I worked with Steve at Archie Comics when they debuted the famous “new look”. I had already been a fan of his work on the Badger. He was also nice enough to contribute art to my Mighty Crusaders website. So I was excited to find out Steve has a new project coming out. It’s Mr. Mixit from Charlton Neo, by way of AC Comics and it will be in the July Previews catalog. Steve was nice enough to stop by First Comics News and let all our readers know about everything Mixit.
First Comics News: When did you discover Charlton comics?
Steven Butler: I discovered Charlton Comics when I was very young, at the same time I discovered all other comics on the spinner rack of the local town pharmacy. Where I grew up, Charlton Comics were very prominently displayed alongside the Marvel, DC, Gold Key, Harvey, and Archie Comics. Seems like I remember finding them particularly in grocery store spinner racks, but yeah, they were everywhere, it seems. I got a lot of the spooky stuff they published, as well as titles like Space:1999 and The Phantom. I loved all of them, could tell they were a different kind of company than Marvel or DC, but I liked that, never really thought of them as inferior, just different.
1st: Were you a big fan of Captain Atom and the Blue Beetle?
Steven: I sure was!!! I remember when I first discovered the characters. It was back in 1977 or so, when I was in a Woolworth’s store in Pascagoula, MS, and passed by an aisle endcap display that had bagged comics for sale- 3 for 50 cents or something. I saw these characters I had never seen before and immediately fell in love with them. I discovered Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, and E-Man all on the same day. I felt like I was in on a big secret or something like I had discovered a universe that I never knew existed before then! I could tell just by looking that the art on the Captain Atom and Blue Beetle Comics were done by Steve Ditko, and buddy, he didn’t disappoint with his art in those comics! Same with Joe Staton on E-Man. That was an important day for me, as those books opened up a new world in my head and really paved the way for me wanting to draw comics for a living. If I can remember right, I think the publisher was Modern Comics, which I learned later was a separate printing label, but still owned by Charlton Publishing. The fact that Mr. Mixit will be making his debut alongside the return of E-Man is something that makes the above-mentioned story come full circle for me, personally.
Steven: I think I saw a post in my Facebook feed one day from a friend of mine mentioning the Charlton Arrow Facebook page, so I went there and found that I really liked what I saw and read there. I started a dialogue with Roger McKenzie and Mort Todd, expressing my interest in contributing somehow; was just shooting for a Dr. Graves or Countess Von Bludd pin-up or something, but then we started talking about our shared love of all things Steve Ditko, and the wheels starting turning and it wasn’t long before Mr. Mixit was born out of all that.
Steven: Barry’s a “mixed-up” kid!! Actually, Barry is part me, Roger, Mort, and every other kid who had dreams at a young age of becoming a comic book creator, it’s just that Barry’s dreams will have a way of becoming reality, whether he’s actually ready for them or not. Barry’s a shy, unassuming, picked-on kid who creates comics as a way to cope and just because he loves doing it. He is by no means a hero… yet.
Steven: We’ve only got a few so far, a bunch of bullies at Barry’s school, led by a guy named “Smash”, whose sole purpose in our story is to do what bullies always do, antagonize our guy just for the sake of having something to do. There’s also a girl named “Romi”, who may play a bigger part in Barry’s life as the story unfolds in future issues. There’s also the owner of the comic store where Barry works, and he will most definitely play a big role in the overall story.
1st: How does he get his powers?
Steven: Oh, you’ll have to read the 1st issue to find that out! It IS a little different than most characters, but very true to the spirit of those classic comics whose “vibe” we’re trying to tap into with this. We think you’ll really dig how Barry becomes his alter ego!!
