Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Nicolas Maida Interview

i met nick maida in 5th grade i believe it was.. he had just moved to my school - franklin elementary. it seemed like the whole classroom would gather around him(teacher included) when he was drawing quietly at his desk - you'd usually find him sketching out power rangers, robots, ninja turtles, or dinosaurs frantically and seemingly sloppily but amazingly! when nick wasn't drawing/ writting comics he was usually talking about rubber chickens, turtles, and the color green. i remember we also had a basketball team at recess called the 4(or 5) cookies that he/i drew(nba jam inspired?) pictures about.. we became friends due to our mutual interest in drawing, dinosaurs, video games, etc. and lost touch over the years but he always has and continues today to inspire me so i decided to interview him for this blog. sassbologna connection: nick did the cover art for the war kriminals "fully automated" cassette.

Q: when did you start drawing/what sort of things did you draw?

I've been drawing ever since I could lift a pencil, started drawing Mickey Mouse, or my cat, or turtles. This is what I was told by the parents anyways.

Q: what/who got you into it?

A: I started drawing before I learned to form the words to this answer, so I honestly couldn't tell you. I just love it, always have.

Q: when did you start "super hero society"? tell me a bit about it.

A: The SHS started about the time I started high school. It started off as an inside joke for my friends. It started off with myself and my friends as super heroes. Nothing new, anybody who likes to draw and is into comics has done something like that at some point. It's just a fun idea, who hasn't felt the desire to fly or lift a car over your head? We've all wanted to play the hero, somebody who stands out above everyone else and does what nobody else can do. So I have to admit, the idea of Super Maida and the SHS is in part dream fulfillment.

The comic started off near the end of eighth grade with the title of Super Maida. Nothing creative, but then again it didn't really need to be. The whole purpose was to take people I know, give them super powers, then put them into hilarious situations. The first issue had all of us in science class being attacked by a monster with a teddy bear head. That was it. The only character that had super powers was the kid based off of myself. The second issue brought in Super Sam, a rival hero with a red cape. No real purpose to fight, I think it was over some milk or something stupid like that. The third issue brought in some new villains who visited our little school after hearing of these kids with super powers. They ended up destroying the building and forced Super Maida, Super Sam, and the newly dubbed Twister out into the open. By the time I reached page thirty, I noticed that I still had more story to tell, so I continued that story into the fourth issue.

As time passed, I was discovering that this was becoming something more than a fun joke. I realized that I had stories to tell, adventures to draw and write. While the title still was "Super Maida", the cast of characters was growing each and every issue, and the focus, while still heavy on Super Maida, started to spread to these other characters. What was meant to be a fun little joke became four years and 100 issues of a fleshed out series.

I left the series behind in high school, and while I did release a holiday issue and some pictures every now and then, the series was, for all intents and purposes, done. Still the ideas clung to me, more than they ever had with any other little project I worked on. I tried a couple of different ideas these last few years with the SHS, one including a Hero Academy and another meant to continue the original series, but it seemed fairly pointless considering most of the old issues are too sloppy to read, or have gone missing.

The ideas that stuck to me through the years and the new ones I get, be it from myself or good friends, have left me to believe that we had too good of an idea to let it go to waste. So, I decided to just redo the entire series, now with everything I have learned and with an appeal to not only my friends, but outsiders as well. My character would still be a large focus in some stories, but its no longer the main focus. He is part of something much bigger. There is still that wish fulfillment in his character, he is based off of myself after all, but now it's because I want to share with the world these people and events through my eyes (...with super powers...) I have met so many amazing people and I am lucky to have them in my life. People that deserve to be noticed, people that deserve to be written about and remembered. While the stories are fiction, many of the personalities are based off of amazing individuals. So it was only fitting that when the relaunch was planned, the book was renamed as well. It's no longer about one character, it's about many. So the Super Hero Society was born.

The new series starts off surprisingly close to the original. We are going to start off the book one year after the world has been made aware of super humans. That way we can hop right into the action and make the first issues focused a little more on episodic adventures (but it's really cool how they all tie together down the road) The origin story is a great one, but with its slow pacing, I just feel it wasn't right as the first story to introduce over the internet. Once the series finds its footing, then we'll explore that a little more, but for now, I feel it's best to just jump right into the thick of things yet still find a good starting point.

The first issue will see Muscatine as its setting. The world now knows super powers exist in the form of five people. We also know that one year ago, something happened in the town of Muscatine that brought about these five that not only exposed them to the world, but helped them save it. Since then they have gone their separate ways. The year that has passed has been a quiet one, while super powers do exist, it doesn't mean there is a super hero fight every other day. At least...not yet. Maida still lives in Muscatine, making his way trying to be a normal teenager, despite the fact the whole world knows he isn't. He doesn't use his super powers anymore and he's much more reserved than what he once was. The other four characters have gone off to do their own thing. Solice, being the broody one, could be anywhere. Lurae, a real live super powered princess, has returned to her hidden kingdom to rule. Casey, otherwise known has Twister, has banked in on his powers and is off somewhere advertising some new product. "Super" Sam, the rival kid of the original series, has gone off for reasons that will remain a mystery for now.

