Self-Published Spotlight: BIG Big Bang Comics

Welcome to Self-Published Spotlight, a regular interview column where I will be highlighting self-published comics and the creators and small print publishers who make them.

Big Bang Comics has had a storied history in the world of comics. Born of a pure love for the medium, the concept created by Gary Carlson and Chris Ecker has grown throughout the years to become bigger, better, and bolder. So when comic critic and journalist Michael Fitzgerald Troy launched a Kickstarter campaign for an oversized Treasury Edition style collection, I knew I had to learn much more about it. Michael, as he is on his YouTube Channel, MFTtv, was a deep well of knowledge and brimming with enthusiasm. So check out that chat and more importantly back this project so we can all have it in our hands!
Monkeys Fighting Robots: So Michael, tell us a bit about Big Bang Comics.

Michael Fitzgerald Troy: Big Bang Comics is one of the longest-running independent comic book publishers founded by Gary Carlson and Chris Ecker with a pure desire to make the kinds of comics they grew up loving. And you can really see the inspiration that went into the creation of the largely Golden And Silver-Aged flavored homage style characters. But they are much more than knockoffs and shouldn’t be dismissed as such. These characters have stood the test of time and were thoughtfully and lovingly created by Gary and Chris. Big Bang started as Megaton that would through no fault of its own turn into a roughly 64-page annual anthology. Coming out basically when they could through grassroots publishing mechanisms. Megaton is especially noteworthy because it arguably had a hand in helping launch the careers of Erik Larsen and Rob Liefeld. Early versions of Savage Dragon and Youngblood make their first appearances in Megaton comics-promoting Rob Liefeld to coin Gary Carlson “The Grandfather of Image Comics.” Eventually, Gary and Chris wanted to focus the shift to the more Silver and Golden age characters they loved so much and Big Bang was born! After varying publishing deals and a stint at Image Comics Big Bang has continued publication mostly through Indyplanet where you can find an extensive backlog of Big Bang Comics.

Art by Dandy Don Simpson
MFR: How did you get involved with this project? How and when did it start?
MFT: When I interviewed Gary (Carlson) for my YouTube channel (MichaelFitzTroyTv) it occurred to me that it was kind of a shame that this humble legend in the comic industry was relegated to print on demand. Arguably, there’s nothing against it-it allows Big Bang an affordable platform to continue publishing. I just thought they deserved something more. Something special. And that’s where my BIG Big Bang Comics Pop Art anthology tribute was born! From my big, gigantic, artistic ego. I’m a cartoonist myself and definitely have a pop art slant. I was impressed by a lot of the artists I’d seen out there and actually had the pleasure to work with on some fan projects and whatnot. I especially loved what Eli Schwab at Cosmic Lion Productions was doing. His Ghost Agents project with Rocko Jerome seemed like a perfect model for what I wanted to do for a Big Bang tribute. A gorgeous art-focused treasury-sized format. Plus they do a Kickstarter to pay the artists. Seems like a good plan. Plus Big Bang had never done a Kickstarter before and they seemed open to it. I knew it had to be something really special to warrant a Kickstarter and let me tell you- THIS is something special! I thought a treasury-sized anthology with some of the most amazing up-and-coming artists that I know is the book I want to read. So that’s the book I’m going to make. I pitched it to Eli, I pitched it to Gary- they all said “yes” and here we are. And ego may have been the impetus but it’s far from the muse.
MFR: How did you score that sweet Jim Rugg cover?
MFT:With great power comes great responsibility” and that’s in the DNA of every tried and true fanboy. I knew it had to be special. I knew we needed a little something, something. I knew we needed Jim Rugg. So, luckily I had a good in with Jim having interviewed him for my channel and I basically told him why he was the one that had to do the cover. And thankfully, he enthusiastically agreed! And gave us this beautiful Silver-Aged flavored “Baseball Card” style cover. He brilliantly suggested we turn into a trading card set as an incentive for the Kickstarter. (Which of course we did!) and that really speaks to the thoughtfulness you’re going to get out of a Jim Rugg cover. I couldn’t be happier-and Jim was drawn in by the treasury format and the chance to draw classic superheroes. Something he rarely does. As an editor that was oddly satisfying for me. To have it be meaningful and not just a paycheck!
MFR: There are multiple covers correct?

