Mike Hawthorne

Name: Mike Hawthorne

Pencil hand: Right

Craft: Comic Penciler

Brand: Marvel (currently)

Location: Central PA



“No AC in the summer, no comfy chairs, nothing that might make it a pleasant space. I find that I produce better when I’m a little uncomfortable.”

Mike Hawthorne
Mike Hawthorne
Mike Hawthorne


What do you do?

I’m an illustrator, concept artist, and cartoonist. Currently I’m lead artist on Marvel’s Deadpool series. 

What does your work space look like? Where do you like to create?

Oh, man…. a wreck! My main studio floor is carpeted in books and eraser shavings! I have two desks in there, one is a big beast with a mechanized lift so I can raise it high enough to work standing (which I do about 95% of the time) or low enough to work sitting. No AC in the summer, no comfy chairs, nothing that might make it a pleasant space. I find that I produce better when I’m a little uncomfortable. I also have an outdoor studio in our yard where I work at standing desk with a metal frame and waterproof top. 

What role does the pencil play in your process? 

I live and die by the pencil… literally. My job on Deadpool is even called “penciler”! Every thing I do, from storyboarding films to designing my line of sketchbooks, starts with a pencil.  

Why do you choose to work with pencils and, specifically, Blackwings?

Pencils are magic. I can make something out of nothing with it. Remember that feeling you had as a kid with a new pencil and fresh paper? When your head was full of ideas and all you had to do was let them slide from your brain, down your arm, and through your pencil? I’m lucky enough that I never had to grow up so I still have that feeling every day. For me, there is nothing more inspirational than that. 

Blackwings in particular appeal to me for the simple reason that they’re great pencils. I first tried them out because they were so cool looking, but once I drew with one I was hooked! They’re pretty as hell, sure, but that’s not enough to keep me coming back. I go through way too many pencils, spend way too many hours drawing, to work with a pencil I don’t love. I especially adore them for sketching, as each line flows just the way I want.  

What other tools are essential to your process?

Well, for one, paper. I use Bristol for most of my illustration work. Lots of ink tools, various Japanese brush pens, dip pens, watercolors, markers, and color pencils. Sketchbooks are all important for working out layouts, designs, or just rough ideas. I do use some digital tools, mostly for scanning and prepress stuff, but most times you’ll find me with a pencil and paper in hand. 

How do you overcome ______ block? Writer’s block, artist’s block, etc. 

My work is always on the clock, be it for film or print, so I can’t afford block. I just work though it. Sure sometimes I may produce crap, but I only know how to keep slugging away even when it feels like a lost cause.  The work is the cure. Hair of the dog that bit you, you know? 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

It wasn’t “given” to me, but rather I read it. “Tarde venientibus ossa.” To the latecomer go the bones.