RICH INTERVIEWS: Theodore Riddle Creator/Artist/Writer for Compu-M.E.C.H.
First Comics News: How did you get into comic books business and How was Monolith Comics formed?
Ted Riddle: My first big break into comics did not actually come from any comic company. Believe it or to I broke in through magazines in the mid-1990s. I had many of my creator-owned characters running in several different popular magazines at the time. They consisted of Black Belt Magazine, Inside Kung-Fu, Four Wheeler, and the last but not least, a Ziff-Davis publication called, Computer Gaming World. Back then comic books were very popular and the magazine companies were paying me 5 times the going rate of the top Pros in the Major Comic Companies. Times were really going well. It was in Computer Gaming World that the Compu-M.E.C.H. Program got it’s first exposure to the public. It was originally called “Reality One”. Due to contractual agreements at the time I had to change the name of the series to protect myself when the contract was terminated. I much prefer the new name Compu-M.E.C.H.® way better.
1st: What is the basic story outline of “Compu-M.E.C.H.”?
Ted: The entire premise behind Compu-M.EC.H., is that the program was invented by Dr. Jason Green. His I.Q. is incredibly high. Dr. Green invented the entire program after many years of research. After all that work, he was too old to run the Robot Hero he himself had created. He had to enlist the help of a much younger more physically fit man to be the controller of the M.E.C.H Unit. He enlisted the help of a young man, in his early twenties, named Tommy Chase. Tommy is incredibly smart himself and a very confident but morally centered individual. Dr. Green is always striving to improve upon his inventions and technologies to make the program safer for the young Mr. Chase. At this point in the story, anything that happens to the robot will happen to Tommy because Mr. Chase operates the M.E.C.H. Unit through a Virtual Reality program and he has Bio-nodes attached to key nerve endings on his body. Tommy operates the robot by thinking to move a part of his body and then the robot, M.E.C.H. actually responds as an extension of himself. If the M.E.C.H. Unit were to become injured, then Tommy would feel the injury as if it actually happened to him. Dr. Green is still trying to fix this flaw in his system but has as of yet been unable to correct it totally. The Compu-M.E.C.H. Program is an entity all unto itself it is not governed by country or organization. It is responsible only to itself but is held accountable by the world for its actions. That is why the Compu-M.E.C.H. Program must always stand above the bar and act accordingly in all situations.
From the underground installation in upper New York State, The Compu-M.E.C.H. Program can view any and all tragedies throughout the entire world via their satellites that orbit our planet. Whenever a crisis arises anywhere on the globe the M.E.C.H. Unit can be instantly teleported to the scene of the disaster and fight for their cause with Truth, Honor, and Justice. They are our protectors. They are Compu-M.E.C.H.!
1st: How was Monolith Comic formed?
Ted: There was never any doubt as to if there was going to be a Monolith Comics. For me, it would be like a fish out water. This is what I was born to do. It was always my plan from the age of 12 to do this. I had many roads worked out in my head as for how to get there, but as you know life has its twists and turns, but I did it anyway. My books are now finally being distributed, not only in printed format worldwide and www.monolithcomics.com, but they have also gone to worldwide distribution through eBooks on any mobile or computerized device you can think of. I have made the first part of my dreams come true. There are many more goals yet to be achieved, but I believe I am on my way now. I also have a small toy line and series of merchandise featuring my Cover Art, which will be updated on my website very soon. Everything from clothing, watches, clocks, towels, drinkware, jewelry, plush toys to pet accessories.
1st: What does M.E.C.H. stand for?
Ted: M.E.C.H. is the acronym for the robot’s name which means, Mechanically Engineered and Computerized Hero. It finally came to me after many months of creative bouts of my mind to be the perfect name for the robot which expressed the exact nature of the hero. Then I incorporated the “Compu-“ in front of it to come up with the ® Trademarked name of the series. This process took me approximately 6 months to do. Like I had said earlier, it was already called something else and I had to change it.
