I’ve always said that a cube has 8 sides. 6 surface sides, the inside, and the outside. You must look beyond the surface to appreciate the other dimensions.
-- Kabuki: Metamorphosis #8
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Home Message Boards MillarWorld.Biz: June 2004

[Original messages: 73 kb]

Comic Book Creators
Jun 5 2004, 12:06 AM

Hi all.
I wanted to stop by and say hello to Mark.
Since this is my first post here, I may as well introduce myself.

I'm 31. And I started doing Kabuki when I turned 20 and worked on it throughout college. I published the first volume KABUKI: Circle of Blood when I was 21 and turned it in for my senior writing thesis.

So the new Kabuki series at Icon this year markes ten years of Kabuki for me so far.
I did a few other things pre- Kabuki that I won't mention:)
Much of them involve early work with Brian Bendis.

I started working professionally in comics at age 18 while I also did a lot of other things outside of comics.

Some of you here I know and have met. I see Cully at a lot of conventions and I spent a couple weeks with Mark Millar and Frank Quitley in Australia and New Zealand.
I've seen Ethan Van Sciver here, who I've met.
I've spoken with Warren Ellis a couple times on his message board when he said some very kind things about my work.
To those that I have not had the pleasure to great before, I say hello right now

I've seen Mark on the Bendis Board a few times, and I decided I should pop in here from time to time to say hello.
Kindest regards,
David Mack

Kabuki Help
Jun 5 2004, 12:53 AM

Hey, thanks for the kind words!

I'm really glad that you enjoyed the first volume of Kabuki. I was pretty young when I did that one, and I like to think it improves as it goes. KABUKI: Metamorphosis is probably the best example of my work in comics (as a writer and as an artist).

For more info on any of the books, including a description of each of the 6 collected volumes, you can check out davidmack.net.
And this site has a collection of many of my 2003 interviews that discuss the new Kabuki series and my DD work:

And below is a recent cover story interview from Comic Shop News. It gives you some info on the 6 Kabuki volumes, my thoughts behind them, my storytelling approach, and info on the new Kabuki series from Marvel/Icon.
Kindest regards,

Hi, David!
We'd like to do a cover story on the new Kabuki series, if you have time for some questions!

(1) This is being promoted as a new start for Kabuki; can you offer some details on that aspect of the series? DM: The new KABUKI series, KABUKI- The Alchemy, is a brand new era in Kabuki's life. It is a great place for new readers to start because it is a brand new start for Kabuki that is very much it's own story, not dependant on previous stories. You don't need to read the past to understand the primary thrust of the new story. But if you do, you will love the contrast and the oblique and subtle hints at her past. And you will see the fruition of many of the seeds planted in previous issues! Seeds that you didn't know were seeds, but now you will see them blossom into something spectacular and mind-blowing.

This era in Kabuki’s life is its own story and it is not going to recap anything from the previous stories. I've made sure that all six Kabuki volumes are in print and available in paperback and hardcover collections. So I hope readers will use this as an opportunity to read the early Kabuki collections that have come before in preparation for this new series. But if they do not, they will still be able to begin with this story. Those previous stories are Kabuki's past. There won't be any flashbacks to it. No catch up.

For readers that have read all of the Kabuki volumes so far, after you read this new series, you will want to go back and read the previous stories again and you will see them in a new way that is going to make you appreciate them in a brand new dimension as well as the ways that they are already charming to you. They will still hold that charm, but you will have a brand new perspective to appreciate them from. It will be like looking at pictures of yourself as a child. You always appreciated the pictures for what they were, but now that you are grown up, you can see how those moments shaped your present life.

The new series is specifically designed to be Kabuki’s new life. And it is essentially an instruction manual on creating a NEW life, creating the life of YOUR OWN PERSONAL DREAMS AND INTERESTS, that should be practical and applicable to anyone who reads it. It is a recipe and blueprint for creating your own reality, your own career, and your own fresh start. It is a spell for creating your own magic. Taking the baggage of your life and turning it into something positive and useful. Turning your garbage into gold.

