by David O'Leary
Welcome to the thirty-eighth 5 Minutes With... where today I am delighted to be joined by former Marvel and DC veteran artist Mark McKenna. Having worked on top tier comics in the past like Iron Man, Punisher, Aquaman and more, Mark graciously gave up some of time to talk about his new creator owned book Combat Jacks, which he is attempting to finance through indiegogo. This talk was an insightful look into what even a seasoned creator like Mark goes through to publish an indie comic and it was a fun and insightful piece to bring together. So read on...
David O'Leary: Hi Mark, thanks for joining us today to talk about your upcoming creator owned book Combat Jacks.
Mark McKenna: Hi Dave, yeah, I'm very excited about this project. Thanks for reaching out.
DO'L: Combat Jacks is being described as a book in the style of the old EC books from the '50s. This particular period of time for horror comics is storied and well revered, what was the attraction in using this style for Combat Jacks?
MMK: Well, I have the hardcover EC Vault of Horror, Weird Science and Weird Fantasy collections and they hold a true fondness in my heart. As a reader and fan I really missed those style books and felt it was something, not only I would love to do myself, but something that as a fan would appreciate revisiting this genre. There was always something simple and nothing convoluted about those stories.
Combat Jacks Cover by Tom Raney & Mark McKenna
DO'L: What can you tell us about the plot of Combat Jacks and about the genesis of the idea?
MMK: I thought about crossing over the horror and sci-fi genres. Vault of Weird and Science Fantasy, if you will. Set 500 years in the future, space marines heading back to a new found planet to find out what's happened to the death-sentenced terraformers set up to build essentially a city for earth's overpopulation to inhabit. These "lifer's" instead of being put to death were given the option of serving life imprisonment on this breathable planet, but put to good use. The planet was deflected into our solar system by an asteroid and it's as close to earth as the moon is. The planet consists of two elements: sand and vast pumpkin-like patches. These pumpkin patches create photosynthesis and oxygenate the planet for us, so terraforming the planet seems like a no-brainer. Of course, here in lies the rub...A Venus Fly trap, if you will.
A lettered and inked page from the book by Jason Baroody & Mark McKenna
DO'L: You are joined on the book by great artist Jason Baroody. How did Jason come on board the project?
MMK: To me Jason is an untapped talent. I have met him a few times but wasn't familiar with his work. Our mutual friend and art rep (at one point), Bob Shaw, recommended Jason to me for Jacks. When I asked Jason to get involved, he seemed pretty excited with the idea of working with me, which tickled my ego of course. He's been more than a pleasant surprise for me to have on board.
By the way, the cover was pencilled by the wonderfully talented Tom Raney and I also have my old BFF from the early '90s Mike McKone colouring it for me. This will be an exciting and unique cover, if only because of McKone's colouring, as he's not known for colouring comics.
DO'L: On indiegogo, there are several levels of rewards for contributions towards the book. Can you tell our readers what levels are left available and with what rewards?
MMK: So far I have created a 3 tier reward system. $10 gets you the comic book, signed. $25 gets you the book and a limited edition cover print, signed and I was astounded that my $200 tier pledges, limited to four pledges...to be a marine in the book, sold out in the first week! I am considering a 4th tier $50 pledge for an either alternative cover for the book by another fantastic talent, or a sketch cover, with Raney's pencils sans inks...TBD!
I'll take ideas...Anybody?
DO'L: When trying to get a book off the ground like you are with donations from contributors, does the book's publication hinge on making the target amount of $3000 or will it still see print even if the full amount is not gained?
MMK: I fully intend on moving forward with the book, whether I reach my goal or not. $3000 will honestly just pay for the talent...not the printing and I didn't even consider giving myself an ink or writing page rate.
I spoke to an acquaintance who packages some issues of Heavy Metal and he has created a "Monster Mayhem" issue last year that was one of the best selling Heavy Metal issues in recent years. We discussed getting Jacks into the magazine's monster issue...next year, but I can't wait around for a year and sit on Jacks. I'm hoping to have it out by Halloween 2012! I really would love to have $4000 worth of Indiegogo pledges to accommodate some of the printing costs, but I didn't want to make the goal unattainable by asking for that much.
One of the natives by Jason Baroody & Mark McKenna
DO'L: On indiegogo you made mention of having some informally interested publishers for the book. Is that aspect of the project at this point too sensitive to talk about or can you speak to any progress on that front?
MMK: Not at all. The concept and art I've previewed so far, has piqued some interest. One friend/fan who along with his girlfriend has considered investing in the project is looking to lay some groundwork for a project of their own, working with me on supporting Jacks will help them get a sense of this part of the business, while lightening up their pockets. Hahaha!
I did throw the plot and concept art out in front of my Star Wars editor at Dark Horse and he asked if he could "informally" discuss the project with the honcho's up there as part of DH's "Dark Horse Presents" anthology, but I don't want to give too many rights away. I can easily see Combat Jacks as a "SyFy Movie of the Week"!
Interior art from the issue by Jason Baroody & Mark McKenna
DO'L: Planning the book as you are as a one shot, do you intend on making the book one and done story or will you leave scope for future adventures with these characters?
MMK: Jacks ends with an epilogue and the thought that, what if a "Jack" pumpkin seed made its way back to earth? I created this as a 24 page one shot, because, honestly...it's all I thought I could afford to do, both because I am paying talent and publishing/printing costs. IF I had a publisher that would pick up the printing expenses and offer me a miniseries, I would definitely map it out as at least a 48-64 page graphic novel. I am ambivalent about losing control of the property though.
DO'L: Mark, thanks for your time and we wish you the very best with the book.
MMK: Thanks for bringing this to the reading public's attention!
My thanks to Mark for his time in talking with us today. I wish the best with this book and I encourage you to get involved by supporting his efforts to publish his book by following this link to indiegogo.com: http://www.indiegogo.com/COMBAT-JACKS and pledging to the ongoing effort. And as always folks, thanks for reading.
Name: David O' Leary
Bio: David has been with CR since June 2008 and started out as a reviewer and has expanded to do a couple of columns for the site also; starting with 28 Words Later with artist Declan Shalvey and later 5 Minutes With... where he talks with the industries best and brightest from Kubert to Moore.
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