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Sean Mack

This week’s guest is a real treat for me. Sean Mack is an illustrator and graphic artist in Detroit, and I first ran across his work around a decade or so ago on Tumblr. His work has really taken off since then, so having him on to talk about his journey as an artist was a lot of fun.

We started off talking about his recent work on a commemorative comic for the late hip-hop artist MF DOOM, and Sean went into how he and writer Brandon Howard came up with their popular comic The Revolutionary Times. We also talked about balancing his art while working a 9-to-5 job, working with big clients, and creating new work through the pandemic. If you’ve never heard of Sean or seen his art, then this interview is a great place to start!

Transcript

Full Transcript

Maurice Cherry:
All right, so tell us who you are and what you do.

Sean Mack:
My name is Sean Mack. I’m a graphic artist, illustrator, graphic designer, comic book artist, storyboard artist, just all-around graphic artist, mostly all art, basically.

Maurice Cherry:
Okay, so, how are you feeling right now? How’s the year going so far?

Sean Mack:
The year has been challenging. I’ve been trying my best to keep up with things, keep up with my craft, keep trying to stay the right path for the most part. I think I’m doing an okay job.

Maurice Cherry:
Okay, you sound like … What’s the guy’s name in Kung Fu that has to walk the path? I forget his name, played by David Carradine.

Sean Mack:
Oh, I know who you’re talking about.

Maurice Cherry:
You’re trying to walk the righteous path.

Sean Mack:
Right, right.

Maurice Cherry:
Tell me about what kind of projects you’re working on right now.

Sean Mack:
Mostly freelancing at the moment. I just got done with a tribute comic for the rapper MF Doom.

Maurice Cherry:
Oh, nice.

Sean Mack:
It’s nothing like anything official. It’s just a nice, small, short story that covers his career in an entertaining way. I’m not too sure when that’s coming out. It’s still in the process of being produced. But, that should be coming out this year, and then just a few freelance projects here and there, just a couple … music stuff, covers for musicians and so on and so on.

Maurice Cherry:
Were you a big MF Doom fan?

Sean Mack:
I was, I was. I wasn’t the biggest MF Doom, but I loved the music that he put out. I think it was … I don’t want to say weird, but it was weird. It was weird and it was eclectic. It was something I had never heard before, something I had never heard put together before quite like the way he made music. So, when he died, I was like, “Ooh.” That was a heavy one. So, just to be able to do this comic, it was pretty cool, actually.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, I mean, the way the news came out especially with his wife saying he actually had passed away months prior, and she had just, I guess, waited until the end of the year to drop the news. Not many people know this, but, I think every episode, most episodes of Revision Path that I recorded here in my little makeshift studio, there’s a 24×36″ poster of Madvillain to my right.

Sean Mack:
Oh, nice.

Maurice Cherry:
I don’t know if many people know how much of an MF Doom fan I am, but yeah, when I heard that, man, that got me. I got the action figure. I got all the CDs. I got the magnets. I got a bunch of stuff, MF Doom patches and stuff. Man, what a loss, what a loss. How did you get involved with doing a tribute comic to him?

Sean Mack:
So, I am friends with … Her name is Maia Crown Williams. She actually was the person who helped put it together. It’s written by a great writer by the name of Troy Allen. She basically was what got me involved with the project because she’s known me over the years. She runs a comic convention out in Detroit called MECCAcon, and I’ve done it once before. We’ve just been in touch over the years because she likes my work. She thinks I’m cool. So, when he was looking for artist, she hit me up to do a test drive for what would be the final comic. He liked what I did and it was just history from there on. He just knocked it out over the, I think, last month or so. Well, yeah, I worked on the art the last month or so, and, right now, it’s still in the post-production stage of everything. So, it turned out pretty good, I would say.

Maurice Cherry:
Well, hopefully they put it up for sale or just have it online somewhere where people can take a look at it because he has a legion of fans around the world, me included. That sounds pretty dope.

Sean Mack:
I’ve only seen a few of the finished pages so far, and they look phenomenal. I really like how it’s turning out. I think people will dig it.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, now, you mentioned doing some album covers, some music covers and stuff. You’re kind of connected with a music company, is that right, called Soulstar?

Sean Mack:
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah [crosstalk 00:09:25]

Maurice Cherry:
Tell me about that.

Sean Mack:
Soulstar is actually Musiq Soulchild’s company.

Maurice Cherry:
Oh!

Sean Mack:
Yeah, Musiq Soulchild, that’s his imprint for not only his regular music Soulchild stuff, but his side passion projects as well. I’ve actually had a chance to work on all facets of those projects, so that’s been pretty cool to do. Yeah, that’s Musiq’s … I think it’s his label and his imprint at the same time.

