WC: Did you always want to become a comic artist?
MG: Where I grew up, in the American West, that was not a job that even came on my radar. I grew up on a ranch, in the middle of nowhere. The nearest city was hours away. The day consisted, at an early age, of getting up with sun, doing chores, and going to bed with the sun. It was a working ranch. My first experience with comic books were TinTin comics that my mother would buy for me from time to time when we went into town. Something about that stuck in my brain, I suppose, and I drew like a lot of kids draw. Most just don”t stick with it. Later as a teen, travelling around the US on my own, I made ends meet by painting murals on vans, etc. Again, I never thought in terms of being a comic book artist. It never dawned on me. Until one day some friends of mine suggested that it might be a career path for me, and offered to buy a ticket for me to go to New York. I went. And within a few days had landed my first jobs in the business.
WC: How would you describe your style?
MG: That”s a hard thing to describe. If an artist is good, and doesn”t just mimic some other artist that came before him, there should be something unique and un-definable about his work that makes him stand out. For me, when I first started, I was asked a lot to imitate Kirby on projects. That didn”t last long-maybe a year. I didn”t like trying to “do” someone else”s style. I feel that over the years, I”ve developed something uniquely my own that is identifiable as mine. And I’m still evolving. Be still and get stagnant. And by the way, I don”t really consider myself an artist so much as I do a storyteller.
WC: Over the year’s you’ve worked on various characters and have drawn countless comic book covers ranging from Spawn, Nightwing, Micronauts, Spiderman, Iron Man and Hulk. Which characters or series did you enjoy working on the most and why?
MG: I”m asked that a lot, but honestly I have no favourites. If the check didn”t bounce, I liked the job. We work in a commercial art industry and that is what hangs up a lot of artists in the industry. They forget that they are working for clients, who have specific needs, and want things delivered a certain way. This is not about the artist’s ego. It”s about doing THE JOB.
WC: Apart from being a comic artist, you are also a writer and have been involved in editing and art direction with the big Publishing houses. How do these jobs differ and do you have any particular preference?
MG: They differ a great deal. As an editor at DC Comics and Senior Art Director at Marvel, I found that I was not involved in the creative process as much as I would like to have been. If given free reign, I would done both of those jobs differently. That being said, it did give me the opportunity to sit on the other side of the desk and learn that end of the business. Never say never. I might do it again.
WC: You have also been involved with a number of movie productions. What can you tell us about this experience?
MG: Once again, this is a job, albeit a different job than drawing a comic book. You are still working with a story and a client and the specific needs of that client. Just a different medium. I really prefer working on my own ideas and on animation projects, on which I have more a say and freedom. And I hope to be doing more of that in the future. I have also just heard recently that the project I co-created with writer Larry Hama, Bucky O”Hare, will be made into an animated feature soon.
WC: You’ve worked on countless of comic covers, do you normally have complete freedom with regards to the content and how challenging is it?
MG: Yes. I am fortunate that I am considered one of those creators in the industry who is also a designer. Most editors know that if they give me the assignment, I”m going to give them a layout and finished cover that has a certain level of professionalism. One thing I don”t like is for an editor to say “Okay, give me an iconic cover,” and that”s it. I do like covers to be story specific. To me, the cover should draw in the reader. Make them want to pick up that comic and buy it. You have a lot of competition on the shelves. You must present the face on the product and make it great.
WC: One of your closest collaborators is Renee Witterstaetter the brains behind Eva Ink. What can you tell us about your past and future collaborations?
MG: Renee has been my editor on numerous projects at Marvel, Topps Comics and beyond. I know I can trust her judgement in putting together a story and in her ability as an editor. She also recognizes good talent, obviously (laughs). We have co-created many properties together, including the comic series “Spartan X,” and future projects through Eva Ink Publishing. Www.evainkartistgroup.com
WC: You are currently involved in a series of 1-2 days story telling workshops. Can you tell us more on this? How important are these and similar workshops for aspiring comic creators?
MG: I have been giving the one hour course at numerous conventions around the world this past year or so, including stops in Gijon, Spain, China and all stops in the US. The longer classes are in development. These classes are designed for anyone interested in storyteller. Period. No matter if it is for comics, movies, animation, games…the rules of storytelling are the same.
WC: This is going to be your first appearance at the Malta Comic Convention. When did you hear about this, and what attracted you to it?
MG: I am a great lover of history, especially military history, and Malta of course has a history that rivals any place else in the world, being in such a strategic position, and coveted by all sides. I”m talking the Knights of St. John to World War II and everything else before, after and in between. So, I have known of Malta my whole life. On the convention, I did not hear about it until last year, when Renee attended the show and she told me what an amazing place and event she”d just experienced. I also saw her pictures, and when the opportunity came to attend this year, we couldn”t pass it up.
WC: Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
MG: Oh sure. My own creator owned properties are currently in development. I am also working on a few projects for IDW and DC Comics. And I am the regular cover artist on “Spawn” right now as well, among much more. I have a new sketchbook out entitled “MORE Heroes and Villains,” which will be available at the convention, as well as prints and other books.
WC: Would you like to add anything else?
MG: Thanks for the invite. And if any of you are interested, you can join my facebook page, and also join the Eva Ink Artist Group page. Just google it, and you will find it, and thus receive all the news and updates you”ll ever need.