from? Everyone remembers their first comic I would imagine.

Mike: It was undoubtedly a British “Titans” comic – this would have been when I was 3 or 4 years old. These comics were all black and white Marvel reprints presented in a landscape format but with 2 regular pages on one page – so you would have 4 pages across the unfolded spread. A LOT of reading but, it seems, I was precocious that way. I also recall coming across my very first REAL American comic in a motorway service station when I was 4 or 5.  This was Detective Comics #456. An issue with Batman having been kissed to death on the cover which absolutely blew my little brain. So much so that when I was illustrating Lois Lane a couple of years back, I created a character called The Kiss of Death in recognition of that cover!

Paul: Guilty as charged !! I remember it well.

Paul: Wow, that is all great inspiration, but were there any specific comics or artists that inspired you to decide to create for a living?

Mike: All of them! Titans lead to The Mighty World of Marvel which lead to Captain Britain…and it was Captain Britain, when I was 6, that convinced me that I could draw comics for a living. After all, we DID have our own superhero! And then 2000ad arrived. A comic made by Brits for Brits but with an American sensibility. A Punk-wave comic. A little bit anarchic but brimming with staggering talent – introducing me to the art of Mick McMahon, Brian Bolland, Dave Gibbons, Ian Gibson and Steve Dillon (actually it was The Hulk Weekly that introduced me to Steve Dillon and Doctor Who Weekly that solidified my love for his work). Bolland and Dillon have forever remained on the top of that list of inspirations.

Paul: There are few better sources of inspiration for sure. What may have been your very first published work? And if possible, could you say who was your first editor?

Mike: My first professional work was a Future Shock in 2000ad – with Alan MacKenzie editing, swiftly followed, almost at the same time, by a Judge Dredd story edited by David Bishop. I didn’t really find my feet until my third piece of work which was a Terror Tale in 2000ad – written by Martin Conaghan with John Tomlinson as the editor.

Paul: Could you comment at all about the state of the UK comic industry? Do you read read 2000AD at all? Or for that matter have you been tempted to buy a copy of The'77? 

Mike: I have all the issues of 2000ad, the Megazine, the annuals, the specials and , pretty much, all the collections - and I still get it every week. There are some hits and misses along the way - there always has been - but it’s generally always one of the best comics out there. They’ve asked me a few times to contribute something new, and I’d love to, but my exclusivity at DC doesn’t allow for it. The stands at WHSmiths are fairly healthy with comic product - much more so than they were 20 years ago- and I’ve loved the publications from Shift and the ‘77 and Timebomb. It would be wonderful to see them reach a far wider audience, though.

Paul: How did you end up illustrating Hawaii 5.0 ?

Mike: I had worked with Christos Gage before on Union Jack, House of M:Avengers and a short story featuring The Beast and Wonder Man - and we always get a kick out of collaborating. He and his wife, Ruth ( who had worked together on the first season of Netflix's Daredevil) were writing episodes of Hawaii Five-O and there was a comic-centric episode and Christos asked if I'd be interested in working with him on it. There was a new comic in the show - a new character - stand-ups and posters for the "release" and a section at the end where the show actually turns into a comic strip - using my illustrations. I truly enjoyed it. Waiting for the follow up!

Paul: You are known for your work on so many comics. Many of them have been for Marvel. Can you choose a particular favourite project or issue you have worked upon?

That’s almost impossible to choose favourites – each one has specific moments and special memories which may range from a sequence of events in the comic or the determination to be on those issues or a desire to work with a specific writer. My easy answer is that I still get an immense sense of pride from having worked on the adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand – simply from the fact that it’s stand-alone and I wasn’t just a custodian of that title or character for the time I was on it.

Paul: Could you describe how it was to work with Ed Brubaker? You contributed hugely to his run on Captain America I believe.Could you relfect on that era of your time in comics. It involved some pretty important storylines at the time for Marvel.

