Michael Mayne is the co-writer and artist of the Red 5 comic BONNIE LASS. BONNIE LASS recently completed its first volume with Red 5 and Mayne is now working on Volume 2. He took a small break from scripting the second series to indulge us in a Q&A about what its like to write and draw his own comic for an independent comic publisher like Red 5 along with his recent philanthropic efforts with Comics4Freedom. Be sure to read the entire interview as the details of this week’s contest are at the end!
1. Bonnie Lass Volume 1 follows the adventures of Bonnie and her crew as they establish themselves as the most fearsome pirates to sail the seven seas – what made you decide on the character of Bonnie as a pirate?
Michael Mayne: Bonnie’s design has its origins in a number of scrap doodles I made several years ago, dating back to 2005. When I was initially given the opportunity (along with Tyler) to come up with a comic premise of my own, I wanted to do something simple. I stumbled upon some of those old drawings and thought it would be fun to write a straight-up adventure story with this piratical gal, and we just sort of rolled from there!
2. As a male comic creator, do you find it difficult to write for a female lead character? A lot of male comic creators really emphasize the sexuality of their female leads, but Bonnie Lass seems to focus more on her as an adventurer. Was this a concious effort or did it come about organically with the evolution of the story?
MM: I wouldn’t say I find it difficult, but that in and of itself gives me pause from time to time. When springboarding from those initial concepts drawings, Bonnie had about as much personality as Red from the old Tex Avery cartoons. I was almost fine with this in the beginning, but my natural inclination is to want to write believable, relatable characters that you can root for, so I quickly made a deliberate push in that direction. That said, I’m constantly mindful that ofttimes Bonnie does/will indeed come off as a clichéd, male-written female protagonist. And yes, I’ll admit Bonnie is no stranger to a few cheesecake pinups or freeze frames from time to time, but I really hope that ultimately she’s being valued as that strong, believable character I’m aiming for, regardless if I know what I’m doing or not.
3. Initially your comic started out as a digital-only release, but Red5 made the decision to release a print version – how did the jump from online to the shelves happen? Was it Red5’s idea or did you make a push for it?
MM: A follow-up print run was always part of the plan. When Red 5 picked it up, they had the intention of using Bonnie Lass as a testing ground for their new digital strategy—digital first to build up an appetite, print later to feed the hunger. The only requisite for the print run was a favorable turnaround in the digital market, which we apparently and thankfully got!
4. Along with being the writer of Bonnie Lass you also draw and color it. How would you describe your style of art? Who are your artistic influences?
MM: I’m inclined to agree with the many people who describe my artwork as a kind of “modern anime meets modern Disney” feel. At least so with the art style I use in Bonnie Lass.
As far as influences go, they’re all over the place. I’d mentioned Tex Avery earlier—really any of those old Warner Bros. or MGM cartoons have been a staple in my artistic intake diet since I was born. I try to infuse some of that zaniness into the pages of Bonnie Lass, without going too overboard. Comic influences include Adam Hughes, Adam Warren, Jeff “Chamba” Cruz, Jim Lee, Joe Madureira, Mike Mignola… the list could go on, but more often than not I’m looking to the guys who emphasize linework or simple elegance over gritty spot blacks and such.
(Also, don’t mind that that list came out in pseudo-alphabetical order. That’s just a coincidence. Or I’m Rain Man.)
5. If a Hollywood executive gave you cart blanche to cast the live action Bonnie Lass major motion picture, who would you cast for the following roles:
MM: This would be tough, as Tyler and I have had this hypothetical discussion a few times, with us usually just saying, “Some unknown up-and-comers,” but I’ll give it a go…! Also, seeing as how I’m no casting director, these are based mostly on superficial qualities, not so necessarily on acting prowess…
Bonnie Lass: A slightly younger Eliza Dushku would have fit quite nicely I think. Her Joss Whedon roles pretty much proved she can kick ass onscreen.
Ben Lass: I honestly have no idea. Actors in their mid/late 20s with that kind of stocky build aren’t coming to my mind.
Trick Fischer: Chris Hemsworth, maybe?
Doogan: only person coming to mind is the late Michael Jeter, so…
Monet: an early design influence on Monet was Da Vinci Code-era Tom Hanks, but I’m pretty sure he’s too tall for Monet’s creepily diminutive stature… How tall is (the awesome) Kevin Spacey?
