Episode 41 – Ted Sikora – Bloom

This is a very different podcast than normal. This episode was actually recorded for my other podcast, Relentless Geekery, so you’ll hear my co-host – Alan Baltis – on here.

We chatted with Ted for quite awhile about many things, most of which weren’t book or publishing related. I edited the episode so that it focused on the book and publishing.

What also makes this weird is that Ted’s books are comic books, graphic novels. It is a look at writing and publishing that isn’t seen as much.

I encourage everyone to check out Ted’s stuff. I love it. Even though the kickstarter is over, you can still get his books.

https://www.herotomorrow.com/

Transcript:

Stephen 0:41
Welcome to a new episode of discovered roots. This is a special episode. It’s a little different. I have another podcast called relentless geekery that I do with my friend Alan baltus. And on that episode, we interviewed Ted Sikora. He is from Cleveland does a graphic novel comic book called apama. And he has a new one coming out called bloom. When we interviewed him, he was working on his Kickstarter for bloom. Alan and I both love the stories, the art, everything about the eponymous series. And we wanted to make our first guest someone special. And we asked him and he said yes, it was a great time. Good interview. But because Ted’s a writer, I thought it would be a great episode to listen to for discovered wordsmiths. I know most people probably don’t know who he is. And it’s a shame because I really love what he’s done. So this is a little different avenue episode. It’s not your normal fiction or nonfiction, but I love what he’s done. This is something you should check out. Even though the Kickstarter is over, you can still go to hero tomorrow.com. order any of the books from Ted, any of his comics, check it out on comixology. They are fun, they are really reminiscent of the 70s. If you’re like that era of comic books, or if you just want to read something that’s not your typical Marvel DC. superheroes enjoy enjoyed the interview. And if you haven’t figured it out, the other voice you hear is my friend Alan. I did edit this one down quite a bit. It’s still a little longer than normal. But there’s a lot of good information, a lot of good things Ted says about his path, his journey and working with Kickstarter. So enjoy.

Alan 2:26
Ted is a delight to have you here everybody. This is Ted Sikora, who is a longtime Comic Book Creator, movie creator, head of hero tomorrow. enterprises. I’m not sure if I have exactly the word but has done all kinds of things that I have first stumbled onto at a comic con and then began to actively follow because I love the quality of the work.

Ted 2:47
Thank you so much for having me.

Stephen 2:49
Okay, so I’m sure. And hopefully, we’ve got some people out there going. I’ve never heard of this guy who is he? So go ahead, do some unabashed bragging about yourself. Tell us all about how happy you are to be doing what you’re doing. Oh my god. Well, wow, there’s no reading.

Ted 3:08
Hey, thank you so much, guys, for having me on the show today, you you picked up on things that I hope we are accomplishing, you know that we’re trying to do comics in a modern way in a new setting, but with a nod to the classics that we grew up loving so much. And, you know, trying to almost take like the Bronze Age of comics and evolve them in a different direction than the way things did evolve. So we kept, you know, the big captions on the cover and all the hype. And you know that these kind of exactly larger than life arcs that, you know, you really can’t get from Marvel or DC anymore. And it’s not anybody’s fault. It’s just the fact that it’s very hard to create an impactful, Batman or Spider Man story anymore. You know, there’s just so much when they have

Alan 4:02
70 years of mythology to be beholden to

Ted 4:05
Yeah. And when you start with a brand new universe, and there’s no superheroes when it starts, every villain is introduced, and it’s like, wow, we’ve just increased the villain population by 50%. You know, and yeah, I mean, some of the reviews have really liked that. they’ve, they’ve called that out that it’s, it’s just refreshing to be in a universe where you can be on board from the top. And it’s Yes, obviously told with with a passion for what, you know, Lee Kirby and Ditko Romita, you know what they created?

Stephen 4:41
I was gonna say that, that’s what I really loved. I mean, I met you at mother, wizard worlds, and just an all local guy. Okay, I’ll check it out. Why not? And I got it and it sat for a while. I’m like, okay, you know, I helped them out. And then I started reading and I’m reading it going, wait a second. Is this a reprint from something I missed back in the 70s. I’m like, oh, My god, this is just like, I’m like, this is great. And then you know, you get the different characters and villains and I’m laughing because you know, they’re not like the superpower. It’s like some guy pulled a suit out of his garbage can and put it on to be a superhero. I’m not saying that in a derogatory way, it’s that it’s not the spandex. It’s not the shiny, it was more normal average guy feel, but they get something weird that happens to them. And, you know, and in fact, I didn’t say, you know, this smells like rotten got sued or something like that when he first got it?

