I am a professional comic book writer with 12 years of experience. Learn more about the comic book industry when you Ask Me Anything!

Mark Poulton
Nov 12, 2017

I am a 12 year professional of the comic book industry. I have written for DC Comics, Image Comics and Arcana Studio. I am also the Vice President of Operations of Arcana Studio, where I have helped publish over 300 graphic novels. My children's book series, A Cat Named Haiku, is currently in development as an animated film from Arcana Studio with Kiefer O'Reilly (DC's Legends of Tomorrow) set to star. This past Summer, I released Pizza Tree, which I co-wrote with my 7 year old son, Chase. It is an all ages horror graphic novel about a little boy who plants a slice of pepperoni in his backyard and an evil Pizza Tree grows from it. My most recent project is the superhero teen-comedy, Squirt: Heroes Come In All Sizes, which is currently being crowdfunded. 


I have far more to tell you about my expertise and experiences, so please don't hesitate to ask me anything! 

You can follow me on Twitter here.

You can follow me on Instagram here.

Or be my friend at Facebook here.



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Conversation (39)

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How did you come up with the caracters?

Nov 17, 9:03AM EST0

As a follower of yours on major social media platforms, owner of several of your books, several of Arcana's books, and a parent excited to introduce my children to comic books through Pizza Tree, your response is disheartening.

What a misleading and very disappointing response. Sadly all of it can be easily disputed. With a bit of fact-checking anyone can easily determine your response appears to deflect and mislead. Maybe it's just poor writing, maybe its the emotion of the situation, or maybe it was your intent.

Your response to my comment about your lack of technical and stylistic skill has nothing to do with your penciling capabilities. Your comment about penciling Haiku is a major fallacy meant to deflect and reroute the line of questioning. Haiku is irrelevant to this conversation and an ironic twist, it too illustrates that you are not stylistically capable of the work you credited yourself with creating. In addition, the amount of work you have posted, claiming to be yours is comparably more rudimentary and stylistically disparate from the Pizza Tree artist. There's no getting around it. Even if you were an expert penciler there is nothing in your repertoire to indicate that you are capable of that style of work presented in the BCC yearbook. Whereas there is an entire portfolio, online, that clearly demonstrates the artist's skill level, skillset, and that he was the creator of the piece. I would even challenge you to produce a similar piece on your own, fully inked and colored in the style you claim to be capable of doing. Can you? And no you have not alwasy given proper credit as many of your social media posts aptly illustrate.  

The period of time between when you claimed, via social media, you submitted the piece to the actual submission date was more than long enough to address any omission and\or error. Even an email to BCC, a very responsive and customer satisfaction centric event, by the way, would have quickly fixed the issue expediently. Lack of time was the same answer you provided at BCC and it was as misleading then as it is now. Anyone can easily google this year's submission form, cross check your social media posts, and come to their own conclusions. If you ran out of time it wasn't because you didn't have enough time to address the issue.

If you think that your approach and handling of the artwork in this manner is appropriate, ask other professionals, ask your creative partners, and ask your customers. Get their opinions and you'll see you may have mishandled this situation.  The biggest issue I am wrestlinh with and what will inform further purchases, is has this happened before?

There is an easy way to fix this issue. It might require a blow to your ego and you may have to actually admit you haven't been fair to your customers or collaborators. It'ssuper easy and would go a long way with the select few us that buy your products. Ultimately for it to work  you have to be capable of empathy and an understanding that your actions might affect others.

1. Recognize that you haven't been honest with your customers, the customers of BCC, and maybe even with your creative team. Show a small amount of regret for not being honest until called on the carpet. Understand the difference between guilt and shame and how it relates to this situation.

2. Reference your social media posts for this one; don't call customers who come to you with sincere concerns trolls (or insult them in general) because you don't like their questions. Yes, I asked you tough questions in a public forum but they were legitimate. It wasn't as if a select few of us didn't try to talk to you about this in a more discrete setting.

