I had mentioned in my last post about having the pleasure and honour to meet legendary comic book artist Mark Bagley. For anyone unfamiliar with Mr.Bagley he is the creator of Carnage, Thunderbolts and has drawn Spider-Man for the majority of his career on multiple titles. His longest run on Spider-Man was on Ultimate Spider-Man with Veteran Marvel writer Brain Michael Bendis (111 consecutive issues 116 total!).
I was the first person to get a sketch from him at the con and some books signed. The photo at the top is the commission he drew for me. I had originally wanted carnage seen as he was only doing head sketches he quickly advised me to pick something with more detail in a respectful way which I appreciated, so I choose Wolverine because of that’s my favourite Marvel character. I am also very nervous/star struck when meeting Mark. So he starts sketching right in front of me, and I am in awe of his speed and lines. He also warned me that his first sketch of the day usually isn’t his best I, of course, am just happy this is happening right now and say I’m sure it will be great and that he’s the first artist I’ve ever gotten an original sketch from.
So I am standing there in front of the table just watching again with amazemenI as i see logan gradually appear on my blank variant sketch cover of Age of Ultron #1. After a few minutes, he says “so do you have any questions? Feel free to talk”. Every artist is different I have heard of many who need complete concentration to finish a commission, and some don’t. So we start talking about the new Venom movie, the Logan movie and the fact fans aren’t a fan of his new costume design for the Scarlet Spider and how he was going back to the original costume from the 90’s.
Really nice guy and chat. Once he finished and signed my commission, i had a few comics to sign.
When I presented this next book to get signed something happened that I had never experienced before.
Soon as Mark saw the comic, he said right away “I hate that cover, The comic and the story” This caught me off guard, you could see the disgust with his own work in his face. I, of course, had no idea this would happen and would never want to upset any creator. He obviously wasn’t mad at me, but it certainly stirred up a defence and reaction in him. He elaborated a little bit then he said something that has been stuck in my head since the early morning of the con.
“Now think about this. Mediocre people think they are great. Great people are never satisfied with their work. Think about it, like really really think about that!”
Now you might be thinking he hasn’t said anything new. Which in just pure words that’s true. When Mark told me this though I saw a passion and conviction in his eyes I have never seen from an artist of any kind. I heard something in his voice that resonated in my ears and memory. It was a long day, and lots of stuff was going on at the con I could have easily forgotten this encounter, but I didn’t and that says something to me.
I got a rare glimpse of what separates the average creator from the legends. To me, he was reminding himself not to be like that version of himself back in 93. I know a lot of creative people will do this but I think Mark is one of the few that takes it seriously.
As someone who’s on a writing journey, it’s incredibly inspiring especially coming from an artist. He didn’t even know I was an aspiring writer, but this can certainly apply to any area in life. It was really cool and unexpected I’m extremely grateful.
Let’s be honest about perfectionism though it is useless, at a certain point you have to say well this and that has to be done by this date. So you have to expect this is the best you can do on a particular project. you can then look back and say ok I have the same amount of time for the next one but I’m not going to this-this and that and in theory, it should be better than the last until you go back and pick apart that very same project and do better on the other. That to me makes more sense than being a perfectionist. You look back far enough on your work and ya there is going to be a certain project that reminds you of how much you used to suck personally.
Now that I think about it the best are never really satisfied with their work even things that have received praise and critical acclaim they are constantly trying to improve.
This meeting is one I will never forget and will stay with me my whole life. A super cool moment at my town’s first comic-con. This is why I encourage people whether they are fans or people trying to make it in comics to go to cons you never know what’s going to happen or how it will affect your life!