MFT: Yes. For the Golden Age fans, we have an amazing “chase” variant cover by the ever-amazing Kerry Callen. That was another satisfying moment in the endless list of mounting satisfying moments from working on this project. Apparently, Gary Carlson has been wanting to work with Kerry for years and it’s been a dream come true for him to see Kerry’s depiction of the characters he created. I was beyond the moon to be able to facilitate that. I actually have another Big BBC contributor Sam J. Royale to thank for the suggestion.

Chase Cover Variant by Kerry Callen.

MFT: Another major score for the book is Nick Cagnetti who has supplied the jaw-dropping Berzerker centerfold you’ll see associated with the campaign. I recently fell in love with Pink Lemonade and also interviewed him for my channel! See kids- if you want to work with the top talent in the Biz you need a YouTube channel or shameless tenacity. Fortunately for this project, I have both. Luckily Nick said yes. I gave him the tiniest thumbnail and he gave me this epic sweeping two-page spread that would make Erik Larsen jealous! And low-key- I hope it does! Rounding out the power players is Mahdi Khene. One of the most unique voices in indie comics right now. I was aware of Mahdi before Bootleg Spider-Man made him indie famous and I’m so happy we have him in the book. Another example of how perfectly this project came together. I told Mahdi I wanted him, period. And I held my breath. And he gave me the most amazing dead-on pitch-perfect Big Bang pin-up. It really speaks to his voice as an auteur to be able to mail the character so concisely. And so horribly really. He did rip off Ultiman’s face after all. To his credit Gary loved and man was I relieved!

Art by Nick Cagnetti
MFR: What’s it been like working with Gary, who seems like one of your heroes?
MFT: Gary has been the Jiminy Cricket in my ear the whole time. The real guiding force. I’ve taken delicate care to ensure that he approves of everything we’re putting in the book. He trusted the right guy I will tell you that. I have been so protective of these characters.
MFR: What other talent have you brought into the book?
MFT: So, after all the name-dropping- I have to say that there are a number of talented up-and-coming artists involved in the project. Some of the most unique and talented cartoonists I’m either a fan or friend or thankfully in many cases both. And it’s not just pin-ups. While the book is very art focused and takes full advantage of the treasury-sized format I wanted it to have substance too. So we have a handful of really great short stories featuring all the Big Bang classic heroes. The list of creators is crazy good! The aforementioned Sam J. Royale, Milo Trent, Jason Foster, Mike Madrid, Jason Quinones, James WINDSOR-Smith, Evan Quiring, Kasey BOUCHARD, The Q Method, Steven A. Wilcox, Bill McEvoy, and many more. A special shout out to the amazing Barry Tan who started with 2 pinups and now has 6! He also gets special credit as my personal therapist through this process. It means more to me than he’ll ever know. And I got to color some of his work. I’m actually acting as a colorist on a lot of the book. I’m kind of known for my wild color palette so I’m hoping some of that shines through. My battle cry throughout has been “Brignt! Beautiful colors! Bright beautiful superheroes!” I want this book to be beautiful not dark and muddy. It’s a superhero comic book for the love of Pete! I approached the stories with a “do no harm” approach. Out all the toys back in the sandbox unscathed. I mean except for Ultiman’s face. The stories aren’t necessarily canon but could be. There’s a great story with Megaton and Ultragirl that is a little squirrelly on continuity but it’s beautifully drawn by Christian Meesey so I had to make it work. There’s so much goodness here! For all comic book fans. For lovers of beautiful art and classic superheroes with a pop art twist. This book is incredible. There’s nothing else like it. A 100-page plus treasury-sized anthology with some of the top talent in the biz bringing nothing less than their A game. I’m so proud of this book. I hope it’s a huge Kickstarter smash and we get to do a sequel!

Make sure you support BIG BIG BANG COMICS! Click that link! 

Manuel Gomez
Manuel Gomez
Assistant Comic Book Editor. Manny has been obsessed with comics since childhood. He reads some kind of comic every single day. He especially loves self-published books and dollar bin finds. 'Nuff said!