Mad Cave Studios is an indie comic book company on the rise. With titles like Honor & Curse, Midnight Task Force, Knights of the Golden Sun, Show’s End, and their flagship title Battlecats, Mad Cave is making a name for itself and taking its place as a respectable indie brand in the comic community. The company repeatedly creates new and diverse titles to captivate its’ readers. No two titles in the Mad Cave line-up are the same, making their books more accessible to a wider audience.
The MADMAN behind this ambitious indie company and the writer for the majority of its titles is Mark London. His MAD dreams and visions have shaped Mad Cave Studios into a forward-thinking company that prides itself on quality storytelling and beautifully expressive art. We had a chance to talk with Mark about Mad Cave Studios, writing comics, the indie scene, and the future for himself, and his company.
Nerd Bastards (NB): First of all, thank you for talking with us Mark.
Mark London (ML): No thanks needed, David, I’m the one who should be thanking you.
NB: You’re the founder and CEO of Mad Cave Studios, correct? Can you tell our readers what made you decide to start a comic book company?
ML: I’m in love with storytelling. I grew up in the late ’80s, a great time to be exposed to all sorts of media: Comics, video games, movies, animation, literature; all great platforms for storytelling in their own way. I devoured everything I could get my hands on, but comics were always something special to me. There is something about sequential art that connects with me and still mesmerizes me to this day. To some, comics are just pictures divided into panels, into pages, but for me, they’re so much more. Ultimately, it was my wife who encouraged me to pursue my passion.
NB: I love that your wife encouraged you! As a creator, you need to have someone in your corner. Tell us more about how your wife encouraged you.
ML: Mad Cave was supposed to be a website. Yeah, that’s right, a website. You see, I’ve always loved comics, and they have been my passion for as long as I can remember. But the foundations for all things related to comics, movies, video games, and pop culture, was my love for storytelling. Creating worlds, designing characters, that’s my true passion. So, I started contemplating the idea of making my own stories and obsessed about it for years to the point I started getting on my wife’s nerves. I just wouldn’t shut up about it, haha. So one day, my wife Laura, looking beautiful and very calm, she tells me, “ok, you either do this or please stop talking about it because you are driving me crazy.” That was the green light I desperately needed to start my passion project. The thing is that it was supposed to be something small, casual, just for fun. But that wasn’t the case, far from it. So I contacted a web designer with experience in marketing, and an artist so I could start creating my stories on a virtual platform for anyone who would want to read them. But once we began working, I was presented with different options and ways of how we could take this higher. I included my wife in every possible scenario, and she agreed to all of them. I am grateful because, without her blessings and support, I would not have had the courage to turn Mad Cave into the ambitious project that it became. And the rest is history, but we still have a long way to go.
NB: Well on behave of all the Mad Cave fans, I’d like to say: THANK YOU LAURA! Haha!
NB: I’m sure it wasn’t easy in the beginning. What were some of the initial hardships or barriers you had to overcome in the early days of Mad Cave Studios?
ML: Well, some might say that there is no right or wrong way to make comics, that there are no rules and that you can easily do whatever the hell you want, but in reality, there is. Many rules that you painfully learn as you go through the steep learning process. So, yeah, I have too many missteps to mention in this interview, but that’s how you get better at something, right? I’m a firm believer that you learn more from your mistakes than from your achievements. Of course, the idea is to improve on those mistakes and never make them again. And if they do happen, just keep pushing yourself and never look back.
NB: Where there times that you thought, “That’s it! I give up!”, or did you push those kinds of thoughts aside?
ML: I am a highly self-motivated and driven person, but I am not going to lie, there are days that just take a toll on you and make you question everything. Luckily, I get a lot of support from my wife and kids. It’s a real privilege to have my family believing in this madness. But also the team at Mad Cave has become a pillar for me to lean on; the artists, the designers, the marketing team and also the Editor-in-Chief. Right from the start, most of us knew what we were getting ourselves into, and we’ve tried to maintain that hunger for creating worlds, designing characters, and bringing a company to life so we could entertain readers. We’ve become a very tight-knit group, and if we see someone drifting away, we do everything we can to get them back into the fold. Sure, there were times we underestimated the process and encountered some big obstacles, and this still happens, but we keep going because we never forget what we set out to do: to make the most beautiful, fun and engaging comics the industry has to offer.
NB: I’ve met a few of the Mad Cave Studious staff, and I must say; they are some of the most fiercely dedicated people in the industry.
NB: Let’s talk about writing. You write a large majority of the Mad Cave line up, correct? And each book has a very distinctly different feel and direction. How are you able to switch gears between each project?
ML: It’s tricky, but the way that I approach it is by seeing them as if they are different friends. You don’t talk and interact with all your friends in the same manner because they are distinct and unique in their own way. I don’t know if that makes sense, haha. Something else, which makes all the difference in the world is having a good team of editors. They constantly call me out on things that I know need to be addressed. They also keep me sane and on track.
