Interview with Red Robin & Joyride Artist Marcus To

Posted May 3, 2017 by Aron Pohara in Comic Books

Marcus To is an artist most famously known for his run on Red Robin and Cyborg 009 book, and couple of other independent titles such as Hacktivist and Joyride, which has just concluded as of this interview. His manga-esque style makes every book livelier, and more fun. He was gracious enough to answer several questions for me, and gives us a little bit of an insight into his thought and artistic process.

Without any further ado…

We The Nerdy: Can you talk a bit about your reasoning to becoming an artist, your inspirations and such?


Marcus: Since I could pick up a pencil I was drawing, it was something that I could do anytime and anywhere. I never made a conscious decision to be an artist per say but when I was about 13 I thought about how I can do more with my drawing and I  fell into comic books at that time and it just felt right. Since then, drawing comics, telling stories was the goal.


WTN: What can you tell us about working for the big 2 (DC and Marvel) and who is your favorite character to work on there?

Marcus: Most of us who got into comics in the first place have always wanted to draw characters from the big 2. Always has been a dream to get a chance to make a mark on such iconic characters. I have a lot of favorites but if I had to choose it would be Tim Drake from DC and Captain America from Marvel.


WTN: Do you have a favorite artist or an art style, you enjoy as a fan, and since I know you are a fan of anime it can be a manga or anime as well?


Marcus: I’m a big fan of Stuart Immonen, I think he’s the type of artist and professional who I look up to the most. He can draw in so many different styles and genres, an amazing craftsman. As for manga artists, I’m a big fan of a few artists, Yosuke Murata (Eyeshield 21), Naoki Urasawa (20th Century Boys) and Takahiko Inoue (Vagabond)


WTN: You have recently started working on some independent books as well… can you tell us about the difference working on those versus DC and Marvel?


Marcus: The biggest difference is that you have the power to make decisions that impact the direction of the book. The choices you make directly affect every aspect of the book, from themes, to colour schemes, character choices. And let’s not forget that you really only make money if it’s successful so there’s a risk involved as well.


WTN: Let’s talk about Joyride for a bit… Can you tell me how that project came along?


Marcus: Joyride really started with a comic I wrote and drew myself from high school. The story was then brought to two writers who I collaborated with on a book called Hacktivist with BOOM! studios Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly. We all have very similar sensibilities and we all wanted to make a book that is fun for all ages so everything came together really quick. We came up with the meat of the story about teens escaping from earth to explore space and brought it to BOOM! who were excited to be apart of it.


WTN: Reading that story it felt like it was very well developed… can you tell me about the world and characters there, and what was the through process, them having those unique characteristics?


Marcus: Jackson and Collin are amazing when it comes to character and dialogue, I’ve always believed that character is revealed with how they handle situations so we knew we wanted to put these kids in very weird and different scenarios to show who they are. And with the way we wanted to develop this story which was more episodic where each issue is a different planet or situation helped with bringing that out. Building the world was the most fun part of all of this, all of it was just the writers and I talking about sci-fi tropes and odd scenarios and fitting them into our characters and how we would use that to shape our crew.


WTN: Joyride was going to be a four issue mini series at first and then it got extended to 12 issues. How did that come about and is there any possibility of  Vol 2 down the road, either from Boom or even Kickstarter?

Marcus: At the beginning, BOOM was only willing to give us 4 issues to work with. Even knowing this we always planned on writing Joyride with the idea that we can have a continuous story going on forever if we wanted. The first 4 issues, in our minds, were always going to be just an entrance into the world we wanted to to create. And then when we got our re-orders in with issue 1 before it came out the numbers looked promising enough that BOOM decided to keep it going, and we were ecstatic about the opportunity to do more.


WTN: You are currently working on Nightwing for DC as well, how was it working on that character especially after working on Red Robin back in New 52 days?


Marcus: Nightwing was always one of the books I’ve wanted to work on for my entire life. Red Robin of course was the character that introduced me to workin in the Bat-verse and will always be special to me.

WTN: Which brings me to a questions a lot of fans probably ask you… Who is your favorite Robin and why?


Marcus: Tim Drake is always my guy.

WTN: You are currently working on Nightwing, but if you had a choice on working on a DC Property what would it be?


Marcus: I’m just a DC guy altogether so there is a huge laundry list of characters I would love to work on but one guy that stands out is Booster Gold, I would love to get a chance to do a long run on a book with him starring.


WTN: And to finish on the independent note: Is there any other projects that you have down the pipeline you can possibly talk about?


Marcus:I have a bunch in the works, some Marvel work, creator owned and even some projects with my studio mates at RAID studio which we’ll announce by the fall.


Again, thank you so much to Marcus for taking the time to answer these questions, and for everyone that has not yet, go check out Joyride, you will be disappointed!

And if you see him  at a convention don’t be shy and he might do an awesome commission like this piece here!

About the Author

Aron Pohara