Ming Doyle is a Boston-based illustrator and comic book artist whose amazing Mara is now on sale from Image Comics (Issue #2 out today!). Writer Brian Wood (DMZ, Northlanders, Wolverine and the X-Men, Star Wars) pens the tale of a superstar athlete, Mara Prince, and the manifestations of her superpowers to the public eye. Ming is here with us to talk about Mara and her start in comics, that includes milestone contributions to Womanthology, Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four #600, and Marvel’s 2010 Girl Comics.
DIGBOSTON: Thanks for joining us to talk today, Ming. Boston has a great community of comic book artists and writers. Congratulations on the success of Mara. Issue #2 is out today. How has the reaction been to your work on this title since issue one came out last month?
MING DOYLE: Thanks so much, and I do agree that the Boston area is lucky enough to be home to a lot of talented people in the comic industry. It’s kind of a fun hidden perk for nerds in the know to discover whenever they go to local events like Comicazi’s Drink ‘n’ Draw or the Boston Comics Roundtable meetings, not to mention shows like MICE (the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo) and Boston Comic Con.
Overall, I think reaction to the story’s been positive! It’s my first miniseries and largest project in mainstream comics so far, but the story is only just beginning so there’s still lots to learn before it wraps up in issue #6.
DIGBOSTON: How was your signing at Comicazi for issue #1?
Really wonderful, lots of friends and new faces. Comicazi is my local store in Davis Square and I always love any excuse to hang around there. In addition to digging comics, I’m also a huge collector of all manner of toys, action figures, and vintage Halloween accessories, and Comicazi definitely has all that and more in spades.
The creative team for this book is spectacular. Brian Wood is an incredibly popular writer. How were you two teamed up for this one? Is this an idea you had together for a while now?
I had actually never talked to Brian at all before he emailed me one day asking if I might like to collaborate with him on this story. Of course I said yes, and it’s been a really fun project so far. We work pretty closely together, but Brian’s in charge of all the storytelling and plot aspects, and he has a very hands off but supportive approach to my art.
I think we both trust each other to just have a lot of fun with each issue and do what we do best.
Let’s not forget about Jordie Bellaire’s contributions to the book, with colors that compliment your line work and tone. Have you worked with Jordie before?
I’ve been lucky enough to work with Jordie several times now, first on a short story I wrote for IDW‘s Womanthology: Heroic, then on a short piece in Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four #600,” and finally in another short story of mine in Vertigo’s Mystery in Space. All of those were shorter anthology pieces, so it’s a great joy to work with her on a longer format project now, though of course she’s so popular that really I’m exceedingly lucky she has the time for Mara! It’s an honor and I think she has a really unique aesthetic voice that’s unmistakable.
Mara is set in a future, and Mara Prince is a the ultimate sports hero, trained since she was young and an inspiration for the people. Never mind that she’s knockout gorgeous. The conflict in issue one is that she mistakenly exhibits what appear to be superpowers on the volleyball court, with the whole world watching. Is Mara’s world about to change?
Definitely and completely, and we’ll see some of that fall into place in #2, with things really shooting into the dramatic stratosphere in issue #3.
What do you like most about Mara as a character?
I like how at the beginning, she may not seem like a character of any particular depth.
As the story goes on she finds hidden reserves of will, determination, and personality that her profession and society never encouraged her to pursue before.
Brian has revealed that this book is somewhat a reaction to the DC New 52 treatment of women in comics. Do you have any reaction to either female characters in mainstream books being treated poorly, or to female creators not being signed on to popular titles at the big two companies?
The issue of women in comics both on the page and behind the scenes is gigantically important, and I couldn’t phrase half my thoughts on the subject in the length of a paragraph, but yes, let me just say that one of the things that attracted me to working with Brian in the first place was his excellent track record regarding both women collaborators and characters.
I like working on this project because I believe in it, I don’t have any qualms with the subject matter or representation, and I know that Brian wanted to work on it with me because he dug my art. I couldn’t think of a more ideal scenario for any creator.
When people are talking about your art, and we’ve seen you at the commission table at Boston Comic Con with your brushes, they compliment your line and also your ink work. Are you working exclusively with traditional materials, or do you draw on the computer at all?
In the last year or two I’ve transitioned to doing all of my sequential work entirely digitally. The brush and ink will always be my greatest loves and I return to them whenever I’m able, but working digitally has really helped speed my production process, and at the end of the day it’s most important to hit your deadlines.
But one of the reasons I enjoy going to conventions so much in addition to meeting fans is that it gives me a chance to break out my old treasured traditional media!
How did you break in to getting work at the bigger companies? Did this happen right after you graduated Cornell in ’07?
After graduating from art school, I spent some time regrouping and recuperating at my childhood home before approaching the vastly daunting issue of procuring a career. I decided to combat the feeling of incipient doom by escaping into marathon viewings of Batman: The Animated Series and drawing my own free form interpretations of the characters. I posted a take on Stephanie Brown, the third Robin, to one of my blogs, and through sheer chance Dean Trippe, curator of a superhero redesign site called Project: Rooftop, happened to stumble across it right as Project: Rooftop was gearing up to do a special on the Girl Wonder.
He encouraged me to submit my drawing, and before I knew it I was redesigning superheroes with an exciting, supportive group of established illustrators and fellow prospective up-and-comers.
My first published jobs were all a result of writers and editors seeing something they liked in my Project: Rooftop redesigns and writing to offer me spots in comic book anthologies like Popgun, Outlaw Territory, and Comic Book Tattoo.
I was fortunate enough to fall into a career by doing like Joseph Campbell said and following my bliss. Not a job goes by that I don’t appreciate it.
Are there any more projects you are working on that are coming our way you’d like to tell us about?
Aside from Mara, I have a young adult graphic novel called Eternal: Zachary’s Story coming out from local publisher Candlewick Press this month, and you can always keep up with what I’m working on at www.mingdoyle.com!
[Sat 2.2.13. Artist Ming Doyle signs at Comicopia in Kenmore Square - 464 Commonwealth Ave #13, Boston, MA 02215-2734 - Saturday, February 2, 2013 from 1:00 – 3:00 pm!]
BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE! CHECK OUT LEAGUEPODCAST.COM — BOSTON’S COMIC BOOK AND POP CULTURE PODCAST — “Thinking about Comics since 2009″!
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