Sunday 21st December 2014,
Comic Booked

Comic Confidential #14- Michael Sarrao

Raphael Moran 08/16/2012 Reviews

Michael Sarrao’s new comic project “Unmasked” has been one of the great success stories of Kickstarter.  Crowd funding has been all the rage for indie comic creators and seems to be the way of the future with such a uncertain publishing and distribution system in the current buisness environment.  After I read the first two issues of his fantastic comic series, I knew I had to talk to him.  He’s a fellow Brooklyn comic creator like I am, so seeing him succeed with his Kickstarter almost felt like it was a brother in arms that won the great battle.  You can read my review of the first issue here and the second issue here.  Find out more about the superstar in the making, Michael Sarrao.  See how Michael came up with his comic series and what his future plans are.  Don’t get left out of the superhero loop.  Unmasked is one comic series that all superhero fans need to read.  Check out my interview with him below to find out more about his comic series and tons more.   

Raph-

When did you become a comic fan?   What was the first comic you read?

Michael-

I was 7 years old when my father bought me my first comic book.  We were in a deli by Union Square in Manhattan and the only book that caught my eye was Crisis on Infinite Earths #7.  For those that don’t know, that’s the issue where Supergirl dies saving Superman. A definitive death…that lasted 20 years and in the comic book industry that’s forever!  Probably not the best issue for a 7 year old to read but it definitely left a lasting impression.  Superman, for me, was a larger than life character as seen in the movies with the late great Christopher Reeve.  And in this issue his young cousin sacrifices herself to save him.  I really feel that had a profound effect on me as I learned even superheroes could die.  When I created Paige Cruise I didn’t make the connection until sometime after that she was, in fact, influenced by Supergirl.  Smart, beautiful and full of life yet she puts herself in danger to do the right thing…the moral thing. That’s who Paige is at her core and I think in a subconscious way, she originated from that tragic issue.  The cover to Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 is one of the most iconic covers in comic book history.  When I spoke to John Broglia about creating the cover to Unmasked #3 I specifically told him that I wanted the cover to be a bit of an homage to that issue…and you can see the similarities. 

Raph-

How and when did you come up with the story behind Unmasked?

 

Michael-

I came up with the story of Unmasked ten years ago during the hype for the first Spider-Man movie.  A movie that had spent years in development hell was now going to happen and it looked damn cool.  I was reading an article about it in Wizard when the wheels in my head started turning.  What if we didn’t know who these people were behind the masks?  What would they look like?  Who would they be?  Anyone can be behind the masks and I wanted to bring that mystery and surprise back to a genre that had revealed all the identities of their heroes to the audience.  And who was going to do the unmasking? I conjured a beautiful female reporter in Paige Cruise.  Now, up until that point, all of my characters from other screenplays and short stories were men.  I wanted to try something different which is why I created Paige.  She’s definitely a combination of Lois Lane, Supergirl with a little bit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer thrown in there.  I’ve even referenced Paige as being the Mulder of Superheroes (a nice shout out to the X-Files).  Once I knew who she was, creating her mission and building her supporting cast around her became easy and a lot of fun.   

Raph-

 This is a huge undertaking.  I personally know how much it costs to finance a comic series.  Was that the main reason you went with the Kickstarter route? 

Michael-

Absolutely.  Not only to fund the book but to gauge interest from comic book readers.  This is my first mini series so the reaction to the story, characters, themes etc. was going to be very important for me.  And here I am a full month into the project and the support has been incredible.  When it first started, John and I had virtually no fan base, but now we have over 200 backers in addition to many people on Facebook etc that have yet to pledge.  With Kickstarter, you’re more connected to your audience because you are creating and molding things for them.  That’s why I added some really fun incentives like “have your name in Paige’s Journal as a suspected superhero or supervillian!”  That’s a lot of fun and it really makes this whole process very personal and hands on. 

Raph-

Now that you’ve had a success with Kickstarter will you do all your creator owned titles this way?

Michael-

I’d like to.  I have a lot of ideas, many of which I’ve either started with John Broglia or with other artists like Matthew Leporacci and Dody Eka.  I created my own imprint, Idea Engine Productions, for the specific reason to explore the dozens of concepts and stories that I’ve created over the last few years.  The Unmasked Kickstarter has created a great initial fan base to which I can build upon with my next project or projects.  I literally have dozens of great stories and characters that I’m itching to bring to life.  Idea Engine is my brand and I’m hoping that through Kickstarter I can share them with anyone that’s interested in the drive and innovation that goes into creator owned comics. 

