Interview with Michael McAdam from Two Gargoyles Comics

Hilarious WestJet Flight Attendant
Hilarious WestJet Flight Attendant T-Shirt Design

Michael McAdam is the creative force behind Two Gargoyles Comics. This Canadian author, actor, comedian, and voice-over artist shot into “Internet Famous” status with a brilliantly funny viral video of his day job and Michael’s entertaining flight attendant safety demonstration. You can see the video on YouTube. But there is a lot more to this talented creator than making passengers laugh. I had the pleasure of chatting with Micheal about all that and a bag of chips while we sat in our airline seats, waiting for departure.

Martin Boruta: Michael, we have been friends on social media for a while now, partially due to our mutual membership in the Canadian Comic Book Alliance, but mostly because I’m just a fan of your work. Beyond my little intro, which I borrowed from your press kit, can you tell the readers here at First Comics News who Michael McAdam is?

Michael McAdam: I’m a 54-year-old nerd, newly retired, who is a writer, letterer, publisher, actor, and voice-over artist. I love comics, the colour yellow, and my vintage arcade machine.

Martin: What did school look like for you? Did you go to University or College?

Michael: I was one of the “gifted” kids in school, which meant I burnt out somewhere near the end of junior high. Creative escapism was my go-to in high school, which is where the beginnings of my desire to make comics happened. I did attend a semester of University (General Studies) concurrently with a semester of College (English and Sociology) before deciding that further education wasn’t for me– I had undiagnosed ADHD and always wondered where my brain was. Spoiler alert: It was writing stories.

Martin: That is intriguing as I, too, was a bit smarter than the rest in school, and my boredom translated into a lot of “very bright but lacks effort” comments on the report cards. I was diagnosed with ADHD about six years ago, and it’s given me a tonne of insight into why I did the things I did and still do. And here I am doing the very ADHD thing of telling you about my experience to show you that I relate to your situation. Without turning this into a three-hour joint therapy session on us being a pair of undiagnosed neurodivergent kids, how have you reacted to being diagnosed with ADHD?

Michael: There was so much relief. So much. It explained away all my fears, doubts and regrets about not being able to do the things other people could do easily– like, say, study and pay attention in school! It also opened doors to understanding how to channel my particular brain into productive pursuits along creative lines! I’m so comfortable with my brain and how it works now that I can (mostly!) make it work for me.

Martin: You have a few pursuits. The acting, for example, but since this is appearing in a comic book publication, we should stick to comics. Growing up, did you always know you wanted to create comic books?

Michael: Not at first. I read everything I could get my hands on, devouring story after story, from Archie to Zatanna. Still, it wasn’t until high school that I started to think, “Hey, I want to create my OWN comic!”

Michael McAdam
Michael McAdam

Martin: Did a young Michael McAdam think he would be a viral sensation? Was that class clown trope there from the beginning?

Michael: There was this Coke commercial in the 70s. “I’d like to teach the world to sing…” You know the one. And I firmly believed that one day, I could make the world smile. The dream of a kid, you know? And then, out of nowhere, it came true. Viral smiles from all over the world, across the Internet; my dream came true, and I am humbled by it! But yes, by junior high, I was definitely the humour guy in school!

Martin: I ordered one of your t-shirts commemorating the video, but I might need a replacement. I’ve worn it so much that the shirt is a little threadbare.

Michael: I’ve got you covered, Marty. The place to find Twogargs merch is Teepublic! Check out Teepublic for all your Twogargs needs!

Martin: Right! Publisher of Two Gargoyles for over 27 years is a feat in independent comics. How have things changed at Twogargs since you started with Mike Rieger in 1996?

Michael: We started by just fooling around and putting our comic “Diaperman” on the web for our friends to see. It was initially just a one-shot joke on our personal websites, one-and-done. Only people responded to it and wanted more– and Mike and I found that we wanted more, too– and we expanded to another title, Twilight Detective Agency. Soon after that, print-on-demand meant we could make fully realized comics. We began with black-and-white, but soon colour became accessible as well. The Internet has made it possible for anyone to create and publish their dreams into tangible reality; at the time of this writing, Twogargs had over eight titles and more than fifteen individual issues.

Martin: I know I said we should stick to comics, but your resume includes more than just comics and airplanes. You have written a few novels? Some screenplays?

Michael: I’ve written one novel, Special Proper Magic, a middle-grade book about two cousins with magical powers; the second one in that series is being written right now! I wrote the English dialogue for a Bollywood movie that, to my knowledge, never got made; I’ve written two murder mysteries for a local theatre company and a radio play for the same.

Martin: I understand you have retired from your “day job” as a Flight Attendant. Do you now work in your PJs in a home studio? What’s the best part of being a full-time comic book professional?

Michael: The best thing is working to my schedule and rhythm. Sometimes, I’m super productive at six in the morning, other times at five in the afternoon. What’s great is that I can work whenever the juices are flowing. And yes, also, PJ’s. My “home office” is a recliner, a laptop, and a cup of coffee!

Martin: Diaperman, just one of your many creations simply cracks me up. I’m a fan of the silly, having grown up with Monty Python. What influences led you down the path of fun comic books rather than the dark, grim, and gritty path superhero comics have been on for a while?

Michael: I have always liked stories of hope. To me, superheroes are about giving hope, protecting people, and overcoming adversity. They try, they fail, they try again and succeed. They put themselves out there as examples of what we all could be if we only believed we could. And yes, sometimes the superhuman antics are silly– why do you need to wear a cape just because you can fly? Why dress up in a costume to lift a car over your head? I wanted to acknowledge the fun and ridiculousness of it all, tongue-in-cheek, in my work. If you can’t laugh at yourself, you can’t create honestly.

Martin: Diaperman is a favourite, but only one of your creations in your quiver. What other characters of yours stand out as your personal favourite to write? How come?

Michael: I love Thunder, my Canadian superhero. He’s sensitive and has an innocence about him despite his trials and tribulations. I’m very protective of him and want to see him do well while he’s out there doing good. Then there’s the Magickal Mister Punch, my sassy British mage who is always ready with a quip in his clever, tricksy manner. He lets me say everything I want more cleverly than I could say it myself!

Martin: You are reasonably active in the comic convention scene. Plans to do more now that you have more time? Do you find the conventions are an excellent way to get your books out there, or are they just enjoyable personally?

Michael: Now that I’m retired, I’m seeking conventions that generate perhaps more “return on investment” for the time I put in. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE conventions; I was in pre-internet fandom when convention gatherings were all we had to share our nerd love of stuff with each other. Still, these days, I find the smaller, less “Hollywood” shows more personally and financially rewarding. Stop by my table, and let’s talk comics!

Thunder Interior Page
Thunder Interior Page

Martin: Your comics seem flexible in terms of characterization and diversity. Is that on purpose, or did they just turn out that way?

Michael: I believe in writing real people from my own experience. I celebrate diversity, but I won’t resort to tokenism. If it makes sense for a character to be written as a person of colour, or gay, or trans, or what-have-you, then I write them that way. I’m not trying to “tick boxes” but to be as honest as possible and pretty proud of what I’ve created. My LGBT comic, Spectrum, is all about diversity, and I didn’t have to “try” to make it that way; it came out of my head that way, and I’m glad.

Martin: What’s next for Two Gargoyles. What project is on the front burner and simmering?

Michael: Gloaming, the horror comic I write with artist Kyle Burles (@kyohazard on social media), has just finished its first story arc and has been gathered into a graphic novel, which I’m about to Kickstart. It’s all printed, everything is ready to go, and Kyle and I are super proud! It’s the story of a small town that has too many secrets. Next will be Xanthus: The Light Of Joy, a comic about using our light to fight the darkness in all of us– using aliens and superheroes as a metaphor!

Martin: I need your take on the current debate amongst comic book readers. Digital or physical? I am selling off my collection a few chunks at a time. But then I just turned around and replaced them with hardcover Omnibus .. Omnibuses .. Omnibii? Which do you prefer?

Michael: Although my house is getting crowded with comics, nothing can replace the feeling of the bright, cheerfully colourful comic book held in my hands. I love using digital comics for research and archiving, but there’s nothing like that thrill up my spine when I walk into my local comic shop and pick up that week’s books!

Martin: Brilliant! We should tell the folks out there where they can buy Two Gargoyle comics?

Michael: Your first stop should always be Two Gargoyles Comics for the latest news and links to buy our comics. That said, IndyPlanet and DriveThruComics have been excellent ways to get our work out there, digitally or in print! And if you’re in Calgary, stop by our “home base”– Words & Pictures on Centre Street North!

Martin: Michael, hopefully, you are not groaning too much at all my cheesy airline references, but it looks like the pilot has turned on the seat belt sign, and we are about to get underway. Thanks so much for the chat. I need to get to your neck of the woods sooner than later and take you up on that invite to your next comic convention table.

Michael: I don’t mind at all! I’ll be in Kelowna, BC, for their Comic-Con in August, then it’s back to writing more comics, finishing my next book, and Kickstarting a few more books for 2023! Follow me on @twogargs on social media and Twogargs on Facebook! For a complete list of where to find me, click HERE ! Thanks, Marty!

Remember to visit the Two Gargoyles Comics website for all the comic book goodies Michael has for us.

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