The Michigan Comics Collective is telling great stories and we have it covered in a special interview here on ComiConverse!
In 2014, Travis McIntire helped Co-Found the Michigan Comics Collective (MCC). Their goal was to give new creators with no previous experience in the comic book industry the opportunity to publish high quality comics. One year later – following the success of Wild Bullets (you can read my review here) – Travis continues his work.
In 2015, Travis is keeping that momentum going with his latest offering, the all ages adventure Bayani And The Nine Daughters Of The Moon.
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You can check out the Kickstarter page and support his newest project.
You can also download a free copy of the first issue, Bayani And The Old Ghosts #1 from Caliber Comics.
In this interview, we get more in-depth into the origins of this Filipino tale, the status of children’s stories and the indie comics scene in Michigan.
NB: I understand that Bayani And The Nine Daughters Of The Moon is based on Filipino mythology. Is that correct? What interested you in using it as the basis for your story?
Would it be in-line with how popular something like a Mother Goose Tale is to North Americans? I’m just trying to gauge the level of cache this story has with Filipinos.
TM: Yep, Filipino mythology and folklore. It all got started when (series artist) Grant Perkins and I were working on a different project together (one that is actually being published early next year by a different company) and he was showing me some of his other comic pages. There was a little three page unpublished piece that was this fantastically rendered little story about the Filipino mythological concepts of the sun and the moon. It turned out that it happened to be a piece that was written by Andy Lanning (Guardians of the Galaxy) and that it had never quite made it beyond the three pages.
Grant really wanted to revisit that style of characterization and I have always been really interested in folklore and myths from all kinds of different cultures, so I jumped at the chance to put a script together based around Filipino myths. Those stories have the best and creepiest monsters ever. Monsters made entirely out of tongues and weird, old, witches that use strands of hair to cut earthworms in half….it’s amazingly deep and rich and really, really different from the European traditions that many of the myths we’re used to tend to be based on.
After talking to Mr. Lanning and having him review the script to make sure I wasn’t going to step on anyone’s toes, we moved forward. After completing the first issue, I put together a few submission packages and was lucky enough to be solicited to submit to IDW and Boom! (both passed) and Caliber, which accepted the book! I was really quite happy as Caliber is a Michigan-based publisher and helped launch the careers of some of my favorite writers in comics.
I have a few comic artist friends who are from the Philippines who’ve reviewed the book, such as Dino Agor. They seemed to be pretty impressed with how the myths and legends were presented in a kind of “westernized” story, but still remain true to the original narratives. I was really happy (and somewhat relieved to hear it) as I’d done quite a lot of research on the aboriginal people of that region and their myths and legends and I wanted the book to feel familiar, yet different to both Western readers and a Filipino audience. I’m somewhat ashamed that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit the Philippines, but my impression is that the myths and legends are extremely popular there. Very much akin to our Brother’s Grimm. Lots of “warning” type stories full of scary monsters and horrible outcomes. In fact, many people there still take (at least symbolically) steps to mitigate the effects of the various creatures and spirits that inhabit the islands.
NB: You mentioned those European stories, which are grim and violent. Given that Disney has been the main conduit to these old stories (albeit told in a whitewashed style) is there a place for those creepy stories anymore, or are comics the only place we’re going to see all ages stories with an edge? It seems we get all or nothing.
TM: I think so. In particular, you see the old “fairy tales for adults” quite a lot in TV at the moment. You have shows like “Once Upon A Time” and “Grimm” which are essentially retelling European fairy tales with an “edge.” You have companies like Zenescope that have built a respectable audience retelling European fairy tales with “sex.” I think novel series like “The Dresden Files” books by Jim Butcher and quite a lot of the work of Neil Gaiman are very heavily influenced by European, or western, folklore and fairy tales. In particular, American Gods (my favorite novel) is entirely about what happens when the stories and myths are society is built on runs into our “new” gods of technology and commerce.
And, like you mention, Disney has been very successfully mining folklore and fairy stories for most of its existence and creating kid friendly and sometimes very high quality (albeit w/ no edge) movies and cartoons. What I’m hoping to accomplish with Bayani is a kid friendly fairy story that keeps it’s edge. Monsters that are scary. Conflicts that matter, that have consequence. I think kids understand and relate to those things. A lot of these in a kids world are pretty scary after all, and learning about consequence is one of the markers by which we measure a child’s “maturity.” And I’d like to introduce a new cast of stories and characters that maybe haven’t been mined quite as thoroughly by my peers and betters in the writing community!
NB: Speaking of a cast of characters and your peers (shifting gears) I thought we could conclude with a mention of the Michigan Comics Collective (MCC). For those who don’t know, you’re the co-founder and president of the group.
I think it’s a great idea. You started it in 2014. How do feel like the experiment is going and do you even consider it one? Obviously readers of this site primarily consume mainstream comics. Why is it important for the industry as a whole for people to seek out these indie stories?
TM: The MCC started out as just a group of friends who congregated at a comic shop and did our own DIY comics. We thought it would be cool to make a book together and sell it from the store (Coy’s Comics in Saginaw, MI). Within 6 weeks, it had ballooned into 30+ people from across the state so we decided to make it a non profit and launch a Kickstarter for the book. The Kickstarter was a huge success and that first Anthology ended up doing really, really well, which was a pleasant surprise to all of us, I think. We moved on to taking submissions for stand alone graphic novels and “double feature” type books and, of course, more collections. Wild Bullets hit and has been doing extremely well, so at this point, the rest of our publishing year (Anthology V2, and “13 Little Hells” a horror anthology) is looking really positive. We’ve got quite a bit in the pipeline for our 2016 year as well, including an anthology of comic work created by the women of the MCC! We’re all really excited about the group and how well we’ve been received and supported by the industry.
I think the best, and certainly the most tried and true, formula for “breaking in” to the business is to simply start making comics. The MCC aims to help new talents do exactly that. When we are talking about “independent” books and “indy” artists, we don’t mean “no corporate backing” like Image, (not trying to take anything away from Image, they’re great, but they chiefly publish established names at this point) we mean people who are trying to get into the industry for the first time, or are looking to broaden the scope of what they could achieve on their own. It’s important for comic fans to check out indie books because in a very real way, that’s where your future Spider-Man and Batman writers and artists are coming from. That’s where a lot of creators get there start, self publishing and small presses.
NB: Thank you for being so generous with your time. I really enjoyed Wild Bullets and will be reviewing Bayani soon.
TM: Thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk about the Michigan Comics Collective and I hope you enjoyed Wild Bullets! We had a great time making that book.
If you’d like to check out more of Travis’ work you can follow him on Twitter @TMcIntire1 and you can hear him on his “Comics and Nonsense” podcast entitled Snake Oil Comics. His latest comic, published by Source Point Press is called Up The River.
Nick Bennett is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TheTVBuddy
Check back in soon for Nick’s review of Bayani and the Old Ghosts.