Maurice Cherry:
Wow, that name takes me back all the way to, God, maybe freshman, sophomore year in college, the year 2000. Oh my goodness, it’s funny you mention that because I know he’s done some work with India Arie. Oh my God, this was years ago I had designer for India Arie on the show, Denise Nicole Francis. This was years and years ago. I don’t know if that name sounds familiar to you or not, but I know they’ve done some work together in terms of doing design and imprint and stuff. So, when you’re working with a label like that, I’m sure it’s more than just album covers and stuff. What all kind of stuff are you designing?

Sean Mack:
It’s been like his side projects and whatnot. I don’t know if I can’t talk about one of them because we’re still working on it, so it’s still behind the scenes. But for the most part, I had designs for logos like certain badges for his certain personas, his musical personas. That’s where his side projects came in. So, for instance, I had a badge for just Musiq Soulchild. And then, there was a badge for his persona called The Husel, which is like his rap hybrid persona. And then, there was another one called P. WondaLuv, Purple WondaLuv, and that was his Prince, funk-inspired persona. I did badges for all of those. I also did covers for them, as well. I did the latest album that came out, Feel the Real. I did the artwork for that one, and then his Husel side project and his P. WondaLuv side project. I did the art for that, as well.

Maurice Cherry:
Very cool. I can imagine there’s no shortage of interesting and creative ideas that he can come up with that now he can just turn around and have you work on. That’s pretty dope.

Sean Mack:
The thing I don’t think most people know about Musiq is that he is a very, very creative dude. He is also very … I don’t want to say nerdy, but he very much embraces geek culture, and that’s how we connected through our love for stuff like anime and comics and whatnot. The stuff that I work for him, a lot of that influence shows. It showed in the concept and just execution of it, so that was a very cool thing to find out, working with him.

Maurice Cherry:
Now, I first found out about you and your work years and years and years ago through Tumblr. You have a comic called The Revolutionary Times.

Sean Mack:
Yeah, so, The Revolutionary Times, it’s a comic started by me and my longtime friend Brandon Howard. He’s the writer. I’m the artist. We started it back in 2008 while I was still in college at the time. We were just inspired by … Boondocks was off the comic kind of thing for a while. It ventured into TV shows, so we were just like, “There’s not many Black comic strips out,” at the time, so we were just like, “Let’s start something. Let’s start something.” We were inspired by Boondocks. We were inspired by, obviously, the classics like Charlie Brown, Calvin and Hobbes, and we just put our own personal lives and mixed it with pop culture, mixed it with politics. It just turned into this comic that we’ve been doing for a while. It’s been off and on, but we’re still in the midst of trying to push more comics out.

Maurice Cherry:
Where did that idea … I guess you alluded to it. Now, you were inspired by the Boondocks and other similar types of comics, but where did that idea first come from outside of that? You just wanted to fill the void that you felt was left behind from those comics?

Sean Mack:
Yeah, yeah, because, originally, it’s all Brandon’s idea. He came to me one day. He’s like, “Man, you still drawing?” I was like, “Yo, I’m in college right now. Yes.” He’s like, “Man, let’s do a comic.” I was like, “Yeah, let’s do a comic.” And then, he just came up with these ideas, these references to pop culture, to politics that was just amazing, and I helped with some of the humor part of it as well. The way it flowed, it was just amazing. Originally, yeah, it was all Brandon. I was just the guy with the pencil at the time.

Maurice Cherry:
And you all have still kept up with it. I think the latest one that I saw, it was Madea protecting [Peria Megan 00:15:27] from Security or something like that.

Sean Mack:
Yeah, yeah, that was a quick one we had to put out because we just had to. It’s just one of the many crazy things that come across our minds that we say, “Hey, let’s make a comic about this.”

Maurice Cherry:
I know that The Boondocks was supposed to come back on HBO Max last year. Maybe hopefully it will happen this year. Certainly, I would love to see what the next season would be of just what they could pull off. I personally don’t count the fourth season of The Boondocks. The first three seasons were great. Season four, eh, it was all right. It was okay. I want to see what they come up with for the fifth season.

Sean Mack:
Yeah, I think they pushed it back to later this year. But, I look at the fourth season of Boondocks the same way I look at … what was that season? The third season of The Chappelle Show. I look at it the same way as that. It doesn’t exist. It’s nonexistent in my mind or in my history.

Maurice Cherry:
I rewatched it recently because I got HBO Max and I was going through it and everything, and I rewatched the fourth season just to see if maybe I missed something. I think I was watching it like everyone else was watching it on Twitter. They’ll watch it and give commentary and stuff. It was not hittin’ at all. They had that weird sort of Good Times reference that strung through the whole season. What the fuck was that about? It was not good. It was not good.