Unknown Speaker 5:38
Yeah, yeah,

Alan 5:40
I’ve been in a cave, it was always a quandary in Spider Man, like, how did he wash his costume without having me find out about it. And, you know, it’s just that he can’t wear a superhero costume on patrol for 10 days in a row without getting what

Ted 5:52
I say is, um, what I loved about Marvel, as opposed to DC is that, you know, the person behind the mask is so much more important. And at least in my opinion, I was a Peter Parker guy, you know, I just I growing up, I felt that character, he related to me and I related to him, you know, it was just sort of, there was a magic there that I never felt with Clark can or Bruce Wayne and I, you know, I would pick up Superman or Batman for tennis shoe runs. And I was like, Ah, I’m just going to stick with my Marvel people, you know. And I guess, when it came to creating Ilia You know, my father used to have a tire store in Akron, you know, and many summers, or after schools weekends, I’d be down there changing tires, I was 13 years old changing tires with these guys. And I just never felt like the dues. Those kind of dudes were ever represented as sort of an alter ego. And that’s so we made earlier just sort of this, you know, blue collar is almost a, you know, an upgrade for what he I mean, drives a nice truck, you know, and he really just any job to get by kind of guy. And I think it’s really just kind of taking what Stan and Steve did with Peter Parker and trying to make him even more relatable. And, you know, like, if Peter Parker shows up in a in a, you know, at a party, he’s the most brilliant person they’re, you know, Ilia is probably the dumbest.

Stephen 7:28
So you say, Spider Man, what are some of your favorite Spider Man stories? Because we talk about comics and stuff like that every day. Oh, gosh,

Ted 7:37
I mean, I have amazing Spider Man from from issue 141 on, you know, I stopped a couple times for sure, good runs, where there was an episode, you know, it was six or seven years ago, he was driving around in a spider submarine and I’m like, this sucks.

Stephen 7:55
You know?

Ted 7:58
And I, I’m, and I gave it up for like, just a couple years and I came back in, you know, I just superior Spider Man was terrific. But I’m about to drop it again. I think it’s horrible. It’s gotten so bad. So I started 141 it was really and I’ve gone back and I’ve got a lot of the issues between 101 50 my favorite run Gosh, and I’ve read them all you know I have all the omnibuses or whatever to go back. I loved some Marvel team up stuff as well. Like when I think of my favorite Spider Man story there’s a there’s a Marvel team up with a man thing where they fight despair. That issue it’s like issue 72 or something. It just strikes me as such a great heroic story because he’s spite he’s beaten down so bad, but the way he comes back in that one, it just it just when I think of it, it just that’s the story that pops in my head. Mysterio was always my favorite villain. He was the villain in issue 141 There you go. Exactly. Oh, and I have the electro as well because I just love that costume to nothing can stop a juggernaut I loved I loved carrion. I thought he was such a great villain. And he should have been a top 10 rogues gallery. But he they screwed him up so bad. In fact, if I ever had the chance to write spider man i would i would do something like carry on and he would be the most badass character in the you know, in his in his whole rogues. And let’s see, moon night was another character I loved oh my god the first round of moon night with Bilson cabbage and Doug match. Oh, god that is? Nah.

Stephen 9:39
Let me ask your your newest book is bloom. And she first appeared in the tap dance killer series. I haven’t caught up with all of it yet.

Ted 9:50
It was actually in apama number five and yeah, she is and we did that on purpose again because like in Fantastic Four, number five They introduce Dr. Doom. So we were like, Alright, issue five. This is where we bring in the big nemesis of the whole arc. So, yeah, she’s been in the shadows or in the foreground, throughout that series. And she’s been a bit of a mystery, you know, when she apama starts kind of being, he feels like he’s being pulled into the forest. And he meets Regina and his whole cult, and they’ve been waiting for him for a long time. And, you know, he comes upon before he meets me, he comes upon this area of trees, where there’s these burlap, little sacks with a Palmer face, you know, kind of painted onto the sack. And he’s like, What is this, he opens it up. And it’s all these heads of animals and humans, and it’s like this weird calling for him. So then, when he meets Regina, and and he just can’t do anything against her because she’s, she’s been waiting for him for he even one of the lines and apama. Five is I missed Woodstock because of you. And he’s like, What are you talking about? And so this is bloom is going back to 1969. And we’re seeing exactly what happened to make this. You know, so alright, if I was that will, we’re seeing her origin and to set up the origin. Boom is about a guy who is trying to create a comic book in 1969. And he has an idea for a villain. He was tripping in the woods on acid, and he’s an artist, you know, and he was seeing all these symbols floating around. I mean, he started sketching them all out. And he’s like, Oh, this is great. You know, but he was feeling at the time he was working on his superhero character. And these symbols made him forget something about it. And he so he always thought that the symbols feel like the ante of my hero, so they’re going to be the villain. And so he buys a mannequin, he’s repainting the symbols on the mannequin. his fiance is like, what are you doing? This is this is evil looking. He’s