Raph- 

Are there any plans to take Unmasked to an established publisher?

Michael-

I would definitely explore taking Unmasked to a creator owned publisher and that will probably be my next step.  But for the time being I’m happy to build upon the universe via Kickstarter and Idea Engine.  And as we can all see with the Unmasked Kickstarter project, there’s definitely interest and an eager fan base.                                               

Raph-

If some editor at DC or Marvel came to you right now, what comic title would you want to write and why?

Michael-

Well the dream book would be Superman, first and foremost.  He’s the greatest superhero in history so to be given a chance to write for that character would be a tremendous honor.  I’ve also done some journalistic work in the past so I can relate to Clark Kent and his job at the Daily Planet.  Plus I would really have a lot of fun with his supporting cast of Lois, Jimmy and Perry.  Much like Unmasked, my Superman story would be fun, with lots of action but there has to be a threat that would cause a moral dilemma for him. We have to challenge Superman, not just physically but mentally as well.  I have a couple of ideas that I’m developing…just in case I hear from someone at DC.  Other books that I’d love to tackle would include Batman, Spider-Man, Daredevil, Booster Gold (I’d have a lot of fun with that book) as well as team books like Justice League, Teen Titans, Avengers and X-Men. 

Raph- 

Tell the people at Comic Booked why they should buy Unmasked.

Michael-

Unmasked is a different take on your usual superhero tale.  I wanted to deconstruct these larger than life characters and by doing so added the mystery and suspense back to the people that are under those masks. We don’t know who any of these people are until they’re UNMASKED!  Our main character doesn’t have superpowers, she’s not a superhero yet she’s willing to put her life on the line to unmask superheroes that are willing to kill.  And as we know, superheroes don’t kill…because they don’t need to. 

Anyone in the book could be under the mask.  Anyone that John and I could’ve sneaked into a panel or mentioned in a passing piece of dialogue.  So I would suggest that people keep a key eye even on the most trivial of panels.  You just don’t know if you’ve got your first glimpse of what one of these New Age Heroes look like without their masks.  We do this twice in the first volume and will do it a lot more as the other volumes roll in. 

Raph-

How did you hook up with your artists?

Michael-

Back in 2007 I was given some great advice from a fellow Brooklyn College Alum Vinnie Favale who is the Vice President of CBS Late Night Television.  I had told him of my difficulty in getting people to read my screenplays.  I was an unknown writer trying to get some big dreams off the ground.  Vinnie suggested that I find an artist and convert my screenplays into comic books.  The images alone would help convey the stories that I wanted to tell.  After mentioning this to one of my coworkers, she suggested that I speak to her friend who was a very talented artists.  This was John Broglia.  I saw some of his artwork online and decided to reach out.  He was interested in the concept and had read my Unmasked screenplay.  He was sold on the idea and we were off to the races creating this whole new world of dynamic characters.  I knew exactly what I wanted characters like Dagger II, Paige and Freedom II to look like and John just knocked it out of the park. 

Raph-

What are the future plans for Unmasked?

Michael-

I’ve planned out several volumes of Unmasked which will explore the path Paige will take.  I know where her story takes her…and possibly ends.  I don’t want to say how many volumes I have in mind but there are several.  I will say that Volume 1 just scratches the surface to the potential of this world and there are plenty of great stories to tell and people to unmask. 

Raph- 

Did you always plan on doing a live action webisode series?

Michael-

Unmasked started as a script for a TV pilot years ago.  I had always envisioned it as such.  After I was encouraged by several friends and supporters, I decided to explore the idea of working with actors on webisodes based on the Unmasked characters.  This is something that happened last year so it wasn’t in the game plan originally.  It’s incredibly ambitious but I think there is some strong potential there to tell really great and compelling stories.  Paige is such a strong character that seeing her being played by a talented actress brings a unique dynamic to Unmasked as a whole.  Not many people are complimenting their comic books with live action webisodes.  It’s a pretty demanding task but I feel the results are going to be well worth it.

 

Follow Unmasked on Facebook and go to the Unmasked website for more.

 

 

 

 

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About The Author

I'm a comic writer who happens to also write about comics. In 2011, Ape Entertainment published my first comic series called, Dream Reavers. Future comic projects will more than likely make your brain melt with enjoyment, so do yourself a favor and check them out. That is all.

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