Kickstarter is getting loads of projects off the ground—from the OUYA to Amanda Palmer—the fundraising platform provides a diverse spectrum of ventures. Joe Martino is heading the first Earth Prime Time endorsed Kickstarter for comics. The Mighty Titan is the story of a superhero from a two-time cancer survivor and Dad. We talk to our hero Joe in a week where the world can use a powerful example of hope from the men and women in capes.
Thanks for taking the time, Joe!
We met at our party at Boston Comic Con this year and you signed my Shadowflame book. Thanks for that! Did you have a good time at the League party?
I had a great time at the party. Boston Comic Con was a blast and I can’t wait until next year! I felt very welcome and it was really fun. If all goes well, The Mighty Titan #1 will have it’s real world debut there this year.
The Mighty Titan covers were blowing up my Facebook feed and I thought, “Whoa, cool — those look awesome, I’ll check that out later.” And when I did—I saw there was more to this story than your typical superhero story. You are a cancer survivor and you want to share the story of survival. Care to tell us the origin of the Mighty Titan?
The real world origin of Titan is a sad one I guess. I found out I had kidney cancer at an early age. I was 33.
I was waiting to hear about orders for the Chanting Monks release of Ripperman and went to a new doctor. A routine ultrasound of my liver showed that I had a tumor on my right kidney. I was floored. I mean, I had kids, I was married, I had a great day job and was living my dream of writing and drawing comics at night. My whole life fell apart and only until 2 years ago have the pieces been picked up. While I was home from surgery (Incidentally, the original Ripperman Graphic Novel came out the Day of my first cancer surgery, October 20th, 2004) I was thinking about wanting an outlet for all this angst. I was going to write a story where Shadowflame gets cancer. But that didn’t work for me. Shadowflame didn’t have any support structure or family to play off of. I decided to create a new hero. Titan was born of that. I still have the drawing that I did in front of my TV back in December of 2004. Time passed and I put out Shadowflame and Ripperman through Arcana and the Titan thing kept gnawing at me. So, last year I started jotting down ideas. Ideas turned into plot and plot turned into script.
I’ve backed every comic I’ve ever done out of my own pocket. I saw Kickstarter as a way to get my books funded (pay my friends the little they ask) and get the book out there in a way that doesn’t take food out of my kid’s mouth.
As for the comic origin of Titan, this is a spoiler-free zone and you can see that sprinkled throughout the 5 issues with amazing art by Cory Smith. He is drawing all the Flashback scenes in The Mighty Titan.
Cancer is a real douche, right? I mean, C’mon. The only real life superhero I know is my own sister Kelsey. She, like yourself, survived the shit after more than one round.
Had you had someone close to you affected by cancer, other than yourself before being diagnosed?
For lack of a better phrase, Cancer Sucks.
My mother’s mother died of Brain Cancer at 41. My mom was a kid so I never met her. I had always heard the word growing up. So, I kind of knew at some point I would probably deal with some sort of cancer. My grandfather on my father’s side died from Colon Cancer at 74. I was 17. I’ve had more uncles and aunts die from it then I would like to count.
Your sister is a survivor! There is a real test of strength.
It really destroys whatever clear mind you may have had before you are diagnosed.
She really is amazing — and a Mom too. I should get her a Mighty Titan shirt!
Hey! It’s a reward! All kidding aside.
Heroes in real life outshine the ones that we write on a daily basis.
…whether it is being a mom or a firefighter or a soldier. We just need to open our eyes to see them.
You’ve got a new artist for this book. Care to tell us about Luca Cicchitti?
Luca was forwarded to me from Tyler James from ComixTribe. And I am glad I asked him if he knew of anyone. I am of Italian decent so to work with such a great artist from Italy is awesome and he’s a great guy as well!
How about the rest of your creative team?
I have been working with Jeff Austin for years. He is an amazing inker and a good friend. I couldn’t imagine anyone else inking Titan. No offense to my other inking friends of course! Johnny lettered Shadowflame for me and most of Ripperman. We work really well together. Keith J. Betancourt and I have done a few FCBD events together and he colored a poster that Jeff and I did for the band Ripface Invasion. We were chatting one day and it just clicked. He would be coloring Titan. Bryan Magnaye is also doing some of the color work that people have seen. I have a bunch of friends that are helping too. John Orlando helps me design creatures and characters. No one does ugly like John. There are more listed on the Kickstarter and will be listed in the book.
John Byrne drew a cover to Shadowflame. How did that come about? Mr. Byrne is joining the rank of amazing cover artists for this book including Jamal Igle and the legendary Jerry Ordway! Wow, those are some big names!
I am all about inspiration and where it comes from. John Byrne and Jerry Ordway are two of my biggest influences and I am beyond honored that they both said yes to doing a cover. In both cases. I asked.
I have gotten a bunch of commissions for John Byrne and I wanted him for the trade on Shadowflame. I figured, if I never put out another comic, I could be content with the fact that John’s work is wrapped around mine.
That may sound weird but it is true.
I’ve known Jamal through my friend Peter Palmiotti and the Visage Studio days. I always wanted him to do something for me but I never asked. Finally, his contract through DC was up, I asked. I emailed Jerry Ordway explaining the book and showed him some art and he said yes.
Comic Market time! Your intention is to have physical books and also downloads/digital copies, correct? Do you have a device like an iPad to read comics on? Do you have any strong opinions on the digital comic market? I think a book like The Mighty Titan will work well in the space. Also I think people should get access to Shadowflame via an app. That was a really great story.
I am offering The Mighty Titan as a digital download when it is released.
I think that digital is the wave of the future although I am still a sucker for gaudy pictures, folded in half with two staples in it.
I do read some comics on my iPad. I need to research all the really great digital sites that are available. That will be a post Kickstarter project. People that pick the digital reward will get a PDF. But if I figure out the whole app thing, I would do that as well. And thanks. Shadowflame is my baby and I love when people enjoy the story.
Over here I’m thinking how awesome and positive this book will be for a kid of any age diagnosed with cancer. There has to be positive thinking to help the healing. I know that if I were in the hospital, all I’d want next to me is a stack of my favorite heroes kicking ass!
This was my thought too. I wanted to do a book that would appeal to kids and adults but wouldn’t be preachy.
The first issue is very superhero oriented. Lots of action and character introductions. We meet Titan and his alter ego (although, SPOILER ALERT, you really don’t know who he is until the last page). It look a lot of introspection to write these scripts without making the main character be me. It is my best work so far in my humble opinion.
Where can we show some support for you and help The Mighty Titan fight cancer?
I support Stupid Cancer. They do major support for young people who are dealing with cancer. Of course there are only 20 days left for you to support The Mighty Titan Kickstarter. You can follow me on Twitter at @jgmcomics, check out my websites at www.jgmcomics.com and www.themightytitan.com, and please like The Mighty Titan on Facebook.
BUT WAIT…THERE’S MORE! CHECK OUT LEAGUEPODCAST.COM — BOSTON’S COMIC BOOK AND POP CULTURE PODCAST — “Thinking about Comics since 2009″!
John returns, and everything goes to Hell. Oh, and we talk about The Dark Knight Rises for a little while.
Direct Download (mp3).