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MT from Heroineburgh
Heroineburgh is a Comic Book and Web Series created by a Collective of Nerds from Pittsburgh, PA. We talked about the Heroineburgh project with MT in depth.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with me this week. Please tell the readers a bit about yourself and the work you do.
MT: I’m the creator of Heroineburgh, an Original Superhero Universe based in a fantastical version of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which has become a long-running live-action video series with 18 episodes, a comic book, and a newspaper comic strip. My job has been to consistently coordinate it all since 2017.
Tell me a bit about the inspiration behind Heroineburgh.
MT: The most direct inspiration for Heroineburgh was a promotional video created by a hilariously entertaining and campy local theatrical presentation called Pittsburgh Batman. Around that time (2014) I was starting to plunge heavily back into comics, and catch up on tons of things I missed in the 1990s and 2000s.
So, the more I read all of these titles, the more ideas popped up in my head for comic characters I could bring to life, and it eventually congealed into the Heroineburgh universe.
What is your involvement in the project and what is your origin story?
MT: I’m the writer and publisher of the Heroineburgh comic book. In the arena of the live-action video episodes, I take on many more roles including producer, director, cameraman, costumer, prop master and location scout. My lifelong enjoyment of superheroes and science-fiction began in the late 1970s with books, comics, TV shows and movies.
My secret origin involved walking into the Murray Avenue News Stand near my childhood home, and walking out with a stack of comics and baseball cards every week, or going to the library and immersing myself in a copy of Dune or Foundation or The Left Hand of Darkness. The first comic I followed for a long time was George Perez’s New Teen Titans, but Wolfman and Infantino’s Dial H for Hero in the pages of Adventure Comics made me realize I could invent my own characters and scenarios.
The indie explosion of the 1980s also demonstrated that it was possible to publish your own books, and I followed titles from First, Comico, Eclipse, Fantagraphics and several other companies.
Heroineburgh is clearly influenced by Female Driven Stories but where does the overall comic book genre sit for you? What are your go to’s?
MT: The female-driven stories come from a strong admiration of the power and grace of superheroines since I first began reading comics and watching live-action shows, but I also owe a good deal to my mother’s staunch second-wave feminism from the 1970s and 1980s.
There are so many great writers and artists that it’s hard to mention them all, but other than George Perez, I would mention Bill Black (of Fem Force), the Hernandez Brothers (Love & Rockets), Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner, Chris Claremont, Alan Moore, Billy Tucci, Bill Willingham, Brian Pulido, J. Scott Campbell, J. Michael Straczynski, and so many more.
When I returned to the fold, I became a considerable fan of Adam Warren’s Empowered, Jay Faerber (Noble Causes/Dynamo 5), Robert Kirkman’s Invincible, Warren Ellis’ Authority and Planetary, Garth Ennis’ The Boys, Mark Millar’s Jupiter’s Legacy, and Brian Bendis’ Powers, among others. The litany just goes on and on!
What are your biggest obstacles when it comes to your work? How do you overcome them?
MT: The hardest thing about producing the work is coordinating all the moving parts – and when you have both a comic book and a live-action video series, there are a lot of them. The only way to do it is simply to keep persisting and pestering, and if you run up against an intractable obstacle, you find a way around it.
One aspect everyone who publishes their own work has to be aware of is the considerable time it takes to promote and sell it. Having heard terrible things about working with distributors, I decided to sell my own product direct to consumers on the web and to customers in the stores.
Now we have a network of comic shops across the continent (and a couple overseas) which carry Heroineburgh Comics #1, and downloads for the video episodes across the globe. The customer base is still small, but it is steady and growing. So the other problem which needs to be solved is finding the time to do all that. The answer is incrementalism: each day, set a few goals which need to be accomplished, and try to meet them. Never get overwhelmed!
How did you go about finding the right artist to work on this project?
MT: With Heroineburgh, the key was to try to work only with creators in Pittsburgh area – not just for ease of access and communication, but also because they would be the ones most likely to appreciate the tenor of the project, and to put forth the ideal authenticity. So far this has succeeded.
We began by asking our main live-action villain, Benjamin Zeus Barnett (who plays the corrupt Detective Mark Drake), to draw the interiors with his skill as an artist. Our friend Jason Wright came on board for covers and character renderings due to his incredible career with DC Comics (over 650 titles in his listings), and another longtime friend, Marcel Walker (ubiquitous regionally for his comics prowess) was game for additional pinups.
Then we reached out and found Wayne Brown (of Like Father Like Daughter) for our comic strip, Howard Bender (of 1980s DC/Marvel Comics fame), and artist Anne Strongman. And we are still bringing in more local talent..for example, we just found an artist who completed a Mandalorian card set for Topps. There’s a ton of comic-related talent in the Pittsburgh area and many great comic book shops as well. Even the comics themselves are printed at a local company in Pittsburgh! (PGHPrint, formerly known as Flower City Printmakers)
Many of us creators work on projects outside of our 9-5 jobs. Do you have any advice for balancing careers with passion projects/side hustles?
MT: The Pittsburgh area is a fairly cheap and simple place to live – you have a lot of the charm of a smaller town but with the amenities of a big city. So I would advise people to live cheaply and simply. Cut out a lot of unnecessary financial costs and time-eating mundane pursuits which don’t allow you enough time to flourish creatively.
Work enough to live, rather than living to work. If possible, leave the fancy and expensive cities of the coasts and flee towards the hinterlands, using the Internet as your lifeline to society, but always cherish the in-personcontact you can have with like-minded individuals.
Form a small group of mutually supportive artists and thinkers, wherever you live (for example, our inner circle includes The Edge Comics and Music Maker Comix…two more series created in Pittsburgh).
Do you have any upcoming events/projects/releases you would like to discuss?
MT: The next release for Heroineburgh is Episode 18, which is a double-length feature divided into two parts for easier download size. This will continue our tradition of offering a mix of action, adventure, drama, comedy and romance. “All in the finest spandex and capes,” as our motto goes.
Then shortly after that, Issue #2 will be released to the world, featuring a solo story for the feline fury Savanna, and heroine team-up involving aerial and ground battles against a destructive army of robots. As the season rolls on, we’ll continue to complete shoots for Episode 19, which should come out early next year, and then follow up in the summer with Issue #3. And so on!
If I had time for another project, I would expound on a concept I had for a series about the North African warrior queen who resisted the onslaught of the Islamic invasion in the 7th century – some called her Dihya and others Kahina. It wasn’t clear whether she was Christian, Jewish or Pagan, but I’d say she had the same indomitable spirit that the Celtic Boudicca had against the Romans.
I first learned about her story – if you can believe this – from an episode of the show “Relic Hunter” starring Tia Carrere. Anyway, if someone else winds up doing this before I do, you’ll almost surely deduce from where they grabbed the idea!
Thank you for taking the time to do this! Where can readers find you and your work?
MT: You can find our downloads at the Video Store on our website. Also on that site is a way to directly order the comic books on a drop-down page titled “Comic Book”, but if at all possible, we’d prefer that you support the list of nearly 100 comic shops carrying our title, which are also listed on that page. We have social media on Facebook, Twitter, and Deviant Art, as well as many clips on Youtube, with all the links listed below.
Thanks so much for letting me participate in this interview!