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Mike Norton on “Seven People I Hate”

by  in Comic News Comment

If you read enough DC and Marvel comic books, you’ll eventually find a book that Mike Norton has worked on, as he has drawn a number of different titles for DC and Marvel, most prominently Runaways, Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man and his current fill-in arc on The All-New Atom. Mike was the artist for Sean McKeever’s Gravity, and will be drawing Tim Seeley’s Loaded Bible 2: Blood of Christ for Image. Here is a link to Mike’s blog.

Seven People I Hate.

Since I started drawing comics in 1997, I’ve met a LOT of talented people through various collaborations, conventions and random run-ins/knife fights. Over the years, I’ve watched as many of these friends of mine have gone from grubby indy startups to “overnight” success stories and even mainstream fan-favorites. So, when I was asked to write a column for this fine site, I decided reflect upon all those talented friends I’ve made over the years and finally let something off my chest.

I hate them.

I mean, not in a “I-detest-you-with-the-fury-of-a-thousand-suns” kinda of way… More of a “I’m-a-very-petty-insecure-person-and-wish-you’d-have-an-accident-that-prevents-you-from-being-so-awesome” kind of hate. I can’t help it.

Take for instance, Jason Alexander. Not the Seinfeld guy… that guy that draws The Escapists for Dark Horse Comics. I used to share an apartment with Jason back when he was aping old Todd McFarlane Spider-Man pages and sporting a gravity defying mohawk. Those days, we would work at our tables until the wee hours and talk about how cool it would be to draw comics for money some day. Since then, Jason has made evolutionary leaps in his artwork. It’s sickening. He’d never heard of Gustav Klimt or Egon Schiele when we first met, but now he’s become an accomplished painter. PAINTING? When’d he learn how to paint? How dare he! He’s enjoyed much success collaborating with pal, Kent Williams on projects in both comics and film as well as his own fantastic comic work on Queen and Country and The Escapists. It chills me to bone see how far he’s come in 10 years. Obviously, I hate him for this.

There’s Tony Moore who I met years ago at a convention when he was hanging out at the booth right next to the newly formed Devil’s Due Productions. He was pushing a book called Battle Pope with some guy named Robert Kirkman (whatever happened to that guy?). Years later, when I saw The Walking Dead, I couldn’t believe it was the same artist! Mostly because he was wearing that ridiculous cowboy hat (See? There I go with the pettiness. In truth, I’m just jealous that I cannot pull off such a look). Seriously though, his line work became more economical, but no less exciting or expressive… and he also was showing off his fancy new computer coloring skills. Where does he get off with that? I’ve attended conventions and sat next to Tony’s table a couple of times. I like to try and look out over artist alley through the line of people queued up in front of my table that is actually for him. Why WOULDN’T you hate this guy?

And speaking of goons, how about Eric Powell. I’ve known Eric as long as I’ve been working. He lives on a scrapheap in outskirts of Nashville, TN. It wasn’t Eric’s awesome artwork (that jerk can paint too… jeez!) that made me come to hate him, but his awesome sense of humor. Anybody who has picked up a copy of The Goon from Dark Horse knows this already, but I had no idea. See, Eric’s kind of a quiet guy, and so am I. Most of our conversations consisted of us just staring at each other until finally one of us felt uncomfortable enough to leave. Since those days long ago when we’d attend one-day comic shows at the Ramada Inn, Eric’s worked for pretty much every comic company ever. His book was mentioned on ER ( What the HELL, dude? HATE!), and he’s won like 34 Eisners. Even though I hate him, I like to pretend he named Norton’s Bar in The Goon after me.

Let’s talk about Jeremy Haun. I don’t want to, but since this about people I hate, I should bring him up. When I first met Jeremy, playing guitar for change in a subway station entrance… Okay, that never happened, but I don’t remember meeting Jeremy so work with me. Since those fictional subway days Jeremy’s gone from indy to indy book, each better than the last. Why couldn’t he just stay the same? No, he had to get better and better. Now he’s doing Civil War Tie-Ins and such. Jeremy’s a genuinely nice person and it’s hard to find something to actually hate about him… AND THAT’S WHAT MAKES ME HATE HIM.

There’s a special spot in my hate for Josh Blaylock. When I ran into him at convention after convention so long ago, I had no idea he was going to become the comic book businessmeister he’s grown into today. This guy drew a book about PENGUINS for crying out loud! I think my exact words when he told me he had purchased the rights to G.I.JOE was “Wow, you’re not as dumb as you look”. Now he’s been running his own company with actual employees (I was one of ’em, for Pete’s sake!) and stuff. There isn’t a shade of green appropriate for the jealousy I feel for this man and his trendy haircut. He’s actually built a little empire out of a dream and some credit cards. Somebody should write a book about this guy. He is smart, and I am not. For this, I hate Josh Blaylock.

J. Torres came up to me at a Wizard World Chicago show many years ago. I knew him as “that Canadian dude that wrote the Copybook Tales”. We’ve collaborated a few times over the years on books like Jason and the Argobots and Teen Titans Go. Although he has been like a big brother offering wisdom and guidance many times to me over the years, I still hate him. This guy works on more projects than humanly possible. He’s not just satisfied with comics either, he’s gotta write for cartoons and stuff when he’s not hanging out with actors from Degrassi Jr. High. Why can’t I write for a cartoon? Huh, Huh? Some may point to my lack of ability. I prefer to blame J. Torres.

Speaking of brothers, I have to bring up Sean McKeever. Sean and I go wwaaaay back. He IS like a brother to me. Unfortunately I already have a brother AND I HATE HIM TOO. Sean’s gone from writing depressing stories about teens standing in the snow in The Waiting Place (drawn by me!) to Marvel cult favorite on books like Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane. Now, he’s working exclusively for DC. Man, why can’t I know anybody that just wants to sit on the couch and watch People’s Court all day? When I go to visit McKeever’s stately manor, I swear he likes to leave out his copies of Scientific American and various Alegebra books just to brag. I HATE SMART PEOPLE. This is because I can’t read.

And since we’re discussing illiterates, let’s finally mention Tim Seeley. When I first started working at Devil’s Due Publishing, I saw a photocopy of some characters drawn by Tim. I demanded to know who the artist was, because even then his work was too good. When I found out he was moving down from the ice fishing tip-up he called home in northern Wisconsin to work at DDP, I immediately consulted the local voodoo priestess to find out how I could drive this guy out of Dodge. Alas, my efforts failed and Tim’s not only managed to stay gainfully employed at Devil’s Due, but he’s flourished. Ideas come out of this guy like a leaky toilet. It’s ridiculous. He’s a fan-favorite artist with G.I.JOE and Forgotten Realms under his belt and now Rogue Pictures making a movie out of his personal creation, Hack/Slash. I gotta get a better Voodoo priestess.

I have to stop there. Dwelling on all this hate just simply isn’t healthy. Ten years of dealing with so many talented people has only built my own insecurities in to full-on paranoia that I’m seeing a team of 12 shrinks about. I’ve told many on this list several times that I’d rather they experiment with drawing with their feet or writing stories using only the “L” and “Q” keys on the computer keyboard. They almost always snicker and reply with a “Aw Mike, you so crazy”. This makes me want to punch them in the brain. However, such behavior is frowned upon and usually just slink off to my studio/den of jealousy. Some would say I’m lucky to have swam in such circles, but my scheming, rodent-like brain can only see how my life would be so much easier if I was the only guy that made comic books. Seriously, is that too much to ask?