2. Promise us, your customers, you will never do it again. Promise your creative team, your artists, and partners you won't ever do it again. Be sincere in this sentiment. Then fix the problem.

3. Use the words "I apologize" and mean every bit of it.

It's a simple solution but you have to be willing to understand you could be wrong and you might have possibly mistreated people. 

Nov 13, 1:27PM EST0

Hi Gilly, I'm sorry that's how you feel, but I answered your question honestly. Once I sent the file with the credits in, I didn't see the book until the day of the convention. Once I saw Ryan was not credited as inker and colorist, I apologized to him. That's the only apology due. Sometimes there are mistakes. I have not been credited for things I have written in the past. Sure, it stinks, but I accept the reason it happened and move on. I think it's best you move on too. If you'd like to think poorly of me, that's your choice. 

Nov 14, 4:31PM EST0

Where are you from?

Nov 13, 2:53AM EST0

I'm from New Jersey. 

Nov 13, 6:53AM EST1

How did you come up with the characters?

Nov 12, 10:39AM EST1

The characters for Squirt are based on some characters I had created for a teen-comedy screenplay that never made it out of development. I'm a huge Power Rangers and Super Sentai fans so I incorporated elements of that and made a superhero, teen-comedy. 

Nov 12, 2:33PM EST0

Are comic books easy to find at convienience stores?

Nov 12, 10:16AM EST0

No, outside of the Archie digests that are sold at grocery stores you can't find comic books in convenience stores anymore. 

Nov 12, 2:31PM EST0

We’ve all met very talented newcomers who are trying to get their first professional projects. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator?

Nov 12, 8:43AM EST0

Just make comics. I feel too many newcomers want to sit back and have someone give them that break. The truth is the only person who can do that for you is yourself. If you have a project you are passionate about than it shouldn't matter if a publisher won't greenlight it. Go make it yourself. If you can't afford to get it printed, go the webcomic route or crowdfund it. Your determination and passion are your best weapons. 

Nov 12, 9:09AM EST0

What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?

Nov 12, 7:57AM EST0

Becoming a father really taught me that family comes first. I was pretty consumed by making comics and having the next project lined up. But becoming a father makes you realize what is most important. I may not write as much as I once did, but that's okay. I have a family and they need me. And they'll be there for me when I need them. And that unconditional love is the best thing in the world you can have. 

Nov 12, 9:34AM EST0

Will be shipping worldwide?

Nov 12, 7:21AM EST0

Eventually. It's something I want to work out, but it's frustrating when shipping to other parts of the world is more expensive than the actual item someone is buying. I don't feel like that is fair to the consumer and I need to find a way around it. 

Nov 12, 9:28AM EST0

Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?

Nov 12, 4:58AM EST0

My wife, Chrissy, is the biggest influence on me outside of comics. Before I met her, I was a quiet and shy person, but she has always believed in me and it's amazing what having someone like that in your life will do. You will start believing in yourself and you won't be afraid to stand up for yourself or talk in front of a room full of people. I'm still a pretty quiet person, but I've made great strides thanks to her. 

Nov 12, 9:26AM EST0

What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why?

Nov 12, 4:56AM EST0

Creating Pizza Tree with my son has been the most rewarding experience of my life. To share my love of making comics with my son is the best. And to see him have the same love is very rewarding. This past Summer we have toured doing signings and promoting the book and we've created so many memories that will last a lifetime. It all started with an idea he had and to watch it go from a story he told at dinner to a completed book is amazing.  

Nov 12, 9:23AM EST0

Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?

Nov 12, 4:53AM EST0

I have had two really big influences on my career. First is Rob Liefeld. I was always a huge fan of his. He was the reason I wanted to make comics. I was lucky enough to get to work with him on Avengelyne, Savage Hawkman and a few other projects. He really influenced my storytelling. Making things bigger and exciting. I think his storytelling is the best. He knows how to tell an exciting story and I feel that has rubbed off on me. Second is Sean O'Reilly. Sean is the President and CEO of Arcna Studio. He gave me my first break in comics and I've learned so much from him from a practical sense on how to make comics and how to conduct your business. I've been fortunate to have them both be parts of my career. 

