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Mighty Fine T-shirts

Mighty Fine: Heather Carlton Q&A

Meet Heather Carlton, the woman behind Mighty Fine's excellent 8-bit & Kraftwerk Marvel tees!

By Elizabeth Keenan

Mighty Fine: X-Men Werk

Mighty Fine T-shirts artist Heather Carlton is living the dream--turning her “fan art” into a career transforming the Marvel characters into everything from 8-bit characters to Kraftwerk. Born and raised in Southern California, Carlton began collecting X-Men cards at the age of eight, and her love of comic book art blossomed into a passion for animation with the X-Men cartoon in the 1990s. In art school, her love for illustration led her to a career in the apparel industry. Along the way, she says, the art of Marvel comics always pushed her to improve her own work. Below, Carlton tells Marvel.com about her designs, her favorite artists, and what glam rocker is secretly a retired super villain.

Marvel.com: Your work ranges from 8-bit designs to twists on old-school comic styles, like your Doctor Strange t-shirt. Which Marvel artists provide the most inspiration in your work?

Heather Carlton: As a kid I was first sucked into comics with Jim Lee’s X-MEN #1, then I found myself really liking Nightcrawler in Alan Davis’s work on the original EXCALIBUR series. I really like seeing different styles, so throughout the years it’s been fun to follow Marvel as different artists have taken on the titles, like Mike Allred’s bold return to Jack Kirby's classic look, and even Kia Asamiya’s super bishounen-styled X-men. Alan Davis is probably my all-time favorite, though.

Mighty Fine: 8-bit X-Men

Marvel.com: Who’s your favorite Marvel character to draw?

Heather Carlton: Magneto, for sure! But recently my sketchbook is nothing but Mister Sinister. He’s a challenge with his original cape design. And for years my sketchbook was nothing but mohawk-era Storm....

Marvel.com: What’s your favorite Marvel t-shirt design you’ve done for Mighty Fine?

Heather Carlton: Ooh, that’s kinda hard to say...I tried to do an Alan Davis-style Nightcrawler that simply said “Ladies?” But I think he was too devilishly handsome for the men’s department to handle! It’s hard to pick a favorite because every day I feel like I’m just drawing fan art. I love it all!

Marvel.com: Your 8-bit Marvel characters have been extremely popular. What’s your favorite old-school 8-bit video game? What’s your favorite Marvel video game?

Heather Carlton: As for actual 8-bit games, "The Legend of Zelda" is my favorite. For Marvel, the ones I played the most were 16-bit such as "X-Men 2: Clone Wars" on the Sega Genesis.

Mighty Fine: Beastin'

Marvel.com: Super heroes are known for their perfectly proportional physiques, but 8-bit characters? Not so much. Which Marvel character do you think looks coolest in 8-bit format?

Heather Carlton: I really like the way my Marvel villains piece turned out. But Iceman is always the coolest. Pun intended.

Marvel.com: Your X-Men/Kraftwerk mashup is brilliant. If you were to mash up other Marvel teams with bands, who would be the next team to become a band? What band would they be?

Heather Carlton: “Mister Sinister and the Nasty Boys” are so glam/goth rock! I seriously need to make a rock poster for them! 

Marvel.com: On the flip side, what real-life musician would be the most likely to have secret super powers? Do you think they’d use those powers for good, or would they become a super villain?

Heather Carlton: David Bowie is clearly a gracefully retired super villain. ’Nuff said.

Heather Carlton’s Marvel designs are available at welovefine.com.

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