Marat Mychaels "Blindsides" the Comics Industry

It's only fitting that the return of a comic titled "Blindside" would be somewhat unexpected.

The first series featuring the titular superhero-action-spy created by Marat Mychaels was originally released in 1996 through Image Comics and the Rob Liefeld-helmed Extreme Studios. Despite more than solid sales, the title was a casualty of Liefeld and Extreme's exit from the publisher, with only one issue ever seeing print. Now, a decade and a half later, Mychaels is resurrecting Blindside through series co-writer Jon Goff's publishing company, Contraband Comics.

Mychaels spoke with CBR about the character's resurrection, saying he's still asked about the chances of the character's return at every convention he goes to and emphasizing that now that "Blindside" has returned, it is available digitally, as well as in print.

While over 15 years have passed since Blindside's first appearance, the basic premise behind the character and comic remains the same. The series follows super-powered undercover agent Richard Kemp -- who has a secret code to unlock the powerful Medusa Helmet - as he's hunted by spy agencies, weapons manufacturers and criminal organizations.

"His friends become enemies, his enemies become friends and nothing is exactly what you think it is," Mychaels said, emphasizing that his and Goff's story acts as a jumping on point for new readers, as well as a satisfying tale for those waiting for Blindside's return. The story is removed a few years from the original comic and will eventually fill in the gaps in Blindside's timeline.

Aside from pleasing Blindside's cult following, Mychaels is creating the type of comic he wants to read. "We aren't trying to reinvent the wheel or have 20 pages of snappy dialogue," Mychaels said. "Blindside is an ass-kicker. That's what he does; tons of guns, bullets, explosions, kicks and punches -- all within a context of a cool story."

Reminiscing about the book's first launch in '96, Mychaels said, "I remember being excited because it outsold Alan Moore's first issue of 'Supreme.' I remember spending 18 straight hours with the guys at Extreme Color. They colored the whole book in that time.

"I was really proud of it," Mychaels continued. "It was the first time at Extreme Studios I got to really put together the whole package. Rob (Liefeld) gave me tons of creative freedom on 'Brigade,' 'Knightmare' and anything else I worked on, but this was my baby from A-to-Z. Unfortunately, 'Blindside' was an innocent victim of the Image Comics and Rob Liefeld divorce. I had three issues all pencilled. Only one saw print, and the others where lost in a house fire I had in 2008." 

While "Blindside" harkens back to the spirit of Image Comics-past, an approach sure to please fans of the character, Mychaels is also utilizing newer self-publishing techniques for the title's relaunch.

"You can't ask the retailers to order tons of copies, and if they order one or two, even my fans might not know the book has been released. So, we decided to release the book digitally through Comics Plus and make hard copies available directly through thecargohold.com, or from me at conventions. We are also trying to line up as many store variants as we can. That way I know the retailers will not only support, but promote 'Blindside.' I see 'Blindside' as a little boutique line -- we aren't available at a big chain stores like Macy's, but we are worth making the effort to find." 

In addition to his plans to promote the series in the months ahead, Mychaels also utilized Kickstarter to help fund the title's relaunch. "There would be no book without Kickstarter. I wanted to put together a team of talented creators to help me produce a book I am proud of. I will work for free, but I can't ask everyone else involved to do the same," Mychaels said. The money raised, over $10,000, went towards bringing aboard J. Scott Campbell for a variant cover, inker Adelso Corona, co-writer Goff and others.

"Plus, all those fans that wanted 'Blindside' back had an opportunity to help make it happen," Mychaels said. "It was great to see them step up and put their money where their mouth is. I think they will like what they see. I'm proud of issue #1, and #2 is even better."

Mychaels' ex-Extreme studio-mate Dan Fraga is also contributing a cover, as well as Rob Liefeld, who Mychaels began his comics career under. "I was the first Image Comics rookie, and the fans I gained then still support my work today," Mychaels said. "Besides giving me that amazing opportunity, Rob and I have become great friends through the years. Rob is one of the most knowledgeable people in the industry. He understands comics inside and out. Plus, he has seen it all. His perspective on this industry is matched by very few. Talking comics with him is always fascinating."

Looking back at his evolution as an artist, Mychaels said the year "Blindside" first appeared was a major step in the evolution of his art style. "1996 was actually the beginning of my change in direction, artistically," Mychaels recalled. "I was starting to listen to all the critics about the 'Image style,' so I purposely wrote the story in manner where Blindside never appears as a superhero in the first issue. It's where I began thinking about more than getting to the splashiest shot in the book.

"I started appreciating the subtle gesture as much as the big heroic shot," Mychaels continued. "Funny enough, I think the industry is sorely lacking that 'Image style' these days. It's like most artists are afraid to go big. But the fans love it, and this book is for the fans, not the critics."

"Blindside," by Marat Mychaels and Jon Goff, is available today.

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