Stupendous Artist Mike Maihack

This has been a STUPENDOUS week celebrating the release of Mike Jung’s GEEKS, GIRLS and SECRET IDENTITIES! Now we are thrilled to have Mike Maihack, the fabulous artist who brought Captain Stupendous and the gang to life with his amazing illustrations. Welcome Mike!

EMU LBC: First of all – I have to ask: I know it’s a cliche, but if you could choose any superpower, what would it be

MM: Well thankfully, for answer purposes, all the cliche superpowers actually seem horrifying in real life. I’d never want fly for fear of falling. Invisibility I’d probably get hit by a truck. And the last thing I what to know is what everyone one is thinking so telepathy is right out. Oh- but you know, telekinesis would probably be kinda cool and safe. Shoot I guess that is kinda cliche. Although I’d probably get really fat.

EMU LBC: Haaaa! Okay, so besides the obvious Captain Stupendous, (and your own ah-mazing Cleopatra in Spaaace) who is your favorite all-time super hero?

MM: It’s a tie between Supergirl and Batgirl. They are spunkier, better dressed versions of their famous male counterparts.

EMU LBC: What was it about GEEKS, GIRLS, AND SECRET IDENTITIES that drew you to this project?

MM: Honestly the project found me first. Phil Falco, the art director on the book, contacted me to see if I’d be interested. I had the time and the concept sounded fun so I said yes. It wasn’t till after, when I read one of the earlier drafts of the story, that I got super excited about it. I fell in love with the characters and the story was just so creative and engaging. I couldn’t wait to start illustrating it.

EMU LBC: What would you say was your inspiration for the dynamic style of the GEEKS artwork?

MM: Hmm.. Well, Jack Kirby for one. The nods to all the golden-age superhero stuff in the book kinda called for that. And then movies like the Iron Giant and The Incredibles. I also tried to mesh that animated comic book look with some classic storybook illustrations. Dunno if I succeeded in that. Haha.

EMU LBC: You totally nailed it! *happy fangirl claps for the Jack Kirby shout-out*

Did Captain Stupendous appear in your mind the way he appears in the book, or did his depiction go through changes as the project developed? Did you draw and reject any versions of the robot or other characters?

MM: Oh yeah absolutely. Originally Stupendous had a giant “S” on his chest. But then we worried about the potential Superman lawsuits that might develop from something like that so I changed it to the giant “C” he has now and moved the S to his belt buckle. There were a few other costume tweaks as well before I eventually landed with how he is now. The biggest challenge was trying to find that balance between simple and iconic without blatantly copying any other iconic hero.

With my initial sketches of the robot it didn’t even have a head. It was just this camera looking thing with a big dome around of it. Very odd looking. Like something out of an old sci-fi B-movie. Phil very rightly thought the it should have some sort of facial features which is how the eyes and toothy mouth got on there.

Polly, Vince and the rest of the main characters on the other hand all pretty much stayed exactly how I initially sketched them. George might’ve gotten a little taller and Max a little wider but that’s about it.

EMU LBC: Was there another profession you considered before realizing that being a comic book artist is pretty much one of the coolest jobs on the planet?

I originally planned on going into animation–traditional animation–before that job market pretty much went the way of the pteranodon. But I always intended to land in comics eventually. Ironically, I always thought I’d do more story illustration before comics work so it’s funny how the reverse kind of lead to the other.

EMU LBC: Tell us about the funniest, craziest or most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you at a Comic Con.

MM: Hah. Well, I don’t have a lot of stories since I’m pretty much glued to my table most of the time. I did just recently get some terrific posture advice from [All-Star Superman artist] Frank Quietly. All very good information, but unfortunately I was too entranced by his lovely Scottish accent to remember any of it.

Haaa! Love it! And thank you so much for joining us! Looking forward to seeing more of your awesome work in the future.

And now; we can’t possibly conclude a week celebrating GEEKS, GIRLS and SECRET IDENTITIES without another short video featuring plush characters! This video highlights just how GOOD the other videos are! Unfortunately, it accomplishes this by being quite bad.


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4 responses to “Stupendous Artist Mike Maihack

  1. Cynthia Levinson

    The book sounds great! I’m about to order my copy. (Mike, you gotta come to next year’s EMLA retreat so you can sign it.) And, the illustrations sound perfect. Thanks, Laurie, for this fun post.


  2. Very funny interview! And interesting to see the process. I really enjoyed getting the real book versus the ARC and seeing all those awesome pictures in more detail.


  3. Ha! Laurie, I thought that your video was great! Fun to see how many people have been inspired by the original Santa Duck and Zombie Buddy vlogs!

    I loved the interview, too–it’s making me salivate to see all the interior illustrations in the book! 🙂


  4. What an insightful interview! As a librarian, I see GEEKS, GIRLS AND SECRET IDENTITIES as as a bridge for kids who love graphic novels, but can be convinced to try out a non-graphic novel. The interior illustrations will definitely help me “sell” this book in my library, and then kids will be hooked by the text, as well. Librarians are sneaky that way. 😉


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