I am poetry in motion. But the kind of poetry that has bad grammar and comma splices. Dangling participles and run-on sentences. Plural problems and incorrect tenses.
-- Kabuki: Metamorphosis #4
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Kabuki - The Alchemy Hardcover & Trade Paperback: ON SALE
Daredevil - Parts of a Hole Premiere HC: ON SALE
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Kabuki - Volume 1: Circle of Blood Hardcover (Regular & Limited Editions): ON SALE
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Home Interviews XRay - 2004 City Guide

XRay - 2004 City Guide
Release Date: 2004
Price: Free
Publisher: XRay Cincinnati
· A black and white version of the Kabuki painting from the cover of Metamorphosis #9 was included on page 4
· Danny Sonder's David Mack interview, which appeared on pages 3-4, is available below:

Interview with David Mack

David Mack is a writer, painter, sculptor, and toy designer. But his main focus is comic books, where he is one of the rare artists in any medium who enjoys as much popular success as critical acclaim in his field. He is the creator, writer, and artist of Kabuki, a comic book he has been producing for over ten years now. The new series is Kabuki: The Alchemy, which is coming out this Spring.

I sat down with Mack to ask him what some of his favorite places are in the greater Cincinnati area.

Describe for me what your typical day is like.

When I'm working on a Daredevil book like I just did, the past two or three weeks I was finishing something so a quickening process happens. I start sleeping in two or three hour shifts and working for twelve hours straight: painting, collaging, lettering, writing, or making stuff.

With no rhyme or reason as to daylight, nighttime?

Right. That's all a suprise to me. That's just my collaboration with reality.


So you spend these 12-hour days drawing. How long does production on the book take?

By production you mean...?

How much time do you spend down at Kinko's?

I spend a lot of my time making stuff here. I'll go to Kinko's and I'll reduce it to comic book size because I do it at twice the size. I make little mock-up comic books so I can see how it looks and then it gives me a new idea of how I might change things around. Or sometimes I'll paint things large and do some collage and reductions of it. It gives me a new perspective. I take all the pages and spread them out and ask the people at Kinko's what they think.

We're talking several hours at least?

Sometimes, yeah.

Generally in the middle of the night.

Yeah, usually at night.

How often do you go down there?

No regular schedule. Sometimes three or four days in a row, sometimes it might be once a month. Usually I don't go there until I've got a certain amount of work done. Then I go with the comic and lock it up.

What do you send to Marvel and Image [his publishers]? Do you send digital files or original art?

We used to send original art and now we send digital files.

So you just send them a disc?

Yeah, now we send them a disc.

Comic Book World

We should talk about Comic Book World.

Comic Book World is a store that has three locations: Cincinnati, Florence of Turfway Road, and they also have a store in Louisville, which is their newest one. It was opened in June of 1991 and I was the guest creator signing on the day of their opening.


But I've only signed there a couple times. Mostly I sign at the Turfway Florence one, which is the store that is my regular comic book store. A store that I went to since I was a kid. I was probably 10 or 11 when I started going there. Paul Mullins runs it and he makes sure to have a complete stock of Kabuki, my own comic, and all my other Daredevil comic book work for Marvel. You can go there and just say "David Mack work," and he'll show you all of it.

In fact they have a separate display for you, a bookstore endcap as we say in the retail world.

I like how you put that. "A bookstore endcap." It's a very clean store with a lot of helpful people in it. A really good store to go to.

You have a good relationship with Paul?

Great relationship with him. I showed him my artwork when I was 15 or 16, when I started doing comic book stuff. He was always very encouraging, and he's always been encouraging as I've sort of climbed the ranks. Paul has always supported my books. Call 'em up, tell 'em David Mack said hello. And they'll give you a special... expression. [laughs]

Base Art Gallery and Essex Studios Group

Excellent. Why don't you tell me a little about Base Art Gallery and Essex Art Studios?

Anh and I were going to St. Theresa's Textile Trove, and it was closed that day. As we walked back to the car, we passed something called the Base Gallery. It had really interesting art. We looked inside the window and saw really beautiful paintings. A guy turned on the lights and ushered us in. His name was Tom Weast and he did the paintings that were on display. He was very nice and told us about the gallery. He was displaying many other peoples's artwork, and there were five pieces that I recognized.


I recognized the artist's work cause I'd seen this artist drawing at Union Terminal. It's a guy who dresses as a clown and people used to call him the Construction Clown cause he wore a construction hat and had a big toolbox and clown suit and always used to hang around construction sites. In Union Terminal I saw him open up his toolbox, which was full of drawing materials, and draw pictures. I talked to him and asked him if I could buy some of his artwork, but he seemed kind of shy. That was ten years ago and when I saw these images at the Base Gallery I recognized them so I brought them up to Tom. Tom told me about him so I ended up buying three of this guy's pieces.

What is the artist's name?

This man whose paintings I bought is named Raymond Thunder Sky.

How about Essex?

Essex Studios had a Halloween party and they invited myself and my girlfriend. I met the artist [Thunder Sky] and many other amazing artists. Antonio Adams is another one. I really enjoyed the whole vibe of people making art there. They had a staff meeting and they asked me to join in and be a part of it. Anh wants to be part of it so it looks like we'll be involved in a purely philanthropic basis. All the artists there seemed have a great time and to be actualizing themselves through there art, opening up and learning things about themselves and I got to view the world through their art.

