Today Melissa got to sit down with Michael Fleizach and Todd Hunt about their new book Darlin out now from Source Point Press!
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Theme music by Ardus and Damn The Cow
MelissMichael Fleizach. Todd Hunt
[00:00:00] Melissa: This is my country and I’m Melissa surgeo today on the show, I get to chat with two comic book writers here to talk about their new series, darling, Michael and Todd hunt. Welcome to the show. Thanks
Michael Fleizach: for having us. Thanks
Todd Hunt: for having us. Yeah.
Melissa: Thanks for being here. How are you both doing today?
Michael Fleizach: Fine.
I guess. I don’t know. Good as any other day, I suppose.
Todd Hunt: Yeah. We’re, we’re kind of getting to crunch time with the books. So things are a little stressful.
Michael Fleizach: Yeah. Honestly.
Todd Hunt: Good. Otherwise.
Melissa: Yeah. Book launches are very, very stressful. You got to do all the promo and the media and make some things ready to ship out and ready to go.
Todd Hunt: Yeah. You always forget that last two or three weeks before actual launches. You know, a tough rural grocery ride.
Michael Fleizach: Yeah. And then you have to overthink the tweet for like three hours and then deleted anyway and be like, I just flush that time down the toilet. Why did I do that?
Melissa: Make sure you have the right hashtags and everything.
It’s totally. Yeah. [00:01:00] It’s a nightmare.
Michael Fleizach: Well, I’m really afraid. I’m really afraid these days when I do anything on social, that if I tag something or do something incorrectly that there’s some kind of scandal I haven’t been caught up on. Right. You know, like anytime I’m like, oh my God, I can’t believe you’re using the comics hashtag.
And I’m like, I don’t even know what’s going on,
Todd Hunt: broccoli gross.
Michael Fleizach: Right. Do you even know what’s happening? How
Todd Hunt: broccoli is mean?
Melissa: Yeah. There’s always something to be ridiculed for these days.
Todd Hunt: Exactly, exactly. Like it are usually pretty good at pointing out all of our flaws before anyone else. We take the Eminem like eight mile method where it’s like, I’m going to make fun of myself before they get a chance to make.
Michael Fleizach: that’s true. It’s worked out really well
Melissa: for us. Too. So it’s like, yeah, whenever anything comes about and it’s like, oh, gen X, what do you think? And I’m like, oh, we’re going to just sit this one out. Thanks.
Todd Hunt: Exactly. No matter what I say, I’m going to be in trouble for saying it. So I’m just going to watch
Well, you know, let’s, let’s talk about [00:02:00] your, your book here, darling. Tell me what inspired it and what’s it about.
Michael Fleizach: Sure. Darling is it’s really weird. It’s kind of a mashup of everything that Todd and I love. Todd, maybe you’re better at giving kind of the, the initial summary and then I can give some of the background.
Todd Hunt: Sure. Yeah, of course. Yeah, I think like Mike said, we, we both wanted to find a place where we could kind of Mike and I have so much in common and we’ve been friends now for so long. We were kind of thrown together. To live together during a study abroad program. God, what Mike, about 15, 20 years ago now, 15 years ago, at least it’s
Michael Fleizach: almost 20.
It was two
Todd Hunt: was 20. Yeah. So it’s almost 20 years ago. And then we, we kind of stayed in touch the whole time, but we spent so many of those nights in London as, you know, studying abroad, like just kind of having endless time just talking about things. And I was acting in a play and Mike would help me run my lines.
And we went through so many different phases together during these 20 years, but the idea of creating [00:03:00] stories together and sharing stories together is just the one constant. It was always like, I haven’t talked to Mike in two or three months break, just watch this show and I know he’d love it. Or I just heard this song and I know he’d appreciate it.
So we found that we had this really well, everything that we liked, we both liked. So we decided. I was working on a project called the secret adventures of Houdini. And I asked Mike for, to be a sounding board for some, some pieces that were going into a next issue. And then we found that not only do we really, you know, kind of like the same things and get along really well, but we also work really well together.
So that led to us. Writing plays together, which kind of sharpened our dialogue toolbox. And those went really well. And then we kind of said, all right, we’ve done kind of enough together to do something for real together. What should it be? And it all kind of kept going back to this idea that Mike had about his [00:04:00] brother that had recently passed away at that point.
So, Mike, do you want to jump in?
Michael Fleizach: Yeah. So. It’s a really strange brew. It’s it’s part wizard of Oz. It’s part Alison Wonderland. It’s it’s part New York city, 1980s pop sorry, punk culture new wave music. Like there’s a lot of weird influences, but it’s everything that I kind of loved and I love my brother and I love together.
