Sean Mackiewicz is now Skybound Entertainment’s Editorial Director. It is home to titles like THE WALKING DEAD, INVINCIBLE, OUTCAST, SLOTS, BIRTHRIGHT and REDNECK. He sat down with us at San Diego Comic-Con to discuss his new series GASOLINA, and what Skybound is up to right now. 


sean mackiewicz skybound
Image Courtsey of Skybound Entertainment

ComicsVerse: What can you tell us about your position at Skybound?

Sean: I am the Editor in Chief at Skybound, so I oversee all comic book publishing, as well as edit the majority of titles that are out there right now. The ones that everyone knows are THE WALKING DEAD, INVINCIBLE. However, this year we launched a bunch of new titles including EXTREMITY by Daniel Warren Johnson and REDNECK by Donny Cates and Lisandro Estherren and KILL THE MINOTAUR by Chris Pasetto, Christian Cantamessa, and Lukas Ketner. We have really tried to expand the types of books that we do.

CV: Nice! You also have a book coming out called GASOLINA? What can you tell us about that?

Sean: Sure! Yeah, the high concept is what happens when the Mexican drug war turns supernatural. But you become embedded with a couple of newlyweds that have criminal backgrounds, he’s from America, and she’s from Mexico, and they find themselves to be unlikely leaders in the rebellion against the cartels that are destroying their community. So, it’s part crime, part horror, part romance; it kind of allows me to write everything that I enjoy right now.

CV: Where did the influences for this book come from?

Sean: I guess I’ve always been interested in what has happened in Mexico, so part of it was to educate myself. Part of it was to also to a modern western but also do a lot of social commentaries, along with some fun Cronenberg style horror.

It’s kind of drawing from all over the place but is about two newlyweds, and I’ve just become one, so dealing with that relationship dynamics. What it kind of takes to be with another person while the world is going to shit. Something that a lot of us can maybe relate to these days. Just the loss of control around you and all you can control – well not control but you have this other person to rely on and what that means.

CV: Any of these characters based on or influenced real people?

Sean: Well, some of the cartel figures are based on some. In the first arc, things go to completely to a genre level with the horror aspects that any resemblance to reality kind of shifts off.

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CV: Is it going to be a series? Are there any future arcs planned?

Sean: Yes, it is an ongoing series, I actually just finished writing issue 12, and artist Niko Walter is wrapping up issue 9 right now. Our just at Skybound is always to ship books on time and regularly to help support retailers and customers coming back, so we are making sure these books get put out with high quality and regularly.

CV: What got you into comics to open these doors for you?

I think I grew up with it. We had this dog eared RETURN OF THE JEDI adaptation and I was always obsessed with that. I grew up in the 80’s so there was always comics that came out with action figures, HE-MAN had some. Or if you opened up a Hostess or Twinkies box and there was a promotional comic in there. Then I went to a birthday party and saw a G.I. JOE comic that had a portrait of Snake Eyes on the cover that got me into stuff. Marvel had their trading cards that also got me into stuff and into a comic book store for the first time. That was around the time of X-FORCE #1 and I really just dove deep into the X-MEN books. Shortly after that Image launched and I dove into that and I’ve been there ever since.

It seems like every time you’re willing to give it up and fall out or move on something new and exciting is happening. So, by the time I went to college in New York and there were comic book stores everywhere I was really getting into VERTIGO books. I’ve just been at it ever since.

CV:  Any current notable and awesome reads you are currently into?

Sean: I read a lot of Image titles, SOTHERN BASTARDS is one I’m always going back to. I‘ve loved Jason Aarons stuff for a long time going back to THE OTHER SIDE and SCALPED. It’s probably the books everyone are probably into. Actually one book I love a lot is KAIJUMAX by Oni Press. It’s one of those books that have a cartoony style but I’ve liked Zander Cannon’s work from TOP 10 but it kind of delivers and hits you with different emotions that most other comics don’t do. It is funny, horrifying, exciting. It’s a very unique book that like CHEW was a few years ago.

CV: You also used to work at DC as well, what was the experience like there? How can you compare it to being at Skybound right now?

Sean: It is really apple and oranges the way that it is run. However, I have really learned a lot about making comics from being there. I worked in collected editions for a while and moved to editorial right before they went into the NEW 52.

sean mackiewicz Gasolina cover 1
Image Courtesy of Skybound Entertainment

CV:  It was a pretty dramatic shift in the company at that time.

Sean: Yeah, it was a huge amount of work in getting the NEW 52 series sorted out, and it didn’t, unfortunately, work on all of them. I worked on five to start with alongside the other editor McCallum.Pat McCallum also worked at WIZARD before coming to DC. So, we were both pretty new to the process of making comics, which I think became an advantage and it made our books feel a little bit different. But I learned a lot, and Bob Harris, who was my boss in collected editions gave me a huge opportunity. It was great, but very different structure in operations being with such a huge corporation like Warner Bros.