Sean Mack:
Right, and then they tried to spoof Breaking Bad. It was just weird. It was weird.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, they were doing what I see sitcoms do when they run out of ideas in that they sort of start making up these fantastical parodies, and it’s like the show itself is already a bit of a fantastical parody. You don’t need to try to mimic something else. Yeah, why are they mimicking Breaking Bad? What’s that about? Are they just trying to cash in on that cultural moment? I don’t know, it’s just not good.

Sean Mack:
Yeah, so, hopefully, I don’t know what they’re doing with the newest … I don’t know if it’s a reboot season. I don’t even know. I hope this one is a little bit more Aaron McGruder [crosstalk 00:17:58]

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, I really hope he’s out there creating some heat because even Black Jesus was funny, and then it was on this weird hiatus. You’d catch and episode here or there. It was almost like Steven Universe. It didn’t stay on a regular schedule. You just had to catch it when you could catch it. So, I hope so, man, because so many people are missing his humor and everything. I don’t know. So, when it comes to creating comics, what does your process look like?

Sean Mack:
Well, it depends. For instance, with Revolutionary Times, the script itself, the scriptwriting itself is more so me and Brandon bouncing ideas back and forth recently, yeah. And then, when it comes time for me to actually create the work, I pull up all my references, background references, character references, and I just have them set up in another monitor. I have like, three monitors. I have one monitor for my main art program, and then the others for my reference to just look at while I work. The process is basically just putting all that together to try and tell a story, trying to tell a cohesive story, sometimes without words. It’s a long process. It can definitely be a long process, but I’m getting the hang of it, you know?

Maurice Cherry:
When you say character references, what do you mean? Do you have a file with information on a character or something like that?

Sean Mack:
Yeah, for instance, if I’m drawing, like Madea, I have pictures pulled off of Google of Madea or Tyler Perry or, what are they called, the royal guards. I have them all set up on one screen just to glance at as I sketch out to draw everything into the final, basically. Then, I use that for if I’m coloring it, if I’m doing the actual colors. I’m using that same picture as a pallette to get the right colors, color flats on the characters, basically.

Maurice Cherry:
Okay, I gotcha. What is the design scene like in Detroit? I’ve only had a handful of folks on the show that are in Detroit and working as designers. But, for you, what’s the design scene like there?

Sean Mack:
It’s kind of hard for me to explain about it because, this whole year, everyone’s been stuck inside, so it’s hard to describe it. We have our design firms and whatnot. And then, you have the freelancers, the people who are just the wild guns of the design industry. I would say that, art-wise, Detroit is building a lot, I would say. Design-wise, like I said, there’s the firms. Art-wise, there’s a … What is it called? It’s called murals in the market. Well, they didn’t do it this year, unfortunately, of course, but they have it set up in the place called East St. Market where they pull a bunch of murals, paintings from around the city, and they go around that East St. Market area and they’re making murals on different buildings, and you get to see the sea of different styles all around you. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever gotten a chance to see. I hate that I couldn’t … It just wasn’t a thing this year because of the pandemic, but, art-wise, Detroit is booming quietly but steadily, I would say.

Maurice Cherry:
We have something similar like that here down in Atlanta called Living Walls, sort of like a muralist fest. Well, actually, it’s an art organization. They put on an event also called Living Walls. They do little murals … not little murals. They’re huge. They’re on the sides of buildings and stuff. Of course, we have underground artists and such that do all kinds of different interesting interpretations of murals like Fabian Williams, occasional superstar. I live in the hood. For folks that don’t know that live in Atlanta, I live in the West End. So, there’s a Caribbean restaurant near me called Mango’s, and, on the side of that building, he’ll do different sorts of murals.

Maurice Cherry:
I think the last one I saw, which had to have been prior to the pandemic, which lets you know how far I’ve gone outside my apt. It was Martin Luther King, but I think he had a high-top fade and had cuts on the side or something like that. So, he’s done these modern/’80sish interpretations of civil rights figures. There’s Coretta Scott King, but she’s got an asymmetrical bob, Pepa from Salt-N-Pepa, something like that. But yeah, Atlanta is a big mural city like that, especially if you’re downtown. If you go outside of downtown, outside of the perimeter, I can’t be responsible for what you see once you leave outside of the actual city. But, in the city itself, there’s so much graffiti and murals and wall art and stuff like that.

Sean Mack:
Yeah, I’ve been to Atlanta, I think, once or twice, and I’ve seen some of the graffiti there. It’s amazing, so I get an idea of what you’re talking about.