Point is, all these kids are off trying to do their own thing. Maida, the kid who always wanted to leave, a kid you would feel would rocket off the moment he learned he could fly, is the exact opposite of that. He feels he has put his family in danger by exposing his true powers to the world, so he has stayed behind. As he will learn by the end of the issue though, is his presence there puts his family in danger.

An attack on Muscatine happens out of the blue, a giant metal "comet" rockets into town, destroying a landmark here or there, and spewing out little machines that set after Maida's loved ones and the townsfolk in general. Being the first super villain attack in a year, this is obviously big news to the world. Everyone moves their focus onto this tiny town, every news station is broadcasting, and everyone is watching. This grabs the attention of the four other heroes, all of whom have a connection to this town, and return to help out. A bigger threat appears in the second half of the issue, and its up to Maida to try and band together the heroes once more to face it. I won't go into much more detail then that, I've been talking too much as it is, but it will be badass.

Q: what projects are you involved in now if any?

A: The main project is SHS. I'm really trying to bring my focus back to getting the series started now that a solid story for the entire series has been fleshed out and the first issue is finally ready to go. Outside of that, I'm still working on SHS: Hollow. It was originally supposed to be a short Halloween story, but it became a five part story that now fits into the continuity of the series. Completely different style from the rest of the book, but it works for what it is, and will mesh together with the current continuity we've created for the new series. We're also going to be working on some behind-the-scene videos and ad posters, and I'm going to try my hand at web design at some point, I've never known how, and the comic needs to be posted somewhere.

Most projects now all have something to do with the SHS, I'm very determined to get this off the ground this year, so that will remain the main focus. Outside of that, I'm working on a commission, I get those every now and then, and a couple of quick projects for friends.

Q: who or what are some of your past and present influences and inspirations?

A: There are plenty. The main one being the people in my life, they inspire me more than any book or piece of art has. Not saying there isn't plenty of influence from things I've watched, read, or played. While I don't believe in copying somebody's work, I do feel it's important to try and learn something from any piece you get your hands on. I'm not arrogant enough to say I have all the skills I need to make the best book out there. Far from it. I'm no where near ready to be where I want to be as an artist, and I hope I never get there. You can learn and become inspired from anything, so I feel it's important to learn from everything. I've been inspired on some level by everything I have come across so far. The current art style I use has some obvious influences from both western and eastern styles without really falling into either category.

For specific examples? I always follow my favorite franchises in geek and pop culture. Be it Ninja Turtles or Power Rangers...Spider-man or Batman...a Dan Brown novel or Spongebob...I will always have a love for something in any form of mass media and I will always learn from them.

Q: what was the most important thing you learned while going to school for graphics communications?

A: Honestly not much of anything. A basic understanding of Adobe Illustrator, and the difference between a font and a typeface. I could have taken more from it, so it's nobody's fault but my own. The classes I took just wasn't what I was looking for, so I'm planning on getting somewhere that will teach me the things I still need to get the hang of later this year.

Q: what do you have planned in the future for your artwork personally/professoinally?

A: I want to build a franchise from the ground up. I want to work on comics, cartoons, everything. I love the fields and I want to play with all of them. I want some day to be able to make a living off of my ideas. I don't want this to be a hobby and I don't want this to be a little extra money, I want this to be my life and I will not stop until that is the case.

Q: who is your favorite super hero any why?

A: um...me? ha. Seriously at this point, it's hard to pick one and only one. As a kid I loved Superman and Spider-man. Then again I also loved Ninja Turtles and Sonic, but I don't know if you can count those. Now I have a better understanding of so many different types and I love reading about so many. Batman and Green Lantern are some of my current favorites, Spider-man still is up there, he's always had the coolest costume for traditional heroes and he's got more personality than the others. Nowadays that isn't the case, but he did it first and he did it best. So probably Spider-man, I just feel weird listing only one. Oooh, or Green Ranger if he counts! I thought he was a badass.

Q: what comics/animation are you peeping these days?

A: If it's not one thing its another. Currently I'm watching Naruto just to see where the story goes. I honestly do not know why I'm watching it, I'm not taken by the designs or the characters. Nor am I usually the type to watch anime, but I enjoy it regardless. Besides that, Spectacular Spider-man. I haven't read comics in a while, but when I do, I read Green Lantern. They're doing a color-coded story line similar to stuff in SHS. Ours is still different, and the idea of color-coded powers is nothing new, Power Rangers have done it for years, but it's still interesting seeing a book outside of my own, and an official, professional one at that, with a green lead. I love green, but the green characters always get punked. They're either chunky comic-relief or annoying little kids in team books.

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