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MEGABOOK - Publisher Interview
MEGABOOK - Interview with Publisher Mike Rickaby
The following is an interview conducted by John Helmer of Comic Book Interviews
This is just one of a series of creator interviews who participated in the MEGABOOK project. Please check out all of the great interviews at CBI.
Creator: Michael Rickaby
Project: ALL of ‘em!
Assignment: Editor, Publisher, Writer, Coordinator, ect…
JMH: Mike, talk about how you created the idea of The Megabook project…
MIKE: About 6 months or so ago I was able to get CE Publishing books into Graphicly. Becoming a Graphicly digital publisher was a big step for us. We had a few books (All-Smash Funnies #1 and Perilous Adventures #1) and were trying the POD thing prior to Graphicly (http://graphicly.com/) and it just wasn’t working well. Becoming a digital publisher allowed me to market books by giving them away to our readers. It also removed a huge process of time investment in POD that was yielding few returns and allowed me to focus on the thing I like doing most. Making Comic Books! I can’t speak highly enough about all the staff at Graphicly! Micah, Kate, Ron and the minions totally ROCK beyond comprehension. And we had great success with our first free books, All-Smash Funnies and our Lightning Revival series books with the fabulous Steve Zyskowski.
So I thought to myself…. With the two brain cells bashing about in my head. People LOVE FREE books! Why not give them the BIGGEST FREE comic book on the internet? So how to do it… I could only muster so many pages on my own, and then I would be all out, so I called upon all of my other publisher buddies and said “Hey I’m gonna make a monster sized book, send me some stories to put in it.” and everyone has done so in spades. Then I put an ad in Digital Webbing calling for submissions and got tons of them and have met some really amazing creators.
You see what one little indie cannot accomplish on his own, he can accomplish with lotsa friends. The main focus on this project has been to put the limelight on indie publishers and more importantly comic creators in general. I had been so richly blessed by getting into Graphicly and getting reprint/new projects with Steve Zyskowski’s Lightning Comics and now Spectrum Comics from Steve Woron, that I wanted to give back to the comics community by creating opportunities for comic artists who do not have a publisher working for them. I have seen far too much of the “working for the overlord publisher” scenarios getting little or no press time or broken promises in my history as a comic artist. And that is definitely not what CE Publishing Group is about.
I guess I was also inspired by the great Allan Freeman and his “Slam Bang” series of books at Fanatic Press I was fortunate to get into a few years ago. Allen is an amazing guy and I’m kind of following by example I guess. He will press darn near anything and has been making mondo thick anthologies for a looong time and doesn’t make sqaut, but does it just because he loves to make comics. A true shining light among the indie underworld. The only difference is that we can provide MEGABOOK for FREE digitally which is a pretty good selling point.
JMH: What is CE Publishing?
MIKE: Comic Enterprise Publishing Group was spawn from a frustrated artist tired of wasting his time on useless submissions to publishers who didn’t give a crap to see his (or his friends) work in print. He had grown tired of shopping stories to different so called publishers to get basically nowhere. So I said heck with them and decided to do my own thing with the massive assistance from my benefactor and buddy, Jon Gilbert. I met Jon via the fabulous Lloyd Smith at Blue Moon Comics just before Lloyd ceased publications. After Blue Moon was no more Jon and I shopped around different publishers to get our work in print with little success for our efforts. Jon has a veritable warehouse of comic stories that he has created over the decades when I started CE Publishing. Some had seen print and some not. But in any case, the masses hadn’t really seen them yet. So Jon started sending pages and we created All-Smash Funnies#1 and used some of the material for Perilous Adventures. I also made a free print book for overseas troops called Heroes Preview. Lloyd ended up contributing several stories in all of the books too.
That’s pretty much how it all started. But now CE Publishing has become a constantly morphing monster that I have to tame each day. I am doing reprint books for other publishers and becoming the proprietor, so to speak, to revive some long inactive comics properties. That and we are creating new stories with new friends each and every day.
JMH: Has CE Publishing produced other projects?
MIKE: All-Smash Funnies is a golden age format book that contains some new stories that Master Jon Gilbert and I did together from his warehouse of fun. It has always been his property from the beginning, I just put the book together and collaborated on a few stories and got the fabulous Don Perlin to pencil the cover. I will be continuing to publish ASF with Jon and we have #2 put together. I just need to finish painting the cover.