I lost them to drug addiction about 10 years ago. And I wanted to after he passed away he, he left me kind of like all his journals and like boxes and he like wrote all the time. It was w poetry or song lyrics. Cause we were in a band together. All this stuff, just like a treasure trove of, of, of journals that I could kind of go through.
And anytime I wanted, I found, I found that when I missed him and I wanted to spend time with him, I kind of bust open these containers of just. Piles and piles of books that he’d filled up. And it started to make me feel like it was a weird, like [00:05:00] grieving process after I lost him, you know, like, you know, drug addiction and drug overdose is not really something people talk about very publicly.
People are usually ashamed or it’s like, you know, you run into someone who doesn’t know what happened. They’re like, how’s your brother. And you’re like, oh man, I got to tell this story. So it’s, it’s a really difficult thing to process and go through. But I found that it really helped me to kind of go through his journals.
And kind of get, get closer to him and, and this, and I just kept writing down how I was feeling as I was going through the journals and, and kind of creating this weird. I don’t know, darling is kind of like the universe I created that I could keep my brother in and all the memories, because he was my only sibling.
So every inside joke, everything that you, you know, like my kids don’t have an uncle now. Like there’s a whole lot of like, there’s a branch. That’s just been snapped off the family tree and my best effort to keep him and his memory alive is in this book. So F the main character Francis darling is absolutely [00:06:00] my brother.
So any name when he used to call him the Starling love to does he kind of like fancied himself, one of the darling kids from Peter pan, he like he’ll, he loved the idea of like never growing up and like being like one of these young kids that would escape to this magical kind of, you know, to Neverland.
And it was like a very strange thing in his head, an idea he always had that he just kind of never wanted to, to, to, to get old. So, so darling is really everything that my brother and I loved, I kind of put into this little box and Todd and I worked on it. Todd loved the idea and he’s been you know, Like really great about kind of like helping me tap into all that and map out a story and make sense of, you know, just working through emotions.
And, and I think we’ve come up with, with a couple of interesting couple of interesting issues here. So we’re pretty, we’re pretty excited for people to, to get their hands on them.
Melissa: Wow. That’s incredible. What a great story and a sad story obviously, but [00:07:00] it’s, it’s interesting how you’ve taken a tragedy and turned it into something.
Creative and productive. And did it help you get through anything? I mean, was, it was riding this cathartic process?
Michael Fleizach: Yeah, it’s really nice because he’s, he’s in this book, which is great. And it’s, I have a really terrible memory like really like really, really bad. Like I don’t remember things like, like I have really weird.
Freeze frame moments that I hang on to, but like my day-to-day memory is bad. It’s just always been bad. And I was like, I don’t want to forget hammer, forget a lot of these jokes or like things like this. I don’t want to be 50 or 60 and, and wish that I hadn’t done this. So I like, there’s a lot of like, even ways that Francis in the book, like speaks like lines of dialogue or directly things that my brother used to say or the way he would package things.
And And I never wanted to forget his charisma. He had incredible charisma. He could, and, and that was both, you know, a major plus for him and a major minus because he could. [00:08:00] Talk to you and, you know, make you think the world of him and the world and the world of yourself, he could make you feel great, but he could also use that.
You know, I it’s, it’s kind of like weird and strange, strange, and ominous to say he could use it for evil, but, but he could use it to kind of hide his addiction for a long time. He’d be so charming and charismatic that you’d be like, is he high? I don’t know. I don’t even know if he’s high right now. And you know, he struggled with addiction for well over 10 years.
So. Putting all the good stuff in here and working through it. It was, it was very cathartic. It’s very healthy for me to kind of be like, it’s okay. That there were things that like, you know, like you live with someone like that who tears your family apart. Like, you’re, there’s going to be hate, but you’re also going to like, there’s going to be a lot of love in there too.
Like. It’s hard. You can’t really tell anyone how to work through it. Everyone goes through this kind of thing. Addiction is strange. It rewires people’s brains. And, you know, there were moments where he was at the end. He was actually clean for a really long stretch and just kind of slipped up once. And.
[00:09:00] And that was that. So, you know, I, it was, it was very healthy for me to work through it and, and put bits in here that I’m like, I loved that about him, but there’s also stuff in here that I’m like, I really didn’t like that part of his personality, but going on, and I’ve just kind of accepted Just accept, accepted him for how he was, you know, especially towards the end, when he was still alive.
