Thursday, August 28, 2008

Interview with Mike Raicht - Creature Feature's Executive Producer

Well we have found someone else who was willing to subject themselves to questioning. Mike consented after I promised not to post certain pictures I have. Actually I'm just a little jealous as Mike is the editorial force behind Th3rd World Studio's newest gem Creature Feature. I think it was a ploy to get co-eds to try out for parts in his venture.

Jim: Who is Mike Raicht? Cosmic radiation, alien from another planet, super genius or obsessed crime fighter?
Mike: Mike Raicht is pretty much just a kid who sadly absorbed a little too much TV radiation while being bombarded by horrific monster movie images at an age when most kids were laughing and playing outside on their swing sets. These images warped his brain a bit and led him down this very sick path. Not healthy. I'm not used to talking about myself in 3rd person. It makes me fee l a bit weird.

Jim: Creature Features appears to be your baby. Walk us though the process of idea to actually realization? How long did it take? How did you get the talent?
Mike: Well, I think Creature Feature started to take shape about a year ago... maybe longer... following Th3rd World's release of Space Doubles, which was their sci-fi book. Th3rd World's publishers, Devito and Conkling had approached me to do my own type of book. I suggested a horror book. They said sure and I pitched them on the idea of going back and doing a bunch of late 70s and early 80s horror inspired tales. We wrapped the 1st issue a few weeks ago. Just finished up some tweaks. Issue 2 is a little over half way done so it will definitely be ready for a November release.

As far as the talent goes, I approached a lot of people whose work I enjoyed and that I knew personally. Especially with the writers. I was Brian Smith's intern at Marvel and we still work together on stuff every day. We just optioned a kid's property and we actually have another fantasy type tale coming out through Th3rd World that we've been co-writing. Like I said, we do a lot of stuff together. CB Cebulski, Stuart Moore and Andy Schmidt were all people I worked with at Marvel during my time as an editor whose writing work I enjoy. They are all really talented. Chris Yost was someone who was co-writing New X-Men when I believe it was at it's height. Mike D. had his contact and luckily he was very interested. Leah Moore and John Reppion are two writers who I've been lucky enough to appear with in multiple titles. We're kind of like comic writer family at this point. We were paired together in the inaugural issue of Space Doubles and also in Savage Tales from Dynamite. I wouldn't dream of putting out a book like this without contacting them as well.

The artists came to us in very different ways and we were lucky to have all of them. I only can really claim to have brought a few of them in myself. Shaun "Artchild" Turnbull who worked on Hooters was discovered in CB's art search. He had a space in his schedule and made Hooters kick butt. CB is the best in the business at helping young talent get work out there. Jon Reed won Comic Book Idol. We were really lucky to get him. Joe Lalich is a very talented artist who was working with Andy Schmidt in his Comics Experience class. Inker Jon Czop is someone I actually worked with at Marvel who came on and really nailed the inks on Joe's story. Brian Smith is currently working on the young readers book Loud Boy for Penguin. I actually forced him to be involved. He had no choice.

For the second book we have Alberto Ponticelli, who I actually met in San Diego close to 10 years ago. He is a friend and very talented guy who was nice enough to take time out of his schedule to work on the book. Although I know he was exctied to work on Stuart Moore's tale. Alberto is currently working on Unknown Soldier for Vertigo. PJ Holden was busy doing work for Image and 2000AD. John and Leah had always wanted to work with him so they made that happen. Jacob Chabot has exactly 13 days free between projects and for some reason he has decided to work on my script. I met Jacob at Marvel when he worked in the Bullpen. Since then he's won a contest at Dark Horse that produced his Mighty Skullboy Army book. That was nominated for an Eisner, so he's kind of slumming with me. The final artist of our group is TL Collins. Tim, as I call him, and I are from the same high school and have spent years watching some very poorly done horror movies together. I asked him if he'd like to try to create something for the book. He did a very funny strip of me, which we'll probably use in the trade. We then had the idea to have an introduction to each tale that he would draw. I think he did a great job, and unfortunately, nailed my likeness.

Jim: So small press publishing is like being Rodney Dangerfield, what are you doing to get notice and hopefully orders?
Mike: It is a ridiculous tough road. I think the first thing you have to make sure of is that you are doing something you love. Because while we'd all love to have huge sales it always isn't possible. The second thing is to just hustle your butt off. Devito and Conkling have been working the phone lines and getting the word out. Great web sites like yours have been gracious enough to run reviews of the book. Will this help sales? We hope. Everyone wants that break out hit, but it can be tough. Hopefully we'll do well enough to put a little money in all of the creator's pockets. Beyond that, we just hope whatever our numbers are that we sell out and get a little buzz. Anyone reading this, if this book is your cup of tea, go to your local comic shop and order it. Every order for a book like this is a huge help. Getting noticed is the beginning for a book like this. And if you like it, tell your friends and comic shop owner. Maybe they'll think twice about ordering the next issue, or reordering some copies for other people with your taste. It's never too late for everyone to give a book like Creature Feature a chance.

