Instinct, Or Doing It All Backwards

Mark Bertolini writes for Bleeding Cool:

My name is Mark Bertolini, and I'm a comic book writer with several titles to my name (my output can be found here at Comixology:, and my most recent release is Scum of the Earth from Action Lab/Danger Zone ( But I'm writing about a new project, one that seems to be running backwards.

I'll explain – the new project is called Instinct. I'm the writer of the comic, Sami Kivelä, who is currently illustrating the Zenescope book Hit List, is the artist, and we've already had the comic book get optioned for a film adaptation.

Before there really even is a comic book.

And no, we're not Mark Millar. So how did this even happen? That's a damn good question, and I'm glad you asked it.

Instinct coverSami and I put Instinct together at the end of 2012. Instinct is the story of the world's most dangerous super-criminal, Dominic "The Monster" Arch, a deranged sociopath who is a cross between Hannibal Lechter and the Joker. He's incarcerated in a supermax prison, where a secret government organization uses his unique intellect and insight to solve crimes. When another prisoner, who is slated to die in less than two weeks, is unable to give up some important information, Arch is brought in to use his talents to prevent a massive tragedy. That's where it all starts.

And so far, that's all we have. Instinct was an experiment – I outlined the creation of the story on my blog at, detailing the steps from initial idea to script to pencils, inks, colors, and letters. We created an 8-page pitch package for Instinct, rounding out the team with colorist Hugo "Ginmau" Froes, letterer E.T. Dollman, and editor Andrew Brinkley.

Instinct page 78 pages. That was it. Don't get me wrong, there is more. Much more. But this was all we put together, and Sami got busy at Zenescope and I got busy at Action Lab. But Instinct was never far from my mind. So I put together my very first website, dedicated to Instinct. It's not great, it's far from perfect, but it did the job. See for yourself:

A month after I put the website up, I got an email from a producer at a relatively well-known production company, who liked what he had seen and wanted to discuss it. A few rounds of back and forth between the producer and my manager, and we signed off on the film option for Instinct.

Here's where we ended up doing it all backwards: it's the trend in comics right now to create an IP, put together a comic book, land a publisher, and hope it gets picked up for a film option. With Instinct, we're going against the grain – we've got the film option, now we want to land the publisher.

Instinct glovesYou'll notice I haven't mentioned the producer or the company, and that's because they haven't announced it yet either, but rest assured, this is a real thing. We have the film option – now who wants to publish the comic?

Mark Bertolini

About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.