I loved him. I realized that, you know, he was struggling with something and it’s not like, you know, he, wasn’t always making a choice, you know, it’s like some, someone else was behind the wheel, sometimes driving his head. Addiction is very, yeah. Very serious business. And I think it took our family a long time to realize that sometimes I’d just be like, you know, what are you doing?
Stop being a jerk. Just don’t do drugs. How hard is it to not do drugs? You know? But it, it it’s like sometimes I would look in his eyes and I would realize I’m like, he’s not in there right now. And then other times it would be great. He’d be back. He’d be perfect. He’d be clean for you know, Excuse to stretch them months and, and, and he would be as charismatic and as lovely as he always was.
But yeah, this was definitely me working through [00:10:00] some grief and there’s definitely a lot of catharsis in it. And I’m really glad that Todd took the journey with me because it was rough in the beginning. It’s and it’s tough to say a lot of this stuff out loud and to share it with people. But I find that a lot of people are sharing their own stories back, which is, which is very comforting.
And I appreciate very much. Yeah.
Melissa: Yeah. It must be really difficult to to talk about it because, you know, we tend to bodily things, you know, inside and it is very much a disease, not a choice. I mean, maybe it’s a choice at one point, but it becomes, I think a disease you know, eventually we’re did you get any blow back from anybody in your family or friends for, for doing this or were they really supportive of it?
Michael Fleizach: They were really supportive. Everyone really. Loves the idea, especially because we’re, we’re donating a portion of creator proceeds to programs that help addicts get clean. Essentially it helps you know, pick folks up and dust them off and, and, and do their best to, to fight back against the opiate crisis.
You know, so we have that and also source point has agreed to, to match our [00:11:00] donations. So we found a couple of programs that we’re partnering with. Cause we wanted it to do a little good in with this book and in, in my brother’s memory But yeah, there’s really no blow back
Todd Hunt: on, on that. We have Mike wrote a really beautiful intro paragraph.
That’s in the first issue that gives our email address and we’re working with programs. And in that intro paragraph, say that if you are struggling with addiction or know somebody, it is, and, or know somebody who is, and don’t know where to go. That we’re here because we can partner with those, with these programs that we’re working with to get people help in almost every state.
So if you are struggling with addiction or know someone that is, and don’t know where to go, but happened to read this in a comic, you can reach out to us and we can have somebody contact you for help in that state. And that is something that is really important to us as well.
Melissa: Okay. And we can I’ll get those links from you after as well, so we can post them in the show notes.
Todd Hunt: Sure,
Melissa: absolutely. That’d be great. Now you mentioned source point. How did you, how [00:12:00] did that come about and getting in contact with them and having them become your publisher?
Todd Hunt: Source point was one of the publishers that we really wanted to work with the most. We felt like our story was very similar to a few different themes that they had published when we first pitched to them.
So about two years ago, we initially pitched to them and then they merged about a year ago and have a little bit of reshuffling. And in that reshuffling, they reached out to us saying if you’d like to submit to the new submission guidelines that we’ve included since we’ve updated. Our company please do.
And we did. And you know, they, they said they loved the project and they had a few small little points that they wanted us to work on. And we were able to work through that really quickly. And then from that initial conversation on we’ve had just an incredible. Working relationship with them, they’ve been super supportive.
It was them that offered to match our [00:13:00] donation, which was super generous. And we knew at that point that their heart was in the right place as well. And that meant a lot to us. We didn’t want to just work with a publisher that was going to put the books on shelves and ended the relationship there. If they weren’t champions of this message.
We wouldn’t be able to work with them. Right. And we knew that they would be from past experience of writers that they’ve worked with before. So it was important for us to work with a company that we respected in that regard. And this was absolutely them. And they’ve proven themselves almost on a daily basis now to be real champions of our.
Work and our message. And I don’t think we’d be able to do what we’re doing as far as our story and getting the message out there as much as we could with source point. That’s
Melissa: great. That’s awesome. And how many, how many issues is outlet and how many do you have planned?
Michael Fleizach: So right now we’re working on the second arc.
Issue one of the second arc. So that would be, I guess the fifth one right now we have four done. [00:14:00] And in the can that are coming out this year, I guess you don’t say in the candidiasis movies, I guess you say something else. So it was just so on the shelf. So we have four that are on the shelf and those will be coming up this year and next year we’re going to do another four.
