What got me excited about interviewing Mike Morrison was this phrase, Post-Apocalyptic Noir . Sounds intriguing doesn’t it, y’know Mad Max meets Double Indemnity. Well then, Secrets in the Ashes is for you. In our chat, I learned that Mike has had some interesting life experiences which make him well suited to write dystopian psychedelic crime fiction. Read on and meet a really cool cat.
Who are you and where are you from?
Well, Mike Morrison isn’t a pen name. That’s my real name. I grew up in both Philadelphia, PA and Central IL. Kind of bizarre, as we went from a major city to a town of 2000 people. After high school I found the jobs in the Midwest lacking in many ways, so I gravitated towards playing music, while supplementing my income through seedier, less than legal means. About 4 years after high school, I moved to Oregon with 3 friends and started a new band that gained moderate success but eventually fell apart. After that, I found myself in Portland, OR, where I currently reside. I’ve always loved comics, and the many excellent shops in Portland really drew me back into that world. I’ve always been into writing and drawing, and began putting some stuff together. People seem to enjoy what I’ve done so far, and that encouragement has pushed me. I found a new independent comics publisher, submitted some stuff, they liked it, and things have just sort of been snowballing, little by little. I’ve been working on comics for about 3 1/2 years, but still have a day job. In addition to making comics, I’m now doing some editing for Evolve Comics(who are based out of Dallas, TX).
Wow. You just answered about half of my questions with one answer… Let’s step back a bit, what was the first comic that you read?
Sorry about that:)
The first actual comic book that I ever read was Batman #397 by Doug Moench and Neal Adams. I only knew of TV Batman, and this book blew my little mind!
I’m sure. I was reading Batman then, it was a good time. Did you considering making comics as a kid before getting into music and the “alternative income” business?
Most Definitely. It was around the time they cut Wolverine’s hand off, that I started to drift away from that. Image Comics was losing steam, and the Seattle bands made it look like anybody could do what they were doing, so I went in that direction.
Yeah, I sorta drifted away a few years before returning and now I’m only reading indie books. You said you rediscovered comics in the shops, and folks encouraged you to make your own stuff, what was the “eureka” moment when you knew you could do it?
About 3 years ago a friend told me I should check out the Stumptown Comic Con. I dropped by and saw that Dark Horse would be there viewing submissions the next day. On a whim I decided I’d throw a portfolio together just to see what they would say. I was shocked when the editor told me he liked what he saw, and to email him some more stuff. Nothing came of it, but it was very encouraging, so I spent the next few years honing my craft.
You are both a writer and artist, correct? Did you have any formal training in either or are you totally self taught?
As far as art, I have no formal training beyond high school and have enhanced my skills by watching videos of Jim Lee and obviously through books and stuff like that. I did however study writing while in college.
Who are some of your major influences?
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby ARE The Beatles of comics. I am also a huge fan of Alan Moore and Frank Miller. 1990′s comic art is my favorite. Jim Lee and Todd McFarlane and all the rest. Of today’s major writers, there are a lot that I like, but I wouldn’t say they influence me. Steve Niles may be my favorite contemporary comic book writer. Outside of comics, I lean towards horror and Sci-Fi writers. H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Philip K.Dick are some of my favorites.
Which leads to your creation at Evolve Comics. You call it a “Post-Apocalyptic Noir”, which sounds so juicy. Its right up my alley. Tell me a little bit about Secrets in the Ashes?
Thanks:) It’s got a heavy old-school film-noir feel to it, but it’s real weird and tripped out in some places too. I was watching a lot of David Lynch when I was writing it, so there’s a very surreal element and a lot of little hidden details. A lot of people compare it to Sin City, and There certainly is that element to it as well, but I took a lot more from classic film-noir to get the look that I wanted. I wanted the story to incorporate as many elements of a classic detective story as possible, but I also wanted it to be set in a bleak future. I envisioned it sort of like Mad Max, but even further down the timeline, and as a noir story.
Yeah, I’m looking forward to reading this story. Lastly, where can the fans get your book and contact you for any commissions?
Right now it’s available in the Kindle Store. Print copies will be available November 7th. You can get a printed copy at select stores, comixpress.com, and of course at evolvecomics.com. For commissions, I can be contacted through deviantart.com or you can follow email@example.com, which I invite everyone to do. I say funny shit sometimes.
Funny. Well, thanks for the interview, it was good to chat with you.
You’re welcome. And thank you for taking the time to look at the book and conduct the interview. I enjoyed it.
Andre Owens has been hiding in Los Angeles for over 15 years, a former Director of Photography, he now writes and publishes the cosmic comic, Force Galaxia. He is currently writing and plans to produce a webseries, The Psychedelic Detective. In his free time he enjoys long form television, sushi and a celebration of all things 420. His name’s not Supergreen!
By Andre Owens
“From Indie Rocker to Indie Creator, an interview with Mike Morrison”