like, Yeah,

but this isn’t the Donna Reed show, you know? So basically, he goes to a street fair, and the hustler Street Fair in Cleveland, and which I found out actually did take place in 1969 for the first time, so I was like, Oh, my God, that’s perfect. So he, he meets this dancer, Regina, and he’s like, you know, you’d be a really neat inspiration for my villain. And she laughs and said, All right, let’s do it, man, whatever. Um, they go out into the woods, he paints the symbols onto her body. And then she starts to break on through to the other side. And it’s a story of the two of them in the woods. As you know, Ramsey my, the comic book artist is, you know, devout atheist, versus Regina who believes everything, and they are having a real go at it in the woods. And it’s, um, I’m happy to say it’s been getting really good reviews so far. And we’re, you know, our campaigns doing pretty well, we just crossed 1000 bucks. So

Alan 13:15
we’re well over our goal. It ends on the 28th. My experience of your books is often at their very cinematic graphic, do you have all that kind of in your head? how you want it to look like? Do you? Do you know, it shows in the artwork? Are you informing your artist? how you want it to look? Or is it more Marvel style, you’re saying, hey, draw,

someone puts

Ted 13:37
a series of actually beat out 200 other artists that submitted to this. So what I really loved about his work, you know, before we talk about the psychedelic, and in the wild, was the human quality, you know, that it was so much about these two characters, and I needed to see two characters, that just looking at them, I felt for them, both of them, you know, Regina, can’t be this over overly sexualized, you know, vampy woman, and Ramsey needs to look like a guy that you feel like he’s one of your buds, you know, so when I had these people, you know, I had a lot of artists do try outs and things. And he just, he kept rising to the top. And so, regarding the, you know, the way we approach scenes and things and the film, yeah, I mean, when I made the movie hero tomorrow, one of the things I did was, you know, I directed it, I co wrote it with Milo Miller, we both produced it. When I say when I made it, we made it, it was a lot of people involved. I storyboarded the entire film 1500 images, and it really because I hadn’t made a feature film or anything like that before. That’s where I learned kind of this thing that was maybe in my subconscious from reading comics on my life about this visual, you know, sequential storytelling and I do find it translates quite a bit. And so sometimes we usually the way we work is I will write a scripted page, I give it to the artist, and they give me a really rough layout, you know, and I will then put that right into Illustrator, I’ll put all my captions in and see if it’s working, if it’s flowing, and about half the time, I will make layout revisions, and, you know, make sure that things are flowing in a certain direction, you know, we’re not crossing the action line, a lot of cinematography things that I think a lot of comic artists aren’t necessarily familiar with. But I do find, if we apply them to the comics, it just makes for a seamless transition, because ultimately, I just want the reader to not even be thinking about how we made it and just being immersed in the story. So then, you know, getting into the psychedelic effects and that kind of thing. We just, we build it together as we go, you know, but I’m always careful to, I never want any of our stuff to be something that the reader is like, What the hell was that? You know, I don’t even know what happened on that page, you know that that’s a big pet peeve of mine, when when a moment happens in a comic, and I’m like, man, they didn’t even try here to, you know, you can tell that was like the first attempt at a layout. And they just said we’re we’re running out of time, or something. And so the thing we have on the independent side is that advantage of time, we don’t have to get these out every month. And we can just do them until they’re right. And if we’re not going to put every ounce of quality we can into it, then there’s no point in doing it.

Stephen 16:38
It like Alan said earlier definitely shows. It’s when I bought the first one, I got softcover and I had to go back and get hardcover. So now that’s why I got the hardcover of tap dance killer. I these are special, you know, I need these on my shelf. So that definitely shows in what you’re doing. A quick question. Yeah. So you’ve got offshoots of apama with the tap dance killer, and bloom and punch line, when when you created these options, were you thinking of that originally, like, Oh, I want this character to come in on the sixth issue and be an offshoot story of its own? Or did it evolve after you’ve wrote them and said, Hey, I really liked this I got other ideas.

