A Cast-Iron Success
♦Mike Perkins is an illustrator for Marvel Comics having worked on Captain America, Thor and The X-Men. After wrapping up the 31 issues adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand he transitioned into illustrating Astonishing X-Men and was integral to the relaunch of Deathlok for Marvel too. He has been nominated numerous times for Eisner and Harvey Awards and, as well as winning the Eagle Award, counts being on the New York Times Bestseller list and being exhibited in Munich, London and Paris amongst his career achievements. His website is : www.mikeperkinsart.com and is well worth a visit.
Currently illustrating Iron Fist – a top five hit for Marvel – we thought it was no better time to catch up with one of the hardest working artists in comics. So TRIPWIRE Contributing Writer Olly Macnamee spoke to him recently…
Olly MacNamee: Congratulations on the successful launch of Iron Fist, Mike. How did you first get involved on this title?
Mike Perkins: The launch has been excellent! Only beaten from the top spot by Spider-Man and Batman – that’s pretty good going for an Iron Fist book.
When I was wrapping up Carnage I suggested some characters who I would like to tackle – Iron Fist being one of them. I was well aware of the Iron Fist Netflix show coming up, as well as the subsequent Defenders series, and I figured interest would be high in the character.
OM: What’s your own recollections of Iron Fist? Was he a character you even paid any attention to as a younger reader?
MP: I first came across his adventures in the 1980’s Marvel UK Blockbusters comic. They were reprinting Iron Fist’s adventures – in black and white – from the very beginning and I was hooked on the character. I was never a fan of the yellow slippers but the whole mythos of it interested me and struck a chord.
OM: I have to admit, it’s been a while since I followed Danny Rand and his adventures, and those yellow slippers of his! Ha. A lot seems to have happened to him since then. And none of it good, it would seem. Without K’un-Lun Danny seems to have no real purpose, although he does seem to be looking for something, right?
MP: He’s looking for a challenge – that’s the whole impetus of the first issue. He’s going into these heavy underground fights hoping that someone will step up who’s able to even get close to his abilities. He’s been cut off from K’un Lun – after it’s destruction – and his ability to channels the chi from that setting has diminished.
OM: And what do feel is the pulling power of Iron Fist? Even before the Netflix show, Iron Fist was gaining some traction as a character in recent years. Surely it can’t be down to his Kung-fu kick-assery? I mean, the first issue placed pretty high for Marvel, right?
MP: He’s a good character! Plain and simple. He’s often looked down on as somehow a hero who can’t carry his own book but the number of series over the past few years have constantly proven otherwise. It’s a steady flow from Immortal Iron Fist through a couple of Power Man and Iron Fist series to the Living Weapon 12 issue book and on to the most recent Power Man and Iron Fist comic …and now his own title again. Which placed at #5 in the sales charts for it’s premier issue.
OM: Was it intentional to keep Danny out of his more familiar clothes to start with? Was there a hope that there would be some crossover from the Netflix show?
MP: The only intention there was to show Danny’s separation from the chi and his calling as the Iron Fist. As far as I know it had nothing to do with the Netflix show. From what I understand Marvel approach these books as if we are doing the second season there on the page – but without having to pick up the threads from the show. This is the Iron Fist WE want to see.
OM: What of your own influences on the world of the Immortal Iron Fist? Where do you go to in order to create a believable Oriental-inspired settings and decorations that adorn the comics?
MP: A lot of the influences come from the previous comics themselves but also martial arts cinema to a certain extent.
OM: Your fight scenes are full of energy, but how much are you able to set the pace as an artist? Do you all still follow the ‘Marvel way’ or, is it all down to Ed Brisson’s script?
MP: A lot of it is down to Ed’s excellent direction. He knows when to hit that specific punch at just the right moment and we were very conscious of pulling into the shots so that the reader is right in the middle of the fight. They can feel those punches. Within those constraints though I’m also given a lot of leeway to change a 4 panel fight scene into a 27 panel one! It’s become a lot more fluid as we’ve settled into each other’s individual rhythm and we fast becoming a team.
OM: Tell me about The Rat of 12 Plagues, if you can. How much influence, as the artist, do you get when coming to visualise new characters, good or bad, such as this bad boy?
MP: The basic break down of the character is provided but it’s up to me to add those flourishes on all the fighters in the Gauntlet. Visually The Rat of 12 Plagues is probably my favourite as I added that grit and grime. Those rat skulls and the general air of terror and despondency he encapsulates.
OM: And, finally, with a busy summer comic con season ahead of you, I believe we will be seeing you in Europe again this year, as president of Luxembourg’s Contern Comics Festival (July 15th and 16th)? Those are some pretty big shoes to fill I imagine. What will you be hoping to do in this new role?
MP: As the president you’re are granted the power to invite 6 guests and, as such, I’ve attempted to open up the purview a little and include creators who work in varied fields….or at least their work has gone on to be used in different media. They have yet to announce their guest list…but when they do you’re more than welcome to have another chat! Before the convention I’ll also be doing a couple of signings in Paris to coincide with the French language release of Rowans Ruin- LA MALÉDICTION DE ROWANS – through Delcourt.
Mike Perkins is appearing at C2E2 this weekend. And, the next issue of Iron Fist (No.3) will be hitting the shelves on May 3rd. You can also read our review of Iron Fist No. 1 here.