The Stand: Captain Trips Cover

Interview with Mike Perkins
Posted: September 9th 2008

Ever wonder what it would look like when a virus outbreak decimates most of the human race? Well, when Marvel Comics and best-selling author Stephen King team up to bring you a comic adaptation of King’s much lauded novel The Stand, you’ll find out! The superstar team of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Mike Perkins bring the first of several limited series to life September 10th in The Stand: Captain Trips #1 (of 5)! The “King” of horror and the House of Ideas are back to bring you The Stand like you’ve never seen it before! Mike Perkins brings us behind the scenes on how the whole project came together and how much he enjoys working on this ground-breaking new series!

So before being approached about the project, have you had read The Stand?

I'd read a number of other Stephen King novels but I had yet to get around to The Stand. In a way, I'm pleased about this as it gave me a fresh pair of eyes towards the novel when I was approached about the possibility of illustrating the adaptation. Once I started reading it (the unabridged version, of course, as that's what we're basing the adaptation upon) I found that it was extremely difficult to put down. It's truly an engrossing novel.

So, you get approached about the project, you accept it, then you read the novel, and now it’s time to start preparing for the series. Going into something brand new, that has no set visuals and/or backgrounds, what’s it like being able to create all that?

It's a distinct pleasure to visualize a brand new series and see those creations coming to life on the page. I've done it a few times at Marvel over the past few years - the characters in SpellBinders, fresh visualizations of heroes and villains in Union Jack, the costume design ( in collaboration with Steve Epting ) of Sin, the Red Skull's daughter, in Captain America - and it's always an extremely creative pursuit. Starting it all from scratch gives it an added frisson of excitement as it's entirely your vision.

Is the research any different for this series then it would be for something set in the Marvel Universe?

Well, a lot of the Marvel Universe is set within the environs of the world that we live in, so from that aspect it's not that much different - but, throughout the novel we cross the United States and in order to make it grounded in reality I'm tracking down a multitude of references. I've taken numerous photos of Manhattan ( particularly the Lincoln Tunnel - and following Larry's walk down to it from Central Park) and have taken a "busmans holiday" in Boulder - snapping away at various settings. It's important for me that this series is the definitive version and part of that is accepting the responsibility that you have to get these things exact.

So you’ve had a bunch of experience creating new characters, was the process any different for this series? How fun was it to come up with more new character models? Did King’s writing make it easier for you or are the characters we see the way you envisioned them while reading the novel?

It's always fun to come up with the character studies. You're pretty much designing a character from the ground up and that's a part of the job that I've always enjoyed. Saying that though, Mr. King's writing is full of intriguing characters and whenever I would come across a new one, when reading the novel for the first time, I would underline the descriptive paragraph and jot down an index in the back of the book. This makes it easier to refer to - and to get correct - when the character is introduced in the comic.

Which of the characters are you having the most fun drawing?

Larry was always my favorite character in the book and I've enjoyed following his story - although, I'm really enjoying the moments with Frannie. At this point in the book she's confined to the moments when she's revealing her pregnancy to her boyfriend and then her parents - but each scene has had a different setting, and an open vista, to play around with and there's also a lot of emotion to depict within the faces and mannerisms of each of the characters in those scenes. I revel in illustrating those moments and The Stand is simply full of great characters and visual settings.

Have you been able to collaborate with King at all? Did he give any direction on any of the characters or do you have full reign?

The editorial office have a professional relationship with Mr. King through the amazing work accomplished on The Dark Tower so I leave the close collaboration to them. Any direction that came from Mr. King came directly from the source material - I just tried to follow what he had previously established - although, he has made it known that my depiction of the character of Frannie was exactly how he envisioned her when he started writing the novel.

So at the get-go, were there any scenes or characters that you were just itching to draw?

The Lincoln Tunnel scene is one of the main set pieces within the novel - even though it doesn't cover that many pages. There's such a visceral sense of terror about Larry's journey through the pitch black tunnel and it relies a lot on the imagination of the reader - that's going to be a challenge to bring across in an illustrative manner ; which is perhaps one of the main reasons I'm eagerly looking forward to it. Any scenes with the Walking Dude - Randall Flagg - are going to be visually stimulating and following the continuous degradation of Trashcan Man is - weirdly - going to be a joy to depict!

I've also really enjoyed illustrating the variant covers as each of the initial five covers of the first arc join together to make one continuous image; our main protagonists standing outside a corpse-ridden Lincoln Tunnel .

Are the variant covers something you had envisioned at the beginning of the project?

The connecting variant covers idea was brainstormed by Bill Rosemann and I. I'd suggest that people try to track them down in order to get a complete look at the devastated world of The Stand.

So you’ve gotten a good amount done so-far with the art. Is there anything that you’ve drawn yet that creeps even you out?

I think the first shot we get of the effects of Captain Trips - the super flu virus - is pretty disturbing. It's horrific enough in the books and it's been a challenge to illustrate something that millions of people have visualized in there own minds and still give it a shock value - I've accomplished that to some degree. I must have done - as it did, indeed, creep me out.


Excited yet? Well make sure you head on out to your local comic shop and pick up The Stand: Captain Trips #1 (of 5) on sale September 10th, 2008 to get in on the action! Don’t know where a comic shop is near you? Pick up that phone and call 1-888-comicbook or log on to!

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