Perilous Adventures is the CE Publishing main title. Through working with the amazing Red Leaf Comics I met the Master Mark F. Davis who wrote the feature story called Flying Objects with Randy Valiente for PA#1. I have book #2 just about ready to go, just missing a few pages on the interior.
Lightning Comics revival is a project where CE Publishing is bringing back all of the properties owned by Master Steve Zyskowski, the partial owner of the Lightning Comics of the 90′s. We have already reprinted Deathmark #1 and War Party#1. Next we will have Faith#1, Lightning Comics Presents, and then several Catfight books. Each of these properties will be revived in new stories as well from the creator and continue their adventures where they left off. Be on the lookout for a lot of new activity from Lightning Comics!
I also do a lot of work for my buddies Master John Helmer at Red Leaf Comics and Master Bill Gladman at Twilight Star Studios. So look for my name occasionally there as well. These two great publishers really loaded up the MEGABOOK to the hilt so that people would REALLY have something to read.
JMH: Talk about the creative teams involved…
I counted 67 creators in all involved with MEGABOOK. 34 stories total with a creative team for each. Some of them tied to the 11 indie buddy publishers and some just on their own that I found in the DWP ad I placed last November. Each and every creator on this project is TOP NOTCH in their craft and creation. I am extremely proud of each and every one of them. They greatly deserve any reader’s attention and are all extremely talented. Most I have met, some vicariously through their team captain, but they are all GREAT!
The best way to learn about them is to read about them in theirCBIinterviews….. And then send them fan mail…
JMH: Do you have plans to continue The Megabook beyond issue #1?
MIKE: Well, I know the Interviewer knows the answer to that one, but we’ll tell for the reader’s benefit. YES, there will be a MEGABOOK #2. “Son of MEGABOOK” or something like that (hopefully Big Fat son, larger than 212 pages). I’m sure a crafty writer will coin a phrase eventually that will stick. The new deadline for MEGABOOK #2 will beJuly 15, 2012. And YES there will be a MEGABOOK #3!
There is a catch to book #3 though. You will have to participate in MEGABOOK #1 or #2 to get into it. No cold calls for that one. But it is easy to get into because all anyone has to do is follow our easy guidelines and get into book #2.
MEGABOOK #3 will be a theme oriented book that has yet to be revealed by the insidious masterminds of MEGABOOK!!! HaHaHa!!! It will be soo incredibly awesome that you will shake in your boots…
JMH: Why The Megabook? What are some of the advantages of The Megabook has over other venues?
MIKE: What other venues? Oh I gotta get out more often. Basically MEGABOOK is as the fabulous Marcus Thompson so eloquently phrased it…
“MEGABOOK offers creators who write or draw in any style the chance to tell their stories. Unlike other venues, there is no discrimination against the stories that “don’t fit” because the publisher actually wants to see ALL the great work of all of those talented people displayed for all of the world. MEGABOOK is not about catering to the market, but it is about creating opportunity.”
I really don’t give a rip about what the other guys are doing. I could care less what the big 5 or any of the hotshot glam or “I hate superheroes” pubbies are doing. My creators and publisher friends ALL deserve to be published! They ALL have worked their arses off in the wee hours of the night after their day jobs at Subway or wherever and richly deserve their time in the MEGABOOK limelight!
MEGABOOK is about putting together our collective force as publishers and individual creators and making something so incredibly awesome its mind boggling, and giving it away completely free for the public to read and enjoy. Something that will get noticed, and something that will allow creators to know they have a group of publishers on their side rooting for them and giving them a boost up instead of being petty “submission dictators”. It’s a place to show the world your creations and get noticed along with some great publishers. And THAT is a good thing!
JMH: What is it like working with so many creators?
MIKE: It’s like herding cats with firecrackers tied to their tails. But it is enjoyable. Once I get everyone to actually READ my endless emails everything goes quite smoothly. A bunch of creators have stepped out and taken initiative like Wes Locher to get us some press time with friends and John Helmer to whip me into shape to get a future plan in place, and Magnus keeps me informed about stupid things I goof up with peanut gallery commentary. Every creator has been just Awesome and a real treat to work with. During submission time it was like opening Christmas presents every day in my gmail account.
