Lilja: How did you get this job of illustrating The Stand?
Mike Perkins: I had been illustrating Captain America for the past two and a half years and made it known to Marvel that I was ready to move on and set up a series on my own, should I be offered the opportunity, and they asked if I would be interested in illustrating The Stand. I worked on five pages of samples and these were shown to Mr. Stephen King who approved me for the project. I was more than pleased!!
Lilja: Where you a fan of King’s books before you got this job?
Mike Perkins: I had read a few of his novels before-hand and was well aware, and in admiration of, his standing within the entirety of the entertainment medium. The Stand was not one of the books I had read and I believe that worked to my advantage as it gave me a fresh pair of eyes with which to approach the story. Since I've started the adaptation, though, I've been listening to a whole heap of Mr. King's novels on audio book and they're simply fantastic to experience in that way. So many audio books are impossible to listen to when you're concentrating on illustrating but Mr. King's novels are so packed with interesting characters and situations - as well as wonderful dialogue - that I've found that you can really concentrate on both at the same time.
Lilja: What do you think it is in King’s story that translates so well into the comics?
Mike Perkins: It's definitely his imagination - and his fully rounded characters. I think a lot of casual observers to Mr. King's work see him as solely a horror writer and this simply is not the case. He has a great ear for dialogue that distinguishes his characters and there's always a growth for those characters within the confines of all his novels. His visual descriptions of characters also spark the mind and it's a pleasure to bring my visualizations of those descriptions to the comic book page.
Lilja: Did you look for inspiration for the characters anywhere other then King’s book? Maybe the movie?
Mike Perkins: No, not really. I've taken all the character descriptions directly from the novel. When I first read The Stand I underlined all the descriptive sentences and introductory paragraphs of each and every character and then wrote down the page number of the corresponding paragraph to an index of characters in the back of the novel. This way, when I got around to that point in the adaptation, I could illustrate the look of the scene and the people participating in it so that it matched the novel. I have yet to see the movie version although I'm aware of it.
Lilja: Is there some parts of the book that you look forward to/don’t look forward to illustrating and if so, why?
Mike Perkins: I can't really say that there are any parts of the book that I'm not looking forward to illustrating. I'm getting to the point in the adaptation now where the characters are moving out of the confines of their own settings - so that makes it more visually interesting in the sense that the vistas are opening up rather than being stuck in the one environ. As for the parts that I'm really looking forward to...well - there's the whole book!! The Lincoln Tunnel, Vegas, Trashcan Man's manic deterioration, Randall Flagg's supernatural intensity, the Tornado in mainland America...there's just so much in the novel that is massively visually interesting!
Lilja: Where are you in the process now? How many issues have you illustrated so far?
Mike Perkins: I'm currently starting issue four. The virus, and the military response to it, has started to escalate, all our characters are starting to feel the emotional devastation of Captain Trips and there's a Darkness on the move...
Lilja: Have you spoken to King or got any comments from him about your illustrations?
Mike Perkins: The editorial office deal directly with Mr. King so I just leave that to them. He approves the whole process so if there were an problems I'm sure he'd let me know! Hid did let me know that my character study of Frannie was exactly how he saw her when he first started writing the novel - which was an immense compliment!
Lilja: How does the work process go? Do you get a manuscript from Roberto and then you illustrate it from there?
Mike Perkins: That's pretty much it. Roberto writes the script and he sends it on to editorial. They go through it and send it on to Mr. King for his approval; at which point it's sent on to me. I sit down with it, read it through and start to make very rough thumbnail layouts of the pages. If there are specific references, such as the Center for Disease Control in Atalanta ( the 1990 version- not the new one) or specific makes of cars, then I'll hunt down photographic reference for that. The unabridged novel is set in the real world of 1990 America and that's the feeling I endeavour to portray on the page.
I'll then start penciling the pages, send these for approval and continue on to the inks. They're then scanned in and sent on to Laura Martin to add her beautiful colours.
Lilja: Was there anything you hade to change from King’s book in order to get it to fit in the comic?
Mike Perkins: Not as far as I know. Roberto would no doubt know more about that than I - but, in comparison with the novel, everything seems to be in place. We've jiggled some of the character scenes around so that they're more inter-cut with each other - but that's to make it more visually interesting for both the reader and, undeniably, the illustrator bringing those pages to the comic book!
Lilja: Where you nervous about high expectations on The Stand since Marvel’s other King adaptation The Dark Tower has been such a success?
Mike Perkins: The Dark Tower is an absolutely gorgeous book. The work that Jae Lee and Richard Isanove have accomplished on the comic is phenomenal. Yet, it's set in it's own otherworldliness rather than the realistic setting of The Stand so the comparison between the books - although expected - doesn't really come into play that much.
Lilja: How much of your time will it take to illustrate the 30 issue Marvel has planed so far?
Mike Perkins: I would say, breaking it down page by page, that the adaptation will take me about three years. Three years of working on one of the most character driven, visually stunning novels of all time? I think it will be a joy, a pleasure and a privilege!!
Lilja: Again, thanks for taking the time to speak to me, it was a pleasure!