Keeper, coming out soon through Forest Publishing. The Keeper is a graphic novel with biblical and paranormal elements, using the likeness of Robert Lasardo, as the main character of Dante.
JA: What was the moment you decided drawing for comics was something you wanted to pursue?
MS: When I first laid eyes on the first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man that Todd McFarlane penciled, I was sold. It was the late 80’s,
I was a young and impressionable art student in my teens, and I suddenly had this insatiable hunger for any comic art this guy was drawing. You could say it was life-changing, since I had at that point in time found my calling.
JA: What has influenced your drawing style most over the years?
MS: Funny, my last response could almost apply to this question as well, lol.
Truth be told, my taste in the comics medium eventually outgrew McFarlane in much the same way as how my taste in music was starting to branch out, into more exotic, experimental territory. I became familiar with names like Klaus Jansen, Bill Sienkiewicz, John Romina Jr, Mike Mignola and Frank Miller, and my style diverged into so many different directions.
Over time, though, as I bypassed my 30’s and entered my 40’s, David Finch became my biggest influence since McFarlane.
JA: Can you tell me a little bit about “the Keeper”, it’s story and basic premise?
MS: Danté is an immortal bounty hunter who has been capturing demons since the dawn of time and sending them back to where they came from. He then comes into possession of some powerful scrolls sought after by all of Hell, and every demon he ever captured has now been released to hunt him down.
JA: How did you get involved in creating “The Keeper?”
MS: Timing was everything with this book.
Richard Embree and I had wanted to work together for some time, but due to prior commitments on both ends, it was very hit-and-miss.
Then, one night while I was just wrapping up work on Send In The Clowns for Anomalous Comics, I get a message on Facebook from Richard telling me about this graphic novel he was interested in working on with me, and how he also had film and television star, Robert Lasardo signed on to be featured in it. My interest was piqued, I took a look at the script for the 8 page prologue, and I was sold. The story is that good.
JA: How would you describe The Keeper’s genre?
MS: From the get-go, I pictured it as a dark, gothic, gritty urban western of sorts. There was something about Robert Lasardo as the character of Danté that immediately conjured this look and feel. I was also somewhat inspired by the church scenes in Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” films.
JA: What was your process for designing the characters and the style of “The Keeper”? (research, discussions with the author etc?)
MS: It really can be attributed to strong lines of communication and teamwork between Richard and myself.
His scripting style is pretty clean-cut and easy to follow, which is great because it provides me with the kind of creative leverage and solid grounding I need to envision a look and feel about the characters and settings that holds the reader’s attention.
After reading over the script, I’ll go through the rounds of developing the look of the characters, and luckily, Richard always seems to have a pretty clear idea of what he’s looking for. I just add the window dressing, lol. We’ll also research certain details for accuracy concerning whichever era in history we are depicting. I try my best to add character and meaning to everything.
JA: If “The Keeper”were a song, what would it be, and why?
MS: It’s funny you should say that, because I get all the inspiration for my work as an artist from the various music I listen to, and The Keeper is no exception.
I actually have an entire music compilation I listen to that provides me with that psychological undercurrent I need while creating the visuals. “Scars” by Boy Epic, “Deep Six” by Marilyn Manson, “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked” by Deflate The Elephant, and “Take Me To Church” by Hozier are just a few to give you a taste of how The Keeper would play out musically.
It’s a sickly – made piece of comic lit that’s meant to be rough around the edges, like rustic cooking at a fine dining establishment.
JA: Where can folks find out more about your current and upcoming work?
Mark, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us here on Horror Made.
And to you lovely Horror Makers, If you’d like to enter to win some custom free artwork from me as a Halloween celebratory thing, pop on over to a Rafflecopter giveaway