Ted 17:25
The analogy I like to use is you’re on a, the way I look at writing this is we are on a road trip, you know, driving across the country, and we’re not taking any highways. I know where we’re headed. But if we see something interesting along the way, we are going to stop and explore we’re going to check into the hotel, we’re going to try the diner everybody recommend so like this, you know, tap dance killer was not really on the radar of the big thing that was happening between apama and Regina. What happened is I was you know, I do film work as well. And I was doing this documentary for near West Theater. It was coincidentally you know, Ilia lives in West 65th in Detroit Avenue, near West Theater was building their new location at six. Yeah, Gordon square, two blocks, one block away 67th in Detroit, and I said, hey, what if I tell this to Milo, what a villa is at the at the coffee shop and some you know, you know, cute gal comes in and she’s got flyers for the musical. And she’s like, Hey, we’re auditioning, it’s community theater thing you want to, you want to come down. Ellie is like, you know, I’m tired of getting my ass kicked as a superhero. And why not do something fun. And so And plus, I might get a chance to pick it up for digits, you know. And so, he, he goes to this audition, and we just we just ran with this idea, completely out of order from what we were wanting to tell. And I for me, you know, apama, 10 and 11. This two parter is is one of the things I’m most proud of in my entire career. I just love it. And so then so here we are, I’m you know, I’m showing this book off like New York Comic Con, really where it was very palpable. People were coming up and going, who is this character? Who is this tap dance killer? What’s this about? And I would tell you, oh, that’s Nikki St. Clair. You know, she’s a mega talented actor. She gets cast in a horror show musical that gets permanently locked into the Rolling Stones trying to wipe out the mafia. And they were buying the prints of her images of her being liked and shared on Facebook by 1000s, which was not happening with a PAMA and no matter how much we tried something All right, well, why don’t we give the tempis killer a try here and then in tap dance killer, I had the opportunity to introduce a character who was intended to be on a pommel villain punch line. I always like the idea of this heavyweight boxer who becomes a super powered murderous clown named punch line, you know, and, you know, two years before DC ours debuted by the way and So anyway, when tap dance killer had its first five issue arc, I thought, Man, this is a punch line really wasn’t challenged all that much in that first series. And I thought this is a great opportunity now to continue the story of these VOD villains. You know, and and let punch line take the lead, and you know, Nikki will still be in it. But now more on supporting role.

Stephen 20:23
I love that.

Alan 20:24
Again, I’m happily drawing the parallels. They had any number of times where what they thought was a one shot kind of a throwaway character. This caught the public’s imagination that wonderful lightning in a bottle. It’s very cool that you had that experience.

Ted 20:39
Stanley said that about Jay Jonah Jameson, like he was just sort of a toss off character and one of those first issues and then you know, you’re just writing stories and you like, you know, I think I’ll come back to that guy again.

Stephen 20:48
And I forget his name, the guy who plays him in the movies. He’s so perfect. I mean, he is that character. JK Simmons. Yeah, JK Simmons. Let me ask you. So you’ve pretty much used Kickstarter for all of this, have you? Not?

Ted 21:04
We did. Well, we did it a little strange in that we first were just when we made the movie, we thought wouldn’t be fun to do the issue, the issue number one of the book that was in our character’s head apama. So we just did that digitally, put it on the website. And it was getting really nice reviews. And we had so much fun making that comic we thought, well, we weren’t even thinking of selling it. Then we did a second issue. Put that on the website. And the thing is we were finding is we were getting lots of reads on it. People were writing nice reviews, but we weren’t selling any more movies of hero tomorrow. So we thought, well, then comixology happened. And we started selling them on comixology. And when we got to issue five, which was that first Regina story, we decided to do a Kickstarter and go into print for the first time. And we were just terrified of doing anything in print, it just seemed like such a world that was foreign and alien to us. But it we did, we raised about 14,000 on that first Kickstarter. And then we decided to just hold back all the single issues and just do a Volume Two, which was issue six through 11 of apama, Volume Two. And then when tap dance killer was debuted, and I decided to do single issue or I decided to give her her own series. I didn’t want to wait. Oh, I forgot. Now the thing I forgot to mention was diamond picked up the apama Volume One trade. And we were very fortunate to get in with them. And they gave us a staff pick. They really liked it. They give it they wrote a staff pic review of it. Volume Two, same thing. They gave us a staff pic review. And I remember that we were one of the few like creator owned companies that has like one single shared universe in diamond, you know, there’s not a lot of that. And we’re thrilled to be part of them. So what’s happening is killer. I was like, man, I don’t want to wait till I have five issues and do a trade through diamond I they’re like, why don’t we try single issues for the first time. And then it was at that point we thought, you know, apama never had his single issues, you know, and it always just came out as a trade, which was we did things completely backwards. We did a movie before we did a comic. And then we did the trade before we did the single issues. But I think English is benefited from that. Because we were able to go back and remaster things, we changed some things, cut some things out or tweak the dialogue. So, you know, when people asked me, what’s the first appearance of apama? You know, it’s a complicated answer, you know, because people collect single issues. And the apama now exists in issues one through 11 with main and variant covers, and apama 12. When that comes out, that will be a single issue first. And I think that will unite the whole single issue thing as being these really are the first print single issues of that series and the collectability of them. In my opinion, people just don’t collect trades as as you know, they don’t get them graded, that kind of thing. So I think, you know, a couple years from now, or even now, do people really regard that our trade came up before the singles? Probably not.

Alan 24:18
While you’re working now on Bloom? Do you already have a certain number of issues kind of already done? And you’ll be releasing them over the course of time? Or is there still a kind of an ongoing? Hey, we should probably get an issue? Oh, it’s a great question.