Maurice Cherry:
Now, before we get more into your career, let’s take it back to the beginning. In your bio, you mentioned that you grew up in Saginaw, Michigan. Tell me about that.

Sean Mack:
Ah, Saginaw, Michigan, Saginaw Michigan … Growing up in Saginaw, Michigan was an experience. Saginaw is a very small town. Well, I take that back. It’s not a small town, but, if you compare it to someplace like Detroit, it’s small. Growing up there, I’m not going to say I had it rough. I lived in the suburban part of Saginaw, but it was just a small town. Everybody knew everybody. If you’re from Saginaw, it’s like that Kevin Bacon … What is that thing called?

Maurice Cherry:
Oh, like Six Degrees of Separation?

Sean Mack:
Yes, yes, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, that is basically living in Saginaw. You know everybody or somebody knows you from somebody. But, living there, it built me up. It built who I became to be, and that’s … I’ve fallen in love with art. We don’t really have an art scene, well, not that I know of, now. At the time, there wasn’t really an art scene in Saginaw, but there was always comic book stores, and that is where I found my love for art, in the comic book store. My folks would take me to a 7-Eleven, and there would be that lonely stand of comics just rotating in my face. That’s where the love came from. And then, I found actual comic book stores to just peruse and look at. It just grew out from there.

Maurice Cherry:
Marvel or DC?

Sean Mack:
I am neutral.

Maurice Cherry:
Aw, come on! Okay, all right.

Sean Mack:
I’m sorry. I have a ton of favorites on both sides. I love Batman. I love Spider-Man.

Maurice Cherry:
All right. Did you watch the Snyder cut of Justice League?

Sean Mack:
I did. That, I’m still astounded by the differences that that movie has. I watched the original one, the Wheaton version before I watched the Snyder one, and it’s just night and day.

Maurice Cherry:
Really?

Sean Mack:
Yes, man. It’s just so night and day. I’m still astounded by it. I don’t think there has been a director’s cut that is this drastically different from what was put into the theater since Blade Runner. That’s how I feel about it. I loved it. I loved the Snyder cut. I’m sad that it wasn’t the first movie that I saw in 2017, but I’m glad it came out because it was everything a comic book person would probably want.

Maurice Cherry:
Does it help if you watch it from a 2017 perspective? Because, that’s when the original Justice League movie came out. I was wondering if it had aged over the years since it’s been in obscurity because of the studios and everything.

Sean Mack:
I don’t think it aged, necessarily. There’s still a bad joke in there or two. There’s definitely some bad … not cringeworthy, but it’s eye-rollable, kind of.

Maurice Cherry:
Well, it’s four hours. There’s got to be something in there that’s … Everything can’t be a hit.

Sean Mack:
It’s not, it’s not. Have you seen it?

Maurice Cherry:
I have not seen it, and I refuse … Okay, refuse is a strong word. I don’t feel that DC has earned enough good will for me from their current movie offerings to sit through four hours of that.

Sean Mack:
Understandable, understandable.

Maurice Cherry:
I did watch Justice League. Did I go to the movies to see Justice League? I don’t remember. I did see justice league. I have not seen Suicide Squad or the Harley Quinn movie. They just didn’t interest me, and that’s not so say I’m not a DC fan. I am a DC fan. I’m pretty split between marvel and DC, myself, but I feel like marvel does better live-action movies. DC does better animated movies.

Sean Mack:
Yeah, yeah, that’s definitely the case because the latest animation … No, I think the latest one we did was a Batman movie. But, the few animated ones that I’ve seen have been like, “This is the same company?” The quality is far beyond what you would get with the live-action stuff.

Maurice Cherry:
Right, but the writing is good. They all have a consistent art style. They have that kind of Bruce Tim art style and they take bold strokes in terms of storytelling. It’s not all canon types of things. You have Justice League Dark. I think they did one like with the apocalypse one. They take broad strokes in terms of storytelling that, of course, with live-action, would probably be expensive and risky to do. But, with animation, it’s probably cheaper, I would imagine.

Sean Mack:
Yeah, and that’s partly why it’s the more superior brand. But, I will say I did enjoy Birds of Pray. I enjoyed Shazam. That was a nice one.

Maurice Cherry:
Oh, Shazam was good! Shazam was good. I forgot about Shazam. That is a DC.

Sean Mack:
Yeah.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah.

Sean Mack:
Yeah. Shazam was good. Aquaman was good, but the fact that they shelved this version of Justice League is just one of the most baffling things in my entire viewpoint, because there had to be a way to just trim it down to two hours.

Maurice Cherry:
How long was the original Justice League?

Sean Mack:
The one that came out in theaters?

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah.

Sean Mack:
It was under two hours, I think.

Maurice Cherry:
Oh, wow.