Todd and I are still, we have an arc planned out for the entire series. We’re just not sure. If we’re going to take one or two detours that we have in mind. But it’s probably gonna be five sets of, it’s probably going to be about 20 issues between 16 and 20 issues. It’s going to be four or five a year, I think for the next couple of years.
Melissa: that was great. What is the overall, you know, message that you want to convey or that you want people to take from the story from your brother’s story or from the fictitious story you’ve made inspired by that?
Michael Fleizach: That’s a good question. I, I think most importantly we wanted to. Remove the stigma around, around people struggling with drug addiction.
We wanted you to it’s important, especially for [00:15:00] us in the book, we started actually writing this whole different kind of book and we got 12 pages in and it was still, it was still about my brother and all about this in New York city and stuff, but it was very dark and weird and we, and we threw it all out and started to reboot it.
Cause we were like, we really want to make people love Francis. You know, in spite of his struggles with addiction, kind of like an anti-hero, we, we, we, we don’t want to glamorize it and we certainly don’t want to demonize him in any way or, you know, make him seem like, like there’s not evil in that in him.
He’s just kind of struggling with this thing. Like, I think the takeaway would be, you know, for every addict that’s out there for, everyone’s struggling with addiction. You know, it, it, it for them and from definitely from what I understand, just from going through all my brother’s journals and, you know, trying to make sense of it myself.
Like they feel very isolated and very alone, but it’s important to know, especially if you’re struggling with addiction you know, there’s almost certainly someone out there who loves and [00:16:00] cares about you and, and, and you’re not alone. And there’s, there’s programs, there’s family members that, that are ready to help.
Yeah. You know, there’s people that are ready to listen. There are friends. Like I was, I was shocked at my brother’s wake when not only did some, some old friends show up and some other people I hadn’t seen in a while, but buses started to come in from different, like, like rehabs and halfway houses that he had stayed at.
And it was just, it was a whole cast of characters that I’d never met and never knew about another part of his life where, you know, It was the part of my life where my brother was struggling and keeping himself away from a family. And like kids would come up to me and like a kid came up and was like, oh, your brother.
And I were writing music together. He taught me how to play guitar. You know, my bro, like your, your, your brother and I were working on projects together and like, oh, he was so great. He helped keep me clean. And it’s weird. I mean, I, I, it’s a whole nother thing. And, and I think if you’re on the straight and narrow, it’s almost impossible for you to understand.
That point of view and where people are at. I, I’m not even claiming to understand it. I, [00:17:00] I’ve kind of, I’ve never, I’ve never struggled myself, but, but I’ve been close enough to someone. I love to know that it’s, it’s really tricky and it’s hard to not like, let hate. Consume you and get real, like, like they, like, you tore the family apart, look at what you did with all this stuff.
You stole stuff. You it’s like, you know, he, he got pretty much as bad as it gets. Like, like if you remember, like, like the movie basketball, diaries, you know what I’m saying? Like, that’s like, like, like DiCaprio, like, like it’s, it was, it was like, it was, that was like, I it’s hard for me to watch that scene now because that’s like, you know, when I was little on before all this, I was like, oh, that’s.
I was like, that’s. Too bad, but that seems like Hollywood really playing it up. But that’s, it’s, it’s, it’s very, that’s the reality for a lot of people. It is it’s reality for a lot of people. And I, and I would just, you know, I would encourage people to, you know, Don’t step over these folks. Don’t step on them or look down at them.
Like they’re dealing with something [00:18:00] like you can’t even imagine. Yeah,
Melissa: absolutely. And there seems to be more and more people with drug addiction issues than ever before. I mean, yeah, that just because people are depressed and they’re alone and hopeless and things like that, I feel like there was a surge of, of this in the nineties and then we sort of saw it.
Kind of fall off for a little while and for whatever reason, if it was government programs or you know, society, but, and now it’s, it seems to be coming back again. What are your thoughts? Because I’m always curious about this. It’s a debate that’s been ongoing for awhile. What are your thoughts about legalizing drugs?
Todd Hunt: I think, I think to me it depends on the drug. You mean like legalizing hardcore drugs. So it’s people to do it in a safe way.
Melissa: I guess I should rephrase meaning. Well, there’s one thing, decriminalizing them for one is a big thing because people need help, not a jail cell. [00:19:00] I think that’s the big thing, but as far as Taking the stigma away, I guess you could say.
Cause you know how as humans we’re like, if we’re told we can’t do something, you know, like, Ooh, what’s
Michael Fleizach: that, you know it more.
Melissa: Yeah. So, but it’s just been an ongoing debate and I’m just curious to kind of hear your thoughts on that.
