1. Mark! How the heck ya been!?
I’ve been doing great. Thank you for asking, Rob! I’ve been working tirelessly to build a reputable publishing house and have also been working on some new books myself. It’s been a challenging yet rewarding journey, and I’m proud of our progress. The Mad Cave team and I are committed to delivering high-quality books and can’t wait to share our upcoming projects with the world.
2. I think its safe to say that 2023 was a fairly successful year for Mad Cave, will we see a repeat for ’24?
2023 was an incredible year for Mad Cave. We expanded internally and creatively, bringing new talent on board and launching innovative projects that push the boundaries of storytelling. It was a year of growth and learning, and we’re incredibly proud of our accomplishments. As we move into 2024, we’re filled with excitement and anticipation. This year marks our 10th anniversary, a significant milestone we’re eager to celebrate. We have big plans in store for this particular year. Not only will we continue to produce the high-quality books our readers have come to expect, but we’ll also be introducing new initiatives, partnerships, and events to commemorate our decade-long journey.
I can’t talk too much about them at this time, but you’ll hear more as the year progresses.
3. The Mad Cave Talent Search looks to be gearing up again, anything in particular you and the gang are looking for in this year’s?
Mad Cave’s talent search was created with the primary goal of highlighting and uplifting unheard voices in the comic book industry. We firmly believe in the power of diverse storytelling and understand that countless talented individuals out there simply need a platform to showcase their creativity and passion. This year, we will continue to focus on discovering and promoting such talent. We are committed to providing opportunities for creators who bring fresh perspectives and unique narratives to the table. Our talent search is not just about finding new creators but about enriching the comic book industry with diverse voices and stories.
We are incredibly excited about the potential to uncover more hidden gems in the industry this year. We look forward to seeing the creativity, passion, and unique storytelling these new voices will bring to Mad Cave.
4. Thanks to a cover for an upcoming title, Ten Years of Mad Cave is happening this year, how’s this make you feel? Especially when first starting out, you were the only writer at the time.
It’s an incredibly humbling and gratifying feeling to have reached the 10-year mark in publishing comics, especially considering the humble beginnings of Mad Cave. Yes, when I started, I was the only writer juggling multiple roles and striving to bring unique and engaging stories to life. It was a challenging yet exciting time, filled with countless late nights, endless brainstorming sessions, and the thrill of seeing my ideas come to life on the page. Over the years, we’ve grown and evolved, bringing on board a talented team of writers, artists, and editors who share the same passion for storytelling. We’ve expanded our portfolio, delved into various genres, and pushed the boundaries of comic book storytelling.
Despite all the growth and changes, the essence of Mad Cave – the love for storytelling and the desire to create something unique and impactful – remains the same. Reaching this milestone is a testament to our entire team’s hard work, dedication, and creativity. It reminds us how far we’ve come and is a motivator to continue pushing forward, creating more unique, diverse, and engaging stories for our readers. It’s an incredible feeling, and I’m immensely proud of our achievements. Here’s to many more years of creating and publishing comics!
5. Did you ever think you and the Cave would reach this milestone?
I’ve always been an optimist. Too much, some might say. So, yeah, I always had faith that we would reach this milestone. From the beginning, I believed in the power of storytelling and the potential of Mad Cave to make a significant impact on the comic book industry. However, I also knew that it wouldn’t be an easy journey and would require hard work, dedication, and perseverance. Throughout this journey, God has been kind to us. He gave me the strength to overcome challenges, the wisdom to make the right decisions, and the hope to keep progressing despite adversity. For me, God’s grace was instrumental in helping us reach this milestone. Also, the unwavering support of my wife and family has been invaluable.
They have been my rock, providing me with encouragement, understanding, and love. Their belief in me and the vision of Mad Cave has been a constant source of motivation. So, yes, I always believed we would reach this milestone, but I also acknowledge that we couldn’t have done it without the fantastic colleagues and team members that I’ve met along the way. I genuinely believe Mad Cave has the best professionals in the industry.
6. What advice would you give to other Publishers in order to reach 10 years? And even beyond for that matter?
I don’t feel comfortable advising as I believe we still have much to learn. So, I can only speak about what has worked for myself and the team at Mad Cave: Love what you do and keep at it. Reaching a decade in publishing has been a journey that requires persistence, having the right team, staying true to your core values, and never negotiating your vision to accommodate the circumstances that surround you. You can be flexible, but stick to your guns, always, and follow through. Have the right mindset and a commitment to doing right by others. Treat everyone like family, be kind, and always be as transparent as possible.
7. Will we be seeing more acquisitions brought under the Cave’s banner this year?
You bet. We plan to bring more acquisitions under the Mad Cave banner this year. We believe in the power of diverse storytelling and are always looking for unique voices and narratives that align with our vision. Acquisitions are an excellent way for us to bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas into our fold. However, while we are excited about these new additions, we remain committed to our roots. We will continue to publish creator-owned content and homegrown stories across all our imprints – Mad Cave, Maverick, and Papercutz.
