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Monkeying Around

March 31, 2010
by Mark Allen Haverty
Banana Tail

Far from an industry novice, Mark McKenna’s inks have been appearing in books for both Marvel and DC for the last 20+ years, touching just about every major character for each at least once.

His next project though is far more than inks. It’s also far from the superhero fare that McKenna is used to working on either, as it’s a book about a monkey. No, not a monkey assassin like the one running around the Marvel Universe now, but a fun-loving monkey in a book designed for an audience that comics were once all about but now seems to have completely forgotten about – kids.

Meet Banana Tail.

Who's Banana Tail? Well, according to Mark's website, he is, "A mischievous yet kind-hearted monkey with an unusually colored yellow tail. He's a sloppy little guy -- always leaving a trail of banana peels behind him! He's always involved in one dilemma or another, and it's his escaping these situations that make all of his adventures fun."

I had an opportunity to catch up with Mark to ask him a couple of questions about the new venture, and here’s what he said.

Why the new style after so many years in the industry?

Well to tell the truth the answer is two fold on this one. First off, the kids book publishers are always looking for the next new and exciting illustrated style and while loving the pencil, ink, and color method that I did on the first book, its not all that unique. I had two other directions I considered. One was a cut-colored paper style and the other Pixar-looking 3D CGI style. The deciding factor for me came when I had to pay the illustrators.

Banana Tail

The cut paper illustrator, while a fantastic direction for me to pursue, would have cost me per illustration, plus a back end royalty, while the CGI (computer-generated imagery) was decided on and created by a group of teachers down at Full Sail University down in Winter Park, Florida. These teachers, spear-headed by Steve Akehurst, who teaches 3D animation at the college, banded together and created a production company called 4th Armada. 4th Armada needed a project to get them some viability. Enter: Banana Tail

What was behind the decision to do a children's book here?

When the comic biz started to get weird after the gold rush of the early 90's, I saw the writing on the wall, as comic work started to get irregular. My father, who was a brilliant idea man, who, I believe, had tinges of greatness in him as an untapped writer; unfortunately, he was a better procrastinator, {and he} would jot down these brilliant thoughts and ideas but never follow through with anything lengthy or with finality. I told him as things started to thin out work-wise for me, that there was a huge opportunity here for my dad to help me work on something to get him in print and that with my pro comic credentials, might be able to get some leverage and push on.

Banana Tail

At this same time, my daughter was four years old and my son a newborn. I knew how we spoiled the kids and I thought that if I spoiled my kids I know that we were not the only parents in the world that spoiled our children. Why not create a kids book that kids just had to have and, therefore, have parents purchase it for their children? Hence, the beginning thought process behind Banana Tail

Considering the other outlets available, why Image?

Image was there at the time I submitted Banana Tail and was extremely favorable right from the start when I brought them the idea for a new book. Getting a publisher to see your ideas and really get on the same page with you are far and few between. Also, I think the fact that I had built Banana Tail into a fairly successful self-published property interested Image. There was groundwork already in place.

Look for Banana Tail's Colorful Adventure this April from Image Comics. For more on Banana Tail, head over to

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