JMH: Tell CBI about yourself. How long have you been working on comics?
I’m a 43 year old late bloomer in comics. Just about 7-8 years now. I’ve always been a comic fan and reader since I used to browse through my older brother’s stack of silver age books looking for cool pics to transfer to my wad of silly putty. Needless to say I regret the damage of those early days… Werewolf by Night #1 Ouch. And his FF #48 with my Silver Surfer “coloring” additions, Iyieyyiiyi…. I was always drawing but when I was in middle school I decided to be a Draftsman so I could get actually paid to draw and not starve as an artist. Well, 20 or so years into a design career I decided to “re-discover” myself and my passion for drawing. I was so caught up in the rat race of making a living I had forgotten the things I liked to do most.
I went to a garage sale one day and found a comic artist who was selling a stack of his pages from Marvel that he had inked. I bought a bunch (and should have bought ALL of them). I was soo taken with his artwork and about the whole process of making comics and comic art that I’ve never been the same since. I really had never considered making comics, I just read them. That was back in 2002 I believe. In 2004 after practicing a lot, I found Master Lloyd Smith at Blue Moon and worked on some pages for him on Sgt. Freedom and Life has been great other than my alter ego gets not enough of my time in the day. So now I draw comics or create every waking moment I possibly can outside of work to make up for lost time. My loving and awesome wife is ever soo patient with me,
JMH: Do you have any other projects coming out soon?
MIKE: I have been working on more of Steve Zyskowski’s Lightning revival books and making plans for future issues. Faith will be on its way to Graphicly tonight which is a really great book about angels and our walk with God. And shortly after that, the Catfight issues will start hitting the stands. I’m working on a new cover for Steve’s half of LCP#1 with War Party. And then onto the new adventures.
I’m also working on Steve Woron’s Spectrum Comics revival for his “They were Chosen to be the Survivors” series, which will also be hitting the stands soon. I’m looking for the artwork for the Preview issue to get started.
And then there are Jon Gilbert’s Red Lion Publication’s All-Smash Funnies #2 and another graphic novel of his for SeaJay ventures that I’m not sure I can reveal yet.
And then there is our very own CE Publishing Perilous Adventures #2 that I just about have in the can.
I just realized that I have a lot of work to do….
JMH: How can readers and publishers get a hold of you?
MIKE: email@example.com is the best place to start.
Posting on Facebook to let us know there are REALpeople and fans out there would be nice too. I don’t get much fan mail…http://www.facebook.com/CEPubdude
Or if you’re in Lincoln Nebraska, you can send smoke signals. I can see them from the hill outside of town I live next to.
JMH: Anything else you’d like to mention that we haven’t talked about yet?
MIKE: Ohhhh believe it or not, there is much more!
I try to regularly publish random stuff about making indie comics how to do it and more on my hubpages. Check them out and maybe you’ll learn something. Just read and flip through them with the green arrow links at the bottom of each page.
Click on our ads that you like to check out our advertisers because it helps to support this little indie and keep our books FREE.
I am also working on launching a new CE Publishing website to regularly post and corral all of our efforts. Right now look for updates on Facebook at:
You can also follow us on Twitter @CEPubdude
Other than that I’ve got some seriously secret cool stuff that I can’t reveal right now. Lots of diabolical experiments bubbling in the CE Publishing laboratory…HaHaHa!!!
And if you REALLY like our books, download all the FREE ones and then someday BUY one. Or if you can’t do so then tell all your friends about all the cool FREE books you are reading! We love having you all as fans and we can only do sooo much with nothing but drive and determination. But we would rather have you as a fan and reading our books than miss you all together. So we will continue to give you as many opportunities as possible to get your books from us.
CE PUBLISHING GIVES YOU MORE!!
JMH: Mike, CBI appreciates your time. ALL the best.
MIKE: No, No… You’re the Best John! Thanks for bugging me for sooo long to get an interview! I REALLY do appreciateCBI, Red LEAF and all cool stuff that you do for Indie comics and creators everywhere!
About the interviewer –
John’s creator-owned properties include: The Leaf, Canada's Greatest Hero, Sky Watcher, G.I.s versus Zombies, Ther Armor Guardians, The Huskie, Dune, Master Spy and many others.