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"All of My Work Focuses on People" - An Interview with MICHAEL S. KATZ

It's another segment of Cryptid-Bits with only a few days to go in the fully funded Kickstarter campaign for Golden Years. Michael S. Katz is a writer and attorney who still found time to travel all the way to the Yeti Cave for this fun chat about comics and writing.

 

COMIC BOOK YETI: Michael, thank you so much for joining me in the Yeti Cave to talk about Golden Years. There’s only a few days left in the Kickstarter campaign. Golden Years tells the story of Captain Future, a hero from the 1950s, who finds himself in 2023. What interested you in telling a story about a hero of the Silver Age in modern day?

Art by KEVIN MAGUIRE

MICHAEL S. KATZ: I was born in 1969 so I grew up on ‘70s comics. I still love the classics, and the feel of those old versions of characters. I’m a big fan of the Justice Society (loved them in the Black Adam movie!), Will Eisner’s The Spirit, and the Adam West Batman. I wanted to be able to tell a story about a hero who was pure of heart and what it would be like for him to view America in this day and age.


CBY: In addition to writing comic books, you’re a fellow member of the Bar. Do you find it difficult to balance lawyering and writing? I feel like in certain circles there’s still a stigma about reading comics books. Do your colleagues know you write comic books and, if so, have they been supportive?


MSK: My boss knows I am a writer and he continues to employ me, so that’s pretty supportive! Luckily I don’t have to worry about billable hours, which means keeping track of my time, so when I am done with my legal work I can do whatever I want in my free time. That just so happens to be doing more work! Although like they say, if you do something you enjoy it isn’t work, and I enjoy creating comic books.


CBY: You worked with a team of artists on this comic book: Kevin Maguire, Jack Herbert, Netho Diaz, and Keith Champagne, plus colorist Julio Santos and letterer Alfie Betts. It was also edited by none other than Ron Marz. How was the team assembled for this, in particular getting Kevin Maguire and Ron Marz on board. Was it difficult coordinating all of these different moving parts?

MSK: I had been introduced to Ron Marz years ago. When the time came for me to get into comics, it was a no brainer to ask if he’d be my editor. I wanted to make sure I was doing this the right way.


I came across Jack Herbert’s work on the internet and reached out to him directly. When Jack couldn’t finish the book, Ron connected me to the team of Netho Diaz and Keith Champagne. Julio Santos, my colorist, works for the studio that does the art for my Riot Earp comic. And Keith Champagne put me in touch with Alfie Betts when my original letterer was unable to finish the project.


Last but not least, Ron helped put me in touch with Kevin Maguire. I was looking for a big name artist who could handle a retro style, and when Ron mentioned Kevin, fireworks went off. I’ve been a huge fan of Kevin Maguire since the ‘80s.


CBY: There’s a lot of humor that can be mined from these types of fish out of water stories, but still I think comedy, in comics in particular, is difficult to get right. How did you approach finding the right balance of comedy and drama? What would you say are the biggest influences on your sense of humor?

MSK: It’s always nice when someone tells me they appreciate the humor in my work. I like to think I have a natural flair for blending humor and comedy. I understand your point that it is hard to get a good balance between the two. My writing is cinematic in nature; my style is more influenced by movies and TV sitcoms than it is by other comic book writers. I just try to keep my dialogue sounding as realistic as possible.


CBY: What types of stories do you like to tell and what do you hope readers most associate with your work as a writer? How does Golden Years fit within that framework of the stories you like to tell, opposed to Riot Earp.


MSK: All of my work focuses on people. I always want to create characters who readers can relate to. Everything else flows around those characters. Humor and action are great to have, but they are just empty calories if you can’t relate to the person who is the focus of the story. Golden Years and Riot Earp both fit into that framework, as do my future projects.


CBY: How did you get your start writing comics? What comic or comics first inspired you to want to write them?

MSK: I’ve been writing professionally since 2002, but I didn’t try my hand at comics until 2020 for financial reasons. It’s not cheap to do this, you know! But it has become easier to afford to hire art talent, and easier to connect to those artists. And Kickstarter provides an excellent mechanism for getting comics in people’s hands.


I think I was most inspired by Frank Miller, from his Daredevil and Batman stories (he had a great deal of characterization in his work) and the immortal Will Eisner (especially when it comes to inserting humor into comics).


CBY: You have been part of a few successful Kickstarters. What have you found are the things that have mattered most in running a successful Kickstarter, other than making a really good comic?


MSK: Kickstarter is great at helping you find an audience. As long as you have a good project, people will find it. But it’s up to you to grow your audience beyond the Kickstarter base. Social media is paramount, in my opinion. It’s more effective than paying for advertising.

CBY: I really enjoy the indie comics community on Twitter. I like to see folks supporting each other, helping out. How do you see yourself within the indie comics community and what would you like to see more of from the indie comics community, if anything?


MSK: I think I’m on the intermediate level of talent. I’m by no means a “name” in the industry, but I have connections to people who are. I’m more than happy to help those who might need assistance in getting noticed or in making connections. I’m always willing to lend a hand.


I want to see the indie comics community keep growing, and keep building a reputation for quality. Kickstarter and its kind should be more frequently relied on by readers to find new talent, apart from what you can get in the comic stores. I spend more money backing other Kickstarters than I do in my local comics store because of the variety and quality that is available.


CBY: Where can folks find you online?


MSK: My company’s website is www.stridernolan.com. I tweet a lot about my projects, so you can find me at @stridernolan13.


CBY: Thank you so much for joining me to discuss Golden Years, Michael.


MSK: Thanks for listening to me!



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