A Fantastic New Job

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For a few years now, Mike McKone has been a hot commodity. Now that he's Marvel exclusive, the artist gets to work on the regular Fantastic Four series, together with another Marvel-exclusive creator in writer J.M. Straczynski.
Broken Frontier caught up with the writer to discuss his fantastic new job, what it's like to work with a red-hot writer like JMS and how many times he'll be drawing the Thing saying "It's clobberin' time!"

Click to enlargeBROKEN FRONTIER: Was the opportunity to work with someone like J.M. Straczynski one of the main reasons you decided to sign that exclusive contract at Marvel?

MIKE MCKONE: Of course, although I don't think there is anyone like J.M. Straczynski. He has a unique voice and knowing he was on board was absolutely one of the main reasons I accepted this assignment. I mean, the prospect of drawing Fantastic Four sells itself as far as I'm concerned, but to be working on the book with someone this good... that’s just gravy!

BF: Since leaving Marvel’s Exiles to pencil DC’s Teen Titans, what aspects of your craft have you improved on that make you a better penciler today?

MM: I hope there's been a little improvement overall in my game since Exiles, but panel compositions are probably the area I've had to work hardest on. There were usually at least eight regular team members plus assorted villains and henchmen running around any given Titans book, so keeping track of them and giving them all 'panel' time was a challenge. Giving them all a distinct visual personality was tough, but Geoff helped tremendously by giving me a very clear idea of who the characters were. And now, having read JMS' first script, I can see that he has a really good handle on who the FF are.

BF: Speaking of Teen Titans, was it hard to leave the book behind?

MM: It was very difficult in as much as I have a great relationship with the people I was working with and so, naturally, I was indeed sorry to leave.  That being said, working seven days a week on the same book for a couple of years burns you out a little and I had begun to talk to DC about what I was going to do after Titans when the FF offer came along.   

BF: Will you be stepping in on Fantastic Four right after Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo conclude their run?

MM: Hmmm, I really don't know. I've been finishing up my last issue of Titans (issue #23) and I begin work on FF next week so your guess is as good as mine.

BF: Since you and Wieringo both have such an exuberantly, dynamic and even youthful style (although Ringo’s is more outspokenly cartoony), will fans notice any similarities between the way you approach Marvel’s first family and the way he used to?

MM: Thanks, I have been a fan of Ringo’s work since I first saw it and if I can bring half of the craft and energy to the book he did, I'll be happy. I'm not sure are styles are too similar, but hopefully the readers will like what they see.

BF: One of your main characteristics has always been consistency. How far are you currently ahead in penciling the FF?

MM: Right now, I'm minus! I did a promo piece (the one showcased above. The image below is a photo of a Thing head-bust McKone created for his own reference when drawing the character – ed.), but as far as the book proper is concerned, my contract with Marvel doesn't officially begin until February 5th and I've been working all day every day to finish up my last Titans arc. When that's done, I'm going to dive right into the FF - once I've been up into my attic and dug out all of my back issues that is.

BF: That kind of makes my next question a little redundant. I was going to ask if you’ve already had to draw a sequence in which the Thing says “It’s clobberin’ time?”

MM: Sadly no, but it's surely only a matter of time.

BF: What makes the FF such an appealing team to draw? The space odysseys, the characters or something else?

MM: Everything – because they look so great together, because they have such a remarkable legacy, because their rogues’ gallery has such depth and quality. There is really no type of story you couldn't do with this team, so the range is incredible. I can't think of a single reason NOT to draw this book.

BF: Which Fantastic Four story stands out to you as being the best ever?

MM: The best, "This Man, This Monster" No contest.

BF: Knowing what JMS has planned, do you think that the Straczynski/McKone partnership will be considered as one of the top creative efforts in FF history?

MM: We can only try, but seriously, forty years later we're all still living in the shadow of those Lee/Kirby stories. Whoever is working on the book forty years from now will measure themselves against those first one hundred and two issues.

BF: During your run, will the focus of the stories be on intergalactic quests or more on the family bond?

MM: From what I've read so far, it's going to be a mixture of both. I don't think it would be the Fantastic Four without a little of both the space stories and the family stuff.

BF: Is there anything in particular you can tell us about what is coming up in the first story arc?

MM: Well, I don't want to give anything away, so I'm going to leave the controlled leak of disinformation to Mr. Straczynski and Mr. Brevoort.

- Frederik Hautain

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