Several weeks ago, I featured the pop-art stylings of artist Marc Basile on That’s Marvel BadAss! Marc was kind enough to reach out for a thank you and we agreed upon an interview. I was excited as I am obviously a fan of his work and as I was able to find out so little about him on the ol’ InterWeb. I had no idea the inspirational experience I was going to have as I sat down to read Marc’s answer to the first questions.
This interview is a long one, kids, but read it all. Look at the art. You’ll thank me. And, then, you’ll want to e-mail C.B. Cebulski and get Marc a cover gig at the House of Ideas.
Marvel Smartass: Hey, Marc! What’s your training? What was your path to becoming and artist and then an art instructor?
Marc Basile: I’ve been drawing ever since I can remember. That’s really been my life for 46 years, so I guess it was only natural that I became an artist. I attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City and obtained my BFA from there in 1985. Following my graduation, I worked for such companies as Scholastic Books, Macy’s and IZOD Lacoste. I’ve designed everything from giftwrap paper to t-shirt designs, so I’ve worn many hats.
After my daughter was born, I became a stay-at-home dad for 11 years and then I just kind of fell into my position as a professor at Sussex County Community College in New Jersey. Two years ago, an accident left me paralyzed from mid-chest on down. I can’t move my ‑fingers and it’s very difficult to draw with a pencil, but I can still “draw” and create with a mouse! As one can see my artistic abilities have carried me very far, they’ve even helped me keep my sanity so to speak.
Marvel Smartass: How long did it take you to rehab to the point at which you could draw with a mouse? Did comics play a role in helping with that?
Marc Basile: My injury was at the C4 level of my spine. It all depends where the damage to the spinal column occurred. As far as comics and my artwork playing a role in my rehab, they were a huge factor.
Prior to my injury, I became involved with the creative writing club on campus- Author’s Ink. It was my intention of teaming up the graphic design club (of which I was a co-advisor), The Design Squad, with them and perhaps “publish” an illustrated anthology of their writings. For one reason or other it never happened, but I did team up with one of the club members, a young man named Jonathan Petry. Jon is a very talented writer/musician and we decided to do something creative with his words and my pictures. It turned out to be a very successful venture and we were planning on a second edition, but then life bit back at me and I wasn’t sure if that second edition would ever come to fruition.
When I finally returned home from the hospital and the rehabilitation center two-and-a-half months later, I bought a tracking ball type mouse, forced myself back to work and within a few months Jon and I had our second collaboration. Through all of this, Jon has become a really good friend of mine and I think we’ve learned a lot about our individual talents and how our works inspire other people.
Marvel Smartass: How much does your passion for comics bleed over into your instruction at Sussex Community College? What reaction do you get from your students?
Marc Basile: Quite a few students of mine are comic book “geeks” and it’s great to be able to talk shop about that graphic medium with them.
Marvel Smartass: So, where did your love of all things King Kirby begin? What was your “gateway drug” to Kirby Krackle?
Marc Basile: I first became hooked on comics when I was twelve. Growing up in the New York area, I would watch a kid’s show on Sunday mornings called “Wonderama.”
One week, in the summer of 1975, Stan Lee and John Romita were on talking about Marvel and they drew me right in. I was always aware of Jack’s contributions to the early Marvel mythos and around this time I came across a copy of New Gods #5. All I could think was wow! The art and story scared the “blank” out of me! The picture of that creature at the end and the depiction of the promethean galaxy…to this day when I see them I get weak in the knees.
Then along came the Eternals and 2001: A Space Odyssey series and I just ate them up and it was probably around that time that I definitely knew I wanted to be an illustrator. I am sorry to say that in the decades that followed my dedication to comics waxed and waned and it wasn’t until I bought a copy of The Jack Kirby Collector #15 and saw the pencil versions of Kirby’s artwork, that there was a resurgence of my love for comic art.
Marvel Smartass: Who are your favorite comic book characters?
Mac Basile: I would have to say my favorite characters are the original X-Men. I don’t know why, I just like them. I wanted to name my daughter Pheonix, but my wife wouldn’t go for it.
Marvel Smartass: What comics are you reading now?
Marc Basile: I am enjoying the Marvels Project and Captain America though. I also recently picked up Craig Russell’s hardcover books of his opera and fairy tale adaptations and I was really impressed by that concept.
Marvel Smartass: Which working artists inspire you now? Are any of the game-changes or genre-generators like Kirby?
Marc Basile: I really admire the work of Darwyn Cooke, Tim Sale, Paul Pelletier, Steve Epting and John Bryne (who has been a big influence on me probably second to Jack Kirby). I don’t know if I’m 100% correct when I say this, but anyone who is a serious comic artist has been touched by Jack in some way or another.
Marvel Smartass: Alright, final question … High Father and The Unimind are playing hearts against Galactus and Darkseid for the Anti-Life Equation. Who would win?
Marc Basile: Reed Richards (with a bit of help from the Watcher, of course).