INTERVIEW: We talk to MIKE RAICHT, writer of STUFF OF LEGEND, GI JOE INFESTATION & MORE!Third Eye Steve: Hey Mike, this week we’re all abuzz here at the shop because the conclusion to the current STUFF OF LEGEND arc is releasing on Wednesday.. how’s it feel to have another successful run finished?
Mike Riacht: It’s awesome. most importantly because people are still so into the book and eager to see what happens to our gang next. But it’s a little bit of a relief as well. We’re always pushing ourselves as fast as we can to get the book done. The issues are oversized page count wise and, as most people can see from Charles’ artwork, extremely detailed so it takes some time to produce each issue.
I love when issues hit the most because we get to hear what the readers are thinking about things and they get to see what’s going on with their favorite character. This last issue in particular has a lot of things we’ve been building towards since the beginning so it will be fun to see what people think.
Third Eye Steve: On a side-note, what’s new with you? I know last week you just delivered the first issue of the GI JOE INFESTATION crossover, which was totally kick-ass, and I know you’ve been telling me about some projects that’ve been in development.. anything you can give us the scoop on?
Mike Raicht: Well, I have a few things coming this year. Three of them are through Th3rd World.
I’m working with them on the adaptation of The Mortal Instruments, by Cassandra Clare. It’s a New York Times Bestselling series of books about a girl, Clary Fray, who finds out there are these people called Shadowhunters who secretly protect us from a hidden world of monsters and demons. The artwork is by an artist named Nicole Virella and she is amazing.
I also have a werewolf book called The Pack which should be hitting later this year. It is about a group of high school students dealing with the mysterious and brutal murder of the local high schooler. It is kind of Friday Night Lights with werewolves thrown in for good measure. We have a lot of backstabbing and high school clique stuff going on that, when you add in claws and sharp teeth, makes for some interesting fun.
And, finally, at least through Th3rd World, we have more Stuff of Legend.
Then, like you mentioned, I have the second half of GI Joe: Infestation coming out later this month, which I’m really happy with, as well as the finale of Raise the Dead II. This month I have 4 books coming out which is a lot. One a week. So, Mike Raicht fans, like my mom, should be in heaven.
In April, the Stuff of Legend: The Jungle tpb will be hitting stores and then in May we have the preview of the next Stuff of Legend arc hitting in the Th3rd World Studios FCBD book.
Third Eye Steve: On a STUFF OF LEGEND tip, what can we expect next in the realm of STUFF OF LEGEND? I’ve heard a few rumblings about a Jester one-shot… if that’s happening, I’m officially stoked.
Mike Raicht: The Jester’s Tale is actually our next brand new arc, so you should be extra-super psyched. He’s a really popular character and we have a great story lined up for him. We’ll be previewing it in the FCBD Day book (along with my Stuff of Legend co-writer Brian Smith’s Escape Goat which is awesome!) It should be launching in July. We’re going to be shooting for getting it out monthly as opposed to bi-monthly-ish so we’ve cut down to a standard 24 pages per issue. We’re aiming to have the book on the stands much more regularly.
Third Eye Steve: How did you like working on the Infestation crossover? It looks like this is probably one of the most successful things that IDW has done, and I have to admit, they really delivered in a big way on keeping it timely, quality, and cohesive. How difficult was it coordinating your chapters with the other creators?
Mike Raicht: I loved working with them on it. I’m always excited to work on well known properties and what better one to be a part of than GI Joe. I was really lucky to have Andy Schmidt, the editor on the project, approach me for the job.
Andy contacted me last summer and was great at updating me on what Abnett and Lanning were doing. We were on a really tight deadline and Andy had ground rules set for my part of the crossover so it was easy to slip right into writing my chapters.
When it was clear I could use the Baroness and that we were going to focus on the technological aspects of the infestation that led us right into using the BATS. I also got to use The Interrogator from Max Brooks’ Hearts and Minds series so that made me a happy man.
I’m a huge fan of the stuff Costa and Gage were doing in the Cobra book so that’s what Gio Timpano, my artist, and I tried to play off of. I’m hoping GI Joe fans and comic fans in general will give it a go. We really tried to make it something that would make sense in the Joe universe. I think that is what is great about the crossover. Each series gets to make the crossover it’s own event. Something that can be relevant and exciting in each universe without ruining what makes each property special. At least I hope we pulled that off!
Third Eye Steve: Fun fact: Joe or Cobra guy? And, who’s your favorite? I’m a Beach-head kinda guy myself.
Mike Raicht: When I was a kid I was kind of a Cobra guy. I loved the Hiss Tank because I could hide people in it. I loved Firefly. I was also a huge fan of the gray suited Eels. That was one thing I asked Gio to slip into the story. I don’t care if their masks make sense or not. I wanted them in there.
