Link to cultural events of Salt Lake City in 2009 at

David Mack is an artist probably best known for his creator owned
comic book Kabuki which is distributed through Marvel Comics. David Mack
has always been interested in art in one form or another, but at the age of 16
he decided that his true passion was in the comics medium. "Comics are
the rock and roll of the art field. Rock and roll has it's roots in jazz, blues,
bluegrass, rockabilly etc. It has no rules; it can go anywhere. The same with
comics, once you try to pigeon-hole it as something and make rules as to
what it is, that's when it becomes stale. When I'm drawing my comic I don't
want to get stuck on one particular style or way of doing things. I change it up
depending on the best way to tell the story. To me, comics is the most
expressive vehicle for telling a story."

Mack made his first Kabuki comic at the age of 19 to help him pay his way
through school at Eastern Kentucky University. He continued to create his
book at the rate of one issue every 2 months. They were printed initially
under the image comics imprint which is uniquely known for letting the
creators keep the rights to the characters. Later he moved to the Marvel
Comics Icon imprint. The unique look of the book has gathered David
several awards including the coveted Eisner award for best painter.

While other comics artists have embraced computer programs to make their
artwork, David has chosen to avoid digital media and focus on pure organic
ways of putting his artwork together. He doesn't even use Photoshop. What
you see is exactly what he put down on the page. This is particularly
impressive when you see his comic pages up close. The panels are
decorated with elaborate fringe, buttons and other found objects are glued to
the page, even the dialog is printed out and glued onto the art-board.

His writing style is similarly organic. "When you start writing, just free-write.
Get all your thoughts out right off without editing yourself. You might finish a
page and decide it's not usable for the story, but it was important to get out.
Generally when writing for Kabuki, Mack puts together a highly detailed script
including notes for what might be the best way to present it in illustration.
Then he begins rough sketches of where he wants everything, figuring out
how to best tell it visually and editing down unnecessary dialog before even
beginning on the actual comics page. Sometimes he will even arrange the
pages differently than he originally intended. "Sometimes, instead of telling
the story, the story tells you what to do."

"Comics is a very personal and intimate medium," David said, "When
someone goes to a movie theater, they sit in a big room with a large
audience of other people and they see what everyone else sees. In comics
however, the reader turns from page to page at his own pace, staying on one
panel or another longer than someone else might. Often they will turn back a
page to read a panel again. It is different and personal with everyone. I try to
control the pace people read at in the way I draw. If something is more
important I put more detail into it. If it is less important I put less detail into it.
It seems simple, but it's true; people will spend more time looking at more
detailed panels and less time on less detailed panels."

"It is also very personal for me as a writer. When I first came up with Kabuki I
wanted to make something sincere and real; almost autobiographical. I was
always into comics that were autobiographical. Even though Kabuki isn't
necessarily about me, it's a bit like a mask that lets me express things that
are really going on and things I am thinking about at the time. I think when
something is true people will be able to relate to it. I can't put a percentage
on what is true and what is invented, sometimes I don't even know myself
until much later when I look back at it."

It still takes David about 2 months to make a single Kabuki comic. Then in
between issues he writes and draws for Marvel Comic's Daredevil, which is
one of the top 10 selling comic books in the United States. "I think that as
important as the time is that I put into making the comic, equally important is
the gestation time between comics. It helps me process what I'm thinking
and what should go into the next book so I'm using my best ideas."

David doesn't really believe in talent as other people might describe. "People
sometimes tell me I'm talented, but I don't really know what that means. I'm
not good because I was born good. It took a lot of practice. Sure I made that
drawing in 2 minutes, but it was really 2 minutes and 26 years. In fact, most
of my early comics were terrible. Kabuki was a character from a previous
comic I wrote when I was a teenager. After the first Kabuki comic came out I
thought I might just go back and use the old comic I wrote back then, but
after looking at my old artwork I went 'NOOOOOOOOO...' I decided not to
publish them... You're welcome. Another thing is when you are sketching just
for fun, learn to sketch fast. In comics you are on a tight deadline and if you
can practice being fast it will really help you in your work. It may not look the
best, but the human brain is designed to fill in the rest and make more
sense of things than is actually there. That's really how comics work."

"The future of comics will be an interesting thing. I love books and having
things I can tangibly hold. I have no problem looking online for things, but I
like a newspaper I can hold in my hands and flip through. I think everyone
here likes books with pages we can turn, but the younger generation is born
into a world that's completely different than the one we were born into. Who
knows, maybe in the future all comics will be online and I have no problem
with that. The Internet opens up all kinds of possibilities for really talented
artists to showcase their work. They can say whatever they want. Comics
really are the last pirate medium. You don't need a license to do this like you
would for TV or radio. You can design your message with anything you want
in it and upload it instantly onto the web for sometimes thousands to see.
Anyone who wants to be a comic book artist can be, and future generations
will accept it... although there might be a few who still want these retro things
called books."

Jonathan Lisonbee
The Art Institute of Salt Lake City

External links:
Native Americans in comics
World famous comics network
David Mack by Gavin Sheehan
David Mack
©2009-2010 International Institute
of Anthropology, Salt Lake City,
Utah, USA
©2009-2010 Jonathan Lisonbee
Link to the
website of
David Mack: