First Comics News: Why do you enjoy writing?

Mike Sizemore: I’ve been writing my whole life so its just second nature now, but still challenging. I believe in the idea that you have to commit around 10,000 hours doing something to get really good at it, but the rub is that even beyond that point you’ll have challenging days. Cracking those problems are really rewarding, but the best feeling is when the thing is finished and a reader tells you that they enjoyed it. Then it’s time to start writing the next thing.

1st: What was the first book you remember reading, did it influence you to become a writer?

Mike: Watership Down by Richard Adams. It was read to my class by the teacher when we were around 8 years old and its never left me and was certainly key to me writing my own stories. It’s the story of a group of rabbits forced from their home who go on a quest to find a new burrow. It’s an adventure story and quite harrowing, but is also one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. Like Fetch, it’s based on the work of Homer and Virgil. I return to it often and in fact I stole that copy from the school library so I could read it again and again. To make up for my crime I now keep multiple copies on my shelves and give the book to people who haven’t read it.

1st: What type of story is within the pages of “Fetch”?

Mike: It’s an adventure story about loss and growth. It’s about a kid who goes to a mythological underworld to find her lost dog and ends up making new friends along the way. It’s also about knocking the heads off pirate skeletons.

1st: What is special about Danni and Sammy?

Mike: They’re a brother and sister who find themselves on a magical journey. Danni is happy to take risks to get her dog back, but didn’t expect Sammy to come along to help. Now she has to look after him and get him home safely too. Sammy is on the autistic spectrum and loves his sister and has the time of his life surrounded by mythical monsters and heroes.

1st: Who is Odysseus?

Mike: Odysseus is a Classical Hero from Homer’s Odyssey and Iliad. It was his idea to end the Trojan War by hiding inside a gigantic wooden horse to surprise the enemy. It then took him ten years to get home to his family because he’s stubborn and takes too many risks. He fights monsters and witches along the way. When Danni meets him in Hades he’s given the task of guiding her, but he’s also a little lost and they help each other.

1st: Has being a hero made Odysseus a better person?

Mike: That’s complicated because on the surface, yes, he rescues people and fights bad guys and risks his life for the greater good. But also being a ‘hero’ is a complex thing and he’s had to sacrifice friends and family to get where he is. He’s also been a hero for so long that he believes the only way to win is to fight, which he’s very good at. Danni shows him there are different ways to be heroic.

1st: What type of villains does Danni face?

Mike: The main one is Hades, the king of the Underworld. He’s the one who refuses to let her have her dog back and ultimately he takes more from her and has to be faced in the book’s finale. Along the way she runs into a lot of mythological creatures. Some, who seem villains, like Medusa, turn out to be allies. There are also gods to contend with and a pack of marauding skeletons that love fighting Odysseus.

1st: What changes from “The Journey” to “The Rescue” occur as far as character development?

Mike: When Danni sets off she has a single purpose: rescue her dog. By Book Two she also has to rescue her younger brother, but by the end of the journey she’s grown a lot. Her new friends sacrifice a lot to help her and she realises that the person she was angry with at the beginning was herself. From journey to rescue she learns that her role is to help others.

1st: Would “Fetch” make a good real life movie or animated one?

Mike: When pitching something to Stormking the story has to tick a lot of boxes to get green-lit and by the time my scribbling is a real book the team have brought it to life in a way that it would easily lend itself to adaption into other media. An animated version could easily stay true to the wonderful artwork in the book while a movie would be a lot of fun to cast.

1st: You wrote and produced “Caper” can you tell us about this TV series?

Mike: It started as a show for YouTube, but was later picked up by Hulu. I had the idea that maybe superheroes never got paid for their good deeds and may find it hard to pay rent. With their backs against the wall a group of super powered housemates plan a ‘caper’ to keep their heads above water, but the problem is that good guys make the worst bad guys. I pitched it to my friends Amy Berg and Felicia Day and we had a lot of fun making it with a wonderful cast. The superhero sequences were created and drawn by the Fetch team too.

1st: You have written horror but have you or would you like to write other genres?

Mike: I just finished a crime book for Stormking’s Dark and Twisted series and of course Fetch is a book aimed at kids. I’ve also written science fiction and a lot of horror, but I enjoy the challenge of trying new genres. I try and add a lot of humour to my work but have never written straight comedy so that’s on the wish list.

1st: If you could write about any horror icon which one would it be and why?

Mike: I’d probably stay away from the big ones, because my ego isn’t large enough to think I could do better. So I’d leave John Carpenter’s The Thing alone and let Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Kruger have a well-deserved rest. I’d love to tackle a werewolf story though. As long as I could find a new approach to the furry-faced lead.

1st: What do you have planned for the future career wise?

Mike: I just started writing a spiritual follow up to Fetch about a girl and a robot. Fetch had a lot of Asterix in it, but the new story is more sci-fi Calvin & Hobbes. It’s called PANIC.

1st: How do you feel about those who read your work?

Mike: Honestly grateful more than anything else. I always write for myself first and foremost, but have been very lucky that my stories find an audience. I remember sitting opposite John Carpenter feeling very nervous as he read something new I’d passed to him and the relief when he started laughing was huge. With Fetch the best thing has been talking to kids who really enjoyed it. They also shout at me for leaving them with a cliffhanger so I’m really pleased the new book will give them the ending they’ve been waiting for.

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