Posted: March 13, 2009
Mike Perkins is the man behind the illustrations in The Stand and recently he took some time to talk to me. Here is what he said.
Lilja: So, how does it feel to have the first story arc, Captain Trips, done?
Mike Perkins: It feels good. I think we’ve all done a fantastic job on it and have achieved what we set out to do – present a strong base for the rest of the series. There’s still a long road ahead but I’m just as eagerly looking forward to the next arc as I was the first one.
Lilja: Have you and Laura, Roberto and Chris worked up routines now that you all have been working together for a while?
Mike Perkins: I wish we had – and it’s not through want of trying. Unfortunately life gets in the way sometimes and, for me in particular, the last three/four months have been personally grueling. I guess it’s a sign of our commitment that the books have been relatively on schedule. Baring any unforeseen circumstances I believe this arc will run a little smoother and by the end of it we’ll be hitting the groove and making very sweet music together!
Lilja: Do you ever sit down face to face or is it all sent to the next in line?
Mike Perkins: No. It’s all email and ftp files. I’ve yet to meet Roberto and Lee– I’ve worked closely with Laura a fair few times before and shared studio space with her in the past and I’ve sat next to Chris during a Marvel signing. I’m still awaiting my first meeting with Mr. King!
Lilja: Given the good reviews the comic has gotten you must be very proud of your involvement in it?
Mike Perkins: I think it’s one of these projects where, whether it’s well received or not, you’d better make damn sure you can be proud of it! I guess we’re all so pleased to be working on The Stand that each and every one of us has been putting our best foot forward and hopefully it shows. By the look of the reception we’ve received it seems that it does.
Lilja: Does it make it easier or harder to get good reviews? I guess it must feel nice but I also guess it puts pressure on you to keep delivering the same high quality as well, right?
Mike Perkins: I wouldn’t have it any other way – by this I mean that I always attempt to deliver high quality work. I’m just happy and honored that the readership can appreciate the effort we put into it.
Lilja: I have just finished the first issue of American Nightmare and it looks very good. I loved how you portrayed Harold Lauder. He looks very much like I imagine he would.
Mike Perkins: Well, thanks!! I’ve merely followed the description that Mr. King has laid down in the book. He’s done all the hard work for me! Saying that, it can be difficult to illustratively represent a character that millions of readers of the book have already visualized in their heads. So, once again, thanks – it’s a huge compliment to hear such a fan of the novel say such a thing.
Lilja: I’m still looking forward to seeing characters like Mother Abigail and Trashcan Man. Are their debuts far away?
Mike Perkins: Trashy appears on many pages of issue 2 of The Stand: American Nightmares. It’s his origin issue, if you like, and I’ve truly enjoyed drawing the insane, grubby pyrotechnic! I’ve yet to draw Mother Abigail although I can assume her time is fast approaching.
Lilja: How long does it normally take you to create one page of The Stand?
Mike Perkins: In an ideal world an issue ( plus cover ) would take five weeks – if you break that down to a five day work week ( although that’s rarely the case!) – then you’re looking at a page a day of pencils and inks. That’s why we have those little breaks in there in between the arcs; they enable us to catch up with the schedule of a monthly book and insure that we can all collaborate together on the entire run. The way I’m working on this project – I prefer to pencil all the 22 pages first ( just in case any changes need to be made ) and then head into the inks.
Lilja: Do you do a lot of research to get everything to look as correct as possible?
Mike Perkins: Definitely. It’s important that the adaptation of The Stand takes place in the real world and there can be no short cuts. This goes as far as taking a break in Boulder in order to take accurate photos of the streets and surroundings to simply looking online for something that may help in the depiction of specific places.
Lilja: How far in the series are you now?
Mike Perkins: Far enough to stay ahead – but close enough to feel Captain Trips breathing down your neck!