Steven: I’m not sure we know the full extent of them yet. I will tell you this, it’s all tied up with his origin story, which you will see in Charlton Arrow #1. He is literally a “mix” of a lot of different Steve Ditko characters. I remember Roger telling me to put all the Steve Ditko characters I could think of in a blender and see what comes out. It really didn’t take long to create his look, and it was as I was drawing him that the name “Mr. Mixit” came to mind. I thought of others like “The Mixed-Up Man” and “The Mixer”, but Mr. Mixit just seemed to have that “roll off your tongue” effect when I said it out loud. I think I might have mentioned those other names to Mort and Roger, but we all agreed that he HAD to be Mr. Mixit. Wait, I got way off the question, didn’t I? His powers stem from his name and his origin. It’s going to be a big part of the ongoing story, both for Barry and the readers, to discover exactly what his powers truly are.
Steven: We started this thing out of a mutual love of Steve Ditko’s work, and because of his long association with Charlton Comics, we thought this would be a perfect vehicle for us all to work on. I’m sure we’ll get the inevitable cries of “Spidey wannabe!!” and the like, but hey, that’s okay, we just want folks to give it a chance. I hear a lot of people out there saying stuff like “I wish there was something out there now that looked and read like the good old stuff”. We said that ourselves, and that was another one of the main reasons for doing this project. I’m afraid I’m at the age where my credo says “If it’s not fun to do, it’s not worth doing.” We just hope that same sense of fun transfers to the readers and to sales! We’ll take both!!
Steven: Ha! Well, when I originally designed his look, he didn’t have a cape or anything, then when I was looking at him, I realized I didn’t have anything from Ditko’s Creeper represented, I know Creeper isn’t a Charlton character, but he could’a been!! The Creeper was always one of my favorite Ditko creations, so I penciled it in, and found that I really liked it! I had no idea what color it would be though, that was all Mort’s department, but I think he hit a home run with the colors! This guy screams Bronze Age Comics era!!
1st: Since Mr. Mixit is a mix of Ditkoverse heroes, does he always have the same costume and powers or is that a mix too?
Steven: Have you been listening in on our conversations? You are sure tapping into some of the very things we have talked about, ha! I’ll tell this much without hopefully giving anything away. Charlton Arrow #1 will be the debut of Barry Baxter and will begin his adventures as Mr. Mixit. That doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be the beginning of Mr. Mixit’s adventures, though.
1st: Peter Parker works for a Newspaper and Barry Allen works in the police department so they know when a hero is needed. How does Barry Baxter know when he is needed as Mr. Mixit?
Steven: Oh, that would be telling, ha! How about this classic line… “The Clothes sometimes DO make the man”.
Steven: A baaaaad person!! I tried to make her as Ditkoesque as I could, she’s a ton of fun to draw, with all those viscous, flowing tentacle, like blobs coming off of her. I came up with the look, but she’s all Mr. McKenzie’s character.
1st: What does she want from Mr. Mixit?
Steven: I really don’t know, to tell you the truth. I think she’s going to be a long-form villainess, and from her will come a lot more villains and creatures for Mixie to contend with. We’re doing these Mixie stories the classic Marvel way, with the plot first, then thumbnails, then pencils, then script, inks, letters, colors, etc. I’m literally finding new stuff out all the time about our little universe we’re building here. It goes a long way to keeping this project endlessly exciting for me.
1st: The first comic with Mr. Mixit hasn’t made it to the comic fans and already you have Mr. Mixit posters, t-shirts and coffee mugs. How do you get all this marketing done before the first story comes out?
Steven: What?!!! We got all that stuff!??? Where’s mine??!!?? Mort!!!! Actually, that is Mort’s thing, through all of this, he has been the spearhead and go-to guy for not only Mr. Mixit but every other project that’s coming out through Charlton Neo. I don’t think the guy needs a lot of sleep.
Steven: Because he’s a guy who dares to be a fun character! Because he’s brand new, but with definite hints of things we all loved about superhero comics from our youth! Because he’s a much-needed character who represents all things positive in a world that’s been force-fed so much negativity. Thing is, we set out to make a character and tell the kind of stories that WE would have wanted to read about growing up. We think there are a lot of others out there who have been craving the kinds of stories we will be telling in this comic. But, don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself when it becomes available at your local comic shop!! Until then, “Make Mine Mixie!!”