Todd Hunt: Yeah. I mean, especially like with marijuana, like, I, I mean, we see, you know, obviously more and more states figuring out, you know, a way to make it decriminalize, which I think is most important and then secondary making it legal in order to sell and buy.
And I think that that just makes perfect sense. I mean, I don’t want to get into too deep of that, but I feel like if you, if you’re allowed to go buy a bottle of Johnny Walker, you should be allowed to buy marijuana, especially. Especially. I mean, it just seems to me, if I was, you know, at two o’clock in the morning, standing on subway platform, I’d much rather be next to somebody who smoked a joint than drank a bottle of booze.
[00:20:00] Exactly. You know, it’s like, it’s one of those things where it’s, that’s just kind of always been my argument. Like I’ve always, I mean, especially decriminalizing it you know, people being in jail cells for minor amounts of. Marijuana, especially without any intent to sell it, really, I, I think is a failure to our communities, but I yeah, I’d rather, I’d rather be next to somebody that was high, the drunk quite personally.
So that’s, that’s where I, that’s where I stand.
Melissa: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. And I think with more awareness, You know, as we end with things like what you’re doing, you know, and bringing these stories to life, to kind of just let people know that there shouldn’t be really this stigma around it, as far as, you know, people that are going through this, they’re not the other, you know, it can happen to anyone.
So I think that’s, you know, that’s super important. And then just getting into like the visual aspect as well, with the art you know, you. You worked with a great artist. And how, how was that, you know, how was that process collaborating and [00:21:00] having him sort of bring your vision to life? David meek, right?
Todd Hunt: Yeah. Yeah,
Michael Fleizach: it’s been he’s D there’s really no darling without Dave Mims, he’s been absolutely. He’s been absolutely incredible. And we just kind of lucked out. We just kind of like, excuse me. Todd had, had worked with him on a previous project and. When we started talking about darling Todd was like, I got this, I got this guy who, who might be good for this?
And I’m like, okay, let’s, let’s, let’s check it out. And we just kind of struck gold on the first, the first artist we reached out to Dave Mims. He, his, his graffiti work, his New York, Sydney grit. It like, it all comes through. Like he, it, it, and, and, and really with very little direction. Which is incredible.
We love painting him into corners and giving him really tough things to draw because he always busts out, like he always breaks out of the page and surprises us in some way. And we’re like, oh man, that’s so awesome. So I love painting them into corners and I hope he won’t mind me saying that, but I love giving him difficult [00:22:00] assignments on purpose because I know that he can always knock it out of the park.
He’s great. He layers lots of little Easter eggs in
Todd Hunt: Todd this summer. He’s so smart. He’s absolutely brilliant artistically, but he’s so smart.
Michael Fleizach: Yeah. Todd had a really good point where he was like, if there were no words what’d you say the other day, Todd, if there were no words on the page that from the art and the expressions on people’s faces, you’d still understand pretty much at least 75% of
Todd Hunt: the story, for sure.
Yeah. If you took all of our words away, the story is still there. Yeah.
Michael Fleizach: Which is great. He’s very good beat to beat like that. Yeah. And, and just, he ha like, he definitely hides things in there for. Repeat reading and that’s really cool. Like even, even now I’m catching, I, I catch little bits of graffiti, little things.
He hidden the scene. And it’s just so fun to kind of hunt for those Easter eggs. Working with him has been very strange because we started this about six or seven years ago. I’ve only spoken to Dave on the phone once. One time, everything has been over email. I’ve still never met him in person. I’m sure.
I’m sure he’s a, a lovely [00:23:00] human being, but all I really know are, are our email back and forth and He’s great. You know, he’s his, his, his color work just, you know, his, his mind, everything just captured exactly what we wanted to do. And we couldn’t, after we saw like his first few, his first few pages, we were like, I don’t even know that I could find.
Someone who w you know, better for this, if we did a nationwide search, you know, it’s just really, exactly. We really lucked out.
Todd Hunt: Yeah. The sensibility too. I mean, he loves graffiti art, which was super important, obviously for coloring 1980s, New York city. But his dad actually was a musician. Played with miles Davis.
And he has all these really cool pictures of like the late seventies and early eighties in New York city of like, but like, you know, not just for inspiration, like from his past. So he was just absolutely the right person to be on it, to get the vibe of what we were looking for of that kind of lost that [00:24:00] lost time in New York city that people kind of already quickly forgot about just how dirty and gritty and dangerous New York city was before Disney bought it.