It was a way for them to meet people which in a way is the same for me with my art.

What would you consider outsider art?

Outsider art is art generally from people who haven't had formal art training. They often work in a vaccuum from other art circles or society in general. It might be because of geographical location. They might live in a certain area where they don't travel to more metropolitan places and see other kinds of art. Or some of the artists might have disabilities or some may just not get out of the house much. But they have a certain style all their own and they just constantly develop their own work without interacting or being influenced by other art. So it's art they developed completely on their own and in their own way.

That can be pretty exciting?

Yeah, because it's unique and specific to that individual. It's usually not someone who was inspired by TV or inspired by other kinds of artists. Their own unique vision comes out of their personal art-making and what motivates them and what their interests are.

Riverside Korean

We talked last time about some restaurants in the area that you frequent. Why don't you tell me a little about Riverside Korean?

It's on Madison Ave right next to the Army store, up the street from the Covington library. I love Korean food. We eat in the restaurant which has fantastic atmosphere and great service. We also get it to-go a lot too.

How does Korean cuisine differ from other Asian cuisine?

It's very different. It's completely its own, and one of the things that I love about it is that no matter which entree you order, they give you all these different side dishes with Korean vegetables. You might have Kim Chee, which is a cabage that's fermented with different spices, roots similar to potatoes, different kinds of greens, sesame and different spices on it, bean sprouts. All these different things made different ways. My favorite is the hot clay pot Bi Bim Bop and the Boo Goh Gi.


I wanted to ask you about the Contemporary Art Center (CAC) because they just opened with a whole new design.

It was designed by architect Zaha Hadid, and I was there on opening night.

So what did you think of it?

I love it. I loved everything in it and I had a great time. We spent a lot of time there. My favorite part was when I played a miniature piano-organ. And there were many pillows in the form of leaves. I jumped on them and did flips and threw the pillows at other people jumping on them. It was incredible, there was a lot of interaction.

It was like an adult playpen?

That's the way I looked at it.

You didn't damage any of the art, did you?

I did not damage the art but it spoke to me and I communicated with it.

It said, "Jump on me."

It did. It called me and I answered.

Were there any specific artists that caught your eye?

Yeah, lots of it was very memorable. I don't remember all of the names but I took many photographs, often of myself with the things. There were many mannequins with different clothes and we stood with them like we were mannequins and took photos.

Did you swap out your clothes with the clothes the mannequins were wearing and really mix it up?

No, I didn't have underwear on, so I limited it to just taking photos of the clothes I was wearing.

Tastefully so.

Yeah, there were other people in there. They smiled at us taking pictures with the mannequins but they might not have taken as kindly to clothes-swapping.

It sounds like the CAC had a lot of media.

They had photos, films, very interactive meat suits. It was really helpful for me. It was such a great time.

You drew some inspiration from your visit?

I was inspired, yeah.

Did you come home and go right to work?

I went home and made a meat suit. [They laugh.] Of Bul Goh Gi beef and ate while I worked.

You ate your suit while you wore it.

I ate my suit with no underwear on while I did my work.

Did each bite provide another morsel of inspiration?

It was incredible, yeah. The great thing was that once you put a meat suit on and eat it, you don't actually gain weight.


Yeah. Because you weigh the same whether it's inside your stomach or hanging on your body. It's a great way to trick yourself.

Oh, excellent. I wonder how many calories are in a meat suit. Does it go above the FDA's recommended daily allowance of protein?

Yeah, it's for over-achievers. [They laugh.]


Are there any other places you wanted to mention?

Yeah, I should mention Closson's. I went to the gallery opening of their objective / non-objective show. It was very delightful. Phyllis Weston, who was managing Closson's, was very kind to me and gave me a personal tour.

What does the name of the show mean?

Objective means that there's an image that represents something, and non-objective means that it's not representing any physical thing that exists in the material world. And so both those kinds of works were there. Phyllis expressed interest in showing my art there in the future and she had a great idea for it which I won't disclose until she's ready to advertise the show.

How about a hint for our Xray readers?

[Mack laughs.] When I hear something, to promote it I'll give you guys first dibs. This way you get a tease and then you get a follow-up tease. A double whammy.

Related Links:
Portfolio Kabuki Vol. 5 #9

Interview reprinted with the kind permission of Danny Sounder
Magazine image from the collection of David Thornton

Order Kabuki: Reflections -
Volume 1 Hardcover Today!

April 11: Webmaster's note

April 7: David Mack attending New York's MoCCA this weekend, MoCCA pre-party, thoughts on two films & more

April 6: Photo of upcoming Dream Logic shirt, David Mack and Tony Solomun art jam zine, David Mack plugged in Qatar newspaper & more

Designed and maintained by David Thornton, DavidMackGuide.com is an unofficial website dedicated to the artwork and stories of David Mack, who created and owns the copyrights to Kabuki and all related characters. All other characters and images are copyrighted by their respective owners and are used by DavidMackGuide.com only for the purpose of review.