I’m Mike Maihack. I write and draw a graphic novel series called CLEOPATRA IN SPACE (among other things).
When did you first decide to become an illustrator? Was there a pivotal moment?
I don’t think there was any pivotal moment (aside from my Mom dumping a pile of crayon and paper in front of me when I was younger). I’ve gone though a lot of iterations of what I wanted to do in the arts depending on who or what was influencing me at the time. Discovering Jeff Smith’s BONE in 6th or 7th grade was what lead me to wanting to make long form comics though.
Who do you look up to? Who are your heroes in the industry?
Well, Jeff Smith obviously. Aside from him my Dad primarily for his open mindedness and commitment to his faith. Also, not sure if I’d be where I am had I not watched all those Chuck Jones cartoons growing up.
Where does your training come from? Self-taught? College/Art School?
A combination of art school (I graduated from the Columbus College of Art and Design), self-taught, and the internet. These days, a lot of what I learn is through trial-and-error.
How do you keep it "fresh"?
By never, ever being satisfied with my own work.
What are you currently working on?
The third CLEOPATRA IN SPACE graphic novel.
Which of your projects are you the most proud of? And why?
The CLEOPATRA IN SPACE series thus far. It’s the one that (so far) has caused me to grow the most as a cartoonist and storyteller and, once the third book is finished, the first time I’ve completed a long-form, fleshed-out story. Not to mention I love the characters and look forward to piloting new directions for them every day.
Are there any areas, techniques, mediums, projects in your field that you have yet to try?
Of course. I’d like to try my hand at a established superhero series some day. Anyone who’s read my Batgirl Supergirl strips probably isn’t surprised by that. I’d like to simply write a comic someday and work and learn with artists better than I. And there’s a small part of me that’s been wanting to take a shot at prose, even though I’m sure I would fail miserably at it.
Any advice to the novice illustrator?
Your best work is always the next thing in front of you.
What makes an illustration successful?
If it succeeds in presenting the information intended in a way that 99.9% of the people who see/read it understand.
What do you do to keep yourself motivated and avoid burn-out?
Try not to think about it. Haha. Seriously though, the desire to tell stories keeps me motivated. Forcing myself to take breaks (jogging, tv, family, Disney, Zelda) is what keeps me from getting burnt out. Plus all it takes is one minute to check what amazing things artists in my social media feeds are creating to remind me why I love what I do.
Finish this sentence. "If I weren't an illustrator I would have been a..."
And finally, what is the best thing on TV right now?