Ian Ascher: The last time we saw Megastar was in Digital Webbing Presents Vol. 1, #34. For those that missed the debut of the character, tell us a little more about him.
Mike Exner III: Megastar’s current iteration was actually inspired by Dwayne McDuffie and company’s Milestone Comics “Dakotaverse”, believe it or not. For those unfamiliar with the concept, Dakota was the city where most of the Milestone Comics stories took place. The story was that Dakota was inundated with gang crime, and during a major brawl between rival gangs the mayor of Dakota tried to eliminate the gangs with an experimental gas. Most of the gang members did die, but some were altered by the gas in a variety of ways in what’s now referred to as the “Big Bang”. Some of the survivors were mutated, some gained superhuman abilities, some became heroes, and some turned into villains.So when I decided to create Megastar, I wondered what would happen if, instead of a situation like that taking place in an urban environment, it took place in a setting like Hollywood? Enter Crescent City and it’s most famous celebrity, Michael Whitman. Picture him as the most famous movie star you can think of that woke up one day with superpowers. There have been stories about superheroes that turned into celebrities, but I wanted to find out what would happen if somebody that was ALREADY a world renowned celebrity got superpowers. Megastar is my way of commenting on familiar superhero tropes and society’s obsession with celebrity culture. All of his villains and allies are people in showbiz that were also changed in some way by the same event that gave Megastar his abilities. One of those villains is SFX, a special effects guru who becomes capable of performing ACTUAL movie magic in the upcoming Digital Webbing Presents #10.
Ascher: Speaking of SFX, tell us a little more about the story appearing in Digital Webbing Presents #10 on Comixology.
Exner III: Well, Megastar is enjoying a quiet morning when he’s rudely interrupted by his younger brother, Sammy Whitman. Sammy wants to pitch Megastar another of his harebrained ideas, an animated series based on Megastar’s superheroic exploits. SFX uses the opportunity to cast a spell that shunts Megastar into the cartoon. From there, Megastar has to fight his way out of the program so he can take SFX down. Hilarity ensues, as well as a heaping dose of action in the decidedly Digital Webbing manner.Ascher: Sounds like it was a blast to work on. How about the creators you collaborated with to bring the story to life? There’s quite a few of them, yeah?
Exner III: There are, and they’ve all been fantastic to work with. I actually started the story waaaaaaay back in 2007 with JAKE BILBAO handling all of the art duties, and he turned in 14 beautifully pencilled pages before our momentum fizzled. When I recently decided to bring the project back to life, I knew that Jake’s realistic art-style would suit the part of the story that took place in the “real world” perfectly, but for the portion that took place in the cartoon I wanted an artist I knew could pull that off. And luckily for me, the amazingly talented DARIO CARRASCO was available.
And then not only did Dario turn in some remarkable pages, he also put me in contact with one of my favorite guys in comics, MARK STEGBAUER to ink every page, and I think you’ll see that Mark handled both the realistic and cartoony pages with equal skill and dedication. When it came time to find a colorist, one of the things I did was send feelers out on the Digital Webbing forums (plug!) and was fortunate to connect with Yuan Cakra who did a bang up job as well.
As for the cover, artist D.C. Stuelpner did some beautiful line art, and Paul Little added his usual brilliant, high quality colors to bring it all together. I was really thrilled to work with each and every person involved.Ascher: Where can we find more of your work?
Exner III: There isn’t much of it out there at the moment, but I’m steadily working to change that! My biggest claim to fame is a short comic story in Dark Horse’s “Once Upon a Time Machine” anthology with artist Ricardo Jurado that’s been well received in reviews of the collection. In the not-too-distant future I have another short comic coming out in the “FUBAR: By the Sword” anthology, as well as various other shorts and more ambitious projects I’m hoping will find a home soon. So keep an eye on me, and I promise to keep you entertained!
Megastar returns in the 10th jaw-dropping edition of Digital Webbing Presents available in digital format through ComiXology on November 6th!