Comics creator Joe Martino is a cancer survivor. He has taken his experiences and expressed them in his new project, The Mighty Titan. While the superhero Titan is an unstoppable force of nature, his alter-ego is dying. Currently Joe is funding The Mighty Titan through Kickstarter. How has cancer affected him? What details will Joe share about the Titan comic? Continue on to read the interview.
Red-Headed Mule: How did you get your start in comics?
Joe Martino: Well, I am not sure my start has even happened yet. But, I self published
my first comic, Shadowflame #1, back in January 1996.
RHM: What other methods of funding have you considered before using Kickstarter?
JM: I have funded every comic that ever bared my name. So when I was trying to put together my Titan comic for pitching to comic companies, I looked at Kickstarter as a great way to pay the guys I am working with, without taking food out of my kids mouths.
RHM: When did you find out you had kidney cancer?
JM: The story is pretty amazing to me. When I was 17, I got Mono. Ever since then my liver counts were always a little high. My insurance changed so I had to get a new doctor. My new doctor said he didn’t care when I had Mono, that I needed to get an ultrasound so that we could see if something was wrong with my liver.
Long story short, The liver was fine but I had a tumor on my right kidney. Renal Cell Carcinoma. That was 2004 and I was 33 years old. I had a reoccurrence in 2007 on my left kidney. If it wasn’t for my insurance changing, I’d probably be dead.
RHM: Have you changed any routines since your diagnosis?
JM: They change on and off. I had started eating better and exercising. But time goes by and you slow down or stop. I had complications to my second surgery so I can’t really exercise with any type of intensity.
RHM: Tell us about the city where the Mighty Titan presides.
JM: Titan is based in Chicago. I already had a hero, Shadowflame, in NYC so Chicago seemed like a cool choice.
RHM: How did you assemble the creative team for The Mighty Titan? How did you get such names such as Jerry Ordway and John Byrne to contribute covers?
JM: I had 2 pencilers before I was lucky enough to snag Luca. They didn’t work out for whatever reasons. Doesn’t really matter. I’ve been working with Jeff for years and I couldn’t see anyone else inking this. I’ve known Keith and Johnny for years as well. I like working with people I trust and enjoy working with. This is a great team.
I am a big believer that Fortune Favors the Bold. If you don’t ask, you get what you asked for. I asked. Explained the book and all the professionals were into it. I am very happy and proud of all the people on the book. They are all inspirations to me. I did the same thing with my Shadowflame miniseries.
RHM: Titan is invulnerable but his alter ego is dying from cancer. Why would Titan want to change back?
JM: Well, this is kind of a spoilery question but I can tell you that this is answered in issue 3. I can say that Titan goes through some really hard times and has to make some really hard choices.
RHM: What will the antagonists be like? Will they be stand-ins for cancer?
JM: No. The cancer in the book is very real. Titan’s main villain is TrenchMouth who is a former Nazi scientist that keeps himself alive through genetic manipulations. HE is also a master tinkerer that creates robots and mechas that he dupes inner city kids to pilot in order to fund his research. He also has an axe to grind with Titan. One we don’t know about yet.
There is also a family of Cyclops that is out for Titan to return an ancient relic that is -tied to Titan’s origin. There is room for a person to co-create a villain in issue 4 to go up against Titan. But it can also be a hero. That is one of the rewards on Kickstarter.
RHM: Will the Mighty Titan cross over with Shadowflame or your other creations?
JM: Titan will run into my character Caress in issue 3. Shadowflame won’t be in the miniseries but he may show up in the future.
RHM: Tell me any interesting stories from any cancer survivors you met.
JM: One of the most interesting was one that I read about. Back in 2009, I rea an article about a 7 year old boy that had gotten cancer. He was going through the treatments and his mom created a hero “The Dominator” to help him get through this. Dominic Osorio passed away in 2009 from brain cancer. A boy having cancer at such a young age disgusted me. To be 5 years old and having to go through all of those treatments is just heart breaking. I am glad that his mom came up with a positive way to cope with his treatments. I think that not telling him that he had cancer was smart.
I was diagnosed with kidney cancer at 33 and then again at 36, it really messed me up. I realize that was a little young to understand the scope of what cancer means. But does a child of 5 or even 7 years old have to know? I don’t think so. I give his mother much respect for finding such a unique and heartfelt way of helping her child through that.
RHM: What was your funnest convention experience?
JM: It just happened last month at a small show in upstate NY. I am not a big fan of Deadpool. No offense, he just isn’t my cup of tea. A kid asked me to draw Deadpool for him. While I was drawing his, another guy saw it and wanted one. Then it happened again! I thought it was really funny.
RHM: Do you have any other comments?
JM: Thanks for the opportunity to talk about the project. This is an uphill battle and I appreciate everybody who supports me.
Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts, Joe! Much success to your project on Kickstarter and beyond!
As of the date this is posted there’s less than month left to help Joe out. Readers, share with us your thoughts in the comments box below.