(2) How did Kabuki begin? How much of the Kabuki canon had you envisioned from the beginning, and how much of it developed as the story went along?
DM: Kabuki was my answer to my decision to do comic books. So perhaps I should start by explaining why I chose to do comics. All my life I had made things. Stories, sculptures, paintings, drawings. And I had great passion for learning and doing. I love everything, and wasn’t really interested in specializing. At a certain point in high school teachers like you to fit your interests and passions into a box that you can at least major in, but I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of only doing one thing to the exclusion of others. When I was sixteen I was applying for a university scholarship for art. I teacher suggested that I put together a portfolio showing ten different media that I worked in. I had photography, sculpture, oil painting, watercolor, charcoal, etc. For the tenth piece I decided that I really wanted to do something that dealt with the nature of time and sequence. I loved film, and I loved books, and the personal nature of books, and I also loved to read comic books. So I decided that for the tenth example of my work that I would make a comic. And I did. I wrote and illustrated and lettered a 55 page book for my scholarship submission. And in the process of doing that, I realized that the medium of comic books are a format that I could integrate all other mediums into. And I realized that comics were the medium I could work in, because they had no limitations, and they included and encompassed aspects of every other medium.

My work on Kabuki Began in January of 1993 when I was twenty years old. I would begin publishing Kabuki in 1994. Having decided the medium I would work with, and having worked in the business for a couple years to learn the craft, I decided that I wanted to create a comic book in which I could incorporate all of my personal philosophies, my passion for learning, and integrate my everyday personal experiences. I loved autobiographical comics, but I was not yet comfortable with that idea. I wanted to tell personal truths but at a distance. Through the unselfconscious comfort of a veil. But I did not want to fall into the trap of making the main character an idealized version of myself. So I decided that I would make all of the surface details very opposite, and that way the universal truths could shine through, and I could tell the story through metaphor. This way, instead of reading the story and seeing me, readers could find their own personal relation to the story and see themselves.

So I made the main character the opposite gender. I set the story in a different part of the world, with a different language, different history, and different culture. I was in university at the time, and I was taking the Japanese language, and learning Japanese history and mythology in my classes and in my own travels. So I used that as a framework for the story. The structure of the story is the traditional structure and metaphors of the traditional Japanese Ghost Story that is the subject of many of the Japanese Kabuki plays.

Much of the first Kabuki story is me as a 21-22 year old dealing with the death of my mother, just as Kabuki is coming to terms with the relationship and death of her mother in the story.

I knew the structure that the story would follow. So I had a skeletal outline of some of the major points very early on. And through the process of working on it, the rest came alive for me. When I was working on KABUKI Circle of Blood, I knew the main structure of most of the other books up through Metamorphosis. But the real life of the story occurred in the process. And when I was doing KABUKI Metamorphosis, most of the high points for KABUKI- The Alchemy occurred to me and I made notes for it then and also outlined my ideas for the next few Kabuki stories.

(3) For some of the Kabuki-related books, you worked with Rick Mays and other artists, didn't you? What made you decide to come back to doing full art for this project? And for that matter, how do you decide which books you write and which you write & illustrate?
DM: For each story I do, the style and nature of the art is dictated by the nature of the story. I begin as a writer first and use the art as just another tool of the writing. I choose what art style, art media, storytelling pace, and rhythm is going best communicate the tone and atmosphere and language of the story.

KABUKI- Masks of the Noh (volume 3 of the Kabuki collections) is the first time I collaborated with other artists. The idea behind this story is that the Noh is searching for Kabuki. And though Kabuki is the central character to this story, and holds the story together, she is mostly absent, and it is the fleshing out of these secondary characters that becomes the humanity of the story. So in introducing each of these characters, I write them each with a different tone and voice. But I also wanted each one to have their own distinctive visual personality that contrasts from the other. So that idea was that each of the characters would be drawn by a different artist. That way, each time they appear in the story, the reader immediately sees their own unique perspective. It was a bold experiment and a logistical nightmare, but in retrospect, it worked out very nicely. Each time Kabuki appears, she is drawn by me. Rick Mays draws Scarab and Tigerlily every time they appear, Dave Johnson and Mike Oeming drew Ice, Andrew Robinson drew Snapdragon, and so on.