Rubens (of the upcoming arc): Johnny Depp. Sorry. Or you’re welcome.
And I’d like to add that Cutbhert (Bonnie and Ben’s father) could be well-played by professional hardass Sean Bean. Just saying.
(Also, Godspeed to the casting director that would have the balls to suggest any of these to the producers on whatever budget a Bonnie Lass movie would get.)
6. Speaking of the upcoming Bonnie Lass comic – you’re currently working on Bonnie Lass Volume 2! Will Red 5 be releasing this volume in print as well? Can you give the readers a little heads-up as to what they can expect from the second volume?
MM: This one I’ll have to keep pretty mum about, since it’s still technically in the pitching stage. Red 5 is our first stop for publication of a second volume, but nobody’s committed to anything yet, so I don’t want to implicate anyone just yet.
As far as what’s happening… While the first arc made quite a bit of use of the pirate motif, this next one actually starts out with a bit more of an Old West air about it, with the swashbuckling and sci-fi picking back up in the latter half. As of right now, I’m wrapping up artwork on the first issue of this arc, and looking forward to working on issue two—fighting on a moving train.
7. You’re taking part in Comic Creators for Freedom’s ongoing donations drive to benefit Love146 & Gracehaven, organizations that work to put an end to human trafficking. How did you get hooked up with Comics4Freedom and what made you decide to participate? Additionally – what can people do to help out this cause?
MM: Comic Creators For Freedom co-founder Lora Innes is a webcomic auteur I’ve admired for a few years now. She also co-hosts the Paperwings Podcast for visual storytellers, and through that I found out about the CCF campaign. Admittedly I’m not as actively charitable as I’d like to be, but when I heard that CCF was going to combine the efforts of several dozen participating comic artists to help such a worthy cause, I thought it was finally time to make put my artistic merits to a truly good use. It was such a small contribution on my part, but I’m glad it’s getting to be part of this greater whole. If anyone would like to donate, they can go to comiccreatorsforfreedom.com and find the Donate button in the upper right corner. Many creators are offering extra incentives for certain donations throughout the week; follow @Comics4Freedom on Twitter for updates on the efforts as well as announcements about new creator incentives. The donation drive runs till the 20th.
8. If you were transported into the world of Bonnie Lass – what kind of pirate do you think you would be?
MM: The guy that gets grazed in the head in the very first issue.
9. What is your ultimate karoke set list?
MM: Priming myself for karaoke night as I type. Some of my go-tos are “Take It Easy” by Eagles, “I’m a Believer” by Smash Mouth, and “Get Out of My Dreams, Get into My Car” by Billy Ocean. And some Bon Jovi and Billy Joel. Thinking about trying out The Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction” tonight. We’ll see if I’ve got moves like Jagger.
10. Finally, with this interview we’ll be doing a contest to get people to Tweet out this interview to their followers. The grand prize will be the complete Bonnie Lass volume 1! But we’ll also have a few prizes for the runners up as well. For this contest, what #hashtag would you like the folks to use so we can track them?
MM: How’sabout simply #BonnieFAN?
Thanks to Michael Mayne for answering our questions. Bonnie Lass is available both digitally and in print, so head to your local comic shop and ask them to order it for you. This grand prize of this week’s contest is the complete BONNIE LASS Volume 1! We’ll also have runner-up prizes for those who participate.
All you have to do enter is….
1.Tweet out this interview to your followers using the handy social media buttons directly below.
2.Be sure to include a link to this interview and the hashtag #BonnieFAN.
3.It helps to follow me on Twitter @dethfilm so I can DM you and you can also follow Michael @MichaelMayne
4.The contest ends on Friday, January 20th at which point we’ll randomly pick the winners and contact you via DM on Twitter to send you your prize.
As an added incentive to tweet out this interview, if we can reach 100 shares (either via Twitter or Facebook) using the social media buttons just below this article – the Freakin’ Awesome Network will donate $50 to the Comics4Freedom donations drive to help fight human trafficking.
***1/17/12 Update: We’ve already reached our goal of 100 shares and $50 has been donated to Comic Creators for Freedom! As an added bonus, Michael Mayne has agreed to make an additional donation if we reach 250 shares, so keep spreading the word!