Ted 24:31
What bloom was originally it was in the ill fated April 2020 preview guide. And, you know, right before they shut down, you know that I don’t even know if that preview GOT GOT distributed at all. And diamond my realm said hey, you know, this is not looking good for launch. Do you want to see if I can pull this and I said please Yes, thank you, God, our in our relationship with diamond is great. The thing about it is we only, we don’t make enough with diamond sales to pay for these comics, you know, to make them, the printing, the art, all that stuff. So even waiting without conventions, I’m just going to lose money on every book. So that wasn’t really an option, then I, we had never done a Kickstarter for a single issue before. That’s where I decided to do punch line number one as a single and see how that went, how it was received, and it degraded, you know, it did close to 12 or 13,000. And I just thought, alright, this is really viable. And I talked to some of my retailer friends, and I said, hey, how would you feel if when this bloom series is released, I’m also running a Kickstarter at the same time to make up for lost convention income. Like I didn’t want the retailers to be like, Hey, I thought this was a exclusive diamond thing. And you’re selling it on the side. And I know, they were all really cool about it. They’re like, No, you got to do what you got to do to survive. Right? So, you know, and I’m sure look, our highest backer count on Kickstarter was punch line hit, like 302 backers. So with 2000 shops, that’s not really going to be a big chunk of whatever they were going to sell. And I don’t think it’s I think it’s largely not the same audience. So here we are. And, you know, we’ve already raised enough to pay for the print run through the Kickstarter campaign. And that means the diamond sales will will be you know, in the, in the black. So that’s, that’s new for us.

Stephen 26:51
I love you talking about that. Because, as Alan knows, I’ve been working on writing some novels and some middle grade fiction books. And it’s been an adventure and a journey. We chat about it every now and then. But being in the author community, the indie publishing community, there’s still a big mindset that, oh, you have to go and do this, and then do this and then do this. But you’re you’re kind of proof you don’t necessarily have to whether it’s comic books or novels, you can do what works best for you at that time. And you’re not beholden to others. And me personally, that’s one of the things I love about what you’ve done with apama and tap dance killer. And I appreciate that.

Ted 27:29
Yeah, I think it also comes from, you know, knowing what it takes to make a movie, you know, and how difficult that was, or is, as you know, I just feel like, Man with comics, whatever you dream up goes right on the page, you’re not trying to, you know, find the budget for a location, you know, and apama we go to the moon, we do anything, and I just, I just, it’s so liberating. So yeah, I have to hire an artist and you know, we have to we have to produce the books, but compared to making a film, I just think this is the greatest thing ever. So yeah, and you know, if writing a novel or whatever you’re in control your destiny, you know, and and the further you can do, I think, get you know, on your own before you have to bring other people in, you know, the better off you’ll be.

Alan 28:23
In many cases, you’re you’re with bloom, you’re going back in time to like the late 60s, as you said, I missed Woodstock for this. Are you putting yourself in that kind of 60s? frame of mind? But are you listening to the right music? Are you? Were you capturing that? How are you internalizing that and then reflecting it back out?

Ted 28:43
Oh, this is? Yeah, this is this gets weird and meta crazy.

Unknown Speaker 28:48
I

Ted 28:51
when I was making, Regina for the eponymous series. I knew I wanted a so you get I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of hell town. But when I was growing up, there was this area near peninsula that they were in Boston Mills, where they referred to this sort of cult activity that was going on in the late 70s. And it turned out there was an area in the park that was overtaken by the government for the park system, but it used to be houses so you’d be walking through the woods and you come upon these abandoned houses. So it became this house right? Exactly. Yeah, it became this area where people would just party and who knows what all but it was referred to as Hill town and I thought, Man, this is a Northeast Ohio story. Let’s have the hell town call. You know, I just wanted that. And who’s the leader of the hell town call? Well, I I know I wanted a female because we had already done a you know, we have a guy here. Oh, a guy villain was our first one. I thought I want a female I want her to and I was on a video shoot. I remember somebody we were shooting somebody and they had tattoos all over them and they were explaining the power they were getting from each tattoo which was awesome. One thing that I never had really thought about with tattoos, I thought of them as more graphic. And, and that that just really, that then the bulb went off, you know? And I was like, okay, so I started drawing this out in two dimensions. And I just couldn’t get the vibe of what I wanted. You know, I mean, I did a lot of revisions and iterations. And then I thought, you know what, if I get a mannequin, I will be able to see this in 3d space. And then I can give that to Benito guy, Iago, the artist. And I’ll just photograph it from all angles, and we can keep these the symbols on her body varies, you know, consistent, so I do that I take that step. Subsequently, somewhere along that timeline. I’m shooting an event at Cleveland public theatre, and I meet somebody in the crowd, who’s this dancer. And she, she she’s got the right look for Regina. I’m just like, wow, this this could be I wonder if I could get this person to do a photo shoot with me. So I mean, this is very similar to the whole thing I just described about what bloom is right.

