Not too long ago I reviewed the epic Marvel Comics event Original Sin. With work dating back to the early 90’s, Deodato has been a mainstay at the publishing house. Through the power of social media he came upon my review. Honored that he took notice, I asked if he would be interested in sharing his love of comic book art and geek out a little for our readers, aka the Towelites!
DFAT: First off I would like to thank you for doing this interview, I know that you are a busy man and I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions. Please tell our readers a little background on how you got into the world of comic book art. At what point did you decide that working on comic books was what you wanted to do?
Deodato: I was around comic books and comic book art as far back as I can remember. My father was a writer/artist in the local Brazilian comics market, so I grew up around his work — and he always had books by comics masters around the house. So my childhood was decorated with classic comic book and comic strip art from all over — Jack Kirby and Milton Caniff and Alex Raymond and Aurelio Galleppini and all those wonderful American and Spanish artists who worked for Warren Publishing. So it was pretty natural that I would want to get into comics.
Of course, I started drawing local comic books for small publishers here in Brazil. They didn’t pay much, but the thrill was there — and I had to do them while working other types of jobs, to earn a living. I got into the American comics market 25 years ago, working on an independent comic called The Protectors and a one-shot Santa Claws horror comic. Soon after, I started in at Innovation Comics, painting Beauty and the Beast as an airbrushed comic, as well as drawing Lost in Space and Quantum Leap, and inking Sandu Florea on Mack Bolan: The Executioner. When its founder/publisher David Campiti left to start the Glass House Graphics agency, he landed work for me at a bunch of companies, until I settled in for a long career at Marvel.
DFAT: You roots as an artist really reach deep! It sounds like you have a lot of background with different types of genres, which you can really see in your work. Which artists had the most influence on your aspirations to become one yourself?
Deodato: Everyone! To this day, I learn and grow and adapt from everything I can. That’s the trick — you can even learn from bad artists, bad comics, even if it’s learning what NOT to do! (Laughs.) Neal Adams was my long-time idol, so I was thrilled in the ’90s to work for his Continuity Comics. Soon after, my style became sort of a mix of Adams, Mark Silvestri, and Jim Lee. More recently, I’ve been inspired by techniques used by Jim Steranko, by Wally Wood, by the classic Warren artists, and so forth. I continue to grow and change — that way, I stay excited by the never-ending possibilities of the comics medium.
DFAT: I love Adams’ work on Batman and I can definitely see some Jim Lee inspirations in your art as well. Comic books are a perfect place for artists like yourself to show of their talents in so many different ways. I know one such artist and writer is Jonathan Hickman. You both are tackling the main Avenger’s titles, what is it like helping to shape the Marvel Universe?
DFAT: What comic book movie (2015-2020) are you looking forward to the most? And why?
Deodato: Probably The Avengers 2: The Age of Ultron. So many comic book movies have been disappointing to me, especially the various Batman movies where the character can barely move in that costume…and is never the acrobat or the world’s greatest detective…I don’t recognize that guy as Batman. What the hell have those last two Superman movies been? One had Superman impregnating Lois but an earlier movie showed she’d been robbed of that memory, so that was just distasteful. And Man of Steel was so glum, so without hope, so uncaring about the human beings being killed, and so full of logic lapses, I couldn’t bear it.
The recent Marvel Studios-produced movies have been nailing it. The Avengers worked great despite the Hollywood groaner of blowing up the big ship powering down all the aliens and all the tech. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a great action spy movie. Guardians of the Galaxy was probably everything that Star Wars fans had wished the most recent trilogy was like. So yeah, I expect great things out of The Avengers 2. Who knows, maybe someone at Marvel will decide to pull me in to work on a future Marvel movie! I’d love that.
DFAT: I loved your art in Original Sin! How did that series rank in your all-time favorite works? How did Jason Aaron’s style of writing work with your style of artwork?
Deodato: Thank you! I worked my ass off on Original Sin — I was trying to knock it out of the park. I hope fans think I succeeded. Jason wrote a strong story, and I think my storytelling and art matched up well.
DFAT: Your artwork has been described as a “moody” or “darker” style. What is your take on that description?
Deodato: It’s deliberate. And appropriate to the stories Marvel is giving me to draw. I can do other styles, of course. My run on Spider-Man was very different. And I’ve released The Cartoon Art of Mike Deodato, Jr., highlighting a much more open, fun style that I do.
Deodato: There have been so many! I’ve been fortunate to work with some of the best writers the comics biz has to offer. I remember loving working with Bruce Jones for the run on The Hulk. The various Avengers books with Brian Bendis have been pretty amazing. Original Sin turned out pretty incredible. But I always think the next book, the next arc, will be the best one yet.
DFAT: Your variant for Star Wars #1 is amazing! Even though there are a ton of variant covers available for the title, what was it like being asked to do your own version of this classic?
Deodato: It’s not the first time I’ve worked on something to do with Star Wars; I drew a story for it for Dark Horse about a dozen years ago (Editor’s Note: see Star Wars Tales #7). It was fun, of course, to draw those now-iconic characters for a cover, and I suspect it won’t be for the last time.
DFAT: What do you do when you aren’t drawing comics?
Deodato: Commissions! Email my agent if you want one! I’ve drawn a lot of those lately, because my wife Paula and I have a baby daughter — and that means expenses. Diapers! Diapers! Diapers! (Laughs) But when I’m not drawing, I am spending as much time with Paula and daughter Ana Julia as possible. These are moments I’ll likely never have a chance to experience again. I have a grown daughter Priscilla who is in the U.S.A. now attending college and breaking my heart because she’s away, but I was too busy establishing my career to spend so many moments and hours with her as a baby. Now I have that opportunity with Ana Julia, so I’m not letting it pass by. I also work out, though I don’t do martial arts as much anymore because I finally started thinking about what damage it could do to my hands. I’m traveling a bit more. Watching more movies. Enjoying things. It is a great time in my life.
DFAT: Any future endeavors that you can share with us?
Deodato: Sure! I have The Mike Deodato, Jr. Sketchbook, a big, treasury-sized volume, coming out in the USA in a couple of months. Later in the year you should see a Jade Warriors graphic novel Kickstartered, collecting the creator-owned series I did for Image Comics years ago. And I’m starting to put together a book called Mike Deodato, Jr.’s Comics & Stories, showcasing all the work I did for the Brazil market before entering the American market. There’s not a ton of creator-owned material from me out there, so it’s good finally to see what little I have done make it into print in a nice format.
As for upcoming Conventions: My European fans can find me at the Angouleme International Comics Festival in France from January 29th till February 1st. Info is at bdangoulemepro.com. What’s more, although I don’t do many U.S.A.-based comics conventions, I will be a guest of Shock-Pop Comiccon in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on February 13, 14, and 15. Find out about that show at shockpopcomiccon.com.
DFAT: Do you have any involvement in the upcoming Secret Wars?
Deodato: If I told you, then it wouldn’t be a “SECRET” — and what fun would there be in that?!