Nov 12, 9:19AM EST0

What tools do you use to create comics and what makes them the “right tools” for you?

Nov 12, 12:55AM EST0

I keep it simple. All of my comics start out simply enough with a pen and a notepad. I will outline my idea until it's a pretty full story. Once I have a really good idea where everything is going, I will move to my computer and begin writing out the script. I don't use any fancy writing programs. I just stick with Microsoft Word. I like to keep things simple. When it comes to art, I'm still a pencil and paper guy. I will sketch out my image on regular computer paper and then lightbox it onto and artboard. I use Canson's Manga artboards. They are smaller than the regular size comic artboards and have a nice smooth texture. 

Nov 12, 9:16AM EST0

What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?

Nov 11, 8:10PM EST0

I like to take some time to read, watch a movie or workout. It's great to get away from the keyboard every now and then. One process I have been using is leaving the script at a point where I still have a little left in the batteries and I know exactly what comes next. That way I can jump back in with no hesitation and not have to stress. 

Nov 11, 10:13PM EST0

What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?

Nov 11, 7:43PM EST0

Working with first time creators and helping them get their first published works out into the public. My Kickstarter project, Squirt, is a great example of this. This will be artist, Mark Yoon's first book. It's something he'll never forget and I get to be a part of it. The same with my last project, Pizza Tree. I got to see my son, Chase, have his first book published. I got to see him earn his first pro badge at a comic book convention and see the joy in his face when he accomplished these things and it makes me proud. It's a great feeling. 

Nov 11, 10:09PM EST0

Do you think young generations are interested in comic books?

Nov 11, 4:28PM EST0

I do. Look at the success of Dav Pilkey's Dog Man series. Kids love them! I would think it wise for comic publishers to take notice and begin packaging their all ages titles into easy to read hardcovers with a contained story. Bigger lettering with easy to read words. I tried to pattern Pizza Tree after that. Plus, I don't know of many kids that buy floppy comics. The wait of 30 days for the continuation of a story is too much. Give them the whole story at once. Instead of a monthly Super Powers series from DC, how about 2 hardcovers for kids? One every six months. I think that would be more appealing. 

Nov 11, 7:26PM EST0

When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics as a career?

Nov 11, 12:15PM EST0

I always knew I wanted to make comics, but breaking in seemed like this huge secret. I didn't figure out what I needed to do until my late twenties. It's that old saying, "I wish I knew then what I know now." I think of all the other comics I could have made in those years if I had had a clue. 

Nov 11, 1:29PM EST0

How does one get "started" as a writer in the industry? What course of action would you suggest to get the attention of publishers?

Nov 11, 10:55AM EST0

The best way to establish yourself as a writer in the comic book industry is to make your own  books. I know that seems like a daunting task, but it's the easiest way to get a publisher's attention. As you begin to create a body of work and prove you can do the work, publishers will take notice. 

Nov 11, 11:01AM EST0

Do you have other comics?

Nov 11, 10:13AM EST0

Yes, I've been making comics since 2006. Here is a list of all of the books I have worked on so far:

Koni Waves #1-3 (Arcana Studio, 2006)

Koni Waves: Headdress Of The Undead #1 (Arcana Studio, 2007)

Dark Horrors Anthology (Arcana Studio, 2006)

Koni Waves/Demonslayer #1 (Arcana Studio, 2007)

Koni Waves: First Wave TPB (Arcana Studio, 2007)

Velvet Rope Oneshot (Arcana Studio, 2008)

Khan: The Perfect Warrior GN (Arcana Studio, 2009)

Image United #2 back-up story (Image Comics, 2009)

A Cat Named Haiku (Arcana Studio, 2010)

Avengelyne vs Koni Waves (Arcana Studio, 2010)

Arcana Studio Presents Arcana Team-Up (Arcana Studio, 2010)

