It wouldn’t be much of a stretch to describe Mike Lawrence as the most instrumental artist on the upcoming Other Worlds anthology. Not only did he provided the cover art for the collection, but he drew 3 of the interior stories. With the anthology now complete, Mike sets his sites on his latest project, Muddy Max, a “middle grade” graphic novel due out in Fall 2014 from AMP! Comics. Find out more in this week’s interview.
Mike: I always wanted to be an illustrator of some sort, I studied printmaking in college because I wanted to illustrated books. Turns out, book illustration is REALLY rare these days. So, after rediscovering comics after a Sandman binge I turned to comics to tell stories visually.
AWBW: What were the first comics you ever read and/or which ones were the most influential to you growing up and becoming a creator yourself?
Mike: I can’t remember the first comic I read, but my best guess would be Spidey or the X-Men. I got to buy comics once a year as a kid before we went on our annual camping trip, and I have fond memories of reading & rereading my Marvel comics. As for biggest influence, I’d say I look to Scottie Young, Jeff Smith, and Frank Quitley for art. Gaiman, Moore (Alan and Terry), Ellis, and Snyder for writing that I wish I could do.
AWBW: What was it like working with Justin Zimmerman on the stories for Other Worlds. Did you find the process to be different than the other comic projects you’ve worked on?
Mike: Working with Justin is super easy since he has an inflated since of my worth, that guy thinks my pen shits gold, and its great for my self esteem. I haven’t worked with too many writers, but Justin is rare in that he is both specific AND flexible. His scripts are tight, but he’s open to my suggestions if I come up with a more interesting visual solution to what he’s trying to do.
AWBW: What was your favorite part of working on your Other Worlds stories?
Mike: My favorite part of working on OW would be the variety. It’s all stuff I wouldn’t do on my own, so its a good challenge for me and helps to flex some art muscles I wouldn’t normally use.
Mike: I’m currently working on my first mainstream book for AMP! Comics called Muddy Max. It’s written by fellow Portlander, Elizabeth Rusch and it tells the story of Max, a sixth grader who discovers he’s transformed into a super hero when he gets muddy. At 224 pages, it’s the biggest thing I’ve ever done.
I also have a story simmering in the background that I can’t wait to work on after my Muddy deadline.
AWBW: In 5 years from now, what would you like to be working on?
Mike: In five years I either want to be working on my own title, or drawing something for Neil Gaiman while we have tea, and he reads me the Graveyard Book over and over and over at bedtime.
To see all of Mike’s latest work, make sure to follow Mike Lawrence Illustration on facebook. And don’t forget to check out all 3 of his stories in the Other Worlds anthology, out digitally on Sept 18 and making its print debut at Rose City Comic Con on Sept 21.