Mike: I was brought onto Cap as Steve Epting was running into difficulties and we’d known each other at CrossGen - with me inking a few pages of Crux here and there. He needed someone to sporadically ink his work in order to keep on top of the deadlines and so I started helping him out with issue 8.  Editorial asked me to jump in as the regular inker … and I turned them down! For the previous 3 years I’d been solely an inker and I was looking to re-establish myself as a full illustrator - pencils and inks. I told them so and the next day Ed counter-offered with me producing the pencils and inks for alternate arcs and then helping out on the inks over Steve’s pencils as and when needed. I was more than happy to do that.  Not only for the excitement that this run was generating but also because I was a MASSIVE Brubaker fan.  I’d always enjoyed his work and he was simply getting better and better. He continues to do so.

Mike: Working on Captain America was a joy and a massive opportunity for me and I had the impossible task of trying to equal - or at least compliment - the beautiful work Steve Epting and Frank D’Armata were producing for the series. I still think I have another run of Cap inside me and I hope it’ll have the chance to get onto the page sometime.

Paul: Did you find working upon Iron Fist a huge culture shift. I mean did you have to study martial arts at all, or images of martial arts, in order to make the pages convincing?

Mike: I did take in a lot of reference for Iron Fist - but I was more than aware of the character.  Another one of my favourites. The way we approached the fight scenes were centred upon a visceral, close up brutality - especially in the early issues when we were showing Danny travelling around the world looking for underground fights. I wish we could have seen more of that but the series went off in a different direction which was equally as rewarding. Particularly so as I created a fair few new characters to place within the Iron Fist mythology.  It was the first time I’d come across Ed Brisson’s writing and when it was suggested I collaborate with him I went back and read his previous works and got that same sense of excitement from them as when I was reading Brubaker’s books. They were a diverse read, too ; Crime and Murder, Apocalyptic Child Endangerment and Convict Sci-Fi ! My study of martial arts extends to watching a few movies, looking at photos and mis-reading it as the Marital Arts !!

Paul: I have to ask about Swamp Thing. Some of your covers and the imagery used in your run on the title were oustanding. Where precisely did you draw inspiration from for those images. Or was it all in the scripts?

Mike: Ram’s an extremely visual writer and sometimes he’d have a vision of how he saw the pages - so I’d say it was a true, rewarding, collaboration to come up with some of those images. A lot of them came from my love of the character and my desire to do justice to the runs that have previously appeared. Not an easy job - but one I relished. The organic approach of working with the brush really lends itself to a character like Swamp Thing. You go wherever the brush is taking you - there are no mistakes.

Paul: Many writers and artists enjoy comic conventions. Is that or was that a part of your career you enjoyed? If so, do you have any cool convention stories you are allowed to tell?

I do enjoy the conventions, but I try to keep them fairly spaced apart – not too many of them.  This doesn’t mean I don’t want to meet the fans – it’s just that when you’re on a monthly schedule it’s difficult to make the time. You have to work harder before and after the convention to make up for that lost time in your schedule and it’s not just for the duration of the convention itself. It’s the travelling and the set up and the recovery period afterwards.

Some of the coolest moments involve meeting up with celebrities and fellow comic creators – and, perhaps, becoming friends with them.

Paul: How do you feel about digital comics. If you read comics still do you use a tablet/laptop etc or prefer the paper versions?

Mike: I read digital – but I DO prefer the published versions. Digital is wonderful if you have limited space in your living arrangements! I’ll tend to check out something on digital – buying all the issues of a series if I enjoy it - and then purchasing the trade when it’s collected – preferably in a hardcover format.

Paul: What does the future hold for you? Are there any projects you are working upon you would like to promote?   

Mike: After wrapping up my run on Action Comics I’ve been producing various cover illustrations and helping out on Lazarus Planet but I DO have a BIG project waiting in the wings. It’s for DC and something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.

Paul: Thank you for all your answers. Your art astonishes me.    


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