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Five Questions with Writer Mike Raicht!

| June 29, 2011 | 0 Comments

Mike Raicht is one of the many talented creators I’ve had the chance to meet over the past few years. I’m a fan of his work, and he was kind enough to sit down for this TRENCHES interview.

1) “Stuff of Legend”, the book you co-write with Brian Smith, with art by the incredible Charles Paul Wilson III, has been very well-received, and seems to have been embraced by the comic market. However, from content, to artistic style, to format and delivery schedule, it’s definitely not your typical comic. How’d you guys get the direct market to take a chance on this book?

I think the biggest thing we have going for us now and forever is Charles’ artwork. The shot of Max the teddy bear and the other toys just draws you to the book. I also think it’s a concept people can get behind whether they are into superhero books, fantasy, or just comics in general. Who hasn’t imagined their toys fighting insurmountable odds at one time or another?

You’re right thought, it is definitely not your typical book. It’s square with a 4.99 price point. Although we did have 50 something pages of story in each of the first two issues, so it was essentially a little over 2 regular issues per book. It also is brand new from a small publisher that not many people had heard of yet.

That being said, Th3rd World has done a really nice job of designing the book, contacting retailers, getting the word out online, and trying different things in order to get the book in people’s hands and make it a unique reading experience. We had a great launch on Free Comic Book Day, previewing the 1st half of the book. That raised awareness but that doesn’t always mean people are going to run right to their retailer and ask for the book. It gave people a chance to see what the book was all about.

Initially we were kind of bummed that orders were a bit below what we hoped for on the first issue. Instead of giving up, Th3rd World did a substantial overprint, almost doubling the order number because we thought we could push it at shows and that retailers would give it a chance once they saw it. We also had some great retailers on board with the book from the beginning, including Larry’s Comics and Third Eye, doing alternate covers and singing our praises to other retailers from the get go. That helped a ton.

The first issue sold out over the first weekend the book came out and we were able to build some buzz. People started talking about it really positively online and that started a nice snowball effect for us. Shop goers were interested and asking their retailers to order the book. It was a combination of all of these things that got us to this point. And we’re thankful for all of the decisions and moments that led to the book being successful. It would be nice to say it was completely planned but it wasn’t. There’s always a little luck involved in things like this. You just have to be in the right place to capitalize on that luck. Th3rd World was.

2) There seems to be a proliferation of strong co-writing teams out there these days. Palmiotti and Gray, Abnett and Lanning, and of course Raicht and Smith. Any tips for creators thinking about co-writing a book?

I’m not sure we’re quite at their level yet, but thank you for including us. Co-writing is not easy. It has a lot of positives, which include having someone to constantly bounce ideas off of and to work through difficult parts with. It can be hard though because eventually one person has to write the thing and not everything can make it in. Those can be tough decisions.

We’ve been really lucky to sell some things together. We sold a few cartoon ideas Brian had been noodling with, and asked me to work with him on to American Greetings and Cookie Jar. They never got made, but were good for boosting our confidence. Then, after Stuff, we worked on an arc of Finding Nemo for Boom! called “Losing Dory.” I think the most important thing is that Brian and I come from an editorial background at Marvel so, for the most part, we can step outside and try to look at what we’re doing objectively.

3) You have a new creator owned series “The Pack” coming out this fall. You’ve been working on this book for a while, can you describe some of the ups and downs of the development process, and how it feels to finally have it released?

The Pack was actually the first thing I pitched and started working on with Th3rd World back in 2005. Since then we’ve had three artists draw the first 12 pages and then get hired away by one of the Big Two or an animation studio for other work. It really stunk, but at least we knew we were working with some talented people. Those things happen in the smaller publishing/creator owned world of comics.

About a year and a half ago we got extremely lucky to find Daniel Faccilongo who is currently working on the last issue now. He is an Italian artist who I met through Alberto Ponticelli and he is awesome. I hope people give the book a chance if only to look over his beautiful art. He has a full time job which has made it a slow grind, but now that the book is just about to be wrapped up (it’s three over-sized issues) it is definitely worth the wait. He has also been approached to do some other things but has stayed very committed to the project, which is something we appreciate. Artists have to make such a commitment to creator owned books because they end up working on it for months and possibly years. Writers have it easy in comparison, so I’m always amazed when creator owned books finally come together. It takes a huge amount commitment of time and energy to make these happen.

4) Recently ComixTribe’s own Steven Forbes did an entire Bolts & Nuts column on werewolves. Which werewolf tropes show up in “The Pack”, and what fresh spin on the genre will you be adding?

The Pack is touch Friday Night Lights mixed with the Breakfast Club and a werewolf murder mystery. The local high school football hero is murdered and there are a lot of suspects and our local geek has an interesting theory about who or what really did it. Hopefully, it will be a compelling read. I know I’ve loved working on it.

As far as werewolf tropes go, our werewolves are of the standing up variety. Our rules are a little different but the full moon is involved. I’m a child of the 80s so some of those rules apply to our story as well. I don’t want to give too much away because a lot of the fun of the story is finding out what werewolf world you will be entering. I’ve tried to make it an intense high school drama mixed in with some crazy werewolf violence. I’m hoping it’s something people want to give a chance to. Clearly in a story called The Pack, there will also be some pack mentality involved in our tale. But what High School doesn’t have that?

5) While you’ve been working hard at creator-owned, you’ve also done work for licensed characters (Exiles, Army of Darkness, G.I. Joe.) Any tips for pitching on licensed work?

Not as many as you’d hope. This is a tough industry with not a lot of openings but hard work can pay off. I think you just need to keep writing what you love to write. Enjoy it. That shows in what you are doing. If you are really into something others will gravitate to it. If you are interested in doing licensed work, hopefully someone will take a shine to your writing and give you a shot. When that chance comes do your best to be as professional and on as you possibly can be. That’s all you can do.

 

For more on Mike, be sure to follow him on Twitter @MikeRaicht, and check out the great stuff he has going on with Th3rd World Studios.

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Category: Trenches

About the Author ()

Tyler James is a comics creator, game designer, educator, and publisher residing in Newburyport, MA. He is the writer and co-creator of THE RED TEN, a superhero murder mystery, EPIC, a superteen action comedy, and TEARS of the DRAGON, a swords and sorcery fantasy. Tyler is the publisher and co-creator of ComixTribe, which is both a new imprint of quality creator owned titles, and an online community where creators help creators make better comics. Follow him on Twitter @tylerjamescomics, or send him an email at tyler.james@comixtribe.com.

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