This year MegaCon decided to get cocky and have a second convention in the fall, but instead of their usual Orlando stomping grounds they decided to come to Tampa and I gotta say for their first convention here it was pretty good. I had a lot of fun and got to interview some fantastic talent and below is the result of the first of seven interviews coming to Bleeding Cool.
But before you start reading it let me tell you a little about the interviewee and his current comic. A.C. Medina is the creator/writer of the comic book Elasticator published by Scout Comics. What’s it about? Well, glad you asked.
In this neo-crime epic, we follow The Elasticator (aka Mikey Mazzagatti) as he tells us his story of life in Brooklyn during the height of the recession.
With a city on its knees and organized crime working alongside the government, Mikey must push past his own troubles towards a greater good.
Mixing equal parts humor and grit, Mikey goes from outcast to a neighborhood icon. Mikey pulls no punches as he tells a story of regret, hardship, and second chances.
And it is a lot of fun. Medina was kind enough to send me the first five issues and I was smiling from cheek to cheek. But enough about my enjoyment of this comic. Let’s get to the interview!
Marco: Alright, this is a question I ask everybody I interview, how did you get into loving comic books and how did you get started in the business?
A.C.Medina: Well, as far as getting into comics I’m at a weird point because the generation I grew up in comics we’re almost at the point of death. I’m twenty-two and most of the kids I grew up with, they’re into video games and cartoons and didn’t like comics. My mom used to do a lot of shopping and of course, I hated it and I would wander off even if I wasn’t supposed to. The places I would wander off to were comic shops in the malls, they were still in malls back then so it was cool and as soon as I went to my first comic shop that was it. I looked around and it was like ok, this is what I like, let me just explore here and my mom used to shop a lot and the clerk would see me often and it got to the point where it was like hey kid, what are doing here all the time, am I going to get in trouble for you coming in my store all the time?
Keep in mind I’m eight at the most, maybe younger and I just told him, I like this stuff but I have no friends who like it and when I told him that the guy just gave me a rundown of comics. It was cool because the shop ended up closing and turning into a GameStop but he ended up working there so I thought that was clever and we still talked about comics all the time. After that, I becoming friends with dudes in their thirties because I would be in the store all the time and it got to the point where I’d be asking my mom. I started doing my own thing, buying my own books and it was great until I moved and that’s when comics kind of died a little bit for me. But I always wanted to make comics, write them and it just all clicked, starting with me going in that comic shop.
Marco: That’s a great origin story man. Now how did the Elasticator comic come to be?
A.C. Medina: Ok well, I came up with Elasticator when I was sixteen. I used to play this old online game called Champions Online and you made your own superhero and mine was Elasticator. I got to the point where the game sucked but some people would write these stories about their characters and write them on these forums and I wrote this story and it got about five hundred replies and that was a lot. You had like seven pages of people talking about it and I thought oh man, maybe I can do this. This was right around the end of high school and I didn’t know what I was doing, so flash forward a couple of years later and I finally figured out that I want to be a writer so I went to a visual arts/film school and that turns out to be a total bust. I realized making film at a young age is hard and I had this thing where I would refuse to make the student projects so then I thought I can make a comic and do whatever I want, the budget is a lot cheaper and there are no limits. So, I started making Elasticator and at New York Comic Con last year, in 2015, I had enough to get a small booth or table and I had an ashcan and that’s where I met Scout Comics, the editorial director came by one morning and saw the book and a week later I was signing a contract, which is totally what you shouldn’t do but I like to think I got lucky. I also took a huge gamble myself because I could only afford that five-page preview unless I got some confirmation that it could go somewhere so I was lucky that I could do it there.
Marco: You’ve hit us with your origin story and told us how the comic was born. Now tell us in your words what the comic is about?
A.C. Medina: So Elasticator is a modern comic book/superhero story set in Brooklyn in the years 2004-2008. In the story, we follow the Elasticator aka Mikey Mazzagatti as he’s telling his story to two detectives about his life coming from an upstate New York suburban town to residing in Brooklyn, completely out of his element. His dad is out of work; his family is out of options so he takes matters into his own hands and picks some bad options. He decides to get into the world of drug dealing and in this world, things go south fast and he becomes Elasticator.
Marco: I love that you show this side of New York, not what some would call the ‘Disneyfied’ version, but the New York City we remember from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, there is still that part of New York there. Even though some don’t know it. That’s one of the things I love about this comic, I love how you approach it like the Goodfellas instead of the Godfather. It’s a very natural story and one you’ve heard so many times, even if you’ve never lived in New York, the whole don’t go to live in New York or this will happen. I love how the character takes certain paths that lead him to have to dig himself out of trouble. What sort of influences helped create this character and was it at all based on something or someone from your life?
A.C. Medina: There are a lot of correlations between Mikey’s life and my own life but one thing I wanted to do when I started making Elasticator, a lot of new creators want to instantly make this new stuff, make it unique and different whereas I didn’t. I took stories that have been told but I wanted to tell it with my voice. I didn’t want to change the rules and make it different just for the sake of being different, I just wanted to give my take on it. So, I wanted to apply that to Elasticator and one thing I always tell people during the pitch is that his actions not only affect his life forever but the people around him forever and the people of Brooklyn. Really, what we wanted to explore with Elasticator was the topic of gentrification. Now a lot of people, when they start a story like that they’ll hit you with it right from the beginning, I didn’t want to do that. I wanted that to be the end game so you could see where it was leading to and really Elasticator and the villain Brother V, they represent two sides of gentrification. Elasticator has good intentions, he wants to help his family and the people around him but he’s ruining everyone’s lives in the process and he still thinks what he’s doing is right but that’s the real question. Brother V is the exact opposite, he is changing it by force but he also has his own good intentions but we wanted to play with that the whole time, I wanted to show that even if these worlds have a lot of darkness in them, there’s a lot of light, a lot of fun. One movie, Do the Right Thing, one of things that make it so special is it’s a very fun exciting world that they’re in, it’s the world you want to be in but it’s getting ruined by outside circumstances so that’s what I wanted to show, that’s why I wanted to keep it fun, that’s why there’s the sun in our stories.
