Exclusive: Mike Norton Talks THE ANSWER, REVIVAL, BATTLEPUG And More
Mike Norton has a lot going on lately. If you’ve walked into a comic book shop recently, chances are you’ve seen his name on a couple covers. Norton is currently working on his creator-owned series The Answer! from Dark Horse with help from his friend Dennis Hopeless (a name you’ve probably seen a lot more of recently) along with his weekly webcomic Battlepug, the hit Image series Revival with Tim Seeley, It Girl and the Atomics, as well as a little work on Young Avengers. The man took time from his very busy schedule to talk about The Answer! which had its second issue released this week. We also got a few words from him on his other projects. Read on:
Thanks for taking time to talk with us. First off, do you ever sleep? You have a lot going on with Young Avengers, Battlepug, The Answer and Revival. How are you choosing and balancing your projects nowadays?
I think I sleep too much, actually! I gotta get in 8 hours or I am a menace to society. I just never have time for anything else. Luckily, I have a very supportive girlfriend and two pugs that never want us to leave the house anyway. As far as how I choose my projects lately, it’s all about whether I think a project would be fun or the people involved
The Answer is an unusual story. Superheroes are usually a little crazy to begin with, but The Answer seems to be a completely different type of crazy. Plus there’s the fact he may or may not be a hero. Then you have the damsel in distress that isn’t really a damsel and can take care of herself. Did you set out to give the superhero tale a twist or did things start falling into place when you were working with Dennis Hopeless?
The Answer (both the story and the character) are intentionally obtuse. We’re taking all these familiar tropes that we love and bleeding them up into some thing that hopefully people will think is fun but is still strange and mysterious. Its a much stranger book than I think people are imagining.
What was the inspiration for The Answer? Did you look at any particular heroes or types of stories? He’s unique, but he has that familiar anti-hero flavor.
The core of the character is trippy Steve Ditko art and stories I loved when I got more into comics as a teen. I also have a real love for stories that don’t explain much and force you to get to know a character because they are just as lost as you. Im really excited to see what people think when they figure out more about The Answer. Theres a reason for the weirdness. Dennis really nailed much of that characterization in the writing.
You and Mr. Hopeless are both pretty busy with high profile projects for the big companies as well as your own creator owned endeavors. How did you guys come together for this and what’s the creative process like for you two?
I’ve known him for several years now… Back when neither of us were “high profile”. I’ve had this project clunking around in my brain for years and he wanted to turn it into something. Now everybody knows what I knew then! I deserve a finder’s fee, Marvel!
The Answer has two issues left. Devin is in with what seems to be a shady group and The Answer is in the nuthouse. Can you tease what’s coming up as we reach the finale?
Oh man… Literal insanity. The last issue is one of the craziest and weirdest comics I’ve made in a while. I hope people stick with us through it. Because if they do, they’re in for the long haul if we do more!
You’ve worked with Dark Horse to put out the first volume of Battlepug. Did that help get things going with The Answer? You don’t really think of Dark Horse as the superhero type publisher. That’s not a jab, they just have their own style for putting out great comics.
Yeah. I actually approached them with both at first, But battle pug was easier to get started for them. Dark Horse is known for a certain thing, but really they do EVERYTHING. I think you’re gonna see a concentrated effort by them in the next year to show people that. One of those things is gonna be a lot more superheroes!
Speaking of Battlepug, it’s really taken off lately. Does it give you a different feeling when that succeeds considering you do it all instead of focusing on just the art or just the story?
Yeah. It’s definitely the most rewarding of the projects I work on. Purely for selfish reasons. I do whatever I want to do, and thankfully people like it. It’s hard for that to not give an ego boost, y’know? I love working on the Answer and Revival. I’m so proud of Revival in a way I don’t think I’ve felt on a project before. They’re definitely much harder to do for me, though. Battlepug doesn’t feel like work to me.
Like I said, I love Revival… For a lot of reasons. Collaborating with Tim on something is just exciting and inspiring. I feel like its bringing out some of the best pages I’ve ever drawn, and Tim is really proving to people that he’s not just one sort of writer. Every issue there is something I have to draw that makes me think, “Huh… That’s probably the most disturbing thing I’ll ever draw.” That’s really fun.
I have to ask about a recent controversy with ABC doing a show called The Return. It’s very, very similar to Revival. You and Tim Seeley both stayed pretty classy about it, but can you share your thoughts about the situation?
Honestly? I’m not happy about it. But not because of any supposed similarities between the projects. Mostly I fear that with something like that in development, it will most likely decrease our chances of ever seeing a Revival movie or TV show. It’s a real bummer. But hey, I’m still proud of the comic. There’s a really cool story we got cooking!
Not that you’re not doing enough already, but do you have anything in the works we should be on the lookout for? Any projects for hire or creator owned that you’re kicking around ideas for?
Yes, but nothing I’d feel comfortable announcing just yet. I’m finishing up issue 9 of It Girl and The Atomics for Jamie Rich and Mike Allred, and that’s been terribly fun. I’m definitely gonna do some more stuff down the line, but right now I’m looking just to whittle down my load to two books a month,
Our thanks again to Mr. Norton for letting us bother him for a little while. Be sure to keep up with Battlepug and follow Norton on Twitter @themikenorton. The Answer! has been great so far. With two issues to go, it will be interesting to see just how crazy it gets. Revival has been a big hit, so there’s not much more to say about that. Norton remains pretty classy about the whole ABC situation, but I really hope we get to see Revival on the big or small screen. We’ll have to wait and see what Norton has in the works though, he remained tight lipped on that matter. What do you think? What are you reading now to get your Mike Norton fix?