1st: Who exactly is Tommy Chase?
Ted: Tommy’s actual background is not divulged until much later in the series, but for now it is enough to say that he came from a broken home and was a runaway who Dr. Green took under his wing. Dr. Green is Tommy’s first real father figure and once he got Tommy back into school and college he found out how intelligent Tommy truly was. Meanwhile, all the time he had spent alone in his runaway days Tommy had honed his physical skills of survival to their peak. Once Tommy had graduated from college, only then did Dr. Jason Green tell him about the Compu-M.E.C.H. program and that he needed a controller for the robot hero, The M.E.C.H. Unit. Tommy fully accepted the honor and risks involved to be the hero his real parents thought he would never be. Dr. Green believed in him and that was good enough for Tommy.
1st: Why is Dr. Green so important to the Graphic Novel?
Ted: Dr. Jason Green is the sole reason the program exits at all. It was all of his inventions and brainchild that developed the Compu-M.E.C.H. Program. Without his intelligence and ability to create the program, none of this would even exist. He also represents to me all the mentor figures I had in my life that really showed me the things I wasn’t able to get anywhere else. I draw these graphic novels for myself. They are a way to express myself creatively and artistically in the narrative art form, which I love. A lot of the things I write about are from inner personal experiences and feelings whether they be of worries of the future, things from my past, or I have yet left undone. I originally thought of this series in 1988 and it wasn’t until the mid-1900’s that it first saw publication and a lot of the ideas I came up with back then and actually happening in some degree with today’s present technologies. I have always been ahead of my time, much like Dr. Green.
1st: Who are a few of the villains in Compu-M.EC.H.”?
Ted: I have a few favorites. They are The Star Wolf Saga TM, King Authur, “K”-niife TM and Pure Heart TM, and Dark Dana TM, (some of these are even anti-heroes which cross M.E.C.H.’s path), plus all of the other natural disasters, time travel, the occult, demons, Satan, and aliens, and several other situations which the Compu-M.E.C.H. Program must combat. However, you will find that most of my villains have a reason for what they have done or become. I believe in this world, with the exception of a limited amount of nihilistic people, which I luckily have not yet encountered too many of in my lifetime. Everyone has a reason for doing what they believe is the truth to them. Whether it be something in there past, their makeup, genes or DNA, they have a reason for what they are doing. Maybe they were themselves a victim of a terrible crime and have no other way to deal with the tragedy. My Grandmother always used to tell me, “If you really knew someone, you would never hate anyone.” That is pretty much the way my villains are made. They have a direct reason for what they are doing, do to a direct result of something that happened to them. Unfortunately, it does not conform to society so the M.E.C.H. Unit must try his best to stop the individual from causing any further damage and bring them to justice.
There is one villain who is the most nihilistic of them all. I can’t tell you his name, but if you want to know more about him and the story it is in the latest issue of Compu-M.E.C.H. Volume # 27 (available on amazon.com) of the black and white series. Here is a picture of him to wet your appetite. He is the worst of them all! He has no remorse and will stop at nothing. Plus he is pretty much indestructible. Plus there is another hidden element in my stories which I cannot give away without divulging the entire premise of the well over 100 issue storyline when it is finished. Believe me, when this is all said and done you will have read a story that has never been told before. I hope you enjoy it.
1st: Would “Compu-M.E.C.H.” make a good TV series or movie?
Ted: The answer to that first question is a definite, “Yes!” All of my stories even though they reach one undeniable conclusion, are all done in ones. Even though each story builds upon the last to bring this series to it natural crescendo, they all have something to say individually about life or a theme.
1st: Do you have any other Ideas for other graphic novels?
Ted: My ideas are endless. I will be working on finishing the series in the black and white format for the next 5 years. During that time I have to catch up on all the coloring of each book, which will take time now that they have gone to worldwide eBook distribution, so that will be an ongoing process. After the black and white series is finished, I have another two characters I wish to draw and write about. After a few years of that, just to get them out of my system, I will return to Compu-M.E.C.H. with a fresh start and a renewed vigor.
