Mark Bertolini – ComixTribe Creators Helping Creators Make Better Comics Mon, 29 May 2017 08:40:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 result653 Fri, 18 Sep 2015 14:14:23 +0000 q

Hello world Thu, 24 Apr 2014 17:55:12 +0000 Hello world

The BREAKNECK Story Wed, 13 Jul 2011 11:12:18 +0000 In my first TRENCHES column, I discussed the lengthy process involved in putting together my Long Gone miniseries for Markosia Entertainment. Even as I type this, the third issue of that 4-issue series is almost complete.

In this column, just to contrast, I wanted to go over the relatively quick process I went through in putting together my 215 Ink title Breakneck.

The Idea

Breakneck was an idea that came about through a few other ideas gelling all at once. I had the idea of a single supervillain on the run from every superhero in the world, but didn’t have the rest of the story. That’s a very simple premise, and there needed to be more meat to it. A few other random ideas I had for comic books jumped out at me and I found that I was able to combine a few different things into the story that ended up becoming Breakneck. With the idea in mind, I sat down and started scripting. It was very off the cuff, which, in comparison to the tightly wound narratives I wrote for Long Gone, this felt like a much freer way of writing. I started the story in the middle, and then explained what had happened, and away I went. When I was done, I had a very entertaining 22-page script (a few times I laughed out loud at some of the things I had included), and was now on the hunt for an artist.

The Artist (the ONLY round)

As a habitual member of the forums at, I decided to take a chance and put out a help wanted ad for an artist. My experience with this type of artist search had never been fantastic, but I had to start somewhere, right? My ad stated I was looking for someone with a unique style, something that wasn’t a basic, generic superhero style. And manoman, did I find that in James Boulton. He knew his style was different, and was very interested in the script. I saw some of his samples, and knew he was the man for the job. An explosive, kinetic style not far removed from Ashley Wood or Bill Sienkiewicz. I knew this was the right style to portray this strange, slightly goofy story I’d written. James dug the script, and started sending me these very intense, fantastic pages almost right away. James is a journeyman, he’s the full package for comic art, pencils, inks and colors. With the addition of the exceptionally talented Matt Brown on letters, we had our three-man team in place and set out to craft the first full issue.

The publisher, Round One

I’d been heavily investigating small press publishers, and happened upon UK-based Com.X comics. With my association with the aforementioned UK-based Markosia, I thought, why not? The United Kingdom had been good to me once, why not a second time? I sent an inquiry email, which was quickly and politely responded to by one of the publishers, encouraging me to send some material to them. Now, James Boulton is a machine, and had finished that full first issue in less than a month. So off went the first full, 22-page issue to Com.X. However, it was right around the time of the New York Comic Con of 2010, so Com.X was quite busy, to say the least, and asked for my patience for them to review the submission. All the while, James, Matt and I kept on, working on the second issue.

Eventually, Com.X got back to me, politely declining the book as it didn’t fit into their publishing plans. So now I was armed with a full art team, a fully completed first issue, work already underway on a second issue, and no publisher. However, things were about to change very dramatically.

The publisher, round two.


Everything came down to Facebook. I had become friends on Facebook with indie creator Stephen Lindsay, the genius creator of the indie hit Jesus Hates Zombies, who had just recently brought that title to a new publisher called 215 Ink. I sent an email to the publisher at 215 Ink, Andrew DelQuadro, who asked to see the first issue. This was maybe two days after the rejection notice from Com.X, and maybe two months into the lifespan of Breakneck. So off went the first issue to Andrew, who emailed me back in less than an hour and said he would love to publish it, and could have it ready to hit Diamond’s Previews magazine in January of 2011.

Needless to say, I peed my pants a little bit and told him I’d have to discuss it with James and Matt, but we were probably (definitely) in. The team was very happy to have their first published works come from an American publisher (as the Breakneck team is worldwide, James is based in Australia and Matt hails from Scotland, and I’m Canadian). This was November of 2010, about two and half months after the first line of script for Breakneck was written.

