I talked with Mike once before about Battlepug, and was happy to do it again following its recent grande finale. I asked him more about the process for his webcomic, how he feels about ending it and his Image series Revival. Read on to learn how Mike’s grown as an artist and his experiences concurrently drawing his two longest runs.
How has the autonomy of doing a webcomic impacted the process of making Battlepug?
It has drastically changed how I make stuff now. I don’t sweat over the tiny things anymore. I’m much more confident in writing in drawing, and I’m excited about new things rather than dreading them. I’m more assertive in my viewpoint when creating, as well… Instead of shrinking back and following the lead of usually whoever came before me.
How closely do you collaborate with Allan Passalaqua on the colors?
I’m pretty hands off with direction to Allen. I think his ideas in that department way superior to mine. There are specific colors and directions that I will point out but they are few and far between. He picked all the colors for the character designs. He really brings a lot to the table that’s why he’s a creative partner on the comic now, rather than a hired hand.
Is your collaboration with Crank! different from with other letterers due to your friendship?
Sure. I talk to him for one thing. He and I are really old friends and I trust him. He actually edits and changes stuff a lot, too. Sometimes we disagree, but I trust him.
How are you feeling, this close to the end of Battlepug?
Weird. Proud. Anxious. Worried. I’m already feeling a hole that was once filled with the stress of putting out a weekly webcomic for no money. I’m not sad, though. It’s hard work, and I know I’m coming back to this world soon.
Endings are notoriously hard. Are you satisfied with yours?
Yeah! It’s PRETTY much what I had planned from the beginning, but it was a lot more difficult making all the connections in the story to get there. It’s definitely been a learning experience!
You’ve been working on both Battlepug and Revival for a while now. Does a fatigue start to set in after a length of time?
Definitely! These are two of my favorite projects I’ve ever done. I’m terribly happy with them, but when you invest yourself in something like that, it’s a lot more stressful than, say, a work-for-hire gig. You fret over every little thing and want it all to be perfect. When you do it for years at a time, it takes a toll. Wouldn’t trade it for anything, though.
I find it interesting that you didn’t draw the covers for Revival. What kept you away from them?
I never intended to! We had Jenny lined up from the start! Like, as we were coming up with the concept, we knew she’d be doing the covers. I drew the first cover, but Jenny just used it as guide and redid it. Tim suggested I draw the TPB covers, so I do those, but she’s really given the book a style in the cover department.
A beer was themed after Battlepug for last year’s C2E2. I could ask what it was like to see your creation inspire a beverage, but instead I have a simpler question: did you like the beer?
I’m a huge beer fan. I’ve wanted to have a beer of my own for a while, but Arcade Brewery actually made it happen. And I LOVED the beer.
Do you know what you’re writing and drawing next?
Yes. And no. Sort of?
I have lots of things I’m working on. What gets made first remains to be seen. I’m toying with a lot of ideas as far as format and distribution of my comics too. I wouldn’t rule out another webcomic.
What have you learned making a webcomic over the past five years?
Yeah, that I mostly did it wrong! I started it as an experiment, but I think I didn’t dedicate enough time to the actual administrative portion. I think I could have explored some real neat stuff had I really buckled down on promotion and advertising, but my focus was telling a story rather than making a living off of it.
Follow Mike on Twitter @themikenorton. Then read over all of Battlepug, over, 250 pages, for FREE here, and buy the hardcover editions when you like it.
MATT CHATS is a weekly interview series that goes live every Tuesday, conducted between Matt O’Keefe and a creator and/or player in the comic book industry, diving deep into industry, process and creative topics.