I'm a 40 something (er, ah, cough ,cough) arteest guy living in Southern California who just loves to draw and paint. Occasionally I get paid for it, which is a big help, as I would have less time at it doing anything else. I started off as an editorial illustrator working for newspapers and magazines in my early 20's (groan, so long, long ago…) for such clients as the New York Times, Village Voice, Mother Jones and National Law Journal. I really enjoyed the process of editorial illustration as it required the reading of all sorts of well-written work and the designing of a spot (or two when lucky enough) that would sum up the heart and soul of a writer's piece.
I eventually grew bored with that and moved on to comics where I was employed by DC/Marvel/First/Eclipse/Heavy Metal and a few others comic book publishers that have long since gone the way of the shadow realm in comics. I penciled the landmark Alpha Flight #106, which had the hero Northstar finally out himself during a battle, causing quite a ruckus with Marvel distributors down south (so I was told). The book sold out the first week and went into a second printing the following with a different colored cover, quite a shrewd marketing trick I thought then.
Went to work at image comics, and then eventually tried my hand at storyboarding for animation (New Adventures of Jonny Quest, etc) and then finally settled on liking live action a heckuva lot more.
I met jack Kirby several times and had excellent talks about the process of character and world creation in comic books. I was lucky enough to meet and visit Jeff Jones also when younger and his sharing of Knowledge and advice (not to mention actually doing a painting from scratch for me!) was a tremendous boost in moving me along to better stuff. I spent a solid day with John Buscema also, another master artist and one of my all time favorite talent's, damn lucky enough to get some lessons and sage advice that have carried to this day. Mike Kaluta has always been a great inspiration in just how damn good an artist can be if he works hard enough at it. When I was a kid and then an adult/now he's never ceased to stop filling me with wonder and awe. I also had a great week with Boris Vallejo, fantasy artist par excellence and absolutely the most giving artist I have ever met. He let me spend a week standing behind him while he worked on several paintings, had company and made time for violin playing in-between!! As you can see I have always been a big fan and student of art and artist's. I'm sure it still stuns a few (especially when their younger) when I rant over them and their work how great I think it is/they are, ha ha. I think part of my fun of being an artist is never quite growing up, thank god my wife ties my shoes for me in the morning!
Mark, looking at your website, your work has a sci-fi slant. What draws you to this genre?
As far as the sci-fi slant, hmm... I guess I've always loved the genre. Sword and sorcery, horror and even humor are fun stuff but the thing with sci-fi has always been about the possibilities, the tomorrows, and the chances of the future taking a turn one way or another. And of course how the human spirit will raise to the occasion to confront it or flee from it. I really loved Blade runner, Gattaca, Lost in Space (the TV show, hee hee) and even watching the news today gives me such a great rush of ideas that I'm hard pressed to think it's really just the days' reality I'm watching.
What goes into storyboarding a movie like MINORITY REPORT? What sort of guidelines do you have to follow other than the script?
Storyboards for Minority Report were done for the second unit; pick up shots I believe and the trailer. The film was already in the can but they needed, and were able to revisit a few scenes. I came in at that point and found the work very fun and interesting. We worked on a few special effects and redo's and several versions of the trailer which all seemed vastly cool at the time to me. My direction was usually verbal and as I drew pretty fast they would usually see what they trying to say before the told me.
You were also the creature designer for DEEP RISING. Which do you prefer and why-the storyboarding or the conceptual design work?
Creature design work (Deep Rising) is another interesting discipline. I worked months on the creature and also did several key boards for the reveal of the creature and the effects of it voracious appetite, loll. That movie made me appreciate the study and drawing of animals and real anatomy like no class ever did. I even had books for forensic study to better understand and draw the destruction of human bodies/bone and tissue for some scenes. I wont, lie, the first few days of flipping open those books I would have to leave the drawing room and go for walks every few hours to stem the nausea!
What is WORLD'S FINEST?
Worlds Finest is the newest and latest short film by maestro director Sandy Collora.
He made a Batman short last year called DEADEND, and this was a follow up of sorts with the addition of Superman and all the favorite characters we know from the books/storyline. His dad played Perry White and was just perfect! I got to be one of Lex Luthor's bodyguards in addition to drawing with Sandy the boards for the film. Working and watching him was another great lesson in art and storytelling I won't ever forget.
What are you currently working on?
Currently, that I can talk about (I'm working in a somewhat hush hush environment, non disclosure forms are singed as frequently as lunch checks out here, and sadly much of my best work won't be seen for quite a long time.) is commercial boards for either pitching a concept/product or for helping the director/crew block in the shots. I've got a few commercials running now on TV and those are fun to see. It's a collaborative effort and it's really quite cool to see how the things eventually work themselves out and play on the screen. I never quite now myself until then, lol.