Updated: Jan 24, 2020
Mark Russell is one of the smartest and funniest writers in comics. In 2018 he nominated for an Eisner Award for Best Writer. Not to mention that his critically acclaimed Flintstones series was nominated for 2 Eisner Awards as well. He's about to be apart of Vertigo's "Rebirth" with his title Second Coming, that sounds absolutely hilarious. I can't wait to see what else this guy comes out with, because whatever it is, you know it's gonna be funny.
1. What would you say is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?
For me, the best thing about being a writer is that it forces me to be sincere. To pull myself from the tide of irony and cool detachment that seems to always be tugging at us through pop culture and social media and ask myself what it is I truly care about. About what it is I have to say to the world. Writing not only communicates with the world, it puts you in closer touch with yourself.
2. You did a critically acclaimed run on Flintstones, that really touched on a lot of issues in society right now. What made you go in such an unexpected direction?
When I take on a title, my goal isn’t to lose myself in it or to write seamlessly within its legacy. What I really like to do is to take on titles that act as a prism for the things I really want to talk about. The Flintstones is really, and I say this with a straight face, a story about the world’s first civilization and the cardinal sins that go into making and running a civilization, i.e. exploitation of animals, the division of labor into specialized jobs (most of which suck), and using our glorious capacity for bullshit to create institutions like money and religion that allow us to manipulate each other. And that was what I really wanted to write about.
3. You have done work with other cartoon characters in new and interesting ways, what keeps you coming back?
The thing I like about writing cartoon characters is that they come with a certain amount of social equity. You know who Fred Flintstone is. You know who Snagglepuss is. So I don’t have to waste a lot of time explaining who these characters are or convincing you to care about them. Presumably you already know and care about them a little bit or you wouldn’t be buying the comic. So it allows me to dive right into the stories and pedantic diatribes I want to get to.
4. You have a Lex Luthor/Porky Pig special coming out soon, can you talk a little bit more about it?
Yeah, it’s about Lex Luthor hiring Porky Pig to run LexCorp’s new social media site, Lexema. In a greater and probably more pretentious sense, it’s a parable for the modern American economy.
5. What would be your dream project?
I’ve written a story about the first manned mission to Mars I’d really like to turn into a graphic novel. The man selected to make the maiden voyage to Mars was selected because he is terminally ill and so they don’t have to figure out how to bring him back. His only companions are two Mars rovers with artificial intelligence who revere him as a god and the whole story is told in diary form on the way to his death, as he recalls going from being a failed pet store manager to becoming the most famous man on Earth and a deity for these beings. I would love to realize this project some day.
6. Your books tend to be political and satirical, which is one of the things I love about your writing, would you say those are what you love writing the most?
I think of humor as an evolutionary defense mechanism. Something we evolved for the purpose of avoiding danger. Some say our laughter is the homo sapiens equivalent to the chattering sound chimpanzees make when a large snake or leopard goes by without eating them. I think this is why my thoughts on the world usually come out as being satire or humor. I’m praying we don’t get eaten.
7. Are there any other books you're working on that you can talk about?
Yes! I’m doing a Lone Ranger series for Dynamite, that comes out in 2019, about Manifest Destiny and the settling of the west that was made possible by barbed wire. I’m also doing a Vertigo series about a superhero who is forced to share a two bedroom apartment with Jesus Christ. It’s going to be called “Second Coming”.