Then for the next two Kabuki volumes, Skin Deep (vol 4) and Metamorphosis (vol 5), I drew everything as Kabuki was the central character. Then in Scarab (vol 6) Rick Mays reprised his role as artist of Scarab to keep with continuity of that character’s visual personality. It is a story that chronicles her life from childhood to adult like Circle of Blood does with Kabuki.

Eventually I will do a series for each of the Noh characters. And for their stories, I intend to write them and work with an artist. And for all of the Kabuki stories I will be doing all of the artwork myself. And these will continue to alternate. I draw KABUKI- The Alchemy, then the next series will be a biography of Tigerlily with Rick Mays doing the art. That will give me plenty of time to gear up for the next Kabuki story that I paint myself, and so on.

(4) For readers who aren't familiar with Kabuki, could you offer a rundown on the series and the concept?
DM: The first Kabuki story begins with the character called Kabuki being an operative for a government agency in Japan called the Noh. This agency polices the interdependence between the worlds of organized crime and politics and business in Japan. They are also a part of the media and each of the Noh is a sort of pop culture Icon with a mask and clothing that is a variation on a form of Japanese traditional theatre. Kabuki has some personal issues stemming from the scars on her face, and she can only relate to the world through the security of her mask. The mystery of her scars unfolds as her personal issues with the death of her mother send her in a path of action that conflicts with the powers that she serves.

It is a mix of Japanese historical mythology, political intrigue, corporate espionage, and familial duty wrapped up in the retelling of the Japanese Ghost story. It is also a retelling of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. In that each of the characters in Kabuki corresponds to iconographic characters in that book and to pieces on the chessboard. Both stories are about the pawn’s journey to queen, or a child’s journey to an adult or evolved consciousness. Just as that book was a social commentary in the guise of a children’s book, Kabuki has it’s own themes that operate on several levels. Some are only apparent in repeat readings.

The story evolves as the character does in each of the succeeding volumes. KABUKI- Metamorphosis is described as this: “In an institution for renegade government agents, a horribly scarred woman faces a psychological showdown with her interrogating analyst, meets the other “defective” inmates, discovers the nature of identity, quantum physics, time, and the meaning of life. But can she escape her captors before her former comrades track her down to silence her?”

(5) Is all the earlier Kabuki material available in trade paperback now, or are there still some stories uncollected?
DM: All the Kabuki stories are collected in paperback and hardcover.
Vol 1- Circle of Blood (272 p)
Vol 2- Dreams (128 p)
Vol 3- Masks of the Noh (128 p)
Vol 4- Skin Deep (128 p)
Vol 5- Metamorphosis (288 p)
Vol 6- Scarab (288 p)
(6) Speaking of the trades--am I correct in remembering that you reworked and expanded some of the material when it was collected in trade paperback?
DM: On the earlier books, I added some extra pages in the trades and I went back and reworked some of the pages. I also include sketch pages, art process pages, pin ups, a detailed afterword and an introduction. The introductions are by: Steranko, Brian Michael Bendis, Terry Moore, Alex Ross, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Paul Pope.
(7) This is a fully painted series, right? How much of a time commitment does that demand from you? How long has the book been in production, and how far along are you in the series currently?
DM: It is fully painted. When I am writing and painting and lettering and doing all the production on a book like I do with Kabuki, I like to have two months for each issue. I’ve been building the story for this one since Metamorphosis ended, so I have a lot more of the story fleshed out than I usually do before I start publishing it in the periodical bi-monthly chapters.
(8) Erik Larsen has said that he prefers to focus most of his efforts on his creation, Savage Dragon. You've alternated, in a way, doing some Kabuki material, then taking a break and doing other stuff, including Daredevil; do you prefer working this way rather than dealing with the same character month in and month out? Is it a creative decision, a financial one, or both?
DM: I definitely put most of my effort on Kabuki and prefer to. It is my complete outlet where I can do anything I need to do. I created it from the beginning and enjoy building on it as it grows over the years.