These stories are the heart and soul of our company and have played a crucial role in shaping our identity. So, while you can expect to see new acquisitions, rest assured that we will continue to provide the high-quality, diverse, and engaging content that you’ve come to expect from us. We’re excited about the future and can’t wait to share our upcoming projects with you.
8. As Mad Cave is developing quite the catalog under its belt, there’s bound to be potential interest for adapting any of it for the small and big screens, any news there?
There is potential interest in adapting our stories for both small and big screens. We believe that our catalog of stories and characters would translate well into different mediums and offer unique and engaging viewing experiences. However, while we are open to and would welcome such opportunities, our primary focus at this time is on becoming one of the top five comic publishers in the next five years. We are always open to exploring new avenues and opportunities that align with our vision and values.
If the right opportunity for an adaptation comes along, we will certainly consider it. But for now, our primary focus remains on growing and strengthening our position in the comic publishing industry. We are a publisher, first and foremost.
9. With AI having gained traction recently in the last year, what’s yours and Mad Cave’s stance on it?
At Mad Cave, we recognize and appreciate the advancements and potential of AI technology. It’s undeniable that AI has made significant strides in various fields and has the potential to revolutionize many aspects of our lives. However, in the creative field, we firmly believe in the irreplaceable value of human creativity and imagination.
At its core, storytelling is a deeply human endeavor. It’s about conveying emotions, experiences, and perspectives that resonate with others. It’s about understanding the nuances of human emotions and experiences, something that AI cannot replicate.
While AI can undoubtedly assist in certain areas, such as data analysis and optimization, creating engaging, impactful, and emotionally resonant stories requires a human touch. The passion, creativity, and unique perspectives of our writers, artists, and creators bring our stories to life, and AI will never replace that.
We will continue to champion and celebrate the talents and creativity of our team and the wider creative community, but we will under no circumstances accept or publish AI-generated content.
10. It was announced recently that this Spring sees the final arc in the Nottingham series from David Hazan and Shane Connery Volk; what’s the general feeling about this for you and the rest of the team, given how it has been something of a mainstay in the Mad Cave catalog?
The conclusion of Nottingham brings us a mix of emotions at Mad Cave. On one hand, it’s always bittersweet to say goodbye to a story that has been such a significant part of our catalog. Nottingham has been a remarkable journey, and we’re incredibly proud of what David Hazan, Shane Connery Volk, Luca Romano, and Justin Birch have accomplished with this series. Their creativity, passion, and dedication have brought this unique and engaging story to life, and it has been a pleasure to be a part of that journey.
On the other hand, as Neil Gaiman once said, we also recognize that all stories should have an end, and the conclusion of Nottingham will be a fitting and satisfying one for our readers.
While it’s sad to see it end, we’re also excited about the opportunity to bring new stories and characters into the spotlight. The end of Nottingham is not just a conclusion but a new beginning. It paves the way for bigger and better things from Mad Cave. We have many exciting projects lined up, including new projects from both David and Shane, and we can’t wait to share them with our readers. So, while we bid farewell to Nottingham this year, we also look forward to the exciting future ahead. We’re immensely grateful for the support of our readers throughout this journey, and we can’t wait to embark on new adventures with them.
11. As the Head of the Table, you have a lot on your plate, how’s this affect your health physically, mentally, and emotionally?
Emotionally, leading an organization can be a roller-coaster ride with its highs and lows. But my faith and the support of my family provide me with the strength and resilience to navigate through these emotional challenges. They are my rock during tough times and a source of joy and celebration during successes. Physically, the demands of the job can sometimes be strenuous. However, I maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating right and exercising regularly. This keeps me fit and energizes me to perform my duties more efficiently.
The job can be challenging mentally, with the need to make critical decisions and solve complex problems. But having an incredible team that supports and collaborates effectively eases this burden significantly. We work together to overcome challenges, which reduces stress and fosters a positive work environment.
12. In that same vein, what do you do when it comes to dealing with burn out?
I live by the saying, “Don’t let your obsession become your poison.” I obsess over my passions and get close to going overboard, but I catch myself when I’m over the limit. It’s important to set boundaries, prioritize self-care, and take regular breaks, especially when you have long writing sessions. But most importantly, rely on your team. Comics is a collaborative effort, and so is building a publisher. Another thing that does wonders for my wellness is having a nice relaxing meal with my wife and enjoying a drink from time to time.
13. Any hints on what’s in store for David and Shane after Nottingham?
Can’t say too much at the moment, but just know that both David and Shane are currently working on their own creator-owned projects for Mad Cave.
14. And for my final question, what’s a dream project for you?
Well, for me, it has always been a dream to write RoboCop or Speed Racer. Creating and writing your own compelling narratives and characters is great, but being able to play with characters I grew up watching is truly something special. While it would definitely be something different for me, I would welcome the challenge of bringing fresh and innovative, ideas to the table for some of my favorite characters in all of media.
If we’re talking about something unrelated to comics, or at least it is related tangentially, I would love to write for animation someday. For example, I love what Amazon did with Invincible and The Legend of Vox Machina.
Editor’s Note: Huge thanks to Mark for taking part in this interview! And a big hearty congrats to 10 years! Here’s to another 10!
Interview by: Rob Wrecks