You've seen giant robots - but never like MegaGhost.
This December, supernatural and super science mix in the Albatross Funnybooks limited series MegaGhost by writer Gabe Soria and artist Gideon Kendall. Described the publisher as "the greatest 1970's Saturday morning cartoon show that ever happened," MegaGhost stars junior occultist Martin Magus and a giant supernatural robot which he can summon thanks to a magic ring. Together, they patrol their spookley hamlet of Dunwich Heights.
Newsarama spoke with Soria and Kendall about this all-ages arcane adventure which Soria describes as a 1980s Star Comics adaptation of the cartoon he wishes came out then.
Newsarama: Who or what is MegaGhost in this book?
Gabe Soria: MegaGhost is an all-ages comic that chronicles the adventures of Martin Magus, a junior occultist who has the power to summon a giant ghost robot to fight giant monsters from other dimensions and beyond the grave.
Nrama: So MegaGhost can be summoned by Martin. Tell us more about him – there has to be a story behind that name.
Soria: Martin’s a bookish, curious junior high kid who’s is extremely interested in the strange and the unknown. He lives in the creepy seaside city of Dunwich Heights, which has a reputation for being a hotspot for odd occurrences and bizarre phenomena, so he’s got plenty of stuff to occupy his time investigating. Basically, if it’s weird and involves the occult, Martin’s probably read a book or grimoire about it, or has it on hold at his local library. And as for his name, heck, it’s the one his folks gave him!
Nrama: Gideon, what thinking went into the design of MegaGhost?
Gideon Kendall: Fortunately, I had the help of two very excellent and experienced artists: Mike Cavallaro and Eric Powell. Mike had worked with Gabe early on developing the whole idea for MegaGhost and did amazing designs for all the characters that mine are very much based on. My MegaGhost got a bit less Shogun Warrior and a bit more Medieval. I was still struggling with MG's face though and Eric stepped in and did a quick sketch that totally nailed it. I futzed with the cape and some of the color choices for a while after that until we arrived where we are. Being that he’s a combo of magic and technology, we can alter his form and his accessories on an as-needed basis and I look forward to giving him all kinds of cool weaponry in his fight to defend Dunwich Heights.
Nrama: And what about Martin Magus?
Kendall: Again, I owe a huge debt to Mike Cavallaro. My design is much like his, but I gave him higher cheekbones and changed the color of his suit.
Nrama: How did Martin come to possess a ring capable of summoning MegaGhost?
Soria: Martin’s natural curiosity and fearlessness and his desire to delve into the unknown (plus his desire to show off in front of a rival at school) are what lead him to find the Mark of the Ghost, a strange ring that he cannot remove from his hand, no matter how hard he tries. The ring is both a blessing and a curse, as readers will discover. But what the ring does do is introduce him to some new friends, a trio of very special ghosts who live in the most haunted house in Dunwich Heights. When supernatural trouble threatens, Martin performs a special ritual (complete with a catchy incantation) and the ghosts combine to assume the form of MegaGhost, a massive, undead robot that fights the forces of evil.
Nrama: Sounds like some fun - what does Martin and MegaGhost run against in this series?
Soria: What don’t they go up against? To me, Dunwich Heights is Arkham crossed with Angel Grove; if it’s weird and scary and spooky, it can happen there. Occult and supernatural energy runs through its cobblestone streets and dark alleys, and it attracts all kinds of weird creatures, creepy kaiju, power-mad magicians and more, and most of them are bent on taking over and/or destroying the world.
Nrama: What's it like living in a town like Dunwich Heights?
Kendall: As someone who loves old architecture and hates anything built after 1940, I think it would be a great place to live (minus the haunting and the carnage).
Nrama: Eric Powell describes this series as "the greatest 1970’s Saturday morning cartoon show that never happened!" What do you think of that assessment?
Soria:I think that assessment is the exact reason why Albatross Funnybooks is publishing MegaGhost, that’s what I think.
Kendall: I think it’s perfect, but I would add that we're making something just a tad more spooky and with more depth and richness, both narratively and visually, than that medium could allow. Oddly enough, I spent most of my childhood without a TV so there are many gaps in my pop culture education. But I always loved horror comics, robots, and spooky stories, so I feel right at home in the world of MegaGhost.
Soria: When I first started thinking about MegaGhost, I wanted it to read like the Star Comics adaptation of an animated series only half-remembered by a handful of people in the know, like some really cool secret that’s finally ready to be discovered by the world at large. Something that you find in a hidden bin at a comic book shop and devour while eating cookies and drinking Ecto-Cooler. My pal David Hyde got wind of the idea and introduced me to Eric, who got the vibe immediately.
Nrama: So Gideon, how'd you come to connect with Eric and Albatross Funnybooks in the first place?
Kendall: I had nothing to do with it, but I'm sure glad it happened! I love the aesthetic and the ethics of the whole enterprise. I feel like Eric has high standards and if a book is part of Albatross it’s gonna be a high-quality book, so I'm honored to be a part of it. I guess I was lucky that Mike Cavallaro got sucked into other projects and had to pass MegaGhost along to me. I love working with Gabe and with Eric and Albatross.
Nrama: Gideon, I love your style here, reminiscent in the best ways of Kyle Hotz and Hilary Barta. How’d you get to this point in your style?
Kendall: I love Barta! One of my faves.
At the ripe old age of 51 I’m actually relatively new to comics. For many years I mostly did fine art, illustration and animation design. I worked on my own self-published stuff (Whatzit, a sci-fi epic about aliens that invade the earth thru the pimples of human teenagers, and Wait… It Gets Worse, an anthology series of humorous autobiographical stories. Both available from www.gideonkendall.com... shameless plug!) for a few years years and then did the art for Harvey Kurtzman's Marley's Ghost (Kitchen Sink/ComiXology Originals) which was my first graphic novel (which just won an Eisner!). MegaGhost is my first "floppy" comic, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.
Nrama: Big picture, what are your goals for MegaGhost?
Kendall: I have a 10-year-old son and I want his friends to love this comic so he might actually think I’m cool. But seriously... I want to make a book that's super fun to read, has lots of chills and lots of humor, and where the pictures are full of fun stuff to look at and will reward repeated readings.
Soria: Well, the main goal is to tell a ripping yarn with Gideon and make a cool world that people not only want to investigate but to return to over and over again. We’ve got plenty of fun stories that we want to tell. But big picture? Well, to have someone cosplay as Martin Magus and MegaGhost would be awesome, for real. And then a line of MegaGhost-themed occult toys, perhaps…
Kendall: Gabe has a million great ideas and his stories are so propulsive, full of energy and fun, I just want to give them the visual treatment they deserve.