The result

January rolled around, and the New Year greeted me with my name in print, in January’s Previews magazine. It was one of the biggest thrills of my (semi-)professional career, seeing that solicitation in there next to all of the comics and creators I’d been reading and following for most of my life. It was a validation that all this time, sweat, stress, and energy was worthwhile. Issue 1 was followed up two months later with issue 2, and two months after that came issue 3. James continued to produce the pages at a (pardon the pun) breakneck pace. As I write this, the fourth issue has just been solicited in July’s Previews, and we’ve started discussing the opportunity of a trade paperback collecting the first three-issue story arc, and James is almost finished with the art for the fifth issue of the planned ten-issue series.

Less than a year from first thought to being halfway through the full series. Sometimes you toil for years on something, sometimes the time gets away from you and you’re halfway home. Some fantastic reviews have come of the released issues, which means everyone is enjoying reading Breakneck as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. And on another note, I’d like to (again) give a huge thank you to James, Matt, and Andrew at 215 Ink for making this happen. It wasn’t my first signed publishing deal, but it was my first for everything else, and I count myself immeasurably lucky every day that I’ve been given this opportunity.


Mark Bertolini is the writer of the supervillain series Breakneck from 215 Ink, the sci-fi/noir series Ghost Lines, available through Creator’s Edge Press, and the upcoming Markosia Entertainment mini-series Long Gone. He can be reached via email at

You can purchase the first issue of Breakneck right here, powered by!


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TRENCHES #1: The Long Gone Story Thu, 10 Feb 2011 05:16:14 +0000

So, you want to write comic books, do ya? You want to get that grand idea of yours out to the masses, pair it with some fantastic artwork, and take the industry by storm? Then get in line. It’s not as easy as it might sound. But with perseverance, talent, and some luck, it can be possible. At least it became so for me.

Finding an Artist

As an aspiring comic book writer with plenty of ideas but a distinct lack of artistic ability, I was in the same position as most writers: I needed an artist. I had a great script (as far as I was concerned), one that I thought had a pretty good mainstream bent to it, but without artwork, all I had were 22 pieces of paper.

So I hit up the websites that I knew of, looking for an artist. I placed Want Ads at Digital, at, and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

I quickly realized part of the problem: I had no money to pay an artist. Just a fact of life, all of the money I had was earmarked for things like food, car, mortgage. You know, the important, real-world stuff. I got such a lackluster response to my want ads that I decided a change of tack was necessary. I started watching the artists who were posting sequential pages, guys who were already doing the work, and I waited to find someone who I thought could bring my story to life.

The Story

The story, Long Gone, was about an old man who survived the superhuman apocalypse. It has been described as “The Terminator” but with superhumans instead of robots, or “The Walking Dead” with superhumans in place of the zombies. The idea came to me very vividly one day. I was driving on the highway at one of those weird times of day when there were no other cars with me. I drove for a 2 or 3 minute stretch where I was the only car on the road, and right away, my writer’s brain starting putting together a story. Where were all the other cars? All the other people? What happened to them? The answer came to me later on: the superhumans wiped them all out. This story clicked in my head, and right away I knew the beginning, middle, and end.

The Artist, Round One

Thus armed with my story and my script, I searched for the right artist. I had a specific idea in mind of how the story would look. I’m a big fan of artists like Alex Maleev, Michael Lark, and Paul Azaceta, guys with heavy blacks and stylized artwork. And then I found my guy on Digital Webbing. I’m going to refrain from using his name, for reasons that will become clear, but I sent him a message, explained the story, and he agreed to do up an 8-page sample package.

And he came back with some really great, really moody artwork that nailed the scenes I had pictured in my head. It was real stark black and white with some nice ink washed gray tones. The artist even did the letters, which was a bonus, as that was one less piece of the puzzle I had to locate. Once the 8-page package was done, I was all set.

The Submission Package

But what to do with it? I’d previously submitted stuff to Image comics, and never got a response, which meant they’d passed on it. I didn’t want to just dump this story into a slush pile somewhere, where no one would ever look at it. So I started researching some smaller companies, the small press guys with good reputations. I quizzed my fellow creators, ran things past people I trusted, and put together a nice list of potential publishers. First on that list was Markosia Entertainment, a small press outfit based in the UK who had done some very nice work on some book I actually owned. I thought it was worth a shot, so I dropped a general inquiry email and waited. I didn’t wait long, though, as I got a response from none other than the publisher himself, Mr. Harry Markos, who said if I had something for him, to send it over. So over it was sent, and again, I waited, and again, not for long. The response to the package was great, Harry liked the art and liked the story and was interested in moving forward with it.

