FANGORIA Presents: The Fiendish Art of Mike S. Miller
In its first wave, FANGORIA Presents includes a collection of five new horror titles for VOD and DVD (details at end of article), with a unifying artwork design created to make the initial volume a must-own collectable for fright fans. The box art of each film—AXED, INHUMAN RESOURCES, SIN REAPER, GERM Z and ENITITY—features a unique theme designed and drawn by comic book artist Mike S. Miller, best known for his superhero work for Marvel, DC and Image. The artist spoke with FANGORIA about how he became involved with the project, the inspiration behind the illustrations and creating the feeling behind each cover.
FANGORIA: How did you get your start in the comic book industry?
MIKE S. MILLER: First of all, I’ve read comics since I was a kid. My dad made me stop collecting when I was young. I got back into them in high school. I actually wanted to do movie poster art. I heard during the comic book boom that people were making good money doing comics. I put some artwork together. I took it to my first convention, WonderCon, in 1992. So I took [my portfolio] around to different publishers and what not. A comic book artist, Jeff Johnson, suggested I go try Malibu. I went over there, showed my work to Chris Ulm, who was editor-in-chief at the time. He said he’d give me work. Here I am, 21 years later.
FANG: How did you become involved with the FANGORIA Presents VOD/DVD initiative?
MILLER: My manager, Lisa Brause at Gordon House Entertainment, has been working with me on my own projects. She’s been trying to get them off the ground. These were comic book properties that I developed over at Alias, when I was running that as my own comic book company. Over time, it’s hard to get stuff off the ground in Hollywood. She’s got other connections. She’s always been looking for me to do other artwork projects in Hollywood. She happened to know [Fango DVD distributor] Steve Break. He was talking to her about needing a comic book artist for the style of covers they wanted to do. Lo and behold, that’s how I ended up here.
FANG: How did the inspiration come to you to illustrate each cover?
MILLER: Well, I approached it sort of the way I worked on a comic book cover, because that was the look we were going for. But at the same time, I was trying to create the basic feel of the movie itself. I watched the films and tried to encompass as much as I could within the restraint of an MPAA rating cover. I got the feel of the movie, jotted down some sketches that I thought would work and sent them in.
FANG: Was the project easier because you had the movies as reference?
MILLER: Oh, absolutely! I couldn’t have done it without them. You can’t get the feel for a movie without actually watching the movie. It’d be like advertising something you haven’t tried.
FANG: Did you have a specific color scheme in mind for the covers?
MILLER: Yeah, we were trying to go the muted grays and red; not that there weren’t other colors in there. That’s trying to keep them in a similar color scheme overall. If there was a flesh tone, I would tone it down. You’d get the feel that it’s basically gray and red. That’s why they all kinda match.
FANG: Tell me about the use of primary colors for the covers of GERM Z and ENTITY, which look like a tribute to ’80s horror movies.
MILLER: Yeah, I did take stuff away with those. I was watching ENTITY and the overall feel of that movie, it was all shot with a blue filter. I couldn’t get away from that blue and stick with the gray and red thing. That was the feel of that movie, which was overwhelmingly cold and lost. That’s why I went with that. GERM Z was just…you know, zombies! [Laughs] That green, moldy deteriorating feeling…that’s why I went with those colors.
FANG: Because you have drawn superheroes, such as Superman, and political cartoons (RIGHT LEFT CENTER), was it difficult to jump into the horror genre?
MILLER: You know, I haven’t watched a lot of horror ever since THE RING. That movie just freaked me out! I stepped away from horror for a long time. But no, I can work in any genre. I’ve been doing a lot of fantasy work, George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan, for example. I can hit it from any other angle. I do a lot of sci-fi though.
MILLER: I love putting my own into everything. Out of all the Fango covers, I had the most fun on ENTITY. That one hit the feeling center the most on me. That’s how it comes out. You could tell with my artwork; the more I love a project, the more involved I get with the artwork.
FANG: What are you working on now?
MILLER: I am working on INJUSTICE: GODS AMONGST US, the first to digital, then to print, comic book. It’s actually the number one digital comic in the world right now. It’s for DC Comics. It’s based on the upcoming videogame, which is probably one of the reasons it’s doing so well. The writer, Tom Taylor, is crafting the tale. The reviews pretty unanimously rank it up there as the best DC story out there. I give credit to Tom, because I’m not the only artist on the book. It’s pretty amazing to be working on it. I’m also working on the covers for the comic book, the graphic novel adaptation. I’ve got a couple of projects under contract that I’m waiting to start, that I’m not supposed to talk about.
FANG: Where can readers find your work?
MILLER: I have a mikesmillerart.com website, but it’s under construction right now.
Go here for more info on FANGORIA Presents, and to find Fango’s Comcast collection on your VOD channel, search this way: Movies > Movie Collections > FANGORIA.