Marco: That’s what I love about comics because the thing about this comic, even if there are criminals, drug dealers, villains, at the core they are still people, they love movies, they have family they care about, they are still human, even if their decisions aren’t decisions you’d agree with and I think you captured that perfectly in the comic book. I notice on your page it says you are the creative director of Scout comics, so tell us a little bit about what that entails and how you came into that position.
A.C.Medina: Scout is becoming a company that is building new, powerful voices because they’re taking risks which is something most comic book companies don’t do these days, they just won’t risk it on the new guy and I want to make sure the creators are always represented well. I was one of the creators behind Elasticator and I got involved with the guys behind the publisher, they’re all a great group of people and we hit it off and I wanted to take on more of a role in the company. So basically, all I started doing was giving my take on stuff and giving them not only a creator’s perspective but a new creators perspective, I think that’s maybe how I landed the position. I don’t have a specific moment that landed me the job but I’d like to think it was because I voiced my opinion on everything and I wanted to make sure the creators were always represented but I also wanted it to be a team, like a family and wanted to build a bridge. That’s basically what I am, a bridge for Scout and their creators.
Marco: Now, Welcome to Paradise. I love everything from the art, the look of the characters, the visuals, everything so I want you to tell us a bit about Welcome to Paradise, what can we expect from it, whether it’s a mini-series, stuff like that.
A.C. Medina: Welcome to Paradise is a post-apocalyptic adventure story set in an underground bunker the size of California, three hundred years after the apocalypse. In our world, society knew it was coming to an end but they didn’t freak out, they just made the tough call, that is how many of us are going to survive and how many of us are going to die. The ones they decided are going to survive, they sent them into the bunker and when everyone got into the bunker they set up a new way of life that we plan on showing you. The thing that we’re playing with in this story is, a lot of post-apocalyptic these days, they hit you over the head with the idea that this world is bad. With Welcome to Paradise, we’re going to do that but it’s going to be again, the vibrancy, the fun aspect in an unlikely setting, I’d say it’s going to be tenfold in Welcome to Paradise because of the lead character, Manny. In a world where nobody wants to be alive, Manny not only wants to be alive, he wants to live life to the fullest in the apocalypse, so we get to explore that. Now Manny is going to come into possession of something very important in this world, and he doesn’t want it, but this item is going to make him a point of interest to two very dangerous people and that’s Bette and Gunner. Now, each of these three individuals, I consider them different versions of post-apocalyptic survivors and there’s a difference between a survivor and just a person. A survivor will succeed in this world; a person is just on a timer to their eventual death. Not these guys, they thrive in this environment, they were built for it and we get to explore that because it’s three hundred years after, society has set itself back up, it’s still living, there’s still a system to life they just have to adjust it. I’m excited to explore that and show it to everyone and again, is the bad really all that bad?
Marco: I love that, I also love the low tech meets new tech, the vehicles, the muscle cars…
A.C. Medina: That continues what we were saying, society continues to grow, technology didn’t stop they just have to figure out ok guys, we’re in an underground bunker, there’s not much we can do but we can do stuff and they figured out what they can build, that’s why we have hover boards, mechanical limbs, but we also have the old so it’s a good little balance, we’re really exploring the sense of life, what is living?
Marco: Is it going to be a mini-series?
A.C. Medina: Right now, it’s a five-issue mini-series but the options are endless.
Marco: So, to the audience who’ll be reading this, pitch to them why they should check out Scout comics and the books that you put out.
A.C. Medina: Well, a big hot topic in comics right now is that there’s a set system in place that can’t be changed. Scout comics are the exact opposite of that. Here it’s all about, where other publishers look at risks, we look at opportunities. That’s why there are creators like me, my first comic ever was the Elasticator, it was the first time I ever wrote a sequential story. I never did a webcomic, I never even did a practice comic but they took me on and they added me to their staff. Now I think that speaks for itself because that just doesn’t happen in our industry anymore. It’s sad, it’s stagnant and I think Scout is a real driving force in terms of changing that and I think what makes it even more special is you haven’t heard of that before. Scout doesn’t say oh, we’re here to change the mold, we just want to put out good comics, it just so happens we are putting out good comics while taking risks and breaking the mold. Our first lineup had Elasticator which was made by me, a Latino, and Kevin Shaw, an Indian, and Ross Gamble from Scotland and Michael Myers from Virginia. Solar Man had another diverse team, N. Steven Harris, Joe Illidge, and it had the past and the new so you look at those teams and you can see the risks happening there, there was just good comics we wanted to put out and that’s where we’re going to continue going. What’s exciting about the new year is we have experience behind us that’s only going to drive the new more, just expect more risk-taking and more rewards.
Well, that’s all she wrote. I hope you all enjoyed this interview. Let us know how you feel below. And don’t forget to check out Elasticator!
Marco Lopez is the co-owner of the website Atomic Rex Entertainment. Where you can find the ongoing weekly webcomic Massively Effective, that Marco describes as Abbott and Costello in tights. Also hosted on the site is Marco’s web strip series Orion’s Belt that follows an Afro-Latino family of adventurers in space and his anthology series A Shot of Whiskey. Marco has also written for Zenescope Entertainment and Lion Forge Comics.