Brigade #1 Vol. 4 (Image Comics, 2010)

Velvet Rope GN (Arcana Studio, 2010)

A Cat Named Haiku Coloring Book (Arcana Studio, 2011)

Avengelyne #1-8 Vol. 4 (Image Comics, 2011)

Blade Of Kumori TPB last chapter (Arcana Studio, 2011)

Daddy's Little Girl GN (Arcana Studio, 2011)

Fame: Ryan Reynolds #1 (Bluewater, 2011)

Avengelyne: Devil In The Flesh HC (Image Comics, 2012)

Avengelyne Webcomic (Keenspot, 2012)

Savage Hawkman #9-13, 0 (DC Comics, 2012)

A Cat Named Haiku: The Dust Bunny (Arcana Studio, 2013)

Oxymoron Anthology (ComixTribe, 2013)

Spotlight GN (Arcana Studio, 2013)

Shutter #9 back-up story (Image Comics, 2014)

Charge: All Superheroes Must Die #1 (JTro Comics, 2014)

Furrever Friends: An A Cat Named Haiku Anthology (Arcana Studio, 2014)

Headlocked: The Last Territory Vol. 1 Kickstarter Edition (Visionary, 2014)

A Cat Named Haiku: Totally Pawsome Edition HC (Arcana Studio, 2015)

Headlocked: The Last Territory Vol. 2 Kickstarter Edition (Visionary, 2015)

Pizza Tree (Arcana Studio, 2016)

Nov 11, 10:58AM EST0

Are you going to sell your comics on line?

Nov 11, 9:36AM EST0

Yes, I am currently working on getting Pizza Tree into stores like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. In the meantime, I sell it (and soon Squirt) on my online Etsy store here: https://www.etsy.com/dk-en/shop/MarkPoultonWriting

Alot of my other work like my run on DC's Savage Hawkman or Avengelyne can be found on Amazon, Barnes And Noble, and InstockTrades. A Cat Named Haiku, Koni Konfidential, Koni Waves and my other Arcana Studio work can be found here: http://www.arcanacomics.com/store.php

Nov 11, 10:34AM EST0

Do you feel plagiarism is an ongoing issue authors of comics have to address and occasionally deal with? Do you feel that artists are also affected and have to address similar issues? I ask because on Instagram and at the most recent Baltimore Comic-Con you attributed to yourself and were attributed to a piece of art, that both technically and stylistically you have not shown a propensity to be able to create. This art bears striking, actually an identical, similarity to the artist who worked on your most recent book Pizza Tree. What's more confusing is that at the convention you addressed a couple of guests, of which several of us were in attendance, who asked about the disparity. You stated that you didn't have time to include the artist's name along with yours. What does that mean? However, your social media posts, unless they have been recently addressed, did not mention the artist either. Did you create the work? Were you the sole creator of the work? If you did, why backpedal at BCC? If you didn't create the piece, why did you fail to attribute the artist? Do you think it fair to the paying guests of BCC and purchasers of the product to improperly attribute the piece? If you did not properly attribute the artist would you be willing to offer a public apology?

Nov 10, 10:10PM EST0

Hi Gilly, I'm not really sure what you are talking about. The piece for the Baltimore Comic Con yearbook was penciled by me and inked and colored by Ryan Onorato. I submitted Ryan's info to be credited in the book, but for whatever reason it did not happen, for which I apologized to him about. I never mentioned anything about not having enough time nor did anyone at the convention question whether or not I drew it. In fact, Ryan was with me all weekend at Baltimore as my guest signing yearbooks with me. I let everyone know he inked and colored the piece (at the con and social media). Feel free to contact Ryan on social media and ask him who penciled the piece. As for not having the propensity to create art, I've penciled the last two volumes of my children's book, A Cat Named Haiku, and actually did the layouts for the Pizza Tree. Not sure what angle you're playing, but accusing me of plagiarism on my own characters is really odd.  

Nov 10, 11:23PM EST1
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