I’m so pleased to be hosting an interview with Mike Maihack for Macmillan Kids’ Children’s Book Week blog tour. Here’s more from them about this week:
It’s Children’s Book Week – where we celebrate how amazing books for kids and teenagers are! We’re delighted to be celebrating the awesomeness of kids comics this week with a blog tour that features a star-studded line-up of graphic novelists, talking about the creative process, their inspiration, and the books they love. Follow along throughout the week to see some of your favorite comics creators – and meet new ones, too!
And here’s the schedule:
Monday, May 2nd – Forever YA featuring Gene Luen Yang
Monday, May 2nd – Read Write Love featuring Lucas Turnbloom
Monday, May 2nd – Kid Lit Frenzy featuring Kory Merritt
Tuesday, May 3rd – Sharp Read featuring Ryan North
Tuesday, May 3rd – Teen Lit Rocks featuring MK Reed
Wednesday, May 4th – Love is Not a Triangle featuring Chris Schweizer
Wednesday, May 4th – SLJ Good Comics for Kids featuring Victoria Jamieson
Thursday, May 5th – The Book Wars featuring Judd Winick
Thursday, May 5th – SLJ Fuse #8 featuring Eric Colossal
Friday, May 6th – SLJ Scope Notes featuring Nathan Hale
Friday, May 6th – The Book Rat featuring Faith Erin Hicks
Saturday, May 7th – YA Bibliophile featuring Mike Maihack
Saturday, May 7th – Supernatural Snark featuring Sam Bosma
Sunday, May 8th – Charlotte’s Library featuring Maris Wicks
Sunday, May 8th – The Roarbots featuring Raina Telgemeier
As I mentioned, I have an interview with Mike Maihack. Here’s more about him and his most recent release.
About Mike Maihack:
A graduate of the Columbus College of Art & Design, Mike Maihack spends most of his time working on the Cleopatra in Space series of graphic novels published by Scholastic/Graphix. He is also the creator of the popular webcomic Cow & Buffalo and has contributed to books like Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman; Parable; Jim Henson’s The Storyteller; Cow Boy; Geeks, Girls, and Secret Identities; and Comic Book Tattoo. He draws quite a lot of other things too, most which he posts here on this site. If you want to get a better look at him or high five or something, you can find him in the humid depths of Lutz, Florida hanging out his wife, two sons, and ornery Siamese cat. Otherwise he shows up at various schools and conventions throughout the year. (http://operationspacecat.com/about/)
About the Book:
Cleo and her friends journey from Yasiro Academy to the city of Hykosis, where some of the most notorious thieves and assassins live. They’re in search of information about the time tablets that could determine Cleo’s fate – whether she wants them to or not. But the group is separated when Xaius Octavian’s fleet attacks their ship, and Cleo and Akila are on their own until they run into an old nemesis. Will Cleo find the information she needs and get out of Hykosis alive?
Thanks to John Patrick Green for conducting this interview.
How did you get into comics? What were some of your favorite books or influences as a child?
I started out reading newspaper comic strips—well, I started out copying newspaper comic strips, with crayons and stuff—and then moved on to larger, stapled comics when a friend introduced me to X-Men a few years later (once I actually learned to read on my own). I haven’t stopped reading X-Men books since, and I’m pretty sure every thing I’ve done in my life since is just a deep down desire to be accepted into Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters (or teach there, I guess, now that I’m older).
At some point I leveled up to larger collections, and The Infinity Gauntlet was my primer to the rest of the Marvel Universe. I love that book. End of the world stuff with superheroes in space. Nothing better. That turned me into a bit of a Marvel zombie. Soon after that I discovered Bone, which was kind of a bridge between the newspaper strips and the larger format stories I was in to at the time, and decided I wanted to draw comics myself.
Aside from Cleopatra in Space, what other projects are you working on?
Taking care of my two kids. Haha. Seriously, between that, Cleo, and then hopefully an hour at the end of the day with my wife (or some CW superhero show), that’s about all I have time for. I am working on a little bonus Cleo story that won’t be in the graphic novels. And I try to paint a little fan art whenever I can swing it. Maybe a Batgirl Supergirl strip once or twice a year. It’d be great to draw a whole novel with those two some day. I have an amazing idea for one.
What’s your favorite part about comics, both as a reader and a creator?
I like telling stories, and I like reading stories, and I like it when I can see a little bit of myself in those stories. I don’t often get that with other media, not even prose books. Those spaces in-between panels are portals to your imagination. Nobody is reading the same comic someone else is because of those portals, and that’s pretty cool.
Plus, I love interesting characters—even more so when their creators decide to dangle them from cliffs a lot, which makes me want to keep reading about them. The best characters can be told about forever, in many different voices, and comics have plenty of those.
What is your process like? How much research goes into using a historical figure like Cleopatra in a fantastical science-fiction setting?
Before I began work on the graphic novels (but while I was already well into drawing the webcomic), I did quite a bit of research. Not just on the real Cleopatra herself, but about Ancient Egyptian ways-of- life and—even more so—their deities, and how they informed many of the decisions that civilization made at the time. That’s kind of where the prophecy in my story of Cleo came from, and how some things that can seem very concrete from one person’s point-of- view can often times be interpreted very differently by another.
I have the remainder of the Cleopatra in Space series already mapped out so I don’t do much research any longer—other than looking up various Egyptian names for things. (FUN FACT! Almost every place in the Nile Galaxy is a variation on some real life ancient city or town along the Nile River—although I tend to forget what all of them are—and what they mean—a few months after naming them). I’m no Egyptologist, so I’m by no means completely accurate in everything I draw or write about. In fact, sometimes I blatantly change stuff from the history books to suit my version of Cleo and the story I’m trying to tell with her. For example, the real Cleopatra was an extremely intelligent leader, obsessed with learning and adverse in multiple languages. That’s not my Cleo at all! At least, not yet… Pretty sure slingshots hadn’t been invented yet when she’s using them either, although I wouldn’t put anything past the Ancient Egyptians.
Other things, like being a princess, are true (she eventually does become queen, but Cleopatra was only a deputy to her father at the period of her life I zap her to the future). The fun thing about tossing Cleopatra in another galaxy as a teenager is I can have some leeway with what we know (or think we know) about her. I’m sort of retelling part of her story in an unusual setting. So while some familiar stuff will crop up, my main concern is giving readers an entertaining space opera—hopefully one that’s also a little funny.
What’s currently on your nightstand? Any recommendations?
I just finished reading The Harry Potter books that, off and on, took me about a year to complete. I recommend them if you’re the other person besides me that hasn’t read the series yet. Fun stuff. But because of that, I now have a whole stack of graphic novels to dive in to that have piled up during that time. Nameless City, Red’s Planet, the latest Delilah Dirk, vol. 4 of Ms Marvel, Giant Days, Saga, this advanced copy of Raina Telgemeier’s newest book, Ghost, that my editor at Graphix was cool enough to send me, and Amulet 7 are a few that are currently already read or in my queue. I’ve also been itching to read Ready Player One so that’ll be the next prose-type thing I’ll get to. I’m going to immerse myself in comics for a while though.