NB: Battlecats. It’s like ThunderCats meets LOTR. Where did you get the idea for this book
ML: Yes, I’ve heard that comparison on multiple occasions, which is very flattering by the way. I’ve always been fascinated by King Arthur and The Knights of the Roundtable and themes like loyalty, a higher power, and fight for good. So, in a way, the Battlecats represent Arthur’s fierce warriors sworn to protect the throne and the hardships of the savage world they live in.
NB: Did you come up with all the world building yourself?
ML: I really like roleplaying games and part of why I started writing was for the sheer joy of being able to create magical places on an epic scale. It’s one of the best parts about being a writer, the endless possibilities of building a fantasy world that eventually becomes another character in the story. For Battlecats it’s Valderia, a majestic feline world forged by a rich history and diverse cultures. And although its landscapes are breathtaking, it’s also a very dangerous place full of mystery.
NB: Volume two of Battlecats is already underway. Without spoiling anything, can you tell our readers a little bit about what’s happening in the next chapter of the Battlecats saga?
ML: Battlecats Vol. 2 takes place during a brewing crisis that has yet to be revealed to the public across Valderia. After the demotion of the Battlecats in Vol.1, King Eramad III forces them to face a series of trials in order to prove their loyalty and regain their former titles. But what the King doesn’t know is that Valadar (an enemy from his past) and his Darkats continue their march towards Stormholt while wreaking havoc across Greenspyre in the process. So, this arc is a game of cat and mouse, with the mouse oblivious to the cat coming for him. Will our heroes succeed in their trials? Will the Darkats make it to Stormholt without interference? You have to read to find out what happens!
NB: Best believe we will!
NB: A good majority of the Mad Cave books have a musical playlist on Spotify. Are these playlists the songs you listen to while writing your books, or are these playlists made after the books are published to give the readers a musical atmosphere while they read?
ML: For me, music is very important because I try to write cinematically. When I write, everything is playing in my head like a movie with music, sound effects, the works… So early on in the inception of Mad Cave, we decided to include soundtracks for the comics. Hopefully, the music will give the reader a better sense of the world they’re reading about and invested in. It’s very cool.
NB: It really is. I’ve put on the Battlecats playlist while playing some tabletop RPGs.
NB:You write so many different genres. What’s your favorite?
ML: I enjoy all of them, but really it’s because I like to challenge myself. If I had to pick one, I’d have to go with Fantasy. It allows me to play with narrative components that don’t necessarily have to deal with real-world elements to be believable or relatable. I mean, writing fantasy allows you the freedom to do whatever the hell you want with your characters, situations, and settings. Basically, it allows me to let loose and run with it.
NB: That’s evident in Battlecats and Knights of the Golden Sun.
NB: Who or what inspired you to be a writer?
ML: From a very young age, I’ve had a curious mind. I also tend to daydream a lot. So, the thought of sharing stories, characters, and worlds with others, and all the emotions within them, really is what inspired me to start writing.
NB: Do you have any advice for our readers who are aspiring writers?
ML: Make sure that you love it. Read and pay attention to the whole industry, not just the creative aspect. Learn the craft inside and out. Practice. Practice as much as you can. Pay attention to even the smallest details. Write, show it to friends and family, accept the good, the bad, and the ugly. Then rinse and repeat. There is no middle ground with comics and the learning curve is very steep. Like my wife likes to keep reminding me: “This is not a sprint, it’s a freaking marathon.” So keep pushing yourself no matter what and never forget why you started writing in the first place.
NB: Seems like we all need someone like your wife in our corner, haha.
NB: Are there any upcoming projects that you could tell us about? Any sneak peeks from the man behind the MADNESS?
ML: Wolvenheart. It’s coming out in October with my brother from another mother, Alejandro Giraldo (Midnight Task Force). I can’t reveal too much but just so you know, it deals with time traveling monster hunters in the 1800’s. Also, I’m very happy that the next title coming out of the Cave is from two of last year’s talent search winners, Anthony Cleveland and Jef Sadzinski called Show’s End. That will be available in August 7th. Before the end of the year, we will be launching four to five all-new titles from the rest of our talent search winners, as well as one from yours truly.
NB: We did an interview with Anthony and we’re very excited for Show’s End.
NB: Thank you for taking the time to talk with us, Mark. We look forward to watching Mad Cave Studios grow in the indie comic’s scene. Where can our readers follow you on Social media?
ML: The best way is at www.madavestudios.com and on social media including Facebook at Facebook.com/MadCaveStudios and @MadCaveStudios on Instagram and Twitter. You can also find me on Twitter @MarkLondonMCS and on Instagram @marklondonmcs.
NB: Thanks again, Mark.
If you want to learn more about Mark London, Mad Cave Studios, or any of the Mad Cave titles, go to madcavestudios.com or follow them on Facebook at facebook.com