Ashley Neuhaus 13-JULY-2012 We all know someone who’s been affected by cancer or some other life-threatening disease at some point in our lives. One of our Superhero Weekend artists was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma in 2004. While battling through it, JOE MARTINO created THE MIGHTY TITAN as a way of coping with the news. And now he’s turned to Kickstarter to raise the funds to pay for all the talent he’s brought on for the project.
The book, while birthed from personal experiences, is not autobiographical. Not unless Joe has a super alter-ego that no one knows about. Titan himself is a hero, similar to Superman, that is invulnerable but his alter-ego is anything but that when he’s diagnosed with cancer. This story is one of loss and the realization that no one is untouchable. While there are heavy themes in the book, Martino wants the public to know that it IS still a superhero book filled with lots of villains and creatures.
The deadline to donate to this campaign is August 14th and has a goal of $10,550. If funded, the money will go to pay all the amazing talent involved with this project, printing the actual books and expanding the readership of the book. All rewards include a PDF copy of issue #1. Some of the other rewards for backers include limited editions prints by some of the artists, original art by creator Joe Martino, a cameo somewhere in the series, a complete package of all JGM comics ever published, and other awesome things.
Here’s a short interview I did with Joe Martino, the brains behind THE MIGHTY TITAN!
AN: This book is extremely personal as you’ve stated. What was the final push for you to create this book and put so much of yourself into it?
JM: I got cancer for the first time when I was 33 years old. I never in a million years thought that it could happen to me. I’ve always known that sooner or later it would happen because it runs in my family. But a routine checkup turned out to be very lucky for me. I created TITAN while I was on disability for my first cancer surgery in 2004. It was something that really changed my life in a bad way. A few years later I started to think about letting people know what I went through but I didn’t want to write a book about my cancer experiences. So, I took something I love, comics, and merged it with something I loathed. Cancer. Now, Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t autobiographical. I have also done research and talked with other people who I know that have been through cancer. I’ve also done research on chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
AN: You state that we all feel invulnerable until we get the bad news delivered but Titan is quite literally invulnerable, similar to Superman. So how is it that he gets struck with cancer?
JM: Without being too spoilery, Titan has an alter-ego who is powerless. Similar to Captain Marvel. His alter-ego is stricken with this deadly disease. He is an out of work forensics investigator with no benefits and a wife who works as a waitress to scrape together what they can to get by. As I said, not autobiographical. I wanted to show the state of the country as it is today with many people out of work and without healthcare as well. I was working and had healthcare at the time that I had my bouts with cancer.
AN: At any point, does Titan ever think to just stay as Titan instead of going back to his alter-ego who has cancer?
JM: These are all questions that get answered in issues 2 and 3 respectively. Without saying too much, Titan goes through a great deal of struggle in deciding how he can or can’t survive this ordeal. But, yes, this thought will cross Titan’s mind. You are good!
AN: Does Titan have a support system like you had when you received your diagnosis?
JM: Titan’s alter-ego does. He is married with 2 young kids. It wasn’t easy to give him cancer. As I writer and his creator I kind of feel responsible.
AN: At any point while writing this did you say to yourself “no, I can’t write that. It’s too much,” or did you push ahead and write it all?
JM: I actually worked actual conversations that I had with my doctors into certain scenes. Those weren’t easy. I actually pulled up more than one memory that was was buried. And for good reason. People that have survived cancer need to be very good at either sharing their feelings, or burying them deep so that they don’t drive them crazy. I did more burying than sharing. So dredging up some of these memories has been a tough experience.
AN: There are some mythological elements in your story (our hero’s name and some of the creatures). Have you always been a fan of mythology? What’s your favorite mythological creature?
JM: I am a big fan of Greek and Roman mythology. So I’ve always wanted to do something based around that. This was my opportunity. So, you may see Zeus or some other gods mentioned or seen but it isn’t a focus. Although I have my cancer and mythological elements, it is a pure superhero comic with family dynamics and just like my other comics there is a lot of angst.
AN: If people really take to this story, would you continue the series or does it definitely end (good or bad) at the end of issue 5?
JM: Yes. I would love to continue it. There is a definite opening for an issue 6, regardless of whether or not Titan’s alter-ego survives.
AN: Your inspiration to make this story is quite obviously very personal. Where do you get your inspiration for your other projects? Are there any other projects that you’re working on currently?
JM: All of my characters are somewhat a part of me. Shadowflame and Ripperman are characters that are always at odds with themselves but not in the same way. Life is a struggle and there are constant lessons for people that truly open their eyes to them. I have tried to work that into my books. I am working on a “War of the Independents” crossover right now with Mariano Nicenza’s Phazer from RZG Comics. I am always working on something but Titan is my focus now. I am currently scripting issue 4. Issue 5 is plotted out.
AN: You started writing comics at such a young age. What made you want to write them instead of just reading them?
JM: Well, I drew my first comic at around 10 years old but I didn’t really start trying to really do this until 1995 or so. I published the first Shadowflame through JGM Comics in January 1996. It seems like a lifetime ago!
AN: So making comics is something you’ve always wanted to do. Do you have any formal training under your belt?
JM: No. I took Commercial Art in high school and a short course from Sergio Cariello back in 1996. After high school I tried to be a rock star for 4 years (True Story). But nothing formal. Mostly self taught and working with friends you learn a lot. On the rock star note, I actually wrote the song on the Kickstarter video with Anthony Paladino from Ripface Invasion and it was recorded by Elviz Christ of Saint Avarice. So, I still go back to my musical roots from time to time. The song took us 4 hours from writing it to recording and mastering it. I am pretty proud of that.
AN: Where can people read more about your work and keep up with any news?
JM: People can find me on Twitter, @jgmcomics, and on Facebook. I have a few fan pages for SHADOWFLAME, RIPPERMAN and of course THE MIGHTY TITAN. I also have a websitehttp://www.jgmcomics.combut I am not one for updating that much. Oh, I just started a blog in June, Jgmcomics.blogspot.com.