Unknown Speaker 31:00
And so we could plant Exactly.

Ted 31:04
We make a plan to go into the woods and shoot some photos. But I you know, I’ve never done anything like that, you know, and in our schedules are not aligning, so months are going by, and who knows, two months, three months later, I’m just like, oh my god, what if I got her into the woods? And we’re doing this photo shoot? I don’t know anything about this person. What if she really is this weird? Like once she gets the symbols honor and there’s there is something magic in the symbols. And then there was like, Oh my god, I wrote a screenplay. I wrote this whole thing out the origin of Regina as a screenplay. It was Milo, who gave me the title when he read it. He said, because I was calling it you know, the Muse or, you know, villainous, and all this of it. He said, What about bloom out? Oh, my God, I love that title. So then, so I wrote this whole screenplay. And then what was the funny part is Soma, the woman who is going to pose for me because at that point, I really didn’t want to do the photoshoot anymore, because I would had to tell her all this stuff that had come of it. But she said, Hey, I’m ready to do that photo shoot, you think we can get our schedules together? And like, oh, boy,

Stephen 32:04
I decided

Ted 32:06
to come clean. I don’t know her. You know, I’m like, Look, that photoshoot that we didn’t have actually happened in fiction. And it’s really f.in my mind Exactly. I have to in good conscience, I have to share this with you. Before we do this, hopefully you’re not going to think I’m some weirdo psycho nut. So she read it and was a real, you know, she she was a kindred spirit about the whole thing. And I always refer to her she is Regina, his godmother. And we actually did go out and do this photo shoot after and I and I’ve used those photos many times for, you know, references for how Regina should move on. Yeah, I mean, to say this story is personal. And you know, there’s things the main guy is based on a lot of stuff with my dad, you know, he’s a mechanic, and he’s, you know, his story resembles a lot of my father’s story in the 60s where, you know, my dad was a very talented artist. But when he got out of Cooper School of Art and Cleveland, you know, he had an offer to either make 50 bucks a week for the plane dealer doing art illustrations or 100 bucks a week doing auto work. He took the auto path, and he never really did much with his art after that other than, you know, teaching me things along the way. And, you know, you hear this conversation in bloom. And it’s it’s very much there’s things with my grandma in it. And you know, the whole thing about the spirituality of it. I Regina, what’s funny too, is when people draw her, you know, they’ll sometimes give her this sort of real nasty villain vibe. You know, there’s this evil dark energy coming out of her hands. I’m like, that’s not Regina. You know, that’s, she is Regina is a prophet. The mainstream will not agree with her message. She is this is not someone who wants to just burn it all down. She’s not looking for money. She’s we tried to cheat her Regina thing is we tried to change the world peacefully in the 60s and it didn’t stick. And now we’re going to do it on my terms. Wonderful.

Stephen 34:08
So let me ask what Alan like mentioned, what are some of your favorite music artists and albums? We talk a lot about music. We tend to go off way too long. So what do you like to listen to? Man?

Ted 34:22
musics been a huge part of my life. Like I was in rock bands. I did musical theater, I wrote to musicals. So like, I mean, I’ve gone the gamut like I was when I was first in a guitar. I was in a kiss and Van Halen, like people in high school called me Teddy Van Halen, because I was always playing guitar. But then I really got into the swing stuff. Sarah Vaughn changed my life. Sam Cooke. Not that he’s swinging but, but his swing stuff is amazing Frank Sinatra. I went through that whole thing and then I got into musicals and Stephen Sondheim but the doors My God when I think about Regina I even in a public I’m a five she’s singing, take it as it comes while she’s carving my cymbal onto his chest. If you look back at that page, she’s singing Take it easy, baby, take it as it comes. And like, I just love the idea of the whole cult just singing these rock songs from the 60s like their church hymns, you know, and when I’m whenever I’m working on bloom, I’ve got Dylan or Hendrix, or I’ve got this long, long playlist of 60s stuff that I pull out for that. Yeah, I mean, any recommendations? I’m all ears. You know, a quick side note to that is, when we did a, we did our first photo cover the woman who posed as Regina, Alicia Lynn, she came in from Pittsburgh, I met her at Steel City con, she just immediately when I met her, she was cosplaying right across from me as a character from this heroine Berg series. I just as soon as I spoke to her, like, Oh, my God, you have such a Regina vibe. And I showed her Regina. And she’s like, Oh, my God, this is, you know, this is this is so cool. And I said, Well, she’s telling me more about the character while she sings, she dances in a band, she sings back up, she goes, I dance in a band and sing back up. And I’m like, it’s crazy. It’s just like Josie who cosplays tap dance killer, who is also an actor, just like Nikki St. Claire. I’m going all over the place here. But anyway, we did this photo shoot, she came to my studio about three weeks ago, and it was just all doors, you know, we listened to the doors, I’m probably every album while we’re doing the photo shoot,

