6 Questions with Mark Stokes Creator of Zombie Boy Comics
Mark Stokes is an exceptional individual who created one of my favorite web comics, Zombie Boy. Originally, Mark created Zombie Boy in 1987 in comic book form. Take a look at his website to see the difference between Zombie Boy then and now. This comic mixes the supernatural world and comedy seamlessly. I’ve never been a fan of voodoo-related stories but Mark has a way about writing that brings me back every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. His unique art style and cast are memorable, to say the least. His comic overall has a touch of old school comic strip class that lacks in our comic and most others today. Mark was also classy enough to include a bonus image of the Gentlemen and Zombie Boy as the JSA, take a look at the end of this interview!
Mark Stokes: This year marks the 25th anniversary of the character Zombie Boy, I self-published my first book back in 1987. My next book, Zombie Boy’s
Hoodoo Tales #1 came out in 1989, then I did Zombie Boy Rises Again in
1994 and finally had a one-shot Zombie Boy issue published by Antarctic
Press back in 1996. After years on hiatus, not drawing or even thinking
about him, I began to notice all these other Zombie Boys popping up all
over the web. There’s this guy in Canada that is tattooed up all over his
body who goes by the name Zombie Boy and about a half dozen comic books
with that title. I figured I wanted to take the name and character back,
so I revived him once again as a webcomic. I wanted people to know the
original Zombie Boy.
The OG: Your artwork is very animated looking and unique compared to most web
comics. How did you come up with your character designs and style?
Mark Stokes: I’ve spent many years as a commercial animator, I’ve had work in Spike and Mike’s Animation Festival, and worked as art director/creator for the Entertainment division of a large company, developing children’s animation projects. One of them was animated by DNA Productions, the animation company behind Jimmy Neutron, The Ant Bully, and Olive the Other Reindeer. So I’ve had many years to learn to simplify shapes and lines.
The OG: You do a great job of having story arcs run through your web comics. How far ahead of time do you write and draw your comics before posting them?
Mark Stokes: Most storylines are developed and finished way ahead of when they go live. That gives me time to see how it flows and decide if I need to add any additional strips or modify anything. I don’t like to have to rush around
at the last minute doing strips; I think my work would suffer like that.
The OG: The character Gorr is by far my favorite character of yours. Where did you and do you get inspiration for your characters?
Mark Stokes: I don’t know where Gorr came from to be honest. I wanted ZB to have a pet,
and I was originally going to leave it a mystery as to what kind of
creature he was exactly. I mean he looks like a dog, but there’s something
else going on there. I have a pug named Pooj who has and will always be
the greatest inspiration for Gorr. The sniffing, the shoveling under
things, the huffing slobbery beasty elements all comes from him. He can
look terrifying one second and then pop out his tongue and you just can’t
help but laugh. He’s a natural clown. Gorr was started with some of my
dog’s basic personality traits, but over time has developed into his own
thing entirely. All of the other characters in my strip are based on real
people to some degree with a little of my own personality thrown in as
well. I get inspiration from everywhere and everyone, actually.
The OG: You comment on the Obscure Gentlemen regularly as well as other web comics. What is it about web comics that you love?
Mark Stokes: First and foremost the thing I love most about webcomics is their
accessibility. Here you have all these fantastic creators, doing
incredible work regularly, and on top of that you can communicate directly
with them! I grew up reading comic strips in the paper, I couldn’t even
conceive of ever being able to instantly ask Charles Schulz a question
about the Peanuts strip I just read, and he would write back and answer my
question. Also, I’ve found webcomickers to be some of the friendliest
creative people I’ve ever encountered; they are usually totally supportive
and very helpful to others. I’m kind of late getting to the webcomics
party, but I’m glad to be here and I think this party is just getting
The OG: Who would win in a fight Wolverine or Hell Boy?
Mark Stokes: That’s an interesting question. But before I answer I’m going to have to tell you a story. It’s no secret I’m a huge Hellboy fan. Love the art, the
story, the supernatural tone, the feel of Mike Mignola’s oeuvre. Many
years ago, around 1996, I was at a show in Portland passing around a
little mini-preview copy of my upcoming Zombie Boy book with Antarctic
Press, and I stopped by Mignola’s table and handed him a copy. He politely
took it, looked at the title, looked up at with this “Oh, how original
look” and put the book down and continued sketching. I know he was
thinking I was probably the least original guy in the room, but what he
didn’t know was that at that point, Zombie Boy was already nine years old!
He was the one copying me! Anyway, Hellboy would rip Wolverine a new one
that even his self-healing powers couldn’t fix. So there.
Even though Mark answered question 6 incorrectly I demand that you go over to his site and read through his archives like I have.