Monday, January 22, 2018
Home  >  Features  >  The Imperial Arts: Talking to Mark Dos Santos



Mark Dos Santos has been hard at work at many publishers over the last few years, including Zenoscope, IDW, and BOOM! Studios. The artist's first outing at Image Comics, Red City, is being collected into tradepaperback this Wednesday, December 3rd. Joe Kach caught up with Mark to get the scoop on his newest Image series, the "Superhero Buddy Comedy" Imperial. Read on for all the high-flying details!




MightyVille: Mark, thank you for joining us today.

Mark Dos Santos: No problem.

Tell us a little bit about your path to- and in- the comic industry. What’s brought you to this point today?

Okay, well I originally started … I went to the Kubert School for Animation. I was there for two years. And then I moved out to California … I’m originally from New Jersey. I actually trained at the Kubert School as an animator. I was gonna do storyboards and character designs in animation. Unfortunately, once I got out to California, the 2D animation kind’ve bottomed out and companies at that point were cutting back their 2D animation and laying people off and all that. So I had to find something else to do. I ended up just getting a regular day job working for a storage company. And while I was doing that, somebody approached me about possibly doing a comic. And I figured, ‘Well, comics are basically storyboards, just with a lot less storyboarding. Let me give that a shot.’ And I had … since being at the Kubert School, my fellow students had trained for comics … so every day, at the end of the day, we’d get together and be like, “So what’d you learn today, what’d you learn today?” So, I did pick up some information from them and some tips and all that…

Were you into comics at all before going to the Kubert School?

Um, peripherally..? I was more of an animation guy. Once I got to the Kubert School and I was surrounded with that, then I got more into comics. And then the first book I did was this book called School Girls, with a buddy of mine called Leland Myrick. He’s done work for First Second Books and he had his own company for a while. So once that came out, I decided, well, I had my own property that had been, you know, in the back of my mind. Originally it was supposed to be in animation, but after doing School Girls with Leland, I was like, ‘Let me see if I can do this as a comic.’ And I did! It was called Air Space. I did three issues, got it out. It didn’t sell great, but I did complete it, and I did it all on my own, so that was cool. And of course, since, again, my comic knowledge was kinda limited, anything I could’ve done wrong, I did. 




Was that something you self-published?

I self-published it myself, so yeah. Every possible wrong thing you could’ve done self-publishing, I did it! And then after that, but again, I got the book out there, it got me noticed. I got a job working with Joshua Hale Fialkov. And this is when he had his own company, Horse and Buggy Productions. I did his Western Tales of Terror and from there I did some work for Zenoscope; I did some work for BOOM and IDW. And then eventually-- and this whole time, I lived in Pasadena and I knew Steve Seagle from the comic book shop that I was at. And you know, I’d show him my stuff, and he’d be like, “Cool!” I was just looking for critiques and all that. Until finally one day, he’s just like, “You know what? I think I have a book that you can work on with me.” And I was like, “Really??” He’s like, “Yeeeah..!” And we sat down and discussed it and I was like, “Awesome!” And then here it is … this was five years ago…

Okay. [Laughs]

Yes, it took me five years to get these four issues done! But, hey, they were all 30 pages. [Laughs]


The only reason it took me that long is, unfortunately, Steve told me, “You know, feel free that if someone approaches you with a job, don’t turn it away. This is something you can work on the backburner.” And unfortunately, I have a tendency to not be able to say no. [Laughs]




Well, that’s a good problem in this business.

Yes. Well, I mean, I wish I had gotten it done sooner, but at the same time, I’m actually kind of happy it took me this long to get it done because you’ll see as the book progresses, my art style improves, I guess. So, it’s a nice, you know, gauge of my progression with my art. I mean with this issue four, I think it’s like some of the best pages I’ve done, and some of the best art that I’ve done. Because I’ve become more comfortable with the medium, I guess. 

Tell us a little about Imperial for people who may have not heard about it or read it yet.

Okay, well, Imperial is basically a … the way we describe it is a “Superhero Buddy Comedy”. The premise is there’s this guy, Mark, [laughs] … I did not name him. And he’s on the eve of his wedding. He’s engaged to Katie and they’re getting ready to get married in the next month or so. And at the beginning of the book, which happens in issue one, he gets approached by Imperial, who’s a superhero in this universe and he basically says, “I’m getting ready to retire and I wanna pass it off to you because you meet all the qualities that Imperial, kinda like James Bond, should have.” And of course, now Mark has to decide: Does he want to be a superhero or does he wanna continue with Katie. And the thing is, in the story, Mark is like a ‘comic book nerd’ and he’s a collector and all that. So, it’s like a dream come true for him. But, he would have to give up his life with Katie, his fiance. So the story is basically about that. And it’s cool because he does grow throughout the issues and I think that’s all I’m gonna say. Because the ending is really, really cool. But the book is mainly his growth as a person and his interactions with Imperial, mostly, and also his interactions with Katie and how he balances out because the gist of the story is Katie is unaware of what’s going on, so he’s doing this on the side. [Editor's Note: Check out our Imperial #1 review here!]




