Today we have the opportunity to chat with Mark A Nelson about his current campaign on ZOOP for Thunder Hunters. Mark is an accomplished artist and educator that has taught at Northern Illinois University for over 2 decades and has been involved in numerous works. With a week to go before his campaign ends, let's dive in and get the chance to learn more about Mark!
COMIC BOOK YETI: Greetings and welcome on into the Yeti Cave, Mark! Feel free to hang your coat up and make yourself at home. It’s time to dive into our Cryptid-Bits segment in which we talk about you and Thunder Hunters, which is live on ZOOP until 5/11! How are you doing on this lovely day?
MARK A. NELSON: I'm doing great, thanks for asking. CBY: Before we dive into the adventures of J.V. Holbrook, let’s journey into a bit of your history as a comic industry veteran, Mark!! What was your defining moment when you knew this was the career you wanted to pursue?
M.N: The train stopped and I got off. Really I had my fingers in many pots. I was Teaching, doing gallery shows, and illustrations for sci-fi magazines, and took a chance on a small independent comic. Just Imagine comics and that got the ball rolling. So I can’t say it was a defining moment since I have loved comics since I was a kid.
CBY: Has art always been a passion of yours? What field do you think you would have ended up in if you never became an artist? M.N: Art has always been a driving force with me. I may have become a vet, because of my love of animals. CBY: The interiors and illustrations within this are so visually striking, following what feels like a hybrid of comic book and notebook sketches. There is something about being this immersed within a book that is rarely utilized. What led to this innovation of breaking outside the panel?
M.N: I have a B.F.A. and an M.F.A. in the arts. I’ve always loved art history, and the range of visuals, and images from all cultures. So you can see glimpses of that in the work and being a printmaker there are a lot of images that go back to Durer and that gang of artists doing the fantastical work. Also as an artist, we learn so many different mediums. So I said to myself let's do some of the stories in black and white on grey paper or heavily cross-hatched. I wanted to show a range of drawing to capture the mood.
CBY: Outside of creating comics you’ve also held various positions as Professor and Art Director, what goes into teaching others compared to creating your own? M.N: In teaching, you present the students with problems to solve. Each student is different, thinks differently, and brings different ways of seeing uniquely their own. So, since I was teaching different ideas, theories, artistic principles, and solutions, the answers they visually came up with were different. For me, hopefully, it was a way of giving them many avenues to think about in doing art. And Yes, I apply these ideas to my own work.
CBY: The tale of JV. Holbrook spans 88 pages and 7 short stories with 16 pages of concept work/sketches for this new special deluxe hardcover. What goes into crafting this foreign land and its inhabitants? Vermillion Sands appears to be ripe with out-of-this-world creatures.
M.N: I have worked in so many fields. In video games you have to build everything, so that really was a great way to get you started. I have also written a book for Dover Publications on creating worlds: Fantasy World Building. This book pulls together all the ways I think and my practices to make worlds.
CBY: The creation process can differ for everyone, what does your routine look like? Do you have any special media you like to consume while you work on a page? M.N: Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes movies, or silence. It really is a mood thing for me. (and iced tea or cola) CBY: As someone who has worked for almost every publisher in the industry as well as taught for 20 years what advice would you offer to someone picking up the pencil for the first time? M.N: The best advice I got from my father was: If 1 out of every 10 drawings works, you are doing Okay. So, I always think I have to make 10 stinkers to get one good one. It is all about work, discipline, and learning to draw everything. You know your weaknesses better than anyone….if you can’t draw hands, do sketchbook full of them, etc.
CBY: Thank you so much for swinging by the Yeti Cave and chatting with us today, Mark! I wish you a successful campaign and can’t wait to see what comes out of you next!