WW Chicago: Mike Perkins Takes "The Stand"

Following the success of its "Dark Tower" adaptations, Marvel Comics is set to release Stephen King's post apocalyptic classic "The Stand" as a 30-part, multiple miniseries comic and The House of Ideas has pegged fan favorite Mike Perkins ("Captain America") as the artist.

With "The Stand: Captain Trips" #1 now solicited for September 8 and "The Stand Sketchbook" making its debut at Wizard World Chicago this weekend, CBR News spoke with Perkins about the epic professional adventure he's about to face and what it's like drawing characters created by the Master of Horror.

First off, are you a fan of Stephen King's classic novel or are you a relative newcomer to the material?

Although I've read a lot of Stephen King novels I guess you could say that I'm a relative newcomer to "The Stand." I picked up the unabridged version when I was offered this great opportunity and found that it was extremely difficult to put down. I was riveted. Since then, I've been listening to a lot of his audio books while I'm working and am amazed how certain threads tie over into various books."

(Note: "The Stand," written in 1978, shares a universe with "The Dark Tower" series and several other King books as main antagonist Randall Flagg A.K.A. The Walkin' Dude is a common character throughout.)

What is it about "The Stand" that makes it an attractive world to develop as an illustrator?

It's extremely visual and there's an abundance of characters to design and illustrate. The plot continually moves forward and the interaction between the cast, and the hidden motives they have in some cases, make for an absorbing experience.

Are there a lot of visual references within the source material or have you had to create your own vision of "The Stand"?

Everything is pretty much described by Mr. King although pinning down the representations of characters that millions of readers have already visualized can always be tricky. I rest assured in the fact that they've all been approved by Mr. King without any problems. As it's based in the real world I've also been taking plenty of photos of settings and environments in order to emphasize the authenticity.

What is the feel of the artwork? It's obviously pretty dark.

I would say 'illustrative.' The subject matter itself can get pretty dark but there are lighter moments too. As we go along it'll probably get a little bit more 'gritty' too. It's important for me to get a sense of place to the settings as well as a personality for each protagonist we encounter. We're vying for realism in the artwork; attempting to tie it down to the real world.

Have you had a chance to speak with Stephen King about your ideas?

Editorial deals with the ins and outs with Stephen King, they've had successful dealings with him through the astonishing work they've accomplished on "Dark Tower." I was most pleased when Mr. King let it be known that the character design of Fran was just how he's always seen her.

I understand that he's a busy man and my professional relationship is with the editorial office of Ralph Macchio, Bill Rosemann and Lauren Sankovitch. Saying that, I'd love to spend some time with him and have a good old chin wag. Who wouldn't? And what's the experience been like working with writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa?

We've struck up a very easy working relationship. Both of us understand that if we have any questions or concerns we can get in touch with each other straight away. I'm hoping to meet up with him for the first time this weekend at WizardWorld Chicago.

How long are you planning to be on the project?

For the long run. At the moment, that's thirty issues. It's what I've been looking for, a long term project, developed from the outset.

What can we expect from the sketchbook?

The sketchbook introduces you to the initial characters through the design work I've done. There's also some cover roughs and finished designs from myself and Lee Bermejo, as well as the promo piece that was teased in New York at Comic Con.

Who are some of your favorite characters to draw in "The Stand"? And locations?

The Walkin' Dude and Trashcan Man are the most fun to play with as you can really get in to the darker aspects of each character and, in Trashy's case, the sheer lunacy of his visual appearance. For me, Larry Underwood is an interesting character to bring to the page as he's a broken man, torn inside, wanting to do the right thing. That's a challenge to illustrate properly and get that inner turmoil across to the readership. I think Harold is going to be an interesting character to draw too, apart from Trashy he's probably the character who goes through the most visual change as the story thunders along.

Finally, will you miss drawing "Captain America"?

Of course. Captain America is one of the undeniable icons of comic books and to get a chance to illustrate his adventures for a while was a great privilege. I'm hoping that I'll get to draw Cap again at some point. I know that I'd love to work with Ed Brubaker again."

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