Jim: Two issue mini-series, why not go straight to a one shot, like Crecy from Avatar?
Mike: We had 96 pages of material. And with the talent we had brought on board we felt it could sell. We also feel two 48 pages issues at $4.50 a piece gives us a chance to get the book out there at a reasonable price as well as turn a profit. We will be releasing a trade at some point but it will have additional stories attached.

Jim: What is your role as part of Th3rd World Studios?
Mike: I do whatever they need me to do. I have some experience with editing and writing. I like to think they use me as a resource for both. We really have hit it off and I think as a group we want to create very cool comics and beyond. I know we are working on some things beyond just comics which we are really excited about.

Jim: Did you actually pose for the pieces of art for Creature Feature or hire Uncle Creepy?
Mike: Tim Collins has spent thousands of hours, much to the chagrin of my wife, playing Halo 2 and 3 with me and even more time watching thousands of hours of horrible movies. He could probably draw me in his sleep if he needed to. My dream, and probably Tim's nightmare, is for him to have to draw sketches of me at conventions. Probably posing with Robin or Wonder Woman. That would be good stuff.

Jim: The first issue was excellent and it really hit the nail exactly on the head. You are listed as the editor; do you help to craft the stories to be so dead on to your concept?
Mike: These writers are all terrific. I sent out a little mission statement letting people know the vibe I was looking for and everyone came back with something fun and exciting. All I tried to make sure was that everyone at least attacked something different. I didn't want to have any repeats. Nobody disappointed.

Jim: Did you solicit full scripts and then find an artist or were there collaborative efforts?
Mike: For the most part the scripts were completed and then artists were brought in. Naturally, since the artists bring so much to the table, they are going to influence the final product. So at the end of the day I think they are all collaborative efforts. Even with the Drive-In interludes, Tim Collins and I would discuss the story immediately before it and try to bring that stories vibe into the Drive-In. I think it was pretty effective. Tim really nailed it.

Jim: Are you considering releasing one full story on the web for free to generate interest?
Mike: I know that's something we've talked about. You'd have to talk to Devito and Conkling about that.

Jim: What are you doing to promote the book with retailers? I think getting stores to try and carry a few copies is always problematic.
Mike: It is tough. This is a small book, but it has some amazing talent on it. Beyond the fact that Devito and Conkling have both been working the phones calling retailers and CB Cebulski has been posting places and trying to get the word out. To me, this is the type of book someone should take a chance on. We have some pretty major writers on this puppy. Yost is currently writing X-Force and a Secret Invasion Runaways/Young Avengers book. It was just announced that CB is writing the return of Magik. How cool is that. Stuart Moore is in the middle of an arc on IRON MAN. He's done some of the coolest WOLVERINE and PUNISHER one shots around. Andy Schmidt spearheaded the ANNIHILATION series which was pretty darn amazing. John Reppion and Leah Moore are doing very cool stuff over at Dynamite including RAISE THE DEAD which is out in hardcover now. And all of these are just the things I'm coming up with off the top of my head. Think of how many cool books these guys have been involved in.You would have to believe a line up like that would beg for people to take a chance on it. It has some of the most talented writers in comics working on a very cool horror book. If you're a retailer and you are reading this, give it a chance. Your customers will dig it.

Jim: What are your short term goals with comics?
Mike: To keep working on great projects like this one and to always have something on the shelves every month that I've been working on in some capacity whether it's editing or writing.

Jim: What would be your dream project?
Mike: I kind of got to do it. I wrote an issue of Exiles called EXILES: DAYS OF THEN AND NOW. I'd love to go back and do some more work on that book. It's something I helped to develop with Mike Marts when I was his assistant and I eventually had the opportunity to edit it on my own which was a blast. Otherwise, I'd like to be writing issue #13 of a book I've had a hand in creating. To have a book be successful enough to reach year two would be amazing.

I want to thank Mike for taking the time to talk o us and have fun with it, because that is what this series is all about. I have been lucky enough to read issue #1 and you can see that review here. Also see Newsarama’s article on the book here.

Last but not least I want each and every person out there to go out and order this book. If this book was in Marvel or DC’s solicitations you would give it more of a chance, it is human nature, but this book is worth your time, but your retailer will be reluctant to take a chance, so go and order it. If you don’t get a few laughs or are not entertained by this comic, please ask your spouse, significant other or pet to check you for a heartbeat.

1 comment:

  1. I had a blast working on this book. Everyone at Th3rd World was really cool, gracious and easy going. They made made my time drawing so many webs and insane creepy-crawlies a pleasure. I have nothing but great things to say about Mike Raicht as well...super nice and easy to work with. I was really fortunate to get a shot at being involved in a book with such great talent as well. Top of that list, in my book, is Andy Schmidt. Big thanks to Andy for bringing me in on this. He is a very talented guy with a keen eye and an acerbic wit. All those things went into making 'Why Did It have To Be Spiders?' a smart, tension-filled and funny story.

    Do yourself and run out and grab a copy when it hits the shelves. We promise you'll have fun...
    joe lalich