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Mark Darden On Writing an Homage to Batman and The Tick
Last week I caught up with and interviewed independent Comic Book Creator Mark Darden. We talked about his love for Batman, Darkwing Duck and The Tick. Specifically, how his comic book Guano Guy is a comic strip homage to all three of those characters.
I hope you enjoy reading this interview as much as I enjoyed talking with Mark.
Anthony Pollock: Thank you for taking the time to chat with me this week. Please tell the readers a bit about yourself and the work you do.
Mark Darden: I work as an air traffic controller; talking to pilots and helping planes get to the ground safely. I write comics every chance I get and have been plugging away for years in a vain attempt to become a famous writer.
Anthony Pollock: Tell me a bit about the inspiration behind Guano Guy.
Mark Darden: Initially I wrote a series of short, funny comics strips about a character named the Guano Guy, who was a mock version of Batman with hints of Darkwing Duck and The Tick. As the stories went on, the Guano Guy took on a life of his own and the strips evolved into full length issues.
Anthony Pollock: Where did writing start for you and what is your origin story?
Mark Darden: I started getting comics off the magazine and news racks at age five and fell in love with Batman very quickly. At eight, I read the Hobbit and wrote my first stories about a police dog. I went on to study fiction, fantasy, and horror with the intent to be novelist. I also wrote songs and dreamed of rock stardom while playing in bands around my town.
However, I ditched school after falling for a pretty, foreign girl, and ended up joining the military to see the world and get a background in aviation. After the military, I studied graphic design and went to work for a board and card company, during which time I launched the Guano Guy comic.
Anthony Pollock: Guano Guy is clearly influenced by superheroes and antiheroes but where does the overall genre sit for you? What are your go to’s?
Mark Darden: I see the Guano Guy as a cartoon sitcom in print form. It’s about zany, self-absorbed superheroes, and to that end I fill the stories with pratfalls, inane ideas, and plots that take the reader for a ride but ultimately go nowhere. I try to pack in as many one-liners, two-liners, and through liners as I can. Hopefully by the end the reader is wondering what the heck they just read and where they can get more.
Anthony Pollock: What are your biggest obstacles when it comes to your work? How do you overcome them?
Mark Darden: A major obstacle to creative projects is, believing in the work even when others don’t and believing that ultimately you’ll find an audience who enjoys and appreciates your creative work. It takes a lot of will to stick it out and not give up, something I think I learned from reading about superheroes.
Believing in the work was easier to overcome until the original artist, Ashby Utting, my creative partner, teacher, and friend, left the book due to family obligations. In a way it was like figuring out how to be a solo artist after the band breaks up. It took years to refocus and figure out how to proceed as the sole leader of the project. I lucked out and found a great new artist, Alexander Enlund. We liked each other’s work and agreed to join forces on the Guano Guy.
Anthony Pollock: How did you go about finding the right artist to work on this project?
Mark Darden: Originally I met Ashby through a school announcement board. We had a lot of common comic interest and really liked the idea of doing a wacky superhero. Alexander I met online through social media. I was following a lot of artist and eventually it led me to Alexander and his art. I asked him to do some stories with me and it took off from there.
Anthony Pollock: Many of us creators work on projects outside of our 9-5 jobs. Do you have any advice for balancing careers with passion projects/side hustles?
Mark Darden: Yes I do, so take out your note pad or phone, cause you’re gonna wanna write this down. First, sneak in as much creative work as you can during lunch breaks, work breaks, and toilet breaks. Second, sneak in a little creative work at night after everyone goes bed and a little in the morning before everyone wakes up. However, you should also set cutoff times and stop working to spend time with family and friends.
Anthony Pollock: Do you have any upcoming events/projects/releases you would like to discuss?
Mark Darden: Yes I do, I have a major release coming up on Kickstarter, starting September 15th, Guano Guy #3 plus all 6 back issues, don’t do the math, it doesn’t make sense. It continues the main story plus kicks in 4 side stories for maximum impact.
At least 5 artists; it’s gonna be a ball of fun so go to Kickstarter right now and follow Guano Guy #3. This will be the first issue with TerraForm comics and we are looking spread this entertainment to every rock, tree, and outpost until we run out of gas and have to take a nap.
Anthony Pollock: Thank you for taking the time to do this! Where can readers find you and your work?
Mark Darden: I’m heavily involved in Facebook as both Mark Darden and the Guano Guy, so check me out there for project updates, life updates, and general good times. You may have already seen me on Facebook due to my involvement with comic and game related Facebook pages. And if I’ve argued with you in the past over absurd pop culture topics, I apologise, no harm intended.