Newfoundland and Labrador’s Mike Feehan is one of the latest artists to join the roster at DC Comics, and the focus of his attention is Snagglepuss, the dapper pink mountain lion who was once a fixture of Saturday morning TV .
St. John’s-based Feehan, perhaps best known for his viral Stranger Things fan-art and storyboarding a Kit Kat advertisement featuring Chance the Rapper, is doing the pencils for a six issue re-imagining of Snagglepuss written by Mark Russell. DC will unveil the new series next month.
Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles reimagines Snagglepuss as a closeted gay playwright in 1950s New York City, who fast becomes a target of the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
To be with DC Comics, long the home of Batman and Superman, is a dream realized for Feehan.
For the past years, Feehan has gone to twice-yearly portfolio reviews, with no big payoff until now.
“This was always my goal. No matter what else I was doing, I wanted to work in comics,” he said.
“To be part of that world in some small way, it’s just an amazing thing.”
While Snagglepuss is an assignment that was never in his sights while he was growing up — and watching the flamboyant character on classic cartoons like The Yogi Bear Show and Laff-A-Lympics — it’s the culmination of nearly a decade of hard work pitching comics and showing his work to publishers.
“When you’re from here, just being so far removed from the rest of the world, it seems like this impossible task,” said Feehan.
“But if you post yourself on the internet, if you’re consistent with producing work and getting it in front of people, and if you have a goal you don’t give up on, eventually you’re going to do it.”
At home in St. John’s
On a dreary winter day, Feehan sits in his upstairs studio at home in the west end of St. John’s.
He has all the tools of his trade at hand: a digital tablet for drawing, an iMac for editing, and a killer view of the Narrows to look out at whenever he feels stuck for inspiration.
It’s here — not Toronto, not Montreal, and certainly not New York City — where he gets all his work done.
“I’ve visited other artists and seen their studios and no one has a view like this,” he said.
“It’s really cool, and it’s inspiring, and I always do think about the fact that I’m here and I’m doing something that goes all over the world.”
It takes Feehan approximately a month to complete his drawings for each issue of The Snagglepuss Chronicles, which are typically around 22 to 23 pages long.
He starts with rough sketches, and once those are approved, he does the pencils.
From there, his illustrations are sent to inker Mark Morales, and then colourist Paul Mounts, and finally to letterer Dave Sharpe.
“Once it comes back with all the colours and the inks and the words, it feels like very real,” said Feehan.
“When I saw that for the first time it was like getting the job all over again. It was like, wow, this is actually happening!”
It’s a long genesis from his sketches to the comic book shop, but Feehan’s painstaking work has paid off.
On Jan. 3, the first issue of the series will arrive in comic book shops across the globe. Feehan will get to see his work in local shops, particularly Downtown Comics and Timemasters.
“It’s going to be crazy when I see it on the shelf,” he said. “That’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a really long time.”