Joe Kach caught up with inker extraordinaire Mick Gray at the Big WOW ComicFest and asked him a few questions. The Batman and Robin and Promethea (and many other titles) embellisher was gracious enough to answer them! Want some inking tips or some insight on what's coming up in Batman and Robin? Read on!
MightyVille: First question, it's a little bit off the wall: What is your favorite cut of steak and your favorite steak house to eat it at?
Mick Gray: Oh my God, that is a great question! I do like steak, and, where I gotta try ... this one here, I've been dying, I just went there and had an awesome blue cheese salad and awesome shrimp cocktail, is Izzy’s, in Redwood City, right next to the Aviation Museum ... have you been there?
No, not yet...
I wanna try their steak! They’re supposed to have an amazing steak there. Morton’s, down here, I hear is good, too. I haven’t been out to have a steak lately, because for me, that’s like the ultimate treat, so it’s like I don’t eat a lot of steak. But those are the two places I wanna try right away!
And what would you order when you’re there?
Umm, God, okay: The Roquefort Salad. A nice big, cut of steak. A big baked potato with allllll the fixings, I love that. And maybe a little bit of veggies on the side, what the heck?
Alright, nice! Switching gears a little bit to Batman: You've been part of the Batman and Robin creative team for quite some time. What do you think it is about the character of Batman that draws people to him?
You know, he’s such a cool character I think mostly because he’s a regular guy. He’s so dedicated to what he needs, you know? If you think about it, number one, he’s gotta be crazy. He’s been through it all. Now, he’s lost his child, he’s even more crazy than he ever was before. So, he’s obsessed. And if you wanna see crazy, I bet you he’s even gonna get more insanely deranged now that things are happening...
You might have a little bit of insight into that...
I dunno! I’m just an inker, I don’t know what’s gonna happen. I’m assuming it’s gonna get ugly, you know? But, yeah, he’s very interesting because of all the little things about him. He’s rich! To me, the gadgetry: the cars - when we draw, we almost draw a different car every time we draw one. He’s Bruce Wayne, he could have a whole garage full of ‘em, you know? So, I like that aspect. We've drawn the Batrocket, the Batplane, the Bat-everything. So, it’s so fun for my penciller, I would imagine, to dream that stuff up. I love inking it, you know?
Great segue: From an inker’s perspective, do you have any rituals you do? Something to get you in the creative mood before you get going on a page?
A lot of people say that you should warm up, and I tell my students they should warm up. You know, have a board next to you that you can work your brush on, work your kinks out first. After 25 years of doing it, I don’t warm up very much because I’m ready to go. The confidence level’s high now. As you move through your career, what you’re trying to get to, at least what I try to strive for ... when I started, 50% of the lines I was happy with, maybe less on a bad day. Now I strive for 80% of the lines every day. Doesn't mean I hit it, but I'm looking to attain quick, sharp, precise, beautiful lines everyday. And not have to stop and fix everything. Time is of the essence. I have to finish 20 pages a month. I wanna put it out, but I want it to look as best as it can.
Along those lines, what are some tips you can give to up and coming inkers out there?
Lots and lots of hours with a brush in your hand.
Do you recommend a brush over a marker or pen?
Yes, I use a Raphael 8408 #3 brush, a little bit of quill for background, fine stuff. Technical pens for all my cars and buildings and things like that. I want to keep that brush. I want a brush, a tool, that will give me the finest of fine lines to a big quarter-inch line in one shot. So I don’t have to put that tool down and pick up a different tool to achieve that. That keeps the speed up and I’m moving faster through it. So that one tool is 70% of the time working. I don’t put the tool down, I keep that brush.
The number one rule is: You need to do this stuff 10 hours a day to get any kind of chops. You need to do it constantly and a lot of it. So I always tell all students to just keep on moving, to try to move towards confidence. When you see somebody come down on a paper that’s never used a brush, they’ll come down and all of a sudden, their hand will start shaking, and you know that they've never done it before or they’re not ready. After you've done it 10 hours a day then you’re like, “OK, now I’m at ease with it.” So, lots of practice, that’s all you need.
Well, thank you very much for your time today, Mick. Enjoy your show!
Which comics that Mick inked have you enjoyed the most? Who's been your favorite guest star in the current Batman and... run? Let us know below!
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