Getting a 'Red Spike' With Mark Texeira

Artist Mark Texeira has been drawing tough men (and women) causing ruckus since the mid-80’s for every publisher under the sun, from runs on Ghost Rider and Punisher at Marvel to Vampirella at Harris, Texeira has been illustrating characters in hard situations for a while. Seriously, you need to pick up his mid-90’s Ghost Rider run, which was simply mind-blowing back in the day.

In May, he’ll be bringing his gritty brand of line work to Image Comics and Benaroya Publishing’s upcoming military action-thriller Red Spike, written by Jeff Cahn. Texiera will be providing covers for the miniseries about dueling supersoldiers as well as interior flashback sequences alongside interior artist Salvador Navarro. On May 4th the first issue drops with a $1 price tag and Texeira was nice enough to tell us a little about his work on the book—in between sorting out some work during the call on an upcoming Punisher project with Frank Tieri—and also showed off some of the process art for the first issue cover.

MTV Geek: How’d you get involved with Red Spike?

Mark Texeira: I’ve known Dave Elliott since my Penthouse Comics days back in ’96. Back then, Penthouse Magazine went in an interesting direction with adult-oriented comic books. It was fun, and that’s when I first met Dave. And I knew him from the A1 comic days in Britain, working with the likes of Simon Bisley and other English artists.

So it was good working and establishing a relationship with Dave back then. And over the years we kind of stayed in touch through conventions and meetings. Then he asked me to do [Red Spike] with him for Image Comics and Benaroya Publishing.

Fortunately, I had the space—I just finished up a Punisher series somewhere around November of last year and I had the time. And Marvel’s planning another future Punisher series that I have to work on this year. So I have to wrap these five issues [of Red Spike] up—at least my half of the responsibilities: covers and flashback sequences—within the next 2-3 weeks.

Geek: Could you tell us a little about the appeal of the project for you?

MT: [It has] a military aspect that’s being keenly exploited in movies nowadays. It reminds me of the early Captain America [stories] where there’s some scientific experimentation going on with super-soldiers—but imagine that Steve Rogers and Wolverine were part of the same program. Their dynamic plays out nicely. It all sort of plays into that futuristic, mutating, “universal army” kind of thing.

Then there’s contention between the two main characters, Matt and Greg. They both seem to like this Downey character who’s this scientist—she has it in more for Greg. I like that playing back and forth, two boys competing for one love. I mean, Jeff’s [Cahn] done a great job of creating these identifiable, multilayered characters.

Believe it or not, I try not to read the other half since I’m only doing the flashbacks. I’m only concentrating on that part of the storyline [and] if I read the other half, I might get caught up in that half, so I just try to stick to my responsibilities.

Geek: That’s interesting that you partition your work off from the other creator’s. How do you think that realizes the vision of the comic—having two separate and independent approaches to the visual style?

MT: That’s up to Dave and his boys. And it’s going to be interesting because our styles [don’t] mesh. I try to incorporate some of the high-contrast elements [Salvador uses]. Salvador did this great job of pulling off this sort of Frank Miller-ish, high-contrast look. I try to compliment it with a more Neal Adams school, more linear [look]. There are times I look at that style and think that it’s more economical, with the negative and positive space incorporated into the art style.

Yeah, so that’s going to actually have to depend on the coloring team. And since I have all of the covers, I really get the joy out of doing the packaging wrap on the series—that’s fun.

Geek: Did you have a particular theme that you tried to explore visually in your portions of the book?

MT: It’s funny, you know, when you work with two new characters you’re still feeling yourself out with them for a while. So, I’m starting to get more and more comfortable as the series is ending with these characters.

[I try to] bring Kirby-like elements at times when there’s action going on and try not to get too caught up in who the characters are but [instead] to sort of build the world around them that has more elements of the military background.

We have young soldiers—Greg, who comes from a violent background. His parents—well, I don’t want to give away the story but they’re in this sort of “death by cop” kind of [thing]. And Matt’s background, his father died in duty. So they’re two boys who are sort of reared by the military. I’m sure that’s not outside the more realistic storylines going on in the world.

As far as military, I do so much Punisher for Marvel that it’s really not outside any element I’m pretty comfortable with, even though I’ve never been part of the military.

Geek: You mentioned some of the early Cap-style super solider elements—do any of those show up in your sequences?

MT: I think towards the end. I get all of the structural, origin sort of lines. And I’ve seen snippets of what [Salvador] has pulled off and I’m aware of some of the things that are going on but I don’t get the Flash Gordon-like elements that may be going on or some of the more sci-fi elements—

[Sighs] I’m in the middle of two projects. I’m working on sketches on a Marvel Punisher thing and I’m cleaning up pages on Red Spike, so I’ve got such a mess at my studio, and I’m separating art that goes here and art that goes there.

But yeah, at this point, I’m there to sort of establish the two characters so that the other artists can carry on the storyline. And I think that’s what you can tell with the styles—mine being a little more old-school or established I tend to want to conform to detail [with] the characters and then allow [Salvador] to approach the storyline with a much more stylistic approach.

Geek: What else do you have coming up?

MT: [The] upcoming Punisher project that I’m currently hammering out with the editor, Stephen Wacker and writer Frank Tieri. You know, when you start doing a new series there’s so many elements they want you to—you know, because this doesn’t happen in the current storyline—they want you to design for them.

But I want to continue working with Dave, because my past experiences with Dave have been nothing but positive. He allows me so much room. And other than telling the story, I tend to have a fairly sound working experience. I hope it’s the same for him.

You know, at Marvel and DC, even though you work for them, you really don’t get a chance to do your creator-owned [stuff] much. I’m hoping that working with Dave will open up more of these opportunities down the road.

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