What are some things you do, any rituals you go through, to get you into the creative mood before you’re about to start drawing?

Well, it depends on what it is. You know, I usually just wake up, do what I gotta do in the morning, and then just go to work and start working. Sometimes … you know, we’re creatives, we do … people are like, “You have to be inspired.” Yeah, sometimes you do, but sometimes you gotta barrel through it and get to work. With me, you can always tell when I’m in a creative mood because the work comes out faster and, in my opinion, a little bit better, you know? But sometimes, I take a break; I’ll play some video games. I’ll read, you know, a comic. I like to watch movies and cartoons, because that sometimes inspires me. One of my favorite stories is The Venture Bros, one of my favorite cartoons right now. And my girlfriend, she introduced me to it, Autumn, who’s also an artist, she introduced me to The Venture Bros. and I watched like all four seasons within the span of a week and a half. And at the end, when I was done-- even though I hadn't finished work on Imperial, and had a couple of other projects-- I was like, “I must draw Ventures!” So I ended up drawing a Venture Bros. piece that I turned into a print. So, like, sometimes, something like that inspires me, you know? And sometimes I’ll just watch a TV show and be like, “That’s great” and, “I can use this.” And you’ll see some influences in Imperial. Like one of the bigger influences that movies brought to Imperial, which Steve suggested and I just loved the idea, was that they’re really big, widescreen panels and then that usually they’re  three to four panels per page and widescreen, you know? Almost like a film. Because he really wanted to have this film feel to it, like you’re watching it on screen. And I had a blast with that. Sometimes it was difficult, and sometimes I couldn't make it work, so I had to alter the layouts. But I had a blast, because it does it give it a more cinematic feel.




What are some of your favorite animated films?

Some of my favorite animated films … well, right now, Wreck It Ralph is up there. Let’s see, what else? The Incredibles … sorry, my mind is a bit frazzled. I was just discussing this with someone!

No worries, I understand!

Oh yes, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind is up there, Akira is up there … How To Train Your Dragon was awesome, too. Both of ‘em!

What comics are you reading right now? Other than Imperial of course…

Comics I’m reading right now … you know, to be honest, I am awful at comics, as far as reading goes. It’s like as soon as I started working in comics, I stopped reading them because I didn't have time. People have suggested comics to me … because there’s so many comics out there now. And it’s hard … you wanna read them all, but there’s so many to slog through and so much time you have to devote to ‘em. So usually I wait till 1) Somebody suggests something to me and 2) It gets collected. Like I just finished … this is how back I am, I just finished Night of The Owls, Batman. I just read Daytripper, which is amazing, you know? I just picked up Death of the Family from Batman … I’m a big Batman fan. Not the original Death in the Family, but the new one. And, I mean, I just started reading Winter Soldier … how sad is that??




Oh, from the 2005 Captain America run?

Yes! I mean, to be fair, I had read like a portion of it when it was coming out. And then I lost track of it. And then after watching the movie, I’m like, “I should really finish reading that!” So I started reading that again.

Are you enjoying the story?

Yes, Yes! I was enjoying it when it was coming out, but again, the monthly thing just … ugh!

Outside of Imperial, anything else we should keep our eye out for?

I’m working on another book. I don’t know when it’s coming out or who it’s coming out by. I've met up with this writer called [REDACTED]. He wrote this series, well, I think it’s a mini-series called [REDACTED]. And again, don’t know when it’s coming out, but I’m working on that right now. I’m two issues into that. And the premise with that, it’s a Sci-Fi story with this guy who has the ability to travel back in time, but [REDACTED]. And that’s how the story starts. So, I’m working on that right now. [Editor's Note: Sorry for the redactions, folks. Looks like this information ain't primed for public consumption just yet!] Besides that, I’m just doing illustrations for this company called Silence in the Library. They do Fantasy and Sci-Fi stories and they put out a book last year called A Her By Any Other Name, which I did the interior illustrations for. Since they’re doing a second volume, and they get writers, like … Timothy Zahn does a story … unfortunately, I’m horrible with names so I can’t think of any others. And I’m working on illustrations for the second volume as well. Besides that, just a lot of personal stuff. Yeah, and that’s pretty much it. 

Thanks again for your time today, Mark, and best of luck with your upcoming work!

Thanks for your support!




Imperial #1-4 are available now from Image Comics and don't forget to pick up the Red City collection, available December 3rd, also from Image!


More Interviews on MightyVille:

Versatile Visions: A Spotlight on Eric Canete

The Voices of Valiant Part 5: Stefano Gaudiano

The Voices of Valiant Part 4: James Asmus


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