If you only know artist Mike Hawthorne from only his Deadpool or Superior Spider-Man work, you don't know Mike Hawthorne.
The 20-year comic book veteran was once known for his knack for switching up art styles to fit each project, but found his groove (a new level of fame) with a multi-year run on Deadpool. Now, as Hawthorne works on what could be his last Deadpool project - Deadpool: The End - he is showing a raw look at his artwork - and all its styles -in the 2020 art book All City: Volume Zero.
Currently raising funds on Kickstarter with a November 20 deadline, All City: Volume Zero is what the artist tells Newsarama is an "All Access" pass to his work. We talked with Hawthorne for more.
Newsarama: Mike, let's start off slow - what are you working on today?
Mike Hawthorne: Today? Deadpool: The End. I have a lot of mileage with Wade, but this is the first time I've gotten to work with Joe Kelly! It's pretty insane fun getting to do this event with him! And the script is absolute mayhem, and I can't wait to show it to everyone!
Nrama: Right now you're balancing your Marvel work, teaching college, and also self-publishing with your anatomy books and now this art book. That's in addition to having a family. How do you balance it all?
Hawthorne: Well, honestly... I think I'm lucky in that my family has backed me on all this. I couldn't do it without them.
My oldest daughter laid out the Anatomy Lectures book, and some pre-press stuff. My middle daughter helped with scanning, which was a big undertaking. My wife, who has a background in businesses, helped organize the Kickstarters and all the incidental stuff involved in it. So getting them involved in the work makes things work really well.
And, with their help, I can focus on the art-part of the projects. They're genuinely a force-multiplier for me. I already obsessively draw, and they help me give it an outlet.
I'm pretty lucky.
Nrama: We're here today to talk about your upcoming art book, All City; Volume Zero. You've been sharing your process work online for decades, what led you to do it in a physical book?
Hawthorne: Honestly, the reaction from people whenever I posted it. I mean, I'd always loved sketch-art collections, but seeing how people reacted to my posts drove the project where it's headed. I really want the book to feel like the online posts, a peek into my sketchbooks and my studio.
I can recall being a beginning artist and being desperate for a peek at how the "sausage was made" so to speak. So, with this project, I'm keeping that "kid" in mind. I want to show all the stuff I wanted to see way back when; everything from my practice figure drawings to my rough-layouts for finished pieces.
Just share it all!
Nrama: So what does the name 'All City' mean to you?
Hawthorne: It's an old graffiti term from New York for when you got your name on a train that was seen in the 5 boroughs. An old art-school friend said it to me years ago when I'd started to get work in the mainstream because he knew my work would get the kind of exposure It hadn't before.
But, it was also a wake-up call because I felt that if I wanted to stay "up" I had to work hard to do so. The only way I know to do that is practice, get better, get good. So, I'm showing all that practice here in one book.
Hope that makes sense.
Nrama: The examples on your All City Kickstarter page show how broad you can be with your art styles - something you were known for until you went pretty full-time into superheroes with Marvel. How can we get more of you in these drastically different styles?
Hawthorne: Yeah, I tend to adapt my style to the project I'm on. I'd adapt to the content and genre, from romantic-comedy to sci-fi. My superhero stuff feels like a big-budget action movie, so I try to approach it accordingly.
I am opening up my style on side projects though. Recently I did a little experimental horror comic called Lost by Monday that was done in a loose, pencil style that I wouldn't use on something like Deadpool.
I plan more of that soon. Very soon, if things go well.
Nrama: This is coming just after you finished shipping out your anatomy book, which raised $31,000 on Kickstarter - much above its $7,000 goal. What did you learn from that Kickstarter that you're applying here?
Hawthorne: Well, for one I learned that you've got to be open to things you don't plan for. I'd never planned on being an educator, but after being a guest speaker at the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design I just fell for the place and the students. Before I knew it, I was teaching Anatomy! The Anatomy Guide grew from that class, and I found that people online were excited about it too!
So, yeah... I never expected it to happen but once it started I just ran with it. it helps young artists in a way that I wish I could have gotten myself early on.
I also learned that I'd missed that direct connection you get when self-publishing. Having done main stream stuff for a long time now, and not doing conventions, I'd gotten away from those direct-to-reader connections. Planning this Kickstarter, thinking about how the person on the other end of this package is going to feel when they get the box in the mail. How they're going to experience every part of it, from getting the package to opening it and thumbing though the book... this project reminded me how much I enjoy that.
I'm eager to keep it going! We're planning another guide based on proportions soon. Super excited!
Nrama: So you're self-publishing here, printing books, shipping books, etc. How is that whole side of things for you in 2019?
Hawthorne: As I mentioned before, just incredibly exciting and eye-opening. I'm even considering conventions again for the first time in years! I'm really enjoying those direct interactions with readers that I haven't had in a while. It's a big undertaking, obviously, but it's worth it!
Nrama: Finally then, What are your big goals with All City: Volume Zero?
Hawthorne: I'd like All City to be the final destination for all the art I make, from figure drawing to concept work, commissions to process art! I'd like the book to grow with each volume, and make it feel like that direct-line I mentioned above. I want it to feel like I've just handed my personal sketchbook to you to look through so I can share, in a high quality way, all the work I do outside of my work-for-hire comics.
All City will be an All Access pass to my work.