The Comic Book Artist: Ming Doyle

January 25, 2012


Ming … she’s a superhero rockstar! And she makes me want to kick some ass!


what is your occupation?
Freelance comic book artist and illustrator.

did you always want to be a comic book artist?
I’ve always loved art, but I didn’t want to be a comic book artist specifically until high school. I had a very supportive art teacher who noticed that I enjoyed incorporating text into my drawings. He taught me what gutters were, how to think about pacing, negative space, and action, and left me with a copy of Will Eisner’s “Comics & Sequential Art.” I’d somehow never realized that a career in comic books was something that I could seriously pursue until he presented it to me as a viable option and a respected field.

what superhero powers would you like to have?
Invulnerability, flight, and something involving laser beams, probably.

top three comic books?
Gotham Central, Hellboy, Enigma

you’re going out on the town with your favorite superhero. who would it be and what would you do?
Batman, and he’d probably be three hours late for our fancy date at an upscale French restaurant before leaving after fifteen minutes and stiffing me with the bill, all in his Bruce Wayne guise. He’s my favorite superhero, but he’s got a lot on his plate!

which comic book characters would you like to make over and why?
Gambit, because I don’t think magenta figures nearly prominently enough in his bodysuit anymore. Storm, because she’s one of my all time favorite superheroines. And speaking of superheroines, Supergirl, because I love playing with the Superfamily duds.

what are you working on now?
The Loneliest Astronautsis a tragi-comedic webcomic I make every week with my friend, accomplished writer and exceptional funnyman Kevin Church. As Kevin says: “Astronauts Dan and Steve are stuck in a distant alien solar system, the last survivors of a mission that went horribly wrong and left the rest of their ten-strong crew dead. They’re light years from home on an airless moon, living on carefully-rationed supplies, and unable to contact Earth. The worst part of all this? They hate each other’s guts.”  I also recently finished work onTantalize: Kieren’s Story, which will be published by Candlewick Press on August 23rd. I’m currently working on the sequel, Eternal: Zachary’s Story, and am planning to sneak a few shorter stories in on the side as well.

do you listen to music while working?  if so, what’s on your playlist?
Absolutely I do, and a lot of times I like to listen to music that has an interesting narrative. Some of my favorites are Tom Waits, Laura Veirs, Jeremy Messersmith, and anything by Frank Black.

what would you be doing if you weren’t a comic book artist?
I was interested in the more esoteric aspects of academia as a kid, so I’d probably be a specialist in ancient Greek vase painting or something similarly specific. That’s the practical answer. The impractical answer is that I’ve always loved space and dreamed of working in some field of space exploration. Tragically, I’m rotten at math and all the hard sciences, so maybe I would’ve been a sci-fi TV show producer or prop maker.

who is the most misunderstood comic book character?
Probably Superman. Everyone seems to think they know everything about him, but I think just boiling him down to an apple-pie eating, super strong do-gooder strips away everything that makes him grand.

i would like to start reading comic books.  which one should i read first and why?
My first recommendation is probably everybody’s go to favorite, and that’s “Hellboy” by Mike Mignola. If you like clean, distinctive art and clear, concise writing that’s equal parts academic and mystical, all colored by a sort of Clint Eastwood cool and finished with a charming patina of mundane humor, then this is your book. Lots of literary and mythological references, tons of neat storytelling to get lost in.

If you enjoy “Hellboy,” then “B.P.R.D” is a great spin off series that’s turned into an epic in its own right. Supporting and incidental characters from Hellboy’s adventures get their own fleshed out world and cast in this paranormal police procedural. series are ongoing and are collected in volumes that have crept past the double digits by this point, so there’s a lot to enjoy!

A much shorter self-contained story that neatly plays with a lot of the superhero genre’s most tired tropes and turns them sinisterly on their heads is “Enigma.” This isn’t a very well known work and I think it might be out of print, but if you can find a copy then it’s a deranged and hopeful tale that stands up to repeated readings.

SUPERHERO wise, “Year One” is a pretty seminal Batman story, and sequential art rarely gets better or more iconic.

And the best Superman story to read by far is “All Star Superman.” If you’re only passingly familiar with the Man of Tomorrow (and I think most people are), then this a great general take on the spirit and meaning of the first real superhero. If you’re a Superman geek, then the amount of references and overreaching implications in this work are astounding. Those are just a few comics that are really, astoundingly good.

what do you collect?
Original art from friends, colleagues, and admired influences, mainly. It’s a small collection at the moment, but I’m nurturing it. I also collect comic books, of course, and makeup! Sometimes those collections all align, and I completely nerd out in joy. The recent limited edition Wonder Woman themed collection by MAC was one such instance.

MAC Wonder Woman Look

“This Journal Belongs To…” by Ming Doyle