Interested in learning more? Ask here!
WELCOME TO THE DEADZONE COMICS WEBSITE!
DEADZONE: RAGE MACHINE #1
Written by Keith Braun
Pencils by Roman Morales III
Inks by Greg Harms
Colors by Kyle Chaney
In many regards, Mike Hoffman can be viewed symbolically as one of the grizzled warriors that he depicts in his Fantasy Art illustrations. For over twenty years, Mike has supported a family of four with his art. Although he’s known as a world-class Fantasy Artist, this is only the tip of the Mike Hoffman-creativity iceberg. Over his prolific career, Mike has worked for several high profile comic book publishers, has had eight audio-album releases, fully produced his own animation special, and been published in no less than twenty specialty books, including many based solely on his art.
More Previews From DeadZone Comics!
Every month (or so) we are going to do a spotlight presentation on one of the DeadZone Comics contributors...a chance to get a little inside scoop from behind the scenes of an Indy Comic Collaborator going through the process of getting a DeadZone Comic to print!
Q) Mike, I know you currently live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and that you spent some time living in England, but where were you born and raised?
A) I'm American and born in Alexandria, Virginia. Moving constantly (we kept the neighbors awake) is a psychological problem inherited from my parents, I guess.
Q) What originally got you interested in art?
A) Kids book illustrations first, then comic books. Collecting Marvel comics and that whole power trip thing led naturally to Fantasy Art.
Q) Left to your own devices, drawing whatever you want...what are your favorite things to draw and why?
A) Used to be female figures, but I am growing beyond that. When I was younger it was "conquer the world", but nowadays I don't approach that stuff linearly, like beginning/end, or effort/reward. It's more circular now, more present in the moment.
Q) Any quick insights on what being a professional artist entails?
A) Getting my first freelancer paycheck was a blast, but that wears off fast. Once you're in the grind of doing anything as "a job" the glitz evaporates quickly. My history is largely examples of my own aggression and a huge ego. Nowadays I'm more willing to collaborate, like on Elementis, for example. Having the work be creative is what saves it.
Q) What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you for working on art?
A) Come out of the cave…transcending limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging behaviors.
Cover Art of E.S.O.U. #6 by Mike Hoffman
Click any thumbnail for larger image!
Now, through a fantastic chain of events, Mike has illustrated Elementis Special Operations Unit #6 (entitled The Alchemist’s Granddaughter) for DeadZone Comics. Mike was also kind enough to take some time to provide a bit of personal insight into his career and his approach as a professional artist…
Q) I read an account of you seeing a Frank Frazetta-cover back in the day and that you didn’t understand how he did it, but you wanted to learn. And that you started creating Fantasy Art in emulation of Frazetta to better hone your own skills. Mike, that regimen obviously paid off…but did it change the way you look at Frazetta’s work now?
A) I understand everything about it now. Technically it is very good, of course, but it also represents an "Alpha Male" quality to many people. You could contrast that with more feminine energy in Fantasy Art, like Jeff Jones. Is one point of view better than the other? I don't think so.
Q) Is there anything in particular you try to establish with your work to make it stand out or have a point of difference?
A) There's not really a coherent battle plan, or there hasn't been, I usually just approach new technical problems and then create pieces that help me solve them. It could be incorporating something new anatomically, or poses, perspective, lighting etc.
Q) I know you have also become very active using off-handed sketches (sketching left handed) as a discipline to expand your art concepts and approach…can you elaborate?
A) It may not be useful for everyone, but for me it literally re-wires the brain - assuming you don't try to channel your right through your left. I'm sort of ambidextrous, I can alternate Vulcan salutes with each hand, for example.
Q) Point blank: mainstream or independent, which do you favor and why?
A) I can't say, each one has resplendent works and utter doo doo.
Q) That has to be the best answer I have received to that question to date. Are there any recent discoveries you’ve had for comics?
A) I use the library a lot to research comics, but there's not much older stuff I haven't seen. I admit being in the industry has sapped some enthusiasm for it in the past. Nowadays that's coming back a little, as my ego moves into senility. Dick Briefer's Frankenstein is a sort of new discovery for me.
Q) I remember you citing that Briefer Frankenstein material in one of your YouTube vlogs. Mike, in another one of your vlogs, you mentioned 20% of your work is what you are known for…can you share any of what the other 80% is like?
A) It's partly running the Hoffman International business; production, shipping and so on, but also my Monster Music and other art stuff…my abstract art, experimental stuff like my "Phase II" techniques, children's illustration, writing fiction, etc. The obvious thing about selling art in this marketplace is that T&A almost guarantees success. Sometimes that's good, sometimes not so good.
Q) Your wide array of artistic projects is truly impressive. I think most of your fans know that you are also very active in creating music…do you see any particular tangents or similarities between creating art and music?
A) Right now I'm working on sucking the ego out of my music, too. Because of the age I got into it, Rock and Punk, it's been hugely ego-driven as well.
Fantasy Art Paintings Volume One
by Mike Hoffman
Q) Is there any particular record out there that you wish you had done the cover art for?
A) That's an odd question I will have to ponder!
Q) Along with the current Elementis issue, you have done several high-profile comic projects…including a run on DC’s Swamp Thing and doing your own creations at Devil’s Due Entertainment. I know you have been very public about an issue you have with the latter…
A) "Devil's Due" are criminals, they continue to sell my work without paying me. Hence the name, I suppose.
Q) Horrible. Also, back in 2005, you produced your Monster University animation special. Then, in 2013, Disney comes out with a plural franchise (Monsters University) and markets it in their typical juggernaut fashion. It’s obvious that (whether intentional or not), conceptually, these are similar executions of an analogous concept…but yours is some eight years older (there is no debate that your concept was first). Mike, did you attempt to contact them about infringement on your property and original works?
Q) Wow…also horrible. Will there ever be another animation project?
A) I like doing it, but it's time consuming. One half-hour took me three weeks, and it's limited animation.
Q) Sounds like a serious labor of love. Most creators work better when they can step back from their work and occasionally recharge...what's your favorite way to take a break?
A) I do yoga, meditation, exercise and other therapies.
Q) Sounds calming. Now, the question I ask everyone: if someone asked you for advice on becoming an artist, and you could tell them only one thing, what would that one thing be?
A) Don't hurt other people, in person or through your work.
A) Ow! My lawyers said I have no chance.
The Monster University Soundtrack
by Von Hoffman
One of Keith's All-Time Favorite Comics
Great advice, Mike, thanks so much!!! Here’s hoping for another project in the future!!!
For following Mike’s appearance schedule and information on other Hoffman International projects such as HEX Magazine, Phase II Developments, the Von Hoffman Orchestra and upcoming Gallery Shows, please visit Mike’s personal site at www.mikehoffman.com.