Turkish-born comic book artist Mahmud Asrar’s work exudes an amazing amount of exciting energy on every page.
From his recent run on INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK to his current work on WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN, Asrar constantly puts pressure on himself to improve the quality of art he commits to the page. In this interview, this All-New Young Gun confides how his heightened awareness of the nuances in his stories as he works help make him a stronger storyteller.
Marvel.com: What first sparked your interest in working in comics and led you to ultimately break into the industry?
Mahmud Asrar: Growing up I was always interested in drawing. My family's encouragement was of help too. They would buy me comics because I enjoyed looking at the pictures in them. I was exposed to all kinds of comics growing up, which over time made me realize and appreciate the storytelling aspect of it all. So I started aspiring to do what I saw in those books. That led to me to getting an education in art and ultimately to create comic books.
I started posting my work online, which got me noticed and I started doing jobs here and there. Smaller gigs led to bigger ones and I ended up where I am today.
Marvel.com: When and how did you start working for Marvel?
Mahmud Asrar: I was working on Dynamo 5 when CB Cebulski reached out to me and offered to hold a door open if I ever wanted to work for Marvel. Whenever my schedule allowed I would take on some jobs with Marvel. After my extended work with the distinguished competition, CB once again reached out to me, this time offering me an exclusive.
Marvel.com: There is an energy and kineticism to your art that is not seen very often—how do find the way to inject such dynamics into your pages?
Mahmud Asrar: To have a better grasp on that subject I've been studying how dynamism is handled in movies and animation but lately mostly in manga books. The way they do motion in manga can be very powerful which I try to adapt to my work. Naturally I feel my work is nothing like manga at all however I do think I use that inspiration to add more life to my work.
Marvel.com: You recently wrapped up a run with Mark Waid on INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK; what did you find most rewarding about that series?
Mahmud Asrar: Hulk has been an old favorite character of mine. For years, I enjoyed the series both for the writing and also for the art. So it was sort of a comic book bucket list kind of thing working on this book. Besides, as brief as it was, it was a chance to work with Mark. He’s a wonderful writer and is doing some great stuff on that book.
Marvel.com: You're receiving a great amount of praise for your collaboration with Jason Latour on WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN; describe what it's like to collaborate with a writer who is also an artist? Does that allow the two of you to discuss storytelling possibilities in a way that you might not with other writers?
Mahmud Asrar: Constant pressure to do better. That’s how I can sum up my run on WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN due to intimidation caused by how good an artist Jason is. I think it’s an advantage to have an artist as a writer as he can pretty much visualize what’s on his mind and see it if works on a page. So although it’s not an easy task drawing this book, I don’t encounter impossible problems with the scripts. We also have a decent rapport which helps with things going forward in what we want to attain.
Marvel.com: It is pretty early in your run on WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN, but have you found yourself enjoying getting to draw certain members of the cast more than you may have initially expected to when you started the assignment?
Mahmud Asrar: Mostly, I expected to enjoy drawing the established characters more but it’s been an increasingly fun thing to draw the kids in the school. Most of the main players like Quentin, Idie or Evan but also some other ones like Rockslide or Armor. Nature Girl is also pretty much a blast whenever I get to draw her too.
Marvel.com: What is the biggest challenge to drawing a large cast such as WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN has?
Mahmud Asrar: Getting to remember who was in the continuing scene from the past issue. Usually with such a large cast the costumes would be an issue but since they’re mostly wearing uniforms I don’t go through that problem very much. I rather try to keep a mindful eye on body types and body language of the kids.
Marvel.com: How do you think you've grown most as a storyteller in the Marvel Universe, say as compared to your earlier work in 2009?
Mahmud Asrar: I think I’m paying more attention to what I’m doing, if that makes sense. I feel I used to draw things and be rather less concerned about certain aspects. Not that I didn’t care or anything before but nowadays I think I’m more aware of what I’m trying to do on a page.
Marvel.com: Anyone looking at your work can tell right away you love crafting tales set in the Marvel Universe. Are there Marvel characters you might consider tackling down the road, if the opportunity presented itself?
Mahmud Asrar: Yeah, I’ve grown up reading a ton of Marvel books. Especially X-Men. Right now, I think the X-Men are at a really good place and I’d be very much happy to do more X-Men work. I also enjoy Thor as you can both do super hero stories with him as well as tell stories steeped heavily in Nordic mythology.
Follow Mahmud’s work on WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN and keep following Marvel.com for more coverage of the All-New Young Guns!