Once, long ago, in a land before Poser, there lived an artist named Mick Gray. Mick had a unique eye for line and putting pen and ink to paper he brought heroes and villains to life, captivating not only the comic reading public but the creators of DC comics as well. In 1989 Mick began working for such DC creations as Hawkman, Legion of Super Heroes, the Joker, CHASE, Son of Superman, and Promethia. The list of Mick's work as artist, finisher, and inker is lengthy. In 2001 he won a Comic Con Eisner award for best single issue of Promethia (the intriguing odyssey of a college girl turned mythical warrior).
A few years after Mick began his work for DC he and his wife Holly were members of a choir in San Jose, CA. It was there, as a new choir member, that we met. Even before we found a common bond over art I was drawn to Mick's giving nature and his self-depreciating sense of humor. Both of which are apparent in his agreement to participate in this interview and in his very candid answers.
Boni: Are you familiar with the Poser and Manga Studio (Clip Paint Studio) products? A lot of digital artists use Photoshop of course, but these are more Comic Book specific, particularly Clip Paint Studio?
Mick: Nope. I am a dinosaur! Dont know much at all about digital programs... except Photoshop!
Boni: Back in the 90's you used pen/brush and ink exclusively. Have you incorporated any digital software in your workflow?
Mick: Absolutely none. Still only use brushes, quills, pens and ink! BUT... ALL of my sending of art from penciller to me, to colorist and back to the editor is now done digitally.
Boni: Why is that?
Mick: I am a dinosaur. I am afraid of it! I think it would probably take me 6 month to a year to gear up as a digital inker, so... I put it off because I need to keep inking to MAKE A LIVING!
Boni: Are you familiar with Brian Haberlin's "Anomaly" and his use of Poser in his work?
Mick: Never heard of it!
Boni: Who are your comic book artist heroes? Past and Present, and how did they influence your own work?
Mick: Jack Kirby, Alex Toth, Steve Rude, Brian Bolland, all the classic guys. I am influence by any art that has power, excitement and emotion! Newer artists I like are Fiona Staples and Sean Murphy.
Boni: In the projects that you have worked on such as C.H.A.S.E. and Promethea as well as your extensive work with DC, what are/were your favorite projects and why?
Mick: Promethea, for sure, is my favorite! Just because it was an AMAZING team and SO inspirational! But my 50 issue run on Batman and Robin, with Pat Gleason was a FANTASTIC honor also!!! And now Superman... it don't get much better... I'm a lucky guy, still inking after 26 years in the business!
Boni: Have you seen a shift in comic creation to a more digital approach and do you feel this has an effect in the outcome of an artist's work?
Mick: Art is art. It really does not matter HOW you achieve it, as long as you are happy with it. I think overall, digital avenues DO speed up the process, does it make it better? It depends!
Boni: What is your opinion as an artist of online comics?
Mick: Online comics is the wave of the future. Mainstream will probably go totally online in the next 10 years... just my opinion. It will be sad to see the floppy comic go the way of the dinosaur, but if that is what it takes to keep the industry alive, then so be it!
Boni: What is your personal workflow?
Mick: One page a day is what I would love to do, as far as inks, but most of the time, because of deadlines, I need to do more to keep up!
Boni: Do you have any advice to artists who want to get into the comic art field? What should they bring to the comic cons for review?
Mick: Make your online comics and publicize with social media...make it a labor of love. If it is meant to be a profession, people will notice, and you will get picked up by a publisher. If not, kickstart your book, after gaining fans and having at least 100 pages online and make a graphic novel! To sell yourself at cons show five completed pages, pencils, inks and script.
Boni: What is it about your profession that you love the most and why?
Mick: It is SO inspiring to work on America mythology like Batman and Superman! Working for DC Comics is a DREAM job and I feel so honored to be even just a tiny little part of its 75 year history!
And so children of Poser world, it is possible to live and work within the dream you have imagined. I want to thank Mick for his insightful and encouraging words and also for taking time from his busy day to answer my questions and share a little of his process as an amazing inker and Comic Book Artist.
You can read more about Mick at his website and at the DC Comics page.