Starting in October, the VIZ Kids imprint will be releasing original comics based on the hit Cartoon Network series,REDAKAI, in addition to books like VOLTRON FORCE, MAMESHIBA and MR. MEN. The anime-styled show follows a group of plucky kids, Team Stax, who are racing to find the all-powerful Kairu energy before it falls to the evil overlord Lokar and his minions, the E-Teens.
We’ve had the totally rad opportunity to chat with some of the writers and artists who’re bringing these adventures to print. Last week, we interviewed...
Today, it's Mike Raicht.
ANIME VICE: What’s your role in this rather sizable endeavor? What were you doing before the REDAKAI card was dealt to you?
Mike Raicht: I'm a writer. Joel Enos, VIZ editor extraordinaire, approached me to pitch a few stories for the upcoming REDAKAI anthology. I believe my name was mentioned to him by my STUFF OF LEGEND co-creator, Brian Smith, who was working on the VOLTRON books for VIZ at the time. Joel asked me to concentrate on stories to expand on the characterization seen on the show. I was lucky enough to have them go for more than a few of my ideas.
When I'm not writing REDAKAI or teaching at LeMoyne College, I'm writing comic books like G.I. JOE: INFESTATION, GODZILLA, and DARK SHADOWS. I'm also constantly working on THE STUFF OF LEGEND series with the rest of my co-creators.
AV: GODZILLA, GHOSTBUSTERS and DARK SHADOWS are all well-established institutions, of course - - but were you familiar with REDAKAI before you started this book?
MR: I was not familiar with the Redakai universe before being approached, but as soon as I was asked to pitch on it I was able to view a few episodes. I think only a few parts had aired out when I was initially approached. I watched them with my son and he was immediately taken into the world. He loved the battles and the playfulness of the characters - - especially Boomer.
AV: What struck you the most about the show when you were first acquainting yourself with it?
MR: I loved the idea of a group of characters who were learning to work together as a team and trying to protect the world from a madman and his minions. That was extremely compelling and more than enough to convince me Redakai was something I'd like to be a part of.
AV: And what does your son think about his Dad getting to spin the adventures of these characters?
MR: Austin is usually interested in things I'm working on so REDAKAI has been on his radar for a while now. He get a preview of the first story and dug Boomer and the villains of the story.
AV: A more important question - - realistically, do you think you could beat him in a REDAKAI card game?
MR: I'm not sure if he could beat me in the card game quite yet, but if there was a Wii game involving swinging wildly he would kick my butt.
AV: All right, we know what your son thinks of this gig, but what about you? What have you enjoyed the most about handling these adventures of young Master Ky in REDAKAI?
MR: I like exploring the relationships between the characters and expanding on their friendships. I've most enjoyed how they are just one big family fighting to keep the world safe.
AV: Any players out of Team Stax and the various groups of E-Teens that you particularly like writing?
MR: As far as the character go, I think I'm probably like most people in that I like writing Boomer. He's always overreacting to the situations the Team finds itself in. It makes him a fun character to write and for the other characters to work off of. I also like writing Master Baoddai. He has a surprisingly dry wit.
AV: Ha! Boomer's been the #1 favorite character out of all the creators we've talked to. Speaking of which, which artist did you work with on this book?
MR: My first story was drawn by Dan Ciurczak.
AV: What was it like working with him?
MR: He really did an amazing job with it. We've got a lot of cool moments in this first graphic novel and he far exceeded all of my expectations on each one. I especially love his design for the villains of the story. I think the story turned out to be a lot of fun.
AV: Obviously, though this project’s being produced stateside, VIZ has a staggering catalog of imported manga. Are you an otaku? What are some of your favorite manga titles?
MR: I don't have a ton of manga experience. My tastes in reading skew a bit older with UZIMAKI, ROBOTECH and GATCHAMAN were influences on me as reworked cartoons. As a kid, I remember running home from school to make sure I could watch the Amercian version of GATCHAMAN, G-FORCE. I'm not sure if that counts, but it did to me as an 11-year-old.
AV: Have they had any influence on your work?
MR: ROBOTECH probably influenced me the most as a kid because it was one of the only cartoons I watched where people actually died in battle. It was intense and added a whole new layer of drama to my young world.
AV: ROBOTECH really made an impression on the whole American animation community - - from important animators to simple fans. It even led to the death of Optimus Prime! Would you describe REDAKAI as non-stop fun and sun, or are there moments of ROBOTECH-like intensity?
MR: I think it's a nice balance of fun and intensity. My story in the first REDAKAI graphic novel leans more towards the fun end of the spectrum. At least I hope! Ky and his gang have an upbeat nature to them. They are, however, embroiled in an overarching story that can have intense moments.
Overall, I think REDAKAI has a lot more of a questing/adventure side to it that ROBOTECH doesn't always have. Plus, an intergalactic war can be a bit downbeat. However, you have to realize that I'm not sure if the ROBOTECH of my youthul mind's eye even matches up to the intensity I remember it having. According to my 10-year-old mind, it was non-stop robot madness and warfare with death's abound. REDAKAI has all of the action and adventure minus the mayhem of all-out war.
AV: Say these books, or even this interview, get some readers curious to check out more of your work. Where can they get the rest of the Mike Raicht experience?
MR: Most of my books are available in comic stores everywhere as well as online digitally. I know a lot of comic stores and book stores carry STUFF OF LEGEND, as well as my more mainstream work on G.I. JOE, GODZILLA and DARK SHADOWS. I'm not sure if all of these fan bases cross over but I hope people who are interested in checking my other work out give it a shot.
And everyone is welcome to stop by my Twitter or Facebook accounts to talk REDAKAI or anything else I might be working on.