6 Oct 2012

15 Questions For The Creator: MIKE RAICHT

Mike Raicht is a busy man. After getting his big break at Marvel he went on to work on a number of titles for them as well as a variety of other publishers including Dynamite and IDW. Recently he’s been writing Dark Shadows for Dynamite, an adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s best-selling novel, The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones for Th3rd World Studios, as well as prepping his Kickstarter project, Wild Blue Yonder. Arguably though he’s really made his indelible mark in the comics world as co-writer of the sublime The Stuff Of Legend from Th3rd World Studios. A dark fairy tale in which a group of toys venture through the closet into the Boogeyman's realm to rescue their young owner, it's been showered with praise across the board for its ability to enrapture readers of all ages and has recently received some significant interest from Hollywood. Fortunately Mike isn’t too busy that he didn’t have the time to agree to take part in the inaugural instalment of our 15 Questions For The Creator feature…

What’s your earliest memory of coming into contact with the world of comics?

I believe my dad bought me the over-sized Star Wars book from Sears when I was about 3 or 4. My son owns it now.  It's pretty beat up, but I love that book to death. It had all of my favorite scenes in it, including the Jabba the Hutt scene and some Biggs extras. It was pretty mind blowing.

Is there one person you would say is responsible more than anyone else for helping you get your foot in the industry door?

I had a lot of people help me out. I learned a lot from Brian Smith, my co-writer on Stuff of Legend and recent DC editor, when I was an intern and after.  We were always talking about ideas inside and outside of Marvel. Mike Marts, who is now the Batman editor, hired me as an assistant while he was at Marvel. Being in his office taught me how to do what I do. Both of them were big in getting me in the door and then moving towards becoming a full-time writer.

Why comics and not plumbing or brain surgery?

When I originally headed off to school I assumed I'd be a psychologist or counsellor of some sort. As I got more into the English, journalism, and writing classes my focus changed a lot and I got heavily into news writing and fiction. I had some great teachers at college who believed in me and my writing abilities and pushed me in that direction. From there I decided I'd love to write comics someday so I interned at Marvel and the rest is history.

What musical delights help you get your head in the right place to start creating?

I have horrific musical taste. Usually something horrible from the ‘70s or early ’80s. My Pandora is set to Lite Rock Hits from the ‘70s at this second.  However, I do listen to the Killers or the Foo Fighters a lot as well. I also watch visually cool movies over and over to get into a certain visual head space. Sunshine, 28 Days Later, 30 Days Of Night, Fight Club, Se7en, and Night and Dawn Of the Dead, tend to find their way onto my TV quite a lot.

What artists inspire your work?

I'm a huge fan of Stephen King. I read and re-read his books a lot. Especially The Long Walk, The Mist, and The Stand, as well as some of his older short story collections. I love how he tells a story. I grew up reading Chris Claremont's X-Men. I loved the characters and the things he would put them through. My favorite artist to check out is Frank Quitely. He's a genius. I would say David Fincher and Danny Boyle are my biggest movie influences. But most of all Zach Howard, Charles Paul Wilson III and Guiu Vilanova are inspiring me the most right now. Seeing how they interpret what I'm writing is a blast. When your script becomes reality it makes you want to create even more. These guys are all delivering and then some. I'm insanely lucky.

Which piece of your own published work are you most proud of?

Stuff Of Legend, because we all believed in it and worked so hard to get the thing out there. To have other people actually dig it as much as we do is very gratifying.

What’s been your biggest challenge so far in comics?

Just continuing to get work and have a presence on the stands. You're really only as good as your most recent work so it's always good to have more coming out. It's important to constantly keep yourself out there. That is obviously not always an easy thing.

What are you currently working on, and why should we be excited to see the final product?

I'm currently working on Wild Blue Yonder #3, Stuff of Legend Vol. 4, #3, and Dark Shadows #11. Wild Blue Yonder has artwork by Zach Howard which, if you've seen The Cape, then you know why you should be excited. I think Austin Harrison (our co-creator), Zach, and I are creating a pretty cool world and story for our inaugural arc. We're trying to channel a little Mad Max in the sky. I love writing a dude named Scram more than life itself right now. Stuff Of Legend is starting towards the home stretch and things are only going to darker from here on out. The Boogeyman is gaining the upper hand, if he ever lost it, and Max and the rest are going to have a hard time coming out victorious. Charles Wilson III is in a huge groove and we are getting to some epic battles in these issues and moving our characters closer to their final fate (some are much closer than others). Dark Shadows has been a blast to work on so far. I'm writing a ‘70s era soap opera while adding in some of the violence and sensibilities of today. It is meant to be a fun ride filled with twists and turns. Sometimes I don't even know what's going to happen next! (Kidding!) You should also all check out the amazing art of Guiu Vilanova. He brings the ‘70s alive on every page.

Where do you see the industry in 10 years?

I think comics are getting exponentially better all of the time. We are pushing each other and learning to do more with the craft every day. We're going to see more and more creator-owned books competing with the big guys, because the creator-owned characters can do things licensed characters can't. This will in turn push the big guys to take more chances with what they are doing. Most importantly we're all going to be pushing each other to make even better books which will be awesome for all of us.

You meet someone unfamiliar with the world of comics - what book would you place in their hands to convince them of the medium's worth and potentially convert them to the cause?

There are so many options. I guess depending on the person I'd recommend Locke & Key, The Cape, or The Walking Dead. Possibly Y: The Last Man or Preacher. I love Scott Snyder and Greg Cappullo's Batman. Someone looking for something older kid oriented I'd hand The Stuff of Legend. Am I allowed to push my own stuff?

Three recommendations in books/movies/music/TV that you can't get enough of at this moment in time?

Breaking Bad, The Killers' Pandora, and The Hobbit (I'm reading it with my son).

You’re evacuating the planet Earth ahead of its imminent destruction and you only have a chance to grab three comics and/or graphic novels before you leave. What would they be and why?

I'd probably want to grab the last not yet published Locke & Key hardcover so I can see how it all ends. I know it isn't out yet, but I have to know. My Stuff Of Legend hardcover. We worked too hard to make that thing a reality to allow it to be destroyed. And maybe the Uncanny X-Force: Dark Angel Saga. I love the story and Jerome Opena's art, matched with Dean White's coloring, is top notch in that storyline.

Which three comic characters would you most like to go for a beer with (and why)?

Guy Gardner, Scram (from Wild Blue Yonder), and Glen from The Walking Dead. Not sure why exactly, but they seem like good dudes who would have interesting stories to tell. Those go well with a beer or two.

What would you most want to be remembered for?

Being a good dad and husband.

Kirby – king of comics?

Of course.

The Stuff Of Legend: Toy Collector #1 is released this Wednesday, 10th October.

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