Mark Bagley was born to a military family in Frankfurt, Germany. He had always wanted to break into the comic book business. At age 18, he joined the military so that he could qualify for the G.I. Bill and go to art school.
After his work in the military and art school, he continued trying to break into the comic industry but ended up working for Lockheed Martin making technical drawings.
Later in life, he fathered a child, a daughter named Angela, who is a teacher.
Marvel Tryout Contest
In 1983, Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter created the Marvel Try-out Book to draw new talent into the comic book industry. The contest involved a deconstructed comic book in which contestants could complete the comic and submit it to Marvel. The winner would be awarded a professional assignment with Marvel.
At 27 years old, Mark Bagley entered the contest and won first place for penciling. This led to a series of low profile penciling jobs including jobs for Marvel's New Universe line and backup stories in Captain America. A majority of his work during this time was for the first series of Marvel Universe Trading cards.
The New Warriors
In 1990, Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz created a team of teenage superheroes called the New Warriors. Given the positive fan reaction, Marvel created a new series based on these heroes and assigned Bagley and Fabian Nicieza to the title.
Though not an instant success, the title rose in fame to become one of Marvel’s more successful titles in the 1990s.
The Amazing Spider-Man
A couple of years into the New Warriors run, New Warriors editor Danny Fingeroth became responsible for the Spider-Man line of titles. At the same time, Erik Larsen vacated his spot as penciler on Spider-Man’s flagship title
The Amazing Spider-Man.
Fingeroth decided to take a chance on Bagley, who was a relatively inexperienced artist to be assigned what is arguably Marvel’s flagship title. After a rough start, Bagley hit his stride on The Amazing Spider-Man and eventually grew to be considered the definitive
Spider-Man artist of the mid-1990s. His artwork was used extensively for licensed material, appearing on everything from plates and cups to credit cards.
Bagley also holds the distinction of being the artist on Marvel’s first web-based comic book, featuring Spider-Man, which appeared on Marvel’s official website.
After working on Spider-Man for several years, Bagley began to feel burnt out on Spider-Man. Needing a change, he next collaborated with writer Kurt Busiek on a new team of superheroes, the Thunderbolts. The concept behind the Thunderbolts was that of a team of super villains who posed as superheroes in order to gain the public’s trust. As the title progressed, some of the villains began to realize they enjoyed the role of a hero and no longer wanted to be villains.
The title enjoyed modest success and though its sales did decline over time, the decline was so slow and the fan base was so dedicated that the title continued to be published even after Bagley left the title in 2001 (at issue #50).
Bill Jemas, publisher at Marvel in the year 2000, was looking to relaunch Marvel’s primary franchises in a way that would make them accessible to younger readers. Designed as a six-issue mini series, Ultimate Spider-Man would be a title that began the Spider-Man mythos from the beginning set in modern times. Marvel wanted Bagley on the title from the beginning, but, still being burnt out from his earlier run, he resisted.
Eventually though, he (reluctantly) agreed and was assigned Ultimate Spider-Man with writer Brian Michael Bendis. The title was an instant hit and soon turned from a limited series to an ongoing series by Bendis and Bagley.
They went on to enjoy the longest continuous run of any creative team on a mainstream Marvel superhero comic beating the record set by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby with Ultimate Spider-Man #103 (published in December 2006). He eventually left the title after #111 was published in July 2007.
Bagley collaborated again with Bendis on the latter's second story arc of Mighty Avengers. That was his last work for Marvel before he becomes exclusive to DC Comics.
It was reported in January 2011, that starting with issue 156 of Ultimate Spider-Man, Bagley will reunite with long time collaborator and writer Brian Michael Bendis for an eight issue story arc entitled 'Death of Spider-Man' which will prelude in February and kicks in with the actual storyline in March and will conclude in July 2011.
In 2008. Bagley signed to an exclusive contract with DC Comics and worked on such titles as Trinity, Batman and JLA.
Return to Marvel
Bagley is returning to Ultimate Spider-Man starting on issue #156.
Comic Vine Interviews Mark Bagley
Mark Bagley is signed on to do DC Comics weekly Trinity written by Kurt Busiek (with back-up stories by Fabian Nicieza.
Comic Vine: When I spoke to you at Wonder-Con (February 2008) I asked if you were tired of drawing Spider-Man since you decided to go exclusive with DC and you said, no, you wanted to play in DC's sandbox. Who are you most excited to draw?
