One of the newest comic book artists to break-out from the pack with the DC Comics New 52 re-launch is Mikel Janin. Mikel has updated the look and style of several familiar characters in the new series, Justice League Dark, featuring Zatanna, Deadman, Constantine, Shade, Madame Xanadu, and the Enchantress (all shown above). With the series’ current issue #6, Mikel saw the release of his first published cover, and where some covers feature a separate penciler, inker and colorist, Mikel did it all for this cover. His past DC Comics work includes the 2011 JLA 80-Page Giant and Flashpoint: Deadman and the Flying Graysons. Mikel has created illustrations based on J.R.R Tolkien books that have been exhibited throughout Europe. He also created the graphic novel “Les aventures d’Antonin Phylifandre” for Éditions Akileos, among other works. We’re happy to welcome Mikel to borg.com.
Mikel, are you from Spain originally? How accessible were comic books to you growing up and what did you read as a kid?
Mikel: Hi Chris. Yes, I was born in Spain, and it’s where I live. Comic books have been part of my childhood since always. Actually, I learned to read with comic-books of Mortadelo, a very popular Spanish character. As a kid I remember Tintin and Astérix books, then I was an avid reader of American comic-books: Spider-Man, Secret Wars, X-Men, Teen Titans and Conan were my favorite books. I discovered later the European graphic novels, and became a fan of Hugo Pratt, Manara, Vittorio Giardino, Moebius…
Mikel's interior art for the 2011 JLA 80-Page Giant includes some trick arrow work by Green Arrow.
Did you always know you wanted to be an artist? Was there any specific turning point in launching your career to where you are today?
Mikel: When I was a child it was sure for me that I wanted to be comic artist. But I studied Architecture and formed a Studio in 2000. Things were well in Architecture until 2009, when I finally left it. I never stopped drawing and I even had some gigs for Akiléos (in France) and was published by Heavy Metal Magazine in the USA, and I was part of a Lord of the Rings based exhibition too. In 2009 I started an active career in comics, and in 2011 I got my first gig at DC Comics.
What artists have influenced your style?
Mikel: Too many! Ibáñez, José Ortiz, Bernet, Manara, Moebius, Giardino, Pratt, Buscema, Kirby, Byrne…
Mikel's first DC Comics cover, an image slightly modifying Zatanna's original new look from a print Mikel offered in a limited edition at NYCC last year.
I understand you are currently working digitally. What are the pros and cons of using that medium?
Mikel: Yes, I work almost 100% digitally. I come from Architecture, as I said, and computers were my main tool to think, design and draw buildings, so it’s a natural step using the same tools to think, design and draw comic-books! The pros are you don’t need to buy supplies, you don’t have accidental ink drops or paper broken and so, you don’t have to scan pages and you always can have a safe copy of your work if you have mistakes. It allows much more experimenting, too, because you aren’t afraid of ruining the page because of it. The cons are you don’t have an actual original page to offer to collectors, but this is not enough to keep me off of digital.
In the States, for a long time it was viewed that you need to live in New York City or Los Angeles to break into any kind of publishing. This has of course changed as technologies have changed. Are there any challenges of working so far from your current publisher?
Mikel: It’s a very confortable way to work. You work at home, so you don’t expend money in transport or even phone. An internet connection is enough. But this means you rarely interact with other people in the business, except by e-mail. Seeing the faces and hearing the voices is important too, for us human beings, so I try to go to conventions and say hello and shake hands with editors, publishers and other artists. It’s a need.
In addition to the slate of Justice League Dark characters, Mikel has drawn the New 52 updated versions of Cyborg, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman into his series.
Are there any creators you particularly would like to work with someday?
Mikel: Yes! I’m very happy so far, because I had the chance of drawing scripts from so talented guys like Peter Milligan, J.T. Krul and Adam Glass. And I’m currently working with Jeff Lemire, whose Animal Man I’m very much in love. But of course I’d love to work with lots of creators, like Ed Brubaker, Gail Simone, Scott Snyder or Geoff Johns, to say a few.
What is the local reaction to your work and your exclusive contract with DC Comics? In the States the New 52 has been big news this year, appearing in the press even outside the comics industry and traditional fan base. Has there been a similar reaction back home?
Mikel: Yes, fans in Spain are excited too. I think many of them are skeptical about the relaunch, but there’s a lot of buzz and excitement. The New 52 will be here in May, so let’s see how they take it! I’m happy with the reaction to my work and my exclusive contract too.
Mikel designed Zatanna's new "every day" clothes look.
With Justice League Dark how did you approach the creation of new looks for characters, in particular the new look for Zatanna and her new costume?
Mikel: My first designs were the classical look for them, just minor tweaks. Then editors told me that they were looking for something new, and they wanted Zatanna to be more sexy, between Catwoman and Emma Frost, so I came with the corset and fishnets in her arms and they liked it a lot. We decided to play with corsets, jackets, leather pants and fishnets, with variations from issue to issue. The idea is it’s not a costume. She has her costume for stage, as a work uniform, but these are her clothes. See, you don’t have your McDonalds shirt when you’re going to save the world!
You attended the New York Comic Con this year. What was your reaction to NYCC? Did you get to meet any creators who you personally are a fan of?
Mikel: It was HUGE. I was so happy, it was a dream for me. Being in the DC offices, saying hello to people that I just knew for the comic blogs was so satisfying. Everyone there was so kind! I had the chance to meet J.T. Krul and Adam Glass, my first writers in DC, and my friends and talented artists Mahmud Asrar, Yildiray Cinar, Joe Prado, Rafa Sandoval, and my old buddies Vicente Cifuentes, Pepe Caldelas or Will Ortego.
What should we keep an eye out for in future issues of Justice League Dark?
Mikel: It has already been announced that Jeff Lemire is taking writing duties since issue #9, with new characters joining the League and lots of action and magic all around! I’ve read what Jeff has for next issues and I’m super-excited about it, so JLDark fans should definitely follow us in this new run!
Thanks for chatting with us today, Mikel! Follow Mikel as a featured illustrator at DC Comics website, at his own website www.MikelJanin.com, at his blog, and on Facebook and Twitter!