I have done three Daredevil arcs and the covers to the entire run of Alias. But I had already done seven years of straight Kabuki at a pretty break neck bimonthly pace before I worked on DD. After doing Kabuki straight for seven years, it was a fun switch to work in a collaborative effort with creators that I respect on a character that I read when I was a kid.

It was a creative decision. I make a comfortable living from doing just Kabuki. This is because the Kabuki collections continue to sell more and more each year. Kabuki Circle of Blood sells more now than it did when it came out ten years ago. Same for all the other collections. The Kabuki books have a Sandman type life as paperbacks and hardcovers in that new readers continue to buy them year after year. And after a new reader buys one Kabuki collection, they go back and buy all of the rest of them.

So I felt like it was the right time for me to stretch my creative muscles in a different way. And this did pay off in Kabuki readership as well, because readers of my DD stories began buying all of the Kabuki collections in large amounts and have stuck with the books as new Kabuki readers. Each Kabuki collection has went through several printings and continues to stay in print.

And I continued to have published Kabuki for most of the time that I worked on DD. The first DD story I wrote, I did it between issue #7 and #8 of Kabuki Metamorphosis. Then I painted the Wake Up story with Bendis while I was publishing Kabuki Scarab. Then I did the Alias covers and the Echo story after Scarab. That was all a lot of fun and a great shift in creative muscles, but now it is a joy to be back to my own creative focus with KABUKI- The Alchemy.

(9) By promoting this as a "jumping on point" for new readers, Image has conveyed to some the impression that Kabuki will be appearing more regularly from here on. Is that the case?
DM: Yes. Each issue of this story is scheduled to come out every two months. Some times we might solicit it as three months between if I need time to catch up.
(10) You've maintained pretty tight control over Kabuki thus far; have you considered inviting other creators, like Brian Bendis, to play with your toys--that is, letting others write and draw stories set in the Kabukiverse?
DM: It has not occurred to me before. It would sort of be like asking someone else to write my autobiography. It would sort of defeat the purpose. That said, there could be room for some kind of collaboration or spot for that if the format is right for it. If it fit the nature of the overall story. I love collaborating with Brian Bendis, so I won’t say never. But as a basic rule, I intend to write all of it.
(11) There was a rumor recently that a Kabuki-Daredevil crossover project might happen at some point in the future... pipe dream or real possibility?
DM: I don’t see that happening. This is sort of the same thing for me. I’ve had many great offers for crossovers with Kabuki with many top characters. But that’s not really the way I approach my Kabuki work. I have a pretty specific personally driven story with this character. If I think something will work, who knows, but I won’t do a crossover just to do one. It would have to make a lot of sense to me. My basic policy is not to.
(12) Where do you go after The Alchemy is done?
DM: As far as Kabuki is concerned, I have many more Kabuki stories written to follow The Alchemy. I also have an oversized artbook scheduled for this year from Image. And I have some other creator owned projects. One is an autobiographical comic that I’ve been working on tentatively titled “Self Portrait”. You can see an eight page chapter from it in the Tenth Anniversary Edition of “Tales from The Edge”. The Edge describes itself as: “Stories by, and about, the world’s greatest cutting-edge artists”. The Tenth anniversary Edition of the Edge is offered for 2004 and includes stories by Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean, Marshal Arisman, Bill Sienkiewicz, Barron Storey, and Jim Steranko. It also features a brand new story written and drawn by me.