Sean Mack:
From what I’m guessing, Josh Wheaton reshot a whole bunch of everything, really, because even the endings are completely contrast of each other. It is an interesting thing just to see how different things movie came out to be.

Maurice Cherry:
You’re convincing me to see it because I don’t remember that much from the original Justice League except for the showdown where they all fought Superman, and I remember Cyborg, it felt like Cyborg was a bigger part of the story, or was at least a substantial part of the story in the original. And then, from what I’ve heard, he has a much more substantial role in the Snyder cut.

Sean Mack:
So, the part where they’re fighting Superman, that’s still the same, still mostly the same thing. The way it ends is slightly different, but Cyborg is the main character in this movie to me. Once you get into the later parts of it, he is the heart and soul of this movie. I feel like I just repeated like a critic somewhere, [inaudible 00:31:20] but it’s the truth. It’s the truth. The fact that his entire storyline, which is cut for him to say booya at the end, it was weird to see. So, I would say, if you do watch it, watch it … because, it’s cut in chapters, so I would watch it in chapters, honestly.

Maurice Cherry:
Okay, so it’s not just a full four-hour slog. You can watch a chapter, come back to it?

Sean Mack:
Yeah, I would watch it in chapters because it’s worth to see. I think it’s worth seeing that version of the story.

Maurice Cherry:
Okay, all right, you’ve convinced me. I say this like I won’t sit through and watch four hours of Bridgerton or something like that, so I can watch Justice League. You talked about earlier going to school for art. You went to Detroit College for creative studies. What was that like? What was your time like there?

Sean Mack:
It was pretty interesting because, before that, I went to … My high school was called Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy, and it was a school that focused, basically, on sciences and arts. It had a heavy focus on the visual arts, performing arts like theater and dance. Then, you had your global studies, your biology, your scientific aspects. It was a unique school experience then, so it kind of prepared me for when I did move to Detroit to go to CCS. It was just more of an expansive view on art because I’m in this place where there’s different personalities, different styles. That was an eye-opener. That was a real introduction to just a lot of people that I still know to this day, honestly. It was eye-opening. It was a good experience for not only social-wise, but it was a good experience for me growing in my art, in my craft, because I learned so much at that school, and it’s just a lot of things that I still carry with me to this day, as it should, because it was expensive. It was just a good tool. The professors there were amazing, and they’re still people I still talk to to this day. They still help me out in my career, so I think it was a good experience. It was a good thing to utilize, still a good thing to utilize to this day.

Maurice Cherry:
Nice. It’s so interesting because I often hear the opposite from people that say they went to an arts college. They’re like, “Eh, it was okay,” or that it didn’t really prepare them for going out into the working world, doing what they do. But, it sounds like you had a great experience. That’s good.

Sean Mack:
Well, I would say there were those parts, too, the long nights of trying to finish projects. It was more so focused on our craft. There were classes here and there about the actually business side of the art world, but it was more so focused on bettering us as artists. I would say I learned more about the business side of illustration, for instance. I learned more so about the business side of that just through experience, honestly.

Maurice Cherry:
Gotcha, gotcha, okay. What were some of your work experiences when you graduated?

Sean Mack:
It was more so just freelancing because, when I graduated, I moved back to Saginaw, and then I was just more so freelancing, so it started off in event posters, mixtape covers, album covers, logos, and then it grew into more granter things like full-on album designs and full promotional designs or promotional releases or whatnot. Yeah, it just grew, and I started getting actual clients like Musiq or like ESPN or Complex.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, I see you’ve done some work with some pretty big brands and big clients. When you look back at those past projects, what did they teach you?

Sean Mack:
Patience, patience, definite patience. I consider myself a pretty patient person as is, but freelance can bring a side out of you. I would say patience and just seeing a project through the end. I think, that part, a lot of people, it’s hard to get to the end, honestly, with some projects because of the time put in, the energy. There may be changes, and there are changes after changes. But, just seeing a project through to the end is one of the most satisfying things, no matter how you feel about the project itself. Just seeing it through the end is a satisfying feeling in itself, yeah.

Maurice Cherry:
Aside from that, you’ve also done a lot of collaborative projects. We talked about The Revolutionary Times, of course, being probably one of the bigger ones. But, for you, what’s the value of collaborating on projects?