Mark Bagley: Really, all of the big three ('specially Superman). It's taken me a few issues, but I really think I've sorta nailed my versions of these icons...maybe.
Comic Vine: If there was a character you wanted to draw that wasn't part of the Trinity story, would you try to sneak them in or push Kurt into including them somehow?
Mark Bagley: It really looks like I'm gettin' to draw almost everybody I'd like to draw...this has almost turned into a team book for a while...damn that Busiek. I am going to miss being able to draw the New Gods...guess they are dead or dying. I was a huge fan of Kirby's fourth world stuff.
CV: When the first issue hits, how many will you have completed?
Bagley: I should have 13 to 14 done...knock on wood.
CV: You probably get asked this a lot, what's your rate? How many pages a day? (You cranked out the Ult. Spidey issues!)
Bagley: About $2000 dollars a page...just kidding. I'm trying to average a page and a half a day...I really hate the term "crank". I get as much done as I do 'cause I work hard. and have my ass at my desk about 10 hours a day.
CV: Sorry. That's not what I meant.
Besides the schedule, what would you say will be (or is) your biggest challenge on Trinity?
Bagley: The schedule. Sorry, but really that IS the biggest challenge...everything else is cake.
CV: How familiar are you with the DC characters? (You've been drawing Marvel for as long as I can remember.) Are there costumes you need to check or will you possibly be tweaking any?
Bagley: It took me 2 months to be able to draw Superman's emblem without looking at reference. Aside from that, it's just taken me awhile to find my comfort zone with the big three. The rest of the characters I've had to draw so far have come pretty easily (I'm told that I do a wonderful Flash)...
I'll let y'all be the judge. Marvel has always been my first love in comics, but the DC Universe is really a great place to play. Also I'm working with some really terrific people, which counts for a lot.
CV: How much input will you have in the story? I'm sure Kurt will be writing to your strengths.
Bagley: Kurt is killing me....slowly. Really, I'm at his beck and call. My job is to visually portray his story...there is not a lot of time to hash things back and forth. I do have the freedom to tweak things visually, or pace wise, but much of this is Kurt's (and Fabian's) baby.
CV: How long do you plan on being exclusive at DC?
Bagley: I have a three year commitment, after that, who knows? It is more important than I can express, that I enjoy what I'm working on, and who I'm working with...and so far all the guys (and gals) at DC have been great.
CV: After the year of Trinity, would you rather do long term projects or shorter story arcs?
Bagley: I'm definitely more suited for long term projects. I'm not the kind of fan favorite wnderkind who can put out just a few things a year. My strength is really the ability to do really quality monthly work that the readers can enjoy and look forward to.
CV: Do you have a favorite moment or image that you've drawn already (without giving anything away)?
Bagley: There have been some really great images I've been fortunate to be able to draw...the neat thing about this project is the scope of it. I'm drawing everything from Nightwing whuppin' ass on a roof top to Superman dealing with a solar system popping up in the middle of Metropolis.
CV: If you had to estimate, about how many times do you think you've drawn Spider-Man?
Bagley: Uh...a bazillion.
CV: Is it weird seeing Stuart's art in Ultimate Spider-Man now? (It still is for me).
Bagley: Yes and no (I'm such a weasel). He is so freaking good that it is scary...but I still kinda feel a possessiveness towards those characters.
CV: Do you have a favorite story arc that you drew in Ultimate?
Balgey:I thing the Clone Saga that we did was aces...it really was cathartic to do that.
CV: Any comments on the retconning of Peter and MJ's marriage in "Brand New Day"?
Bagley: I wish Marvel luck on that...I hope for the best.
CV: We also talked (at Wonder-Con) about the Marvel credit card with your art, out of curiousity, do the companies give you extra compensation if your art is used for other products (posters, t-shirts, etc)?
Bagley: No. If I made any money off the art they've used over the years for merchandising I'd be a bazillionaire.
CV: Too bad. You'd deserve it.
Will there be any variant covers for Trinity? Any thoughts on them? Good? Bad?
Bagley: Not that I know off. Not a huge fan of variant covers...brings back awful memories of the ninties.
CV: So good to hear. I get flashbacks to that time also.
What's your favorite condiment?
Bagley: Trojan...uh no, wait...Salsa
CV: Last good movie you saw?
Bagley: Iron Man...wow!
CV: Is Bendis a Skrull?
Bagley: Technically, he is a gnome.
CV: With the summer movies already starting, who do you think would win in a fight in the boardroom, Tony Stark or Bruce Wayne?
Bagley: Donald Trump.