MI6 got penciler Mike Perkins to put his sketch book down for 20 minutes this month to talk Sir Charles Basildon and his continuing adventure in the hit comic series "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"...

Interview - Mike Perkins
2nd March 2004

MI6 got penciler Mike Perkins to put his sketch book down for 20 minutes this month to talk Sir Charles Basildon and his continuing adventure in the hit comic series "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"...

Sketch books at the ready...

You conceived the series KKBB. How did the idea develop from the initial seed into what the published series became? Were there any changes made from the original concept by the time it came to print?
I can't really say there were substantial changes to the initial concept. They were just rounded out and finely honed by a collaborative process involving the whole team. One particular change that came about when it was decided to go ahead with the series is, for your own well being and continued enjoyment, something I cannot reveal at this time..

How did the character development come about? Did you create sketches of the main cast before Tony Bedard worked on the characterisation, or was it more of an iterative/genetic process?
The characters arrived pretty much fully formed. I knew what I wanted to see in a book of this kind - and hopefully offer to the readers something they expect to see within this genre - but then a little bit more. I worked up the character sketches, passed them along to Drew (Hennessy - the inker) who then passed them on to Laura (Villari - the colourist) and then worked with Tony who took the initial descriptions and fleshed them out.

'growing up in England, the Bond films simply seep into your consciousness'

You're a life-long fan of the espionage genre. What were the main influences you drew upon from that enormous back-catalogue of material to create the style of KKBB?
I think, growing up in England, the Bond films simply seep into your consciousness and unwittingly become a part of your character - partly due to the fact that every bank holiday there would be one of the films being shown. Even if you didn't watch them entirely - you would still know everything about them simply by the fact of them being on in the background . So, without a doubt, the initial influences were Bond and the Steed and Mrs. Peel Avengers episodes - although since coming up with the concept I've also been strongly influenced by Danger Man and current shows like the excellent Alias - as well as books full of twists, turns, secrets and multiple meanings such as The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown.

Above: Charles Basildon

What aspects from the 1960's were the most interesting to weave into Basildon's world?
Definately the bold design aspects and mod fashions. Who doesn't love the sleek world of tuxedo's and cat suits? It's also interesting to explore both the political and sexual attitudes of that time. We're talking about a world where The Cold War is in full swing and yet equality for the sexes was trying to find it's place in the old boy network.

Above: Mike Perkins


'Who doesn't love the sleek world of tuxedo's and cat suits?'

Similarly with Fleming's world he created for 007, there is an intriguing blend of real-world and fantasy. Could you tell us about which aspects of KKBB's setting stay true to the period, and which aspects are a product of imagination?
In Kiss Kiss the whole thought process revolves around the fact that we're trying to be as authentic as possible - which should not be confused with being as realistic as possible. This comic is not a Le Carre novel - there are comics which deal with the realistic attributes of the spy world superbly (such as the excellent Queen and Country) - it's definately on the side of the Bond films, the majority of which deal with authenticity but present it in a bombastic way. That's the flavour we want to offer to the readership.

'As with the Bond films, the opening sequences are always exciting...'

Bond is usually summed up as "Girls, Guns and Gadgets". How did the period setting affect your art work of these elements? What were your favourite aspects to draw?
It's astounding how far the technology has advanced since the mid 60's. So I have a whole heap of reference material to dig through just to make sure I'm accomplishing that much talked about authenticity. A mobile phone at that time may have been carried on your back - the computers were, most probably, as big as a room. We may approach the gadgets at some point - but Bond does that stuff so well that it may feel like we're covering old ground, which, as you may know in a genre like this, is a very easy thing to do - but something we strive to avoid. We try to approach things which may seem familiar but handle them in an unexpected way. And, of course, drawng the girls is always fun.

What were your favourite locales in KKBB to create for the page?
As with the Bond films, the opening sequences are always exciting to get my teeth into. The opening of the first issue, in Cambodia, was a lot of fun to draw. The Russian gulag was a chance to play with atmosphere - as was the underwater opening of the third issue.

Could you explain the typical process you work through to create a KKBB adventure?
Myself, Tony and Drew will often get together to openly throw ideas into the pot. We pretty much know the direction we're heading in but when you're brain storming like that something more exciting may rear it's well-coiffed head. Tony will then get those ideas together in the form of a script with panel descriptions and dialogue. Sometimes I'll suggest a change in the dialogue - to have it more resoundingly English. He'll pass it on to me - and I'll create a rough layout of the page which I'll then blow-up in size and start pencilling. Passing this on to Drew to ink. He'll then perform his magic, scan it in and send it to Laura - who will add the perfected finishing touches

Right: Cover art for Issue two

'A lot of the time Stephanie has Catherine Zeta Jones's lips...'


Due to the spate of comic-book movie conversions lately, we can't help but ask, who would you cast for the main characters from KKBB if it were a movie (question also to Tony Bedard)?
That's not actually as easy to answer as it seems. When I draw the characters they're an amalgam of different actors, actresses, models, people I know. A lot of the time Stephanie has Catherine Zeta Jones's lips - and Kate Beckinsale's figure with a lot of Diana Rigg's poise and attitude thrown in. Basildon on the other hand is a melting pot of all the Bonds, Frank Sinatra and me, Tony and Drew!!

How did your career progress to the point you are at now? Did you always want to be a comic book artist?
I always wanted to be a comic book artist - ever since I came across my first comic ( probably when I was four years old). My first professional work was for 2000ad - a Future Shock - which then led to a Judge Dredd strip and more illustration work in comics, books and magazines. I started inking other peoples pencils as a favour to fellow comic strip artist Phil Winslade and found that I really enjoyed it. This progressed on to working for CrossGen and moving to Florida where I inked Butch Guice's work on Ruse before developing Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.


MI6 Briefing

Title: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang
Publisher: CrossGen
Released: Issue #1 January 14th, #2 February 18th
Price: $2.95
Writer: Tony Bedard
Penciler: Mike Perkins
Colorist: Laura Villari
Andrew Hennessy

What advice would you give to anyone wanted to start a career in this genre?
Practice, Persevere and Publish.

Aside from KKBB, if you could suggest one other title for people new to the world of comic books to read, what would you recommend?
Okay , let's start from the point of view that your normal book reading public would like to avoid the superhero trappings - and then assume that if they're checking out this site then to some degree they must be interested in this genre. By narrowing it down to that degree I'd say - go out and pick up the Queen and Country trade paperback graphic novels. And while you're at it you can sidle over on the shelf and pick up the collections of Ruse at the same time!

Many thanks to Mike Perkins.

Related Articles:
Interview - Tony Bedard
"Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" Preview
"Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" Announced