@’s by Michael Moreci of
MINI COMICS INCLUDED!!!
THE DEAN: So many of my favorite characters from childhood were discovered as toys first before I knew they existed in comics, cartoons, or whatever else. I don’t think I would ever have watched Power Rangers if the Megazord wasn’t the coolest looking toy I had ever seen, and same goes for He-Man and the Castle of Greyskull playset! Of course brands like G.I. Joe and He-Man started out as a line of toys before anything else, but how about the characters you created here? Walk us through how the idea for “Mini Comics Included” came about.
MICHAEL MORECI (MM): Steve, Tim, and I all wanted to do a Kickstarter for a while as a way to see what the potential was and have the liberty to do something really cool/fun/off the wall. We didn’t want to use Kickstarter as a way to simply do our next comic project—rather, we wanted to do something we couldn’t do otherwise, in all the right ways. See, comics are ruled by the Direct Market, which is a very rigid system of distribution and sales. As we brainstormed ideas, part of our thinking was, “what would we do if freed from these constraints?” Tim is the one who hit the nail on the head with the mini comics idea—it struck to the core of our love of this era of toys, cartoons, and comics, and gave us such wide range to spread our creative wings, so to speak. Mini Comics Included is the three of us doing stories we’d love to tell, with the freedom now to do so. And, most importantly, we think a lot of people share both our nostalgia and our desire to see more fun in comics—pure, simple, fun.
DEAN: You guys are looking to get $19,000 by April 3rd, and you’re giving away a lot with even just a $5 donation, but one of the first questions I think of whenever I see a Kickstarter is, “what’s that money really going toward?” What kinds of costs go into getting this done between publishing the stories, getting the action figures made, etc.?
MM: That’s a good question, because there are plenty of abuses when it comes to Kickstarter and money, in myriad ways. We’ve all heard the stories. $19,000 is, admittedly, a high price tag. But that money is going to basically two things: printing and pay everyone working on the books. Unlike most comic deals of this nature, we’re not dangling the royalty carrot to our contributors—each and every one of them are getting an agreed upon rate that everyone is comfortable with. That’s been very clear, internally, from the start. And producing six comics—art, letters, colors, covers—isn’t cheap. The rest goes to printing and various production costs. We’ve been very, very lucky to have our toy contributors basically donate their work, in the form of action figures. We’re doing various work for them in return, but they’ve been excessively generous, which Tim, Steve, and I truly appreciate.
DEAN: It looks like a really fun project to be a part of, but what kinds of challenges have you guys run into in developing the stories, the characters, or in creating the action figures?
MM: You know, I think our main hurdle has been in branding. With Mini Comics Included, we’re presenting six new ideas (well, Colt Noble was done before as a one shot, like three years ago) in a relatively unknown format. Despite the track record Steve, Tim, and I have in comics, whenever you do anything new, it’s a tough sell. It’s no wonder why many of the most successful Kickstarter projects are web comics; people are being sold what they already know, and there’s little that’s more surefire than that. If you have something established and dependable, you can have significant success. For us, it was an uphill battle—and still is—to clearly explain what Mini Comics Included is all about. The rest has been a breeze, coming up with these characters and stories is our wheelhouse. The three of us would probably talk out this silly stuff anyway, just because that’s what us nerds do in our spare time.
DEAN: What’s it like working together on a completely independent project like this as opposed to something more a little more mainstream like HOAX HUNTERS?
MM: It’s pretty similar, actually. Steve and I work pretty close on Hoax Hunters, same as Mini Comics. I’m lucky to work with Steve on this, as he has a terrific imagination and knowledge of all things 80s toys/comics. Much more so than me, by far. To see him cut loose is pretty great—his work on Literary Commandos is some of the best he’s done, in my opinion. It’s a joy to see.
DEAN: I’m curious to hear how these characters were developed if you can go into that? Names like Dracula Man, and Fourilla (my personal favorite) all seem like ideas you’d run with when your imagination is totally uninhibited and you’re just trying to have fun, rather than worrying about making them dark, complex, or “mature.”
MM: You’ve hit the nail on the head. For some reason, there seems to be this stigma, a stink on all-ages comics. Like, if you do stuff for kids, or if you do something that isn’t dark and complex, it doesn’t have the same merit. It’s ludicrous. Watch The Incredibles and show me another movie/comic/whatever that illuminates family dynamics in such a true, dynamic, and thoughtful way. Light in tone doesn’t mean light in content; and just because something is “mature” doesn’t mean it has a single worthwhile thing to say. We wanted to throw all those unspoken rules out the window and do comics that are fun and smart—it can be done, there’s no doubt in my mind.
DEAN: Any possibility of seeing any of these guys with an ongoing series, or have you already tried for some of them?
MM: Man, I’d love to. Getting back to my previous response, Steve and I have shopped Prime-8s everywhere. And every editor/publisher has said, in a nutshell “I love this, but it won’t sell.” It’s unfortunate because, one, I disagree—the response we’ve had to Prime-8s since the beginning of the Kickstarter drive has been tremendous. People love it. But, also, who can predict these things? Understanding a zeitgeist when it’s happening or has happened is difficult enough; who knows what makes these cultural touchstones click with people the way they do, you know? But, again, it goes back to the all-ages thing, editors see that and say “nope” almost immediately which, in my mind, is a black eye for the entire comics industry. I’m not saying editors are wrong—they have the numbers to back them up. But if comics can’t support all-ages content and cultivate a youth audience, we’re doing something wrong.
DEAN: What is it that you feel you’ll be adding to the world of comics or toys with “Mini Comics Included” that’s lacking these days?
MM: It all goes back to that fun factor. I remember, vividly, reading comics are a kid and feeling amazed by what I saw. I remember an interview I read from Brian Michael Bendis, about his epic run on Ultimate Spider-Man. He said that, in real life, if you were to see Spider-Man, you’re day would be over. You’d be so amazed, so awe-struck, that you wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything for the rest of your day. That’s what he wanted to deliver in his Spidey stories (and he very much did). But that sense of awe and imagination is so lacking in comics. Don’t get me wrong, there are so many, many wonderful, brilliant comics being made today. But so very few of them wow you like Kirby or fill you with glee like Toth, or Wally Wood, or whoever. Those artists had big imaginations that they let roam free. Hopefully, if Mini Comics Included gets funded, we’ll deliver that same feeling to readers. That would be a great feeling, knowing we added that to comics, however briefly.
DEAN” Finally, let’s reminisce! What’s your fondest memory of mini comics and the toys they came with?
MM: I have a very clear memory of a Christmas morning. My brother and I each got a He-Man/Battle-Cat and Skeletor/Panthor pack. I’ll be honest, I don’t recall the exact comic that came with either, but it’s a great memory. My brother and I made up so many stories based on those figures, we created such a big world around them. It really started my love of storytelling, those simple toys.
DEAN: Well thanks so much for your time, Michael, and hopefully you’ll be able to create a lot more memories like that with “Mini Comics Included” soon! Head on over to their Kickstarter page for more on this cool project!
Proofs, co-edits & common sense provided by Sleazy G