Needless to say, this being my first time at the dance, I may have soiled myself, just a little. Harry and I set up a phone call, where we discussed the story and how it was different from the type of story that Markosia normally published, being a superhero story. Harry liked that it didn’t focus on the heroes, though, that it was about this solitary old man surviving in this horrific world. His actual words were “I like that it takes the piss out of superheroes.”

So, we were all set to go, right? Wrong. The contracts came for the artist and myself, and I ran mine past a trusted resource who said to go for it. My first time at bat, I wasn’t going to get much better than what Markosia was offering, and I’d already decided to sign what they sent. I kept the rights, they published the work, we split any profits. More than enough for me. But not enough for the artist. He had done the 8-page sample on spec, and once the contracts came out, wanted to earn a page rate. His figure? $100 per page.

I ran this past Harry, who actually laughed. “I could get ex-Marvel or DC guys to do it for $60 a page,” he said. Markosia, being a smaller company, doesn’t pay a page rate. Profits are made on the back-end. Yes, the dreaded “back-end pay” situation.

So, my artist decided to turn it down. I was in a panic. This was something I had written that I felt very strongly about, and it was looking like it was going to crash and burn right out of the gate. I talked to Harry about it, and asked if I could take some time to find a new artist, and he agreed, which made me feel pretty good about the story, as it was clear that it wasn’t just the art he had liked. Back to the well I went, this time armed with a more than before: a comic book that a publisher had already agreed to pick up. I hit up all of my creator friends, looking for the new right artist. I got a few bites, some really good artists, and sent some sample script pages to the people who had responded.

The Artist(s), Round Two

And three days after sending the sample pages, I found my new guy. I received three pages in my email from an artist named Ted Pogorzelski, three pages that absolutely blew me away with the level of detail they incorporated. Three pages that I drooled over for hours. Three pages that landed Ted the gig. He was very enthusiastic, very excited about the prospect of getting his work published. I ran the pages past Harry, who approved them, but wanted them to be colored, as they were markedly different from the original black and white artwork. I had that covered, though. I’d worked with Aaron Viel on another project, where he had done the art and colors, and he agreed to color Long Gone. I had to find a letterer too, as the original artist did his own letters. The highly-esteemed ET Dollman agreed to come on-board as letterer and designer. The team was almost complete.

It was decided that an editor was necessary, and I agreed. One had been recommended to me, and I spoke to Andrew Brinkley, who agreed to edit the series. I’d never worked closely with an editor before (I was convinced every word I wrote was pure gold), but his contribution would become invaluable, almost right away. When I had originally started writing Long Gone, I’d pictured it as a 96-page graphic novel. Harry had asked for it to be split up into four 22-page issues, which was fine, except that I’d already written more than thirty pages of script. Andrew’s first Herculean task was to wrangle the 30+ pages into a workable 22-page first issue. He chopped and tweaked and came out with an exceptionally strong first issue, with an excellent finishing page, one that made even me want to read the next issue.

So the five-man band was all set up. Moving from just me and one other person into a five-person team was hard to get accustomed to. That many people involved, that many moving parts, that many more emails, it was so much different than was I was used to. But we pushed on, and started getting the work done. I worked my fingers to the bone, writing those four scripts. With Andrew’s editing eye, I put together four scripts that felt very strong, very complete to me. When I typed the final line of dialogue for the fourth and final issue, I knew I had written something that was special. I was very proud of the scripts, it was easily the strongest writing I’d done to that point.

Part two of this column will give more details on the progression of Long Gone from idea to art to comic book, and the difference between it and another project of mine, one that skipped all the drama and got to the finish line a hell of a lot quicker than this first one.


Mark Bertolini is the writer of the supervillain series Breakneck from 215 Ink, the sci-fi/noir series Ghost Lines, available through Creator’s Edge Press, and the upcoming Markosia Entertainment mini-series Long Gone. He can be reached via email at

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