And I’m collaborating with Brian Bendis in writing Ultimate X-men. But this new chapter of Kabuki will be my main focus for the foreseeable future. I make a conscious effort to improve with every issue and to break new ground and evolve as a writer with each Kabuki story as the character is evolving. The Alchemy does this in spades and operates on several levels.

Kabuki Help
Jun 9 2004, 05:50 AM

Hi Ken,
Good to see you here. Yeah the Maleev cover was offered as a varient cover for issue #1 of Kabuki at Icon.
Retailers can order both or either cover in any amount they want.
Bendis says there are still 10 days left to pre-order our July books before they go to print.

The Tigerlily story with Rick Mays is planned to come out through Icon as well.
I'm glad you are looking forward to it.

Yeah, I remember Adam Warren asking me to do a cover for him. If it comes up, I'll be happy to do it for him.

Thanks for reading, and for all the support!

Kabuki Help
Jun 9 2004, 05:53 AM

Hi Trevor,
Thanks for the kind words!
We can use whatever paper we want. So I'll just stick to the same paper and production value that I always use with Kabuki. Your right, the paper quality has always been important to me.

Thanks for reading.

Comic Book Creators
Jun 9 2004, 06:00 AM

Hi all,
Thanks for the warm welcome!

I appreciate it

And yeah, I'll see you in Charlotte, Cully.

And I'll be at the Toronto show in August this year as well.
Anyone going the any of these cons, please stop by and introduce yourself.

Comic Book Creators
Posted: Jun 9 2004, 07:12 PM
Ha Ha!
Thanks, Mark!

Kabuki Help
Jun 9 2004, 07:21 PM


Glad you liked Metamorphosis.
The new series from Icon starts right where Meta left off.

Let me know what you think of the other stuff when you get a chance to read it.

Heroes Con 06-11-04-06-13-04 Charlotte, NC
Jun 10 2004, 10:23 AM

I'll be there.
For anyone elso going to the Heroes con in Charlotte NC this Fri-Sun,
Please stop by my table and introduce yourself.

I'll be happy to sign any of my books that you bring or pick up at my table. I sign at no charge and have no limits for how many books you want me to sign.

I'll have Kabuki hardcovers, paperbacks and back issues. Original art pages from Daredevil, Echo, Kabuki and Scarab, as well as 11x17 prints and more.

I'll probably be set up right next to Mike Oeming and Andy Lee.


Jun 17 2004, 04:20 AM

Hey friends,

That Oni special was a great one. I have the original art page that Oeming drew where Deena and Christian interview Kabuki and Oeming is sort of aping and poking at some quirks in one of my Kabuki art styles. It was a hilarious page.

And I remember that Drew Hayes thing. It is in one of Bendis' books. Maybe TRUE CRIME CONFESSIONS.

I think it was that told Brian that Drew would be a sport about it. I knew Drew and Brian didn't. And at the time, Drew's look was a long haired, bearded sort of burly motorcyle gang look to him. So Bendis had the idea of poking at him in the letters collumn and I encouraged it.
And then Drew showed up at a con growling and ranting at Brian and Drew's physical demeanor really took Brian by surprise which I think he cronicles in his book.

I also have the original art pages from Powers where the introduce a "Detective David Mack". And then Oeming proceeds to draw me for an entire story arc.

And remember that Powers arc they had where Warren Ellis does a ride along?

And here is something that I don't think is necasarily a poke, but it occured to me when I was having a dinner with Neil Gaiman and noticed that he has exactly the same distinct tooth as Spider Jerusulam. I only read the Transmet that I did art for and a couple early issues, so forgive me if this is common knowledge. But it made me think that Spider incorporated Gaiman's tooth, Alan Moore's bearded look when we first meet Spider in the first issue, and Grant Morrison's look when he is shaved bald. As an amalgam of the UK writer's in Ellis' stomping grounds. The entire thing occured to me when I was sitting next to Neil and noticed his tooth as we were eating sushi, so it could be nothing or it could be common knowledge that I am not hip to. But the tooth is exact, and made me think that Warren had to do it on purpose.

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.