Comic veteran Mark Bagley has enjoyed an expansive career as an artist for top publishers Marvel and DC Comics for many years. August 7, 2019, marks the 62nd birthday for the longtime Spider-Man and Trinity artist, making this the perfect time for a walk down memory lane.
Mark Bagley was born in Frankfurt, West Germany in 1957. Growing up, Bagley always had a desire to break into the comic industry. At 18, he joined the military so he could qualify for the G.I. Bill and attend art school. Following his armed service, Bagley studied at Ringling College of Art and Design and continued trying to break into comics. Eventually, he ended up working for Lockheed Martin making technical drawings. During the 1980s, Marvel editor in chief Jim Shooter released the Marvel Try-Out Book to find new talent. Interested creators would purchase the deconstructed comic book, complete it and submit it to Marvel. Bagley won first place for penciling, finishing ahead of thousands of other hopefuls. He was later assigned a series of lower profile penciling jobs, including work on Visionaries, the New Universe line, backups in Captain America, and the Marvel Universe Cards.
Bagley later worked with writer Fabian Nicieza on the New Warriors title, remaining until issue 25. At that time, Bagley replaced Erik Larsen on The Amazing Spider-Man. Alongside David Michelinie, he introduced Carnage in The Amazing Spider-Man #361 and produced the limited series Venom: Lethal Protector. Bagley’s version of Venom and Eddie Brock are considered by many fans to be the most popular adaptations of the characters. Bagley’s Amazing Spider-Man artwork was used extensively for licensed material, appearing on everything from cups to credit cards and even video games such as The Amazing Spider-Man: Lethal Foes. Outside of Spider-Man, Bagley collaborated with writer Kurt Busiek on the Thunderbolts title.
In 2000, Bagley partnered with writer Brian Michael Bendis on Ultimate Spider-Man, which would begin the Spider-Man mythos from the beginning now set in modern times. Bendis and Bagley teamed on 111 consecutive issues, making their partnership one of the longest in American comic book history, and the longest run by a Marvel team – beating out Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s run on Fantastic Four. The pair later reunited on the four-issue arc The Pulse in Mighty Avengers. After signing an exclusive three-year contract with DC, Bagley worked on the weekly series Trinity featuring Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. He went on to draw several issues of Batman and issues 38-53 of Justice League of America.
Bagley later returned to Marvel and the Ultimate Spider-Man title, before reuniting with Bendis on the “Death of Spider-Man” arc in issues 156-160. The dynamic duo also partnered on their creator-owned series Brilliant, which explores the idea of superheroes existing in the real world. Produced concurrently with Brilliant, Bendis and Bagley also worked on Avengers Assemble. More recently, Bagley relaunched the Fantastic Four series with Matt Fraction, collaborated on Hulk with Mark Waid and made a brief return for Venom with four issues in Lethal Protector.
Across his career, Bagley has ranked fourth on CBR’s “50 Greatest Spider-Man Creators,” and was ranked second in Wizard magazine’s top ten artists of the 2000s. In the article, writer Mark Allen Haverty said, “no other artist came close to the number of comics Bagley sold [in the 2000s], nor the number of Top 20 comics he was a part of.”