I had always appreciated Roland Mann’s work at Malibu. After he left comics for a while, he was nice enough to contribute a piece on Easter for us at First Comics News. Surprisingly I never have interviewed Roland before. Roland was nice enough to stop by First Comics News to share with our readers everything Cat & Mouse.
First Comics News: Who is Jerry O’Neil?
Roland Mann: “Cat” from the first volume.
Roland: “Mouse” from the first volume.
1st: What happened to the original team of Cat & Mouse?
Roland: Their story arc came to a conclusion at the end of the last issue (#18) of the first volume. They were in Japan and as far as we know, that’s where they remain.
Roland: Brett is Brett Huffman, the character who drives the narrative for the new volume. He’s in New Orleans looking for the runaway kid sister of his ex-fiancé. He will become our new Cat.
1st: Who is Bobbi?
Roland: Bobbi is the runaway kid sister. She’s run away from home and into a human trafficking situation in New Orleans.
Roland: That’s revealed in issue #2…but the hint is that not all is right at home.
1st: Who is The Widowmaker?
Roland: WidowMaker is Ms. Johnson, she’s the one in charge of the human trafficking ring in New Orleans that Bobbi ends up in. And she’s the antagonist of the story.
Roland: Ms. Johnson has her tentacle everywhere in New Orleans. She meets Bobbi the first time Bobbi runs away but is caught and returned home. Johnson tells Bobbi to look her up when she runs again. Without saying anything, she can tell what’s going on with Bobbi and knows she will run away again. She presents herself to Bobbi as the “safe” option…much in the way real human traffickers do.
1st: Does Bobbi become Mouse in this issue, or does that take place over the series?
Roland: That will take place over the course of the series. Neither of the characters really think of what they’re doing in that way that says, “I’m going to become a masked vigilante.” Brett does it the first time (in issue #1) to protect his identity. Bobbi does it at Johnson’s bidding for the same reason. Initially, that’s what the masks and hoods are all about—protecting their identities.
Roland: Neither of them are aware of any Cat and Mouse before them. The names will happen organically in the story, but there isn’t and won’t be any connection to the former characters.
1st: What if any connection to they have with the original team?
Roland: They have no connection at all, but the secondary characters of Kunoichi and Demon, do. Demon makes a brief statement that Brett “reminds him of someone from long ago,” but that’s about all we’ll get from him. Kunoichi will do something similar.
In the original series, it was established that Kunoichi was a teacher, at one time for the Yakuza. She trained in pairs: Tooth & Nail, Cat & Mouse, Skull & Crossbones…all were students of hers. That is an established story theme that she will bring into the new volume; she’s still a teacher, but now she runs a “karate school” of self-defense for kids. That’s the front, anyway.
So Kunoichi and Demon are really the closest connections to the original team.
Roland: Jesse is one of Brett’s good friends from high school. A couple of years older, he’s already a police officer in New Orleans. He serves a bit as a mentor for Brett and as a place for Brett to sleep at night.
1st: Why set the story around human trafficking?
Roland: At its core, Cat & Mouse is a crime/action/drama with a smattering of superheroic elements—because comics! The first volume took on organized crime, crooked cops, and black market organ harvesting. While I’m not using the same characters, I wanted the new book to have the same mood, tone, and feel. That, and I think human trafficking is one of the biggest terrible issues in the united states today…and the general populace either just doesn’t care, or doesn’t think it’s as bad as it is. The various sources for numbers don’t all agree exactly, but they DO all point to it as a horrible problem that—for the most part—is just ignored. While I want to entertain readers with this story, I hope that it will shed a little light on a real issue as well.
Roland: Not in this mini…but the next story is ALL about Voodoo. Did someone show you my notes?
1st: How much of the 4 issue mini-series is already completed?
Roland: There are just a couple of pages of #2 to finish coloring, but that will be done by the Kickstarter campaign’s completion—if not sooner. Alex has already shown me quick shots of the first page of #3, so the pencils have been started for it. #4 has a rough summary, but I need to finish the plot for it. We had a bump at the completion of #1, but we’re cooking on all cylinders now!
Roland: Yes, absolutely! #1 is available to be added on to ANY of the reward levels. So any reader who missed the first issue’s Kickstarter can still pick up the first issue.
1st: What other rewards do you have for Cat & Mouse #2?
Roland: Aside from getting exclusive Kickstarter edition cover (limited to our backers only!), we’ve got a “graphite edition,” an edition of the book printing the pencil work of Dean Zachary and Alex Gallimore. The idea came from Dean, who is a huge fan of DC’s HUSH UNWRAPPED by Jim Lee. I hadn’t actually seen it until Dean pointed it out to me. It was a big hit during the first Kickstarter, so we’re doing it again.
We’ve also got our RETRO edition, which is a throwback to the black and white heyday of the indy comic boom of the late 80s (thank you TMNT!). We didn’t do this for the first issue of Cat & Mouse, but we did do it for Kayless #1 and folks seemed to like it.
We’ve got the autograph level, where you can get an autograph card from me(Roland), Alex, Barb, and Kevin—all four of us.
We’ve got a couple of art levels remaining: there are still a few rewards where you can get Alex to do a commission for you, a character of your choosing. We’ve got original art from Mike W. Belcher, Alan McMillian and Bill Nichols, Page 16 from issue #2, and the design page for WidowMaker (the main image was used on the trading card). All of these are ONE of a kind—so there’s only one. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.
Roland: As the writer, I like to think we’re giving fans something they’re not seeing anywhere else: crime-action-drama-superheroes with no real hidden agenda. Yeah, we used to get that kind of story with Daredevil and Batman, but not a lot anymore. Fans of classic Daredevil and Batman would probably enjoy our comic. Cat & Mouse also isn’t a book filled with profanity and nudity—which seems to be a selling point of a lot of comics these days. Yes, the theme of human trafficking is an “adult” one, but it’s presented in such a way that readers of all ages can read this—We tend to give it a PG-13 rating to be safe, but we want a wide an audience as possible who might be interested in our kind of book. It’s about telling you an entertaining story, not trying to show you our artist can draw boobs and I can write cuss words.