Sean Mack:
I think collaboration opens your world up to other people’s viewpoints, other people’s creative world or creative ways of doing things. I think if you find that right person that you can mesh with, you could bring something pretty cool to the table. I’ve done, aside from working with Grid … and I’ve done collaborations with … There was one guy, his name was CJ Johnson. We worked on a full graphic novel. It was called Kill Or Be Killed, but it wasn’t some action type of graphic novel. It was a story about rich Black Manhattan type of people like bohemian style characters. It was just a story that you typically wouldn’t see in a comic book, just telling of a life of these classy but still kind of edgy characters. It was just something I had never done before because I was just used to doing funny comic strips and whatnot. That, for instance, is something that I always see as a good collaboration because it was a mixture of something that I’ve never experienced before, which, I think, bettered me as an artist to be able to tell CJ’s story. So, I think if you find that right collaborator, yeah, something magical might come out of it.

Maurice Cherry:
Now, I’m mentioning this not in any sort of disparaging way, but you have a full-time job that doesn’t deal with art [crosstalk 00:39:28] I’m not going to ask you what that job is. I know you have a full-time job that doesn’t deal with art, but how do you balance the two? How do you balance having that extra time to pursue your creative passions?

Sean Mack:
It is very difficult. It is almost impossible. There was, unfortunately, a year or two where it was impossible because of how this job just took out my energy. Well, I will say it is an essential job, so I was pretty much still working all last year.

Maurice Cherry:
Wow.

Sean Mack:
Yeah, so, last year being one of those years where it was just difficult to do art, it can get to you. It can overcome your passion. But, I think that you just got to find a balance. Because, at the time, it was impossible. It was impossible to really get a balance of work and getting time to be creative. But, I just had to set time aside because this is something I want to do. I don’t want to do this job, the essential job for the rest of my life. I want to do art for the rest of my life. So, I just had to set time, had to do what I can. It was just like taking a little sketchbook and sneaking in some art in the middle of the job. I had to do what I could just to be like, “Hey, I am still an artist. This is what I want to do.” So, it’s hard. It’s hard. I’m still dealing with it to this day, but it’s just something you just got to keep pushing for.

Maurice Cherry:
What would it look like for you to be a full-time illustrator, or full-time graphic artist, I’ll say?

Sean Mack:
Definitely wouldn’t have to wake up at 4:00 in the morning.

Maurice Cherry:
Oof [crosstalk 00:41:33] my God.

Sean Mack:
Yeah, it’s not fun. I would say just being able to spend time on projects whether it be just one main project or small multiple projects, just taking time out of my day to work on these different ideas. Because, in my head, I have a lot of ideas just running around in my head that I never have time to actually get out. But, being a full-time artist, that would open up that time to be like, “All right, this will be my hour of personal creativity, food, and then another hour of professional work, and whatnot.” It would just be a day full of creating, basically. That’s what I would want, just to be able to create whether it is just a sketch or something more polished, basically.

Maurice Cherry:
Who are some of your artistic influences?

Sean Mack:
Names or genres?

Maurice Cherry:
Both.

Sean Mack:
The first name that pops up in my head, his name is … Well, there’s a couple names, but John Romita Jr., Chris Bucello, Aaron McGruder, obviously, LeSean Thomas. He worked on The Boondocks, but he also has his own anime that’s on Netflix right now.

Maurice Cherry:
Cannon Busters or something like that?

Sean Mack:
Yes, Cannon Busters, that’s exactly it. There’s a few other names. J. Scott Campbell, he did a comic book called Danger Girl.

Maurice Cherry:
Oh, I remember Danger Girl. I actually have two of those issues, I think, of Danger Girl.

Sean Mack:
I loved Danger Girl. I loved his work, just how detailed his work was. Oh no, I’m going to ruin his name, the creator of Cowboy Bebop, Watanabe.

Maurice Cherry:
Watanabe, Shinichirō Watanabe?

Sean Mack:
Yes, yes.

Maurice Cherry:
I’m a nerd over here. I know stuff.

Sean Mack:
Thank you, thank you. There’s like 1,000 others, but those are the ones that pop up to me first and foremost.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, Chris McCulloch work on early-stage Generation X and the … I think that had to be in the ’90s or early 2000s. His work is so indelibly seared into my mind when I think about great comic work. He did some work for the larger X books, too. But, particularly with Generation X, I just have a big fondness for that team in general. They were done so dirty with that movie on Fox in ’96. I think it was ’96 when they had the Generation X movie.

Sean Mack:
Oh, I know exactly what you’re talking about.

Maurice Cherry:
I’m sure it’s on YouTube. If you’re listening and you want to find it, first of all, buyer beware, i’s very bad. And, I think it was one of the first if not the first … well, not one of the first because I’m sure they had Fantastic Four shows and movies and stuff. But, to come out of the Mutant X kind of realm, Generation X was just so bad. I hate how bad it was.