Alan 36:29
I really love the things you just shared about like, it’s all made of fiction, you know, you see movies like being john malkovich, where, you know the the line between who I am and what I’m putting into my work. And then after a while, maybe you don’t keep a clear demarcation between that. And that’s both wonderful and hazardous. And it sounds like there’s an ad that when coincidence has happened in your life. You’re like, I could kind of use this and I don’t think it’s cheating. You said you tried out 200 different artists for this? What kind of like how did you know? What kind of instructions Did you give? Where you’re looking for gut feel? Did you have very strict criteria in mind, where you’re looking for a collaborator or a kind of a commission? Just I’ll tell you what to do when you give it to me, as opposed to one about story ideas off of you.

Ted 37:16
So yeah, let’s see some of the questions, trying to tackle them in order with the artists, I was doing a search for both bloom and tap dance killer at the same time, because both, you know, there was a point at which I thought, alright, I want to do both of these series. And instead of doing two separate art searches, I’ll just, we put the call out, we describe both projects, you know, if you’re interested in one or not the other or both, let us know, 200 people applied for both, you know, combined, and mostly they would have taken either gig to take the question sort of in order with the artists, I decided I wanted to do both bloom and tap dance killer. At the same time, like I thought, let’s not do two artists searches. So we put the call out both books were mentioned in it described and we got 200 submissions, you know, initially I would look at the work that they had done. If they you know, if it was a style that I thought I could see on the book, I thought Alright, so they get into that category. And then we you know, we go through and see how are they’re sequential? Are they are they is this like a cover artist? Or is this somebody that can actually tell a story. And you know, the 200 keeps getting whittled down and whittled down. And then I would have them do a paid not like a full price paid thing. But like an audition paid rate for an image of either character depending on how I was feeling about them. So we would get these pinups of either tap dance killer or Regina. And from that, I would be like, Alright, now I’m going to give you a sample, you know, whittled down again, here’s a sample page of action that I want you to lay out. And that will be also, you know, a nominal fee that I paid to have, who knows maybe 30 people do page layouts. It was in that process where it really got narrowed down with Butch. I just immediately saw a Regina that I cared about. I just thought this is m Donnie did an amazing image of Regina, which is one of our variant covers. But I didn’t feel like she was approachable. She’s almost like a goddess or something. And it was but what he did with happiness killer was amazing that he ended up getting that gig and Butch got the boom and with Milo you know we’re still kicking around apama ideas. He’s working on something now called the heel which is his wrestling book, completely unrelated to any of the stuff we’ve done in the past. The reason I did tap dance killer Solo is I you know the musical I wrote nothing like that. vaudeville years ago, is where tap dance killer was pulled from it same with the villains or terror. And I saw I really had quite a lot. I mean, I have I’ve had those characters in my head for almost 25 years, I had a story I really wanted to tell. And he understood that is similarly with bloom when I created Regina, that whole thing I mentioned how autobiographical that was. And, you know, that whole story. So that one also felt very personal. And I, you know, wanted to tell that one, we were we’re still close, we talk. We talk ideas quite a bit, you know, movie ideas, or what we want to do with apama. The problem right now with apama, we have issue 12. Done. And now that we understand how we’re going to be doing these things with Kickstarters, I think we have a way of kind of releasing it. There is only so much with a small company like hero tomorrow that we can put out, really for the sake of quality. So you kind of just for me, as the president of the company, I have to go with what my gut tells me I should do next. And right now, Palmer has been put on the back burner while these other characters develop. Okay,

Stephen 41:09
so do you have any preview of any other characters that are going to do offshoots on their own?

Ted 41:15
I have another character that I’m excited about, and she will debut in a issue one of her own, it’ll be in the same universe? I will I can’t I won’t say anything about her. But um, yeah, there was another one. Let us know for sure.

Alan 41:32
Are you being courted? Or do you have any possibility of you wanting to do is, is it a possibility that you’re going to want to pursue that interesting world of merchandising? I’ve never been a person that, like buys dolls, if you will. And yet, I’m always amazed at how when people talk about where they make their money. It’s the Star Wars action figures, not the Star Wars movies, that there’s just an incredible amount of beautiful oak SAT. Okay, I

Ted 42:00
hit a, you know, yeah. For anyone who can’t see this, I’m holding up an action figure that was done by a fan of tap dance killer. This is a one off, but I just I adore it.

