INTERVIEW: MAD CAVE CEO Mark London on forging a comics identity with fantasy and horror for all
As it’s been stated in several articles by now, the absence of big-name companies at NYCC helped smaller publishers occupy more space under the spotlight of the convention. Mad Cave Studios was one of those publishers, but I think it’s not necessarily fair to say their success in the convention is owed to the lack of competition on the show floor. CEO and Chief Creative Officer Mark London made a strong case as to the impact of Mad Cave’s presence at the event.
Mad Cave has been steadily growing as a comics publisher that started out heavily focusing on fantasy comics, but as their library grows so do the genres they cover. Throughout these past years, books like Over The Ropes, written by Jay Sandlin and illustrated by Antonello Cosentino, which focus on the 1990s wrestling scene to tell a story that both celebrates and digs into the backstage politics of the sport, have been exploring the possibilities of storytelling within the company.
Other titles adding variety to the overall offering include Stargazer (childhood trauma and aliens), Villainous (kind of like The Boys but focused on the classic villain figures), and Terminal Punks (punk rockers fighting mutants in an airport).
Mad Cave has also expanded into the YA market with Maverick, a line of books aimed at younger audiences with stories centered on soccer, horror, and even threading thus far.
In sat down with Mark London at New York Comic Con to talk Mad Cave’s inner workings and outlook moving forward. It follows below.
RICARDO SERRANO: Do you feel there’s a MAD CAVE style to your line of books? Something that sets them apart from other publishers.
MARK LONDON: That’s a great question. We really want to give the customer options, but for some reason we end up producing a lot of medieval-fantasy action-adventure stories with bombastic elements, in a kind of widescreen format to best capture all of it.
In a way, we aim for high fantasy stories that people can really get behind and I would say that’s the direction we would like the company to move towards to. We’re thinking about these books as our offensive strategy, what we aggressively want to be made available on the market.
Our second publishing venture, called Maverick, which is for young adults, takes on a lighter tone to help readers find themselves within the pages of our stories. We’re looking for a wider selection of genres with that line.
SERRANO: What led to the decision to focus on kids and YA comics as well within the grand scheme of Mad Cave Studios?
LONDON: Well, it’s been proven that there’s an appetite for the market, that’s first, but also it’s something I’ve thought about quite seriously given how I started with comics. I was very young when got into this world. Reading comics and really falling in love with sequential art and animation and movies and all the things that that I like helped spark my creativity in ways I think should be made accessible to all ages.
Comics are changing constantly and the industry behind is catching up. We want to be there for younger readers to help them fall in love with comics, so they can see and enjoy all the magic that these books have to offer.
SERRANO: Other than being Mad Cave’s CEO and Chief Creative Officer, you also write comics for the company. One of the standouts from your quicky growing resumé is Wolvenheart, a mash-up of classic horror and historical characters duking it out in a world filled with monsters. What led you to this book?
LONDON: I’ve always been in love with monster folklore. I guess I was an avid gamer, you might say, in my younger days. I love Castlevania. I’d play it day and night, which meant that Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster, and The Mummy were embedded into my upbringing. Although, werewolves take the cake for me. I really wanted to do a story that would be focused on those type of elements.
I was really inspired by Japanese animation video games, comic books, and everything I could get my hands on. One of my other books, Battlecats, gets compared to Thundercats a lot, and there’s a lot of it there, but what I was really thinking of was the story of Excalibur and the King Arthur types that have to deal with group of grandiose figures that come with their own problems and struggles. I really bring a bit of everything I grew up with into my writing.
SERRANO: What’s next for Mad Cave Studios?
London: Next year is going to be great! We have the expansion of the Maverick line, and we’re really going big there, but we’re also bringing in other IPs into our catalogue. We’ll be announcing all of them as we get ready to release them into the world.
Look for Mad Cave Studios titles in all finer comic shops and bookstores.