The guy is a machine. Plain and simple.
Over the past 52 weeks (that's a year, for those counting at home) superstar artist Mark Bagley delivered 12 fully illustrated pages every seven days, maintaining an incredible schedule that few in the American comics industry can match.
The project in quesion, written by Eisner Award-winner Kurt Busiek, was "Trinity," and it featured DC Comics' Big Three: Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman -- not to mention nearly every other hero in the DC Universe.
With "Trinity" #52 in stores now, Bagley stretched out, put his feet up and was immediately peppered with questions by CBR News not only about the massively monumental experiment that he just finished, but also his next gig, a four-issue run on Judd Winick's "Batman."
CBR: You and Kurt Busiek just finished an epic run on "Trinity," a project that is truly unprecedented in superhero comics in terms of how it was delivered. Can you share a few thoughts about the overall experience? Was it a rush? Was it a nightmare? Was it a joy?
Mark Bagley: To be honest, it was harder than I thought it would be. I'm pretty fast and disciplined but I hadn't realized what a grind it would be. I had not fully considered how unforgiving a weekly schedule was. I was really going full out to maintain the deadlines so there was no catching up on lost time, so anything that took me off schedule would mean lost time. At the start of the run, we had a two or three month buffer, by the end it had been cut to four weeks. That was nerve-wracking.
Would you ever consider a project of this magnitude again?
Magnitude? Yes. Schedule? No. The size of the project was never the problem. I was drawing a lot of fun stuff. The speed it had to be done was the issue.
What did one of your average weeks look like over the past year?
Most days were the same. I would try to be at the board by 7 a.m. and I'd work until I was beat. I strived for two pages a day, probably averaged one-and-a-half. I worked six full days, and usually four or five hours on Sunday. I sort of forwent exercise and much of a social life for the year. I tried real hard to not ignore family, but thank God I've got a forgiving wife.
What are you most proud of, besides meeting that seven-day deadline every week?
I guess I'm proud of the teamwork and professionalism all my collaborators displayed. We really were a well oiled machine, and I think we did a pretty good job.
Sure. I wish I could have spent more time on the drawing, always do. But I think I did a pretty good job considering. I occasionally wanted to strangle Kurt when I'd get the plots involving the entire DC Universe. I wish I could have been faster so [inker] Art Thibert and [colorist] Pete Pantazis would have had more time to do their jobs. They are both terrific, but I know we were all a bit compromised by the speed we had to work. Also I wish Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman had been in their "normal" forms for more of the story but that wasn't what the story dictated.
Your next project is a four-issue run on "Batman." Considering there is a new hero under the cowl, will we notice many differences between your Batman in "Trinity" versus your Batman in "Batman?"
Since it's now common knowledge that Dick Grayson is wearing the cowl I can say "my" version of Batman in these issues will be leaner, and a bit more acrobatic than he would be if it were Bruce Wayne under the mask. It's cool because I'm drawing him built like Neal Adams' version and not nearly as heavily muscled as Batman is currently portrayed.
You've worked with Batman for over a year now. What's the best part about drawing him?
Not really sure. He's just fun to draw. He's so dynamic and graphic an image. Drawing Grayson as Batman, I don't get to use the slight image tweaks that I came up with for Bruce Wayne and Batman in "Trinity." I was actually pretty happy with the subtle stylings I'd come up with for him.
What's the most difficult part?
Do you know what you're going to be working on next?
Yes, and I'm very excited about both the project and the talent I'll be working with. As to what it is, you've got to ask [DCU Executive Editor] Dan [DiDio].
"Batman" #688, written by Judd Winick with art by Mark Bagley and Art Thibert, goes on sale July 8 from DC Comics. "Trinity" #52 is on sale now.