Stephen 42:11
Yeah, we

Ted 42:12
would, we would love to do anything like that. In fact, I was at New York Comic Con a couple years ago when President of FYI, you know, the, the mall shops came up. And they looked at the banner of tap dance killer and said, What is this character about? And they said, we’ve walked this entire floor. And this is one of two images that we’re very interested in. And we they set up some in store signings, we they helped me develop the first tap dance killer t shirt. Wow. So we, what was interesting at the signings, though, people would would buy the book, they didn’t buy the shirt, so that didn’t quite work out. We did like forced or signings. We came close with that one. And you know, we’re shopping around the intellectual properties to movie studios. That’s been ongoing. So we were definitely interested in pie in the sky with this would be to do a TV series with it all you know, so it’s not just a PAMA the movie or tappings killer. Yes, I like a series that. And what I really like about that is tonally, I think we have three very different tones. And you’ve got the the friendly ice cream truck driver vibe, you’ve got the vaudevillians with their strange theatrical vibe. But then you’ve got the woods with Regina and her sort of enlightenment. So I think it could be a really wild thing if we could get it all in one.

Stephen 43:41
I love that too. We’ve talked about that how the world has changed with the streaming and everybody doing their own TV shows that people now aren’t saying, Oh, I want to make a movie of my book, oh, I want to make a TV show my blog, you know, that you can build the characters much more in those and get explore many more territories, just like a series of comics rather than a one shot.

Alan 44:03
One of the things that I always hope for is that they are going to have that lightning in a bottle thing where if some part of life is well, I was doing my art while I was also playing in the real world. You know, I had to work this job I had to whatever else it might be, you know what I mean? It’s meant to be able to give people who are doing interesting work that might be world changing. Yeah, now you’re you’re right on the money with that. And this is really this year, because of this release plan with both diamond and Kickstarter is the closest I think I’ll ever You know, I’ve

Ted 44:35
had to date to doing that. You know, comics are really the the main push of what I’m going to be doing this year, I have much more than, you know, before it was always film and I was fitting in the comics as I could. This is quite the opposite. And it feels real nice. You know, and I know there’s something that is so interesting to me that just what happens if you keep making stories You know, that’s that’s what it has kind of just surprised the hell out of me. Had we not just done this apama series, none of this other stuff would have sprung out of it, you know? And what springing out of it is what’s got me so excited. Now

Stephen 45:17
would you sent you did the hero tomorrow? Would you consider doing your own movie based on one or the other characters?

Ted 45:24
Well, we were shopping around bloom, as you know, it’s a pretty modest budget kind of movie, you got two people in the woods for 85% of it. And so we were trying to chop that around and I would have been happy to direct it. You know, if the right people would have come along to help with the production money, and you know, putting that whole machine behind it. We couldn’t get that together. So made a comic. But yeah, anytime I would do it.

Alan 45:52
So are you still a consumer as well as a producer? What other artists, writers, TV shows, whatever things have like that special spark that you make a point of? Oh, you got to catch this. This is really like nothing you’ve ever seen before. I love it. And any quick recommendations? Oh, gosh,

Ted 46:09
yeah, let’s see. I’m in the comic book world. I really become disenchanted with spider man again, you know, this whole Kindred thing is awful. And you know, I came so close to writing Marvel letter and saying you just lost your way with this character. However, I still get that I what I get now more are Kickstarter from other creators. You know, I’m really I’m so appreciative of the people who have supported mine and when I see somebody else doing it I I’m excited much more for that than any of the mainstream stuff that’s coming out right now. On the you know, there’s people I follow though like Mike Allred I just anything he does, I just love his style so much. He’s got that robot something. Right now. x robots. It’s a fun project very mad men ask. I’m totally into the MCU with my wife and daughter, you know, we we’ve watched all that stuff and jayda and I, my daughter, we watched one division, every episode twice, you know, and we’re gone back and I’m loving that series. I loved it from episode one. I think I knew that it was going to go into some weird places. And we had to sort of establish this sort of thing at the beginning. That didn’t bother me a bit. I know. It turned off some people but my God is great. Now, Ted, we can’t thank you enough.

Alan 47:37
This is your first and it really was with when Stephen and I were speculating who would we like to talk to you really was well, he’s brilliant. He’s a hometown guy. We both love your work. I just, I you know, gosh, gosh, gosh, fanboy time, but I really can’t thank you enough for taking the time to be with us and giving us some insight into you and your work and, and your world. It’s really, really cool. So thank you.

Ted 48:02
Yes, it was my pleasure, you guys. This was a blast. And I love the questions. A lot of questions I’ve never been asked before and that it’s wonderful. So I and thank you again for the support you’ve given, you know, these projects in the past and yeah, maybe one last shout out if this is before. If you’re hearing us before February 28. Just head over to Kickstarter type in bloom. And make sure you watch our crazy video, our videos nuts.

Stephen 48:29
Yes. Thank you for this great talk.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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