Updated: Jan 24, 2020
Doug Mahnke has been drawing comics sine the 80's and has had an unbelievable career. He's worked on so many great titles/characters (Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, JLA, and The Mask. He's co created many characters including Frankenstein and Red Hood for DC and also The Mask over at Dark Horse. He has long been one of my favortie artist and my collection is packed with comics he's worked on. He just finished up another brief run on Superman with Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, which was phenomenal. He's currently hard at work on Detective Comics which reunites him with Tomasi again leading up to the milestone issue of Detective Comics 1000. Their upcoming run is one of the most anticipated stories to come out this year and I'm sure it's gonna be another home run for these two.
Comic Lounge: You've been working in comics since the 80s, what made you want to work in comics?
Doug Mahnke: I wanted to draw comics ( right along with wanting to actually be a super hero) when I read my first issue of Spiderman, around age 6. I moved in and out of this interest over the years, but had it solidly reinforce itself after reading an article on comics published in the Chicago Tribune when I was in my early 20's. The article covered the comics boom and how much money was being made. How could I not want to draw comics at this point? As a side note, I actually spent a lot of my youth wanting to make kung-fu movies.
Comic Lounge: What do love most about working in the comic book industry?
Doug: What do I love most about working in the industry? The fact that I feel completely qualified to do what I am doing. Good days or bad, I can draw comics and feel confident in what I am doing. After 30 years of doing it I've got it pretty well figured out. Other than that, I truly like a admire most of the folks I have met and work with. Totally a positive experience. Comics is filled with solidly passionate people, and it shows across the
Comic Lounge: When the Mask (movie) came at, I loved it, so I sought out the comics. They were very different than the movie but I loved them. Would you ever work on a Mask comic again?
Doug: I think I would easily do more Mask comics, but only if John Arcudi wrote them. The Mask was fun as well as a strong learning experience for me, and in spite of all the years that have passed since I left the Mask behind folks still profess a love and interest in the character. It would be intriguing to add more to what we did, and I have no doubt Arcudi could pick up from where we left off, but I would never do it without him. I believe John and I did the best Mask stuff published, and to make more would require the both of us.
Comic Lounge: You have worked on so many of my favorite comics, (Action Comics 775, Batman: The Man Who Laughs, Green Lantern, JLA, and The Mask), what book would you say was your favorite?
Doug: Its hard to put a finger on a single true favorite, because at this point I've logged a hell of a lot of favorites. Even what I was doing while making a comic sort of matters. For instance, when Pat Gleason was my assistant and we were entertaining the hell out of ourselves with the ridiculously violent Hitman/Lobo: That Stupid Bastich, it was barely work. We were just having a gas drawing stupid levels of violence courtesy of a Garth Ennis script. As cliche as it sounds, I think we would have done the work and not been at all broken up if we had not been paid. A similar condition existed when friend/assistant Shawn Moll was working with me on a variety of projects, one of them being Batman:The Man Who Laughs. We were working awful long hours, churning out pages at an alarming pace while working in his studio, watching episode after episode of the Sopranos, eating good food. I would never sit at a desk while in his studio to avoid the feeling of "working", instead preferring to sit in a large comfortable recliner. When Tom Nguyen and I would get together and finish pages, me dashing them off and him inking furiously, we would pound energy drinks, protein drinks and ephedrine, occasionally stop to eat sushi at a nearby restaurant, rarely sleep, and stream endless documentaries. Working with friends makes the work produced all the better. I am very pleased/proud of a lot of comics I have drawn. The 4 years I spent on Green Lantern with writer Geoff Johns stands out, because I got to contribute to something that really stands tall amongst modern comics publishing. Geoff executing nine years worth of storytelling is hugely impressive. He told a great tale, and I got to be part of it. When John Arcudi and I did the creator owned Major Bummer, I loved it. That work is
us. I can pick it up and read it anytime. Peter Tomasi and I did a fabulous story with Black Adam: The Dark Age. Its a powerful and tragic story, the type only Pete could write. Another "favorite". The list would go on and on with comics such as Morrison's Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein, or Lobo Mask, or Joe Kelly writing some of the best Plastic Man in the pages of JLA: Trial by Fire. My current work with writers Tomasi and Gleason on Superman I know I will look back on and admire.
Comic Lounge: Are there any characters you haven't worked on yet, that you would like to do in the future?
Doug: When asked this question in the past, I often said Wonder Woman. As I did a run on Superman/Wonder Woman, I do feel like I got to indulge myself a bit there, but not really enough. Wonder Woman remains high on the list. Then there is Marvel stuff..... Hulk. I think I would smash it. I could come up with a pretty strong list I suppose, but I'll just leave it at the two mentioned.
Comic Lounge: It was announced recently, that you and Peter Tomasi would be taking over Detective Comics with the #994. I'm so excited that you guys are taking over. How does it feel to be working on Batman again leading up to such a milestone issue?
Doug: Returning to a Bat-book was on my mind for a long, long time. One year on Batman about 13 years ago produced a very cool bit of work, but not nearly enough to feel like I've defined what I can do with the character. Getting to work with friend Pete makes positive on many levels. Pete is the kind of writer designed to work on Batman, so I have total confidence in his scripts and direction. As much as I can get into drawing super powered folks beating the snot out of otherworldly threats, there is a certain satisfaction of drawing a guy fighting with mortal weapons of hands, elbows, knees and feet, along with a handful of techno gadgets. Also, having come off of drawing the flowing and happy cape of Superman, Batman has a different vibe there. Dark and mean cape.
Comic Lounge: Is there anything you can tease about your upcoming run on Detective?
Doug: Not much I can tease, which I suppose is no surprise. Writers are much better at teasing. Thus far in what I have drawn, there is a mix of both Detecting and violence. A nice blend. From the art end, great work out of ink partner Jaime Mendoza and colorist David Baron. I'm very excited to see what we are doing in print.
Comic Lounge: What is your preferred way to draw, traditional or digital?
Doug: Traditional, although I do get to see first hand the speed and efficiency of digital, and the ease of editing the art. Amazing stuff people are doing with technology, no doubt about it. Unless Jaime says he can do it better digitally, traditional is here to stay between the two of us.
Comic Lounge: Is there anything else you're currently working on that you can talk about?
Doug: Nothing else I'm working on at the moment. There was a time I had way too many lines in the water. Kind of glad to not be there.