Saturday, August 25, 2018

STGCC 2018 - Diva Chats with Mark Brooks about Han Solo and Star Wars' Toxic Fans

Artist Mark Brooks' eye-catching and vibrant artwork has graced the covers of many high-profile Marvel comic books like "Deadpool", "Secret Empire", "Avengers" and "The Amazing Spider-Man". He used to work exclusively for Marvel, but recently, he has been lured by DC Comics to be a variant cover artist starting with the iconic Detective Comics issue #982.

Mark Brook's lifelike rendition of the human figure is striking, especially for the female form. His drawings of female superheroes and villains show off their individual beauty and quirks, balancing strength and a kind of glowy softness.

When Red Dot Diva learnt that Mark Brooks was also asked to draw for Marvel's run on Star Wars comics, she thought that this was a brilliant choice, especially when he was asked to collaborate with writer Marjorie Liu to draw interiors for the "Han Solo" series.  

Mark Brooks will be back in town to meet fans at the Singapore Toy Game and Comic Convention on 8 and 9 September, Marina Bay Sands Expo. Red Dot Diva got in touch with him to chat about "Han Solo", his recent projects, and his thoughts on Star Wars being a hot bed for toxic fandom.

Red Dot Diva: This will be your 2nd time back in STGCC! Are you looking forward to do anything new in Singapore?
Mark: I’m really excited to be back! The last time I was there was 6 years ago.  I loved the city and the people so it will be great to get reacquainted. Mainly, I’m looking forward to eating the amazing food and do some general exploring. I’ll be coming into town a few days early just to do that.

Red Dot Diva: You have been doing these gorgeous comic book covers for awhile, and then, came the Han Solo series. How was it like bouncing back into doing interiors? (which are stunning, BTW!)
Mark: Thank you! It was not easy, I have to say, but once I got into it, I felt at home. When you’re only doing covers versus interiors, the challenges are different. With covers, you’re trying to tell a story or convey a strong emotion in a single, strong image.  Plus, I have control over all aspects of the cover from start to finish since I color my own covers. With interiors, it’s more of a grind and it can start feeling relentless.  But in this case, Han Solo was so much fun and I loved the story, the writing and the characters, so it was a fun ride.  Right now, though, I'm pretty happy getting back into covers working on X-Men Extermination and Detective Comics. Both Marvel and DC are keeping me busy!

Red Dot Diva: How much of Harrison Ford's movies did you watch in order to capture his likeness and postures?
Mark: I’m a huge Harrison Ford fan and I think I’ve seen everything he’s been in.  As a Star Wars devotee, I’ve, of course, seen these movies more than I can count. That said, his likeness is hard to capture.  The thing about a likeness is you don’t have to – nor should your goal be – getting a 100% likeness.  That’s near impossible when you’re drawing the same face over and over, multiple times on a single page with different expressions and angles. The goal is to capture a few key elements – the most important features that make up the person’s face and as long as you can do that, you can capture their likeness without it having to look like you traced a photo. And then, after 15 or 20 pages, it becomes natural to you.  I can draw him now pretty easily without any reference or having to think about it too much.

Red Dot Diva: Did you need to learn to use new tools or techniques when working on the interiors? What were the most challenging part of the project?
Mark: No new techniques really, just trying to work quickly while still creating quality work.  That’s the biggest challenge doing interiors – the amount and speed at which you have to produce pages.  That was a huge challenge for me personally, as I am just not the fastest artist.  As far as the biggest challenge in art, that was just drawing ship after ship after ship. The whole story is basically a space race, so there had to be lots of ships! I even created new ships for the series.

Red Dot Diva: How was it like to have George Lucas requesting to buy your original artwork for Han Solo? How did that deal go down?
Mark: That was surreal! Basically, Lucas has an agreement that he gets first right of refusal on all Star Wars art created. He’s an avid art collector so from what I understand, he has a large collection of art, not just Star Wars. I didn’t interact with him of course, so I can only assume that he liked the work I did enough to want to buy the entire first two issues. It was such an honor and I’m still humbled by it.

Red Dot Diva: So, have you watched Solo: A Star Wars Story? What are your thoughts on it?
Mark: Actually, I have to admit that I haven’t seen it yet! I’m embarrassed to say that! But I don’t generally go out and see movies as soon as they come out in theatres, so that’s not really unusual for me. I’m usually too busy with work, travel and family.  When we do make it out to a theatre, it’s usually to see a movie with my son, so mainly Pixar or other animated movies.  I’ll see it as soon as it’s available on iTunes!

Red Dot Diva: There has been a lot of talk about toxic Star Wars fanboys, and their behaviour toward the creative folks of the franchise. Have you faced any of them while boothing at conventions? What are your personal thoughts about all this state of affairs?
Mark: I personally haven’t seen or experienced it for myself online or face to face. Mostly everyone I’ve encountered at cons are really great folks who are just happy fans. So, when we see or hear about toxic fandom (of any kind – it’s not just Star Wars) it seems like it’s definitely a vocal minority who are happy to hide behind their keyboards and get some sort of satisfaction out of really hurting people. I understand criticism, but there is a line between criticism and just being a jerk.  It seems like some people can’t tell the difference. I hope anyone that’s been the subject or victim of this kind of awful behavior is able to see that these loudmouth jerks aren’t representative of everyone. 

Red Dot Diva: Sideshow Collectibles will be releasing Spider-Verse Statue Collection statues based on your artwork. How long does a large scale project like this take?
Mark: It takes a very long time! I’ve been working with Sideshow for almost a year and half of the first three statues and we’re currently working on the next few. But I’m fine with it. Sideshow has really allowed me to be a big part of the process. From creating the concept all the way through actually working with the sculptors and painters, every step has been extremely collaborative.  It’s amazing to be so in the mix because these statues really are representative of my art. 

Red Dot Diva: Did you get to visit the Sideshow workshops? What was that like?
Mark: I visited for a few days back in March to produce some promo videos and multi media for the first line of statues.  I also spent three days with their art department working closely with other artists and directors on my next line of statues. The offices are incredible with statues, toys and artwork covering every wall and shelf. My favorite part was seeing different statues and toys in various stages of production that no one else had seen yet.

A post shared by Mark Brooks (@markbrooksart) on

Red Dot Diva: What can fans expect to pick up from your booth at STGCC?
Mark: I’m really excited to be back to STGCC.  The fans in this part of the world are some of the best I’ve ever encountered! Because of that, I really wanted to bring some good stuff for them.  I’ve got several of my art books, lithographs and my exclusive Siren’s art portfolio featuring 6 mini-prints, two of which are exclusive to the portfolio.  These are limited to just 50 sets.  I’ll have original art and I’ll be doing a sketching session. Since I’ve started working on Detective Comics covers for DC this year, I’m also excited to show off some of my Batman originals.  I hope to see lots of folks at STGCC!


Check out more of Mark Brook's works of art at:

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