And what we do at Skybound is center around the creator instead of trying to manage long established characters and brands or titles. So, going from working with six superhero books a month to twelve different books that hit every genre, horror, fantasy, superheroes, sci-fi, it’s creatively free. The work that everyone does is their passion projects so it’s just a higher level of creative engagement. Plus, we’re a smaller company so the freedom and being able to make decisions on a fly.

Plus, Skybound has a whole has film, and TV merchandise interactive digital media so creators that want to take their comic books into different spaces and grow it like we did with THE WALKING DEAD, maybe not hit that level of success because THE WALKING DEAD is a very unique beast in terms of success. But we give them assets that they might not have to fulfill their vision. And I think after being here for five years I think that we’ve built great and stable properties and we have a lot of new and exciting books planned for this and next year as well.

CV:  Can you tell us about anything upcoming?

Sean: The latest thing we’ve announced is SLOTS by Dan Panosian. I’ve loved Dan’s work for a long time. He’s mostly worked on cover work, so when the opportunity came along to produce something he wrote and drew was just something else. He has just become a master storyteller and illustrator. He’s doing — well — a crime series about a retired boxer that has come back to fix his mistakes. The question of if he can and if not then to go out swinging — it is a lot of fun.

CV: What inspired you to write your own book after being in the editorial for so long?

Sean: I love being an editor and I love working with writers and artists on their stories. But, sometimes it’s hard when you have so many ideas that you ultimately want to see if you can do it yourself. I only have time to really write one book at a time while managing twelve books currently out and probably another twenty in development, it just works different muscles. It just engages me to want to try stories out that I can’t with other writers.

CV:  I bet working around it all it just builds up a crazy about of influence.

Sean: Yeah, I mean I’ve learned a lot from Robert just by working with him on all his books and just how he manages his story. I also went to school for writing as well and I’m kind of bringing back my old craft. It’s a tremendously creative environment and the fact that I kind take on multiple roles at one time keeps it challenging.

CV: So, INVINCIBLE is coming to the end of its series, but you have this amazing connection with other forms of media like TELLTALE, do you think anything can come out of that?

Sean: As a TELLTALE game? Well, we have a whole section called Skybound interactive who’s in charge of that and with the development of the movie being announced, obviously, we’ve started looking at it being in other forms of media, like action figures. I would love to see maybe a CAPCOM style fighting game, or even a visual narrative but yeah of course. I can’t talk about anything that may be going on but I think it would be a great fit.

CV:  Can you give us any info about the movie coming out?

Sean: There haven’t been any big updates. Seth Rogan & Evan Goldberg are working behind the scenes on it; as soon as there’s new out we will be sure to share with fans.

CV:  We are all really excited about hearing more, it is such a great series.

Sean: Yeah, it’s an incredible superhero book. Coming from having worked on a lot of DC stuff and to have a book that has so much and to represent a whole entire universe and the changes you can do. I think it’s just the best superhero series out there. As it comes to its conclusion, we just had a huge turning point with #138 that came out this week that had the death of a major character. We only have six more issues left to just continue to up the ante; hopefully, it’ll upset and entice readers the whole way.

CV:  Anything else you want to highlight?

Sean: Two books that creatively have really caught on I think if readers don’t know about is EXTREMITY which we will be releasing the first volume of that in August. Daniel Warren Johnson is writing and drawing it Mike Spicer is coloring it. We’re describing it as if Miyazaki meets MAD MAX. It’s a really heartfelt story about a girl who’s seeking revenge on these people who killed her mom and cut off her hand and kind of what that means and what it’s like to travel down that route with your father and brother beside you. Filled with like floating islands and crazy creatures. Daniel, I think as an artist is someone that’s just going to be getting better and better.

Sean: And REDNECK by Donny Cates, it is about a bunch of Texas redneck vampires. Donny just brings so much, and I love stories that feel personal. It sounds like he is really connected with the material. Using a genre story to use something to connect with readers in a way they may have had not expected. Lot’s of REDNECK coming in the future.

CV:  Skybound has done a lot to reach new mediums, TV, video games, movies, what can you tell me about that?

Sean: Outcast season two is going to come out pretty soon, so we have that. Also, we have a new deal for THE WALKING DEAD VR game with our partner from Skydance. Details will be coming out soon for that. We are just trying to interact with fans in whatever medium they like the most. It’s exciting to be a part of it all and to try to make it feel authentic for fans of the comic book the most. Hitting our website at Skybound.com or our Twitter is the best place for news and highlights.

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