Melissa: Yeah. Well, that’s really cool. That actually reminds me there’s one of my favorites. Artists is Justin Bula. I don’t know if you’re familiar with his work, but he pretty much he paints and all of his work is like hip hop images, seventies, eighties, even nineties. And he got, you know, the piano man is one of his more famous ones.
And the Britain, there’s a break dancing one and lots of graffiti and stuffs that you guys should check that out. Actually, it’s, it’s really Kind of EnCap encapsulates that, that part of New York city as well. The, the setting obviously happens to be a punk use that writes the kind of, that like punk kind of feel to it as well.
Did you have like a musical playlist when you were writing?
Michael Fleizach: Funny
Todd Hunt: enough. Yeah. That’s yeah. Mike actually wanted to score the comic. At some point we’d spent about six months trying to figure out a way to do [00:25:00] it until we realized it just was probably impossible until we made it an animated movie one day.
Michael Fleizach: Yeah. I which we’d love to do, and we’d love to make it animated. Like. Disney anime. I don’t want it. I don’t want to make it like, like I want to meet, I want it to be incredibly dark and violent, but animated and have it be charming. Like a Disney film finally goes west. Yes. Oh my gosh. Was that Disney five?
No, that was the blue. Yeah. Yeah.
Todd Hunt: Yeah. Well, that’s who we want.
Michael Fleizach: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I, I always write to music and do outlines to music and dialogue to music. So I have a playlist that we’re actually, we’ll probably share closer to release that I’ve, I’ve, I’ve slowly been putting together of You know, a few dozen songs that are on there and maybe we’ll do that by issue, but yeah, Todd’s right.
We used to have like, almost like suggested listening. Like there was, there was a special box in it in the beginning of each sequence where I wanted to give people an idea of like what, how I was feeling and what I was seeing while I was writing this. And So [00:26:00] that’s, it’s, it’s in the DNA. It’s just not in the book.
So we’ll probably, we’ll probably release that. Like we’ll share a Spotify playlist or we’ll do something like that. So people could the music from darling and listen while you read or whatever.
Todd Hunt: Yeah. And we have by the end of this arc so the fourth issue that will be released later this year, we introduced a character who is very clearly influenced by punk culture.
And we are getting now to the second arc. We actually have scenes in his punk club. So it really very much goes there. We’re just kind of starting to kind of lay the seeds for that, but it doesn’t just become this, this, this subtext, it becomes a very major part of the series. So yeah, we’re really excited to get that point.
Who knows? We haven’t released a single nice.
Melissa: Yeah. I mean, that really helps, I think, as a reader, when you, yeah. Can get, you can immerse yourself into the world more if you know, what the music that the artist or the writer was listening to. I think that really helps a lot. Yeah. [00:27:00] Yeah. Now the other thing I want to ask you about is you guys are also host a podcast.
Tell me about that. That’s super Nintendo dads.
Michael Fleizach: Yeah, go ahead. Go ahead. This is, this is Todd’s time to shine right here.
Todd Hunt: Yeah. W yeah, we have we have a show called the superintendents engineer entertainment podcasts, which is really comprised of three different shows that all kind of fall under the same banner.
One is called the morning dead cast where Mike and I. Just get to talk about things that make dads upset and we kind of go, we go through pop culture. It’s our time to kind of just air out our grievances through the week. So sometimes we’ll talk about sandwiches and sometimes we’ll talk about return on PS five.
It’s all kind of under the guise of video games, but we. Really just kind of go off and talk about what is bothering us that week. And then we have something called the S the real, the mothership of the show, which is when we introduce our kids to the things that we grew up with, whether it’s snacks or video games, and try to convince them that our stuff is better than their stuff is, and always will be.
And what we found [00:28:00] is that we’re usually wrong. We wind up destroying our memories because I realize that some things we grew up with really aren’t as good as we thought they were on. You know, second look.
Michael Fleizach: Right. Yeah. And that, that, that’s, that’s probably the most fun and really the heart of the show, the, the, the dad cast is just something that Todd and I did really, so we could hang out a little more and, and, and maybe promote the next show that we do with the kids, but we really did it so we could spend more time with our kids and kind of share, right.
It it’s really weird. We just kind of noticed that there’s not a whole lot of podcasts about video games and how people were kind of the first generation that are growing up, who grew up with video games who are now passing them onto their children, like, and talking about like, oh, I used to play this.
You’ll never believe when the PS one came out from my first. I remember my. The first Nintendo game, like it’s really weird, you know, like my, obviously like my dad didn’t talk