1st: What was the most important thing you learned at the Joe Kubert School?
Ted: There were many things I learned at the Joe Kubert School too many to mention, but I think some of the most important things were:
1) Never miss a deadline
2) You have to want to do them with all your heart and never give up or else you won’t make it.
3) You will work like you never thought possible. That was not something I was afraid of.
4) Finally no matter how successful you always treat people with kindness and dignity. That was Joe’s way. If you didn’t learn that you missed his whole point. Joe Kubert was a great man.
1st: What is the Mission statement of Monolith Comics?
Ted: Behind what I’m trying to say with my stories. I never really thought of a mission statement for the company Monolith Comics. It is just a Trade Name which I do business under for tax purposes. However, my actions, as spoken through my company are to show to anyone who wants to do this, that it can be done. I am willing to help them, as long as they go the other 110% of the way. This is my website www.monolithcomics.com and you can reach my group on Facebook called “Learn How to Make Money Publishing Comics by Monolith Comics” no one will be turned down as long as they follow the rules of the group. I am just trying to pay it forward like Joe Kubert told me to do.
1st: Where would you like to see Monolith Comics in 5 years, 10 years?
Ted: I would love to see Monolith Comics pretty much known as one of the top ten Independent Comic Publishers. With movies and an animation deal, a total worldwide toy line, (of which I only have two figures now on my website now), and global merchandise. Plus and making a lot of money to give to my loving and super supportive wife, Melissa Riddle. She has been there from the first phone call that launched in the magazine deals back in the mid 90’s. She’s got to get something out of all of this besides my love.
1st: Who has supported you the most in your comics career?
Ted: Besides my wife, the definite answer is Joe Kubert. He was like a father to me. After I graduated from the school in 1988. He was very proud of me. We remained in touch for some time. After graduation, he ran and participated in a life drawing class that summer. One night he asked me to stay afterward because he wanted to talk to me. As always I said, “Sure, Joe.” That was when he asked me if I wanted to run Tell-A-Graphics for him. It was a Joe Kubert Enterprise in which I acted as the Art Director, Manager, and Profit shared in the Company. I worked with Joe for about two years and with the first recession in the early 90’s we couldn’t keep Tell-A-Graphic going anymore. It has reopened many time since then, but I was no longer a part of it at this point in time. Joe always knew the whole time what I really wanted to do. To be a cartoonist (a self-published cartoonist). He even advised me against it. But he always told me I was the most tenacious person he ever met. He never pulled punches with me and told me like it was. At the same time, he helped me. Every month I would come in with samples of artwork for over 15 years and he would sit down with me and go over every drawing I had done to show me what I needed to improve. I was grateful for this and asked him how I was ever going to pay him back. He told me I already had, but if I wanted to do more, to pay it forward. I have not helped as many people as he did in his lifetime, but I have helped a lot. He had a whole school and I’m a one-man army, so I help everyone who asks me. Just to be thankful for all that Joe gave to me and to feel that same satisfaction he probably felt for helping me.
1st: What would you like to say to your comic fans?
Ted: First if you are already a fan, thank you so much for supporting a twelve-year-old boy’s dream to become a published cartoonist and author. If you want to do this yourself, like my personal quote says on my website, “If you have a dream in this world you should go for it. There is no guaranty you will succeed, but you will have already failed if you don’t even try.”
Plus now my novels are eBooks. They have gone worldwide through every Mobile Device known to mankind in full color. Here is the link to just one Googleplay: play.google.com/store/books/details?id=LV9NDwAAQBAJ If you think Compu-M.E.C.H. is something you’d like to read about, give it a try. I hope you will like it. It has been my life’s work many more issues will be coming out in the very near future. The second issue will be available early next week and by the end of April 2018, the first 5 issues will have been already published and so on. Thanks for reading this article I hope you found something of value and interest.