In this edition of Artist Alley, we’ll be taking a look at the work of Mike Mahle! Mahle’s style is very pop-art and very unique. His work ranges from superheroes, sexy sirens, and all the way to International Men of Mystery. I had a chance to interview this artistic genius, take a look below!
So, I came across your work, when I saw a poster you had done of the original X-Men. That’s what made me reach out to you, being a huge comic book geek myself. As I’m going through some of your other pieces, I see an Avengers print that I had as my phone background, pretty much all of last summer. Needless to say, I’ve been a fan of yours for a while now.
1) What is it about superheroes that appeals to you, and ultimately makes you want to draw them?
I’ve always loved superheroes, I think it was the 70s Super friends show that did it. I used to love that show when I was a kid, especially when they brought in the Legion of Doom. I guess it’s the mythological aspect that appeals to me most. In school I always loved it when we would talk about the Greek gods, and superheroes are kind of like their modern day descendants. The idea that a single person can do these amazing things and go on far-flung adventures just resonates with me. Along with movies, superhero comics are where I go to reenergize my imagination.
2) Who were some of your favorite artists growing up that gave you inspiration to become an artist yourself?
I think my first real fascination with comic book art came from John Byrne and his run on Uncanny X-Men, which to this day I think is the pinnacle of comic story telling and art. From there, Jim Lee has always been on of my favorites—the man was born to draw superheroes. And of course J Scott Campbell who I’ve watched get better and better over the years. My early sketchbooks are filled with my renditions of their drawings.
3) You’re obviously a pretty huge James Bond fan, much like myself, were the posters a personal project of yours, or something you tackled for commission?
The series was a personal project for me. I had always wanted to do something artistic with Bond and when Skyfall was gearing up for its release I was swept up in my 007 fandom full throttle. I was fairly new at creating vector artwork (still am by the way) and decided that the Bond universe would be ideally suited for the look and feel of the work I was creating. My first poster was Thunderball and it came together surprisingly fast. At first my plan was to make them as amalgamations of the films and the novels, but as I got further along I realized that that wasn’t going to work, since some of them don’t have any literary counterparts. I also I wanted to keep them fairly conceptual and not try and capture the look of a certain actor or scene, but rather concentrate on mood, color, lettering, and design.
I had so much fun creating Thunderball that I sketched out about five more and built those over the course of about a month or so. I took those to C2E2 last April and was totally taken back by how popular they were. I had so many people asking me for their favorite 007 movie and if I was every going to do more. After that I knew I had to do the rest of the series.
Over the summer I pretty much worked exclusively on the Bond posters. Taking a break here and there when I thought I’d they might be losing their zest, only to recharge and dive back in.
The first four films are what I like to call the golden age of the Bond. They are all fantastic, and stick fairly close to the novels, which is one of the reasons I think they work so well. Yet, hands down my favorite is Thunderball. I guess that’s why it was the first poster I did. I think you’re enjoyment of Thunderball hinges on whether you like the underwater sequences or not. There are a lot of them and I’ve heard people say that they are just boring. To me they are the highlight of the movie. The final underwater battle is just epic.
I also have to give a shout out to Casino Royale, which brought the franchise roaring back like Goldeneye did in the 90s. Casino is easily in my top 2 or 3 Bond flicks. The shower scene with Vesper is, for my money, one of the best moments in the entire franchise, fantastic stuff.
5) Since your work ranges from the villains of DC’s Arkham Aslyum, to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in Marvel Comics, who are your favorite comic characters, and are you more of a Marvel or DC fan?
My favorites are definitely Batman, the X-Men, and Captain America. I’ve been reading the Uncanny X-Men pretty much since I was able to read and I’ll probably read it until they stop publishing or I die, which ever comes first. Yet I’d have to say that Batman is by far my favorite character, and has been since the Super friends.
With Batman it’s not just the character, but the world he inhabits, Gotham City, the villains, the GCPD all combine to give Batman a unique world to play in. I don’t think there is any other character in comics that has such a textured and established world.
As far as a favorite publisher I’d have to side with DC. Marvel’s characters, for the most part, are everyday people with everyday problems that happened to have been thrust in being a superhero. DC on the other hand treats their characters like gods. These aren’t normal people they are god like, much more akin to the Greek and Roman stories of their forbearers. That’s how I like my heroes, larger than life.
6) Are you reading any comic books now? What do you think is the best series that’s running at the moment?
My wife has joked for years that I have a raging comic book habit, and she’s not wrong. I’m there in my local comic shop every Wednesday grabbing my books for the week. Then they tend to pile up as I whittle away at them whenever I get a spare minute. For the most part I haven’t really been a fan of the new 52 from DC. However, Batman has been better than it’s ever been. The Court of the Owls, and Death in the Family were both great story arcs with great art to boot. And I love that Aquaman is now back to being awesome and they finally ditched that damn hook hand, or even worse the water hand, uggh!
On the Marvel side X-Men and Cap will always be my boys. I’ve been reading the X-Men long enough to know that it goes through ups and downs more than any title I’ve encountered. If you don’t like what’s going on now, just wait and it’ll be great again.
7) What have you always wanted to tackle, and just haven’t had a chance to yet? What would be a dream project of yours?
Oh there’s so much. I literally have a running list of ideas and projects that I’d love to get to. I’m a huge Star Wars nut and I’d love to tackle something Star Wars. Yet there’s so much stuff out there I’d like to do something that’s a little unique and not just a retread of something you’ve seen before.
8) With your new storefront opening and all your 007 posters done, what do you have planned for your next project?
I’ll be diving into some original stuff for the foreseeable future with some one-off comic themed pieces here and there. Two of which will be a Guardians of the Galaxy and Legion of Doom piece. Right now I have three separate books of original work that I’m putting together and I’m hoping to have the first done for the shows I’ll be at in 2014.
Well, I for one, can’t wait to see what Mike has up his sleeve in 2014. With Guardians of the Galaxy coming out next year, he’s sure to bring some great art to be a companion to the film and Bendis comic. Make sure you catch more of Mike’s stuff at MikeMahle.com Deviant Art, and his Facebook Page! Make sure you ‘Like’ it and spread it to fellow Towelites!
Stay Tuned to DFAT for another edition of Artist Alley coming up soon, and if you’re interested in showing off your talents, just email us at: [email protected]!