When in doubt, go “more stabby.”

Since getting a Marvel NOW! relaunch, Deadpool, a.k.a. Wade Wilson, has gotten a new writing team in the form of Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan, both more known for their work in comedy. But following a very comedic first story arc in which Wade took on a horde of undead presidents and gained a quirky new supporting cast, things have gotten darker…

One of Wade’s pals, necromancer Michael’s soul is on the line after making a deal with the demon Vetis to resurrect his idols the dead presidents – not realizing they’d come back evil. With Deadpool roped in to reclaim the other souls on Vetis’s list (e.g. murder their owners) in order to have his necromancer buddy’s soul spared, Wade Wilson finds himself having to go ‘more stabby’ – and smarter – in order to outwit the duplicitous Vetis. On top of this, when Wade’s new buddy S.H.I.E.LD. agent Preston was killed in battle with the presidents, Michael managed to save her consciousness, hiding it away for safe-keeping – in Deadpool’s head; giving us a new insight into the unhinged mind of the Merc with a Mouth.

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Mike Hawthorne is the artist illustrating the insanity, and I got to chat to him about it all…

Geek Smash: Your style’s a good fit for ‘Deadpool’, but as far as I’m aware this is your first work for Marvel – where else might people know you from?

Mike Hawthorne: Nah, this is not my first rodeo. I worked for Marvel years ago when I co-created ‘Machine Teen’, then again helping Tony [Moore] out with breakdowns on ‘The Punisher’.

But I’ve worked for just about everyone. I drew ‘Queen & Country’ for Oni, ‘Conan’ and ‘Fear Agent’ for Dark Horse, ‘Exterminators’, the ‘Un-men’ and a few more things at Vertigo. I’ve also worked as a storyboard artist for commercials and film, most recently on ‘HOP’ with Russell Brand.  I’m even drawing comics for some French publishers.

Geek Smash: As a comics writer jonesin’ to work on the Merc with a Mouth myself, how did you land your art gig?

Mike Hawthorne: Eh, they just asked out of the blue. Tony needed to take a break and suggested me, and the rest of the story you know.

Geek Smash: How are you finding it, working with writers Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan?

Mike: No lie, it’s awesome. I know you’re supposed to say that about anyone you work with, but I’m no good at lying. If I didn’t like their work I’d avoid this question and just make a fart joke or something.  Oh, by the way… did you hear the one about the Indian chief who went to the doctor because he couldn’t pass gas?….

Anyway, these guys are genuinely awesome. The scripts are full of great visual gags and character development. I catch myself laughing at just the script all the time. I never read a ‘Deadpool’ comic before this, but these guys have made me a fan!

Geek Smash: How have you found illustrating Wade Wilson’s…eclectic…new gang of buddies; S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Preston, Michael the necromancer, and the Ghost of Benjamin Franklin [who was seemingly spirited back to the world with the dead presidents]?

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Mike: It’s been fun. I love that DP doesn’t have a crew in tights. I love that they’re this weird group he relies on. Let’s be honest, this is a team book now. Only the team is creepy and kooky. Mysterious, and in addition to that spooky. All together ooky. It’s a damn family!

Geek Smash: Thanks to Agent Preston’s consciousness getting dumped there for safekeeping, we’ve had a couple of glimpses inside Deadpool’s crazy old head. Is that fun to bring to life?

Mike: Oh God, yes! I think we all know Deadpool is crazy, but I love that we’re getting to show it. A wise philosopher, a visionary sage, a guru once said, “The worst thing to call somebody is crazy. It’s dismissive. ‘I don’t understand this person. So they’re crazy,’” and I believe that. Deadpool IS crazy, but in a complicated way.

The stuff he does in the book always has a cracked logic to it. So maybe he’s not crazy at all, just not like the rest of us.

Geek Smash: Did Posehn & Duggan lay out everything for you to depict there, or did you get to bring some of your own ideas, too?

Mike: Well, the museum and specific paintings are their idea. As was the Deadpool-styled Chuck-E-Cheese.  I just make it work on the page. I think the only thing I added was the DP Sphinx. I’m also getting to dip into my old memories from art history class and choose new paintings to go in the DP Louvre, but other than that it’s all Gerry and Brian.

Geek Smash: It doesn’t look like we’re done in his head yet, either – I’m very intrigued by a painting of a couple that’s had its faces covered up, that Preston came across, and Deadpool was very defensive when she questioned him about this. Can you hint at anything that’s to come when we go back inside Wade’s mind?

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Mike: Oh, there are definitely more wings to the DP Louvre. I can’t give anything up now, but trust me when I say we see another exhibit before too long. Turns out DP is a pretty good docent.

Geek Smash: In ‘Deadpool’ #8 it was revealed that a mysterious outfit – led by a hot redhead – have been harvesting Wade’s regenerating organs – seemingly for some time. What you can you tell us about that?

Mike: That’s a great idea, right?! Gerry and Brian have some crazy stuff cooking, but I can’t say too much.  Just know that what you’ve seen there in that scene isn’t entirely what’s going on. This stuff comes into play with the next arc that my pal Declan [Shalvey] is drawing. You’ll see, dude. It’s gonna be awesome.

Geek Smash: We’re getting to see more of Wade’s dark side in the current arc – in issue #9 he mercilessly dismembers a parody version of a certain aquatic superhero – How was that to illustrate, and has it been fun drawing Deadpool in action, in general?

Mike: I think it’s clear that DP isn’t Wile E. Coyote anymore (though, he may really be a Super Genius). He’s a dangerous dude. He’s a skilled fighter, but what makes him really scary is how he problem-solves. He won’t follow the script, and throws all your expectations out the window. Like, in ‘Deadpool’ #10, when he steals [the Superior] Spider-Man’s web-shooter to go after the bad guy. I loved that because you don’t expect it but it works. I’m kinda surprised Marvel let us do it, actually. It’s like we tugged Superman’s cape.

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I guess it shows how astute DP is. He immediately picks up on the differences in Spidey, and figures ways to make it work for him. Plus, you get to see how DP handles threats when there’s no time for playing around. He’s no joke in the issue, despite all the joking that goes on.

Geek Smash: What can we expect from your final issues of the current Deadpool arc – and will you be back for more?

Mike: There is a huge boss battle in the [last] issue that I think fans are going to love. It’s basically a fight Deadpool can’t win, so he’s got to think a way out of it. It goes on for pages and pages, just all out ass kicker. I loved drawing it!

I will be back, no worries. I already have the first script for my next arc in front of me and it’s fantastic. I’m loving where Brian, Gerry and Jordan [D. White – the book’s editor] are going with this. I’m glad to be a part of it. It’s gonna be fun!

Geek Smash: Cheers, Mike! 

“Deadpool” #11 is out now – and you can check out a preview of it at interviewer Sam Johnson’s blog here!

-By Sam Johnson