Mike Kennedy has been writing comic books for nearly 20 years, with credits including Lone Wolf 2100 for Dark Horse and DC Comics graphic novel Superman: Infinite City. Yet he’s just now working in his first full-time gig in the industry.
He’s the new publisher of Archaia Entertainment, the Los Angeles-based company currently nominated for nine Eisner awards thanks to releases like Return of the Dapper Men and French import The Killer. Kennedy’s news was just widely announced on Monday, though he said that he’s officially been on board since roughly last month’s C2E2 convention, which ran in Chicago from March 18 to 20.
Kennedy’s main focus for the past two decades has been working in the video game industry, with past stints at studios including EA, 3DO and Vogster. While a producer at Vogster, Kennedy worked with Archaia on the anthology tie-in to first-person shooter Bleedout, on sale this month. For that book, Kennedy recruited top-flight artistic talent, including Howard Chaykin, Glenn Fabry and Ben Templesmith, among others.
“With that book coming together, it just kinda opened up some conversations,” Kennedy said in a phone interview with Newsarama. “’What would you think about coming in and doing that full-time for us?’”
Given that background, one of his first goals as Archaia publisher is ramping up current multimedia initiatives, saying that digital comics are “not something that you can ignore, frankly.” Kennedy makes it clear that he’s not just talking about making comic book pages viewable online, but also exploring ways to truly embrace and integrate the format.
“Not just doing a flat, direct, two-dimensional presentation,” said Kennedy, who called digital comis “another tool” as opposed to another market competing with the print product. “Not just putting it into a scanner and calling it a day. How can we make this a more interactive experience? As soon as one person does something cool and new, then everybody does it, so we want to see if we can be the first person to do the next cool, digital thing.”
Kennedy’s joining Archaia at a conspicuous point in the company’s history. Along with their Eisner nods, they announced a couple of buzzworthy projects at C2E2 and WonderCon, including an anthology starring characters from upcoming film Immortals; and more details on A Tale of Sand, a graphic novel realization of an unproduced Jim Henson screenplay.
“It seems like every two weeks it’s another step in the satisfaction meter,” said Kennedy, adding that his immediate priority at this point is making sure the unreleased projects they’ve already announced stay on schedule.
While Kennedy is working on growing their digital efforts, he also recognizes that a vital part of Archaia’s appeal is the production values that go into their actual printed graphic novels — just check out the cloth binding on the Dapper Men hardcover.
“That is the heart and soul of Archaia, putting out a high quality book experience,” Kennedy said. “And not just from the physical, tangible, ‘it feels good to hold,’ aspect, but even the content itself. Very high quality content in a very high quality package.”