Third Eye Steve: So, you’ve got a zombie title coming out.. which is actually sounding like a pretty unique take on the genre. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Mike Raicht: It’s tough right now to launch a zombie property but I think we have a pretty unique take on it. Or at least unique enough to run with it.
Unfortunately, I am obsessed with the genre. I worked on ZOMBIE MAX at Marvel, DEADWORLD: FROZEN OVER for Desperado and now RAISE THE DEAD II with Leah Moore and John Reppion at Dynamite. You think I’d have had my fill, right?
Well, I haven’t. I kind of want to create my own little zombie-ish world. Hopefully other people want to come along for the ride as well. The books release is still a little ways off, but I promise when I can talk more about it you’ll be the first to know.
Third Eye Steve: What’s your opinion on some of the horror comics on the stands? The genre really has seen a rebirth since the beginning of the past decade, and has really matured as a whole. I think it’s great, being a long-time fan of horror comics, as far back as stumbling on the old Comico and Eclipse Wrightson reprints and stuff when I was a kid.
Mike Raicht: I think this has to be the best time to be a fan of horror comics. I love the horror era from the 50s but now probably tops it just on pure titles. I love Locke and Key. I buy it in trades and am always in love with what is happening in that book. The Walking Dead is the first thing I read when it comes out. I have to know what’s happening to Rick and Glen. 30 Days of Night has had some great arcs. Crossed disturbs me on a monthly basis and I can’t stop reading it. I’m sure that says a lot about me.
I’m sure I’m leaving some out and will kick myself, but I almost pick up more horror comics some months that superhero ones. I think that says a lot considering I grew up a big Marvel/DC guy.
Wrightson is unbelievable. My first “horror comic” was actually the old Cycle of the Werewolf book that Bernie Wrightson did with Stephen King. It only had spot illustrations but I loved it.
Third Eye Steve: Favorite zombie movie?
Mike Raicht: I really enjoyed the new Dawn of the Dead but I’m also a big Romero fan, Night is my favorite, and have watched those movies dozens of times. I think 28 Days Later really caught my attention the most when it came out. While I know it’s not officially a zombie movie it’s probably my favorite of that genre. The best 10 minutes of any of them was actually the beginning of 28 Weeks Later. That opening scene was intense and really, just perfect in my mind as to how horrific and heartbreaking a zombie movie could be.
And of course, I also love Zombieland… maybe you should ask me what my least favorite Zombie movie is.
Third Eye Steve: Okay, finally, we’re preaching the gospel of STUFF OF LEGEND non-stop, and it continues to be a huge hit. We’ve seen it as a tremendous crossover book, and is one of those rare titles like BONE that both kids and adults can pick up and enjoy. That’s hard to do, and impressive. So, let me ask ya this: what’s the biggest difficulty in writing something that can appeal to all ages? It seems like a difficult thing to do, as there’s a lot of great young readers books, and a lot of great adult books, but it’s rare to find something that’s in-between, and hits both generations so well.
Mike Raicht: We really appreciate your support of the book and your kind words. It makes us feel great that you are so behind it.
I’m not sure what the biggest difficulty is. In my mind, we are writing a kid’s story for adults, and an adult story for kids. Does that make sense? We try to mix the elements and give both parents, kids, and anyone else in between who picks up the book, a great story and something they can relate to. Whether it is back when they were kids or as they are kids now, hopefully it brings back the excitement of being young and not knowing what might happen next in the story.
Part of it is putting our kids hats on and trying to remember what really grabbed us and moved us to want to create or read as a kid. We also do our best to tell a story that doesn’t compromise with the difficult moments. We’re not out to show extreme amounts of violence but we want characters to endure real tragedy so that their triumphs can be all that much more uplifting. We try to ride the line between scary and exhilarating as best we can.
It’s a tough question to answer because we’re just trying to tell a compelling story about characters we love to write about.
Third Eye Steve: When’re you guys coming back to Third Eye to talk comics with our Third Eye Faithful and show ‘em some STUFF OF LEGEND goodies?
Mike Raicht: I hope soon. I’d love to plan something in July with you guys if at all possible. The last time we were there we had a blast. It was really a lot of fun to meet the gang at the store and the comic fans who stopped by the shop to say hello.
Third Eye Steve: Thanks for doing this, Mike! As always, it’s great talking to you!
Mike Raicht: It’s great talking with you, as well, Steve. We should really do it way more often.
STUFF OF LEGEND: THE JUNGLE #4 releases this Wednesday. If you’re a fan of series like FABLES, MOUSE GUARD, or just plain good comics, you need to read this series. We’ll have plenty of the first trade paperback in stock, as well as all four issues of the current volume, THE JUNGLE, for you to give it a go. One of the best books on the stands today, folks!