Sean Mack:
No, that was like the first live-action thing they did with X-Men, because they had the animated show and whatnot, but that was like the very first live-action. They went onto the movies, but yeah, that was-

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, like, Jubilee was played by a white girl. Come on. It was so bad. It was so bad. And, they got a British woman to play Emma, but maybe Emma’s mom. She was way too old to be playing Emma. It was not good. It just wasn’t good at all. They deserve better. Although, I’m glad Monet, who was my favorite … I mean, I didn’t like how she was portrayed in the movie, but she was my favorite of the team, that she’s part of the main X Team now. Although, I still need to … I’m so behind on the comics, now, especially marvel stuff. I just catch a trade paperback here and there because that’s the best I can do these days.

Sean Mack:
Right.

Maurice Cherry:
What’s the best advice you’ve been given about what you do?

Sean Mack:
This advice isn’t necessary exclusively on what I do, but it’s one that sticks with me the most. It’s advice that my dad always gives me whenever it involves a project or just anything, just life in general. But, it’s like, if you do something, do it to the best of your ability. And, if you do something, see it all the way through. That is literally what runs in my mind every time I do something. It’s just like, “If I do something, I have to do it to the point that, when you look at this, you know that I drew it. You know that I was a part of this project somehow and just being able to finish it all the way through.” Like I said before, it’s just a wonderful feeling no matter what project you do because it’s a feeling of accomplishments. So, I think it has nothing specifically to do with art, but, that advice that my dad gave me, that my dad gives me all the time, that’s the one thing that pops in my head all the time.

Maurice Cherry:
Do you have a dream project that you’d love to do or that you’d love to work on one day?

Sean Mack:
I would love to storyboard for a movie. Well, I take that back. I would love, for instance, to make The Revolutionary Times into a movie. That’s a top goal, basically, but I would love to do some kind of work for a major production storyboarding or character design or something like that. A personal goal would be to draw a Deadpool comic. I don’t even have to do a series. Just give me a few pages or something. That’s definitely a goal. Yeah, I would just love to be able to work on something that’s a big production, just be able to have my style on something that’s going to be seen by millions of eyes. That’s something I would love to do.

Maurice Cherry:
What is keeping you motivated and inspired these days?

Sean Mack:
I think the one thing that’s been motivating me has been … because I follow a lot of artists on all my social media, Twitter, Instagram, all that. Just seeing all this work that people are able to create, even in the midst of all this insanity that we’re dealing with, that’s inspiring to see the different styles, the different techniques, techniques that you could bring back to your own work and try and see if that’s something that you can adapt to your own style. That’s just the way of artists. You’re constantly growing. You’re constantly building yourself up to be like the better part of what you were before. You’re always transforming. You’re always evolving, basically.

Sean Mack:
So, I think that’s one of the ways that I keep motivated, just trying to elevate myself, trying to see what I can do differently or see what I can mix up to create something that I haven’t done before. And then, there’s always just taking a day off and watching anime for a whole day. That’s one way to do it, as well. So, it’s a lot of ways. It’s a lot of ways that I’m trying to be inspired.

Maurice Cherry:
What shows are you watching right now?

Sean Mack:
Honestly, I’ve just been rewatching Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo.

Maurice Cherry:
Okay.

Sean Mack:
That, when I’m down, when I’m not sure what to do, it’s always, just pull up Cowboy Bebop and running through a couple of those episodes. I did start rewatching Attack on Titan, which is traumatic, to say the least. There was another show that I just finished watching. It’s on Hulu. No Guns Life, I think it’s called. That’s what I started watching. It’s pretty good. It’s a pretty interesting concept to it. For the most part, I just go back to the classics. I’m always open for people to give me some new ones to catch because I feel like it’s like comics. That’s another thing that I’m trying to catch back up on because I’m still trying to find the new joints, basically.

Maurice Cherry:
What genre of anime do you like the best? Comedy? Action? Supernatural?

Sean Mack:
I like a little bit of hybrid. I like the ones that have a mix of comedy and action to it. For instance, one of my favorite ones is Trigon. That has the comedy. That has the slapstick comedy, the action to it, the serious tones. So, that has a little bit of everything. I think the one that I fell in love with was the more so space-centered ones, because then you had Gundam. You had Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, a lot of those space-centered stories. I would thank Toonami and the Syfy Channel for all that, but you know. I would say I like a mixture of all the genres, I would say, the hybrid ones where you have its funny moments. You have your stressful moments as well, so yeah.

Maurice Cherry:
Did you see … God, what’s the one? You were mentioning one, and I was wondering if you saw it because it did come on Toonami, I think … not Toonami, Adult Swim. What was it called, Eureka Seven? Did you see that?

Sean Mack:
I did not see Eureka 7 no, that I haven’t seen. I think that’s one of the ones on my list that I have to sit down and watch. Yeah, I have a list of so many movies and anime that I just haven’t watched yet. It’s a long list, and I don’t think I’m ever got to get through it at this point, but it’s on there.

Maurice Cherry:
Okay. I’ll also give you a recommendation, but this one is pretty old school. I think it’s probably on … It’s got to be on one of the anime streaming services like Crunchyroll or VRV or something like that, but Legend of the Galactic Heroes. It’s an old one. It’s like an ’80s anime, so it’s got that different kind of ’80s anime style, but very complex storytelling. It’s set in space. It’s very much a space … I was going to say a space opera. That’s kind of the best way to put it. It’s like a military space opera kind of thing.

Sean Mack:
You said it’s called Legend of the Galactic Heroes?

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah.

Sean Mack:
Okay, all right.

Maurice Cherry:
It’s pretty long, though. It’s over 100 episodes, so it’s not a quick one.

Sean Mack:
Oh, wow.

Maurice Cherry:
It’s not a quick watch.

Sean Mack:
Oh, it’s one of those, yeah.

Maurice Cherry:
I think Eureka Seven is like 26, like a standard 26-episode thing, but it’s not as long as Naruto, which is like 500-something episodes or more.

Sean Mack:
Yeah, see, when you get to the shows that have like 1,500 seasons like Naruto and One Piece, I’m just not going to be able to get into that. I’ll enjoy the references along with everybody else, but I can’t sit down and watch 500 hours of Naruto. I’m sorry, I can’t.

Maurice Cherry:
Yeah, I think the last modern anime that I watched … I’m saying modern like within the past five years. It was either … It was a couple. It was SSSS.Gridman, which was pretty good. I watched [Personify 00:54:24] the animation because I played the video game, and, oh God, this one called Inuyashiki, which is … I’ll say it’s an acquired taste. I think it’s a 13-episode series. The protagonist is an old … I don’t want to spoil it, but the protagonist is an old man that is also a heavy robot arsenal. It’s an interesting [inaudible 00:54:50] I’ll put it in the chat so you can see it, but it’s an interesting story, Inuyashiki. There were some clips of it floating around in 2017 or so because I think Donald Trump is featured at some point in the anime. It’s kind of out there. I don’t want to say it’s morbid, but, you know what, you watch it and you tell me what you think about it. Also, for those of you that are out there listening, if y’all have seen it, let me know what you think about it. Where do you see yourself in the next five years? What do you want to be doing?

Sean Mack:
Well, hopefully not waking up at 4:00 in the morning every day.

Maurice Cherry:
Amen to that.

Sean Mack:
The only thing I would definitely love to be saying that I would hoping to be doing I five years is just still doing art, still creating. I can’t honestly say what the next five years would look like, but I would just hope it has me creating something whether it’s illustration or even doing that big production, doing art for that. I just want to be able to keep … be able to create, basically, and, yeah, maybe I’ll be part of a studio or still doing my own thing freelancing. Or, maybe Brandon and I are able to take Revolutionary Times and make it to a bigger platform. It’s a lot to say. Five years, you never know. We didn’t know what last year would be like, so …

Maurice Cherry:
That’s true. That’s very true.

Sean Mack:
At this point, I’m just like, “I can’t make any plans,” because life is very weird. Life is way too weird to make plans. Plan making is still important. Don’t go through life without a plan, but just know that life can always throw that one curve ball just like, “Oh, hey, there’s your plan in the bottom of the ocean somewhere.” I just would say I want to be able to still be creating in five years.

Maurice Cherry:
So, just to wrap things up here, Sean, where can our audience find out more about you and your work and your projects and everything online?

Sean Mack:
I guess the main place, Instagram, @silentsmack, all one word. I am on Twitter. Follow me if you want. It’s not much art on there, honestly. @ShizukaSam, I can’t spell it out right now, but @ShizukaSam on Twitter, and then @RevTimes on Twitter, @RevTimes on Instagram, and therevtimes.com for the comics. My personal site: smackillustrations.com.

Maurice Cherry:
All right, sounds good. Well, Sean Mack, I want to thank you so much for coming on the show. But, first of all, I was really just excited to talk to you because I’ve been following your work for such a long time, The Revolutionary Times and everything, so it was good to actually talk to you about the process and everything behind it. I think, certainly, with the work that you’re doing, the fact that you are such a keen collaborator and that you’re putting work out there that speaks to people, I hope that’s something that you will continue to keep doing throughout the years. I mean, the work that you’re doing, I could see this blowing up. I really can. We got to find a way to break you out of Michigan, but I can see your work blowing up in the next few years. So, hopefully, folks that are listening, make sure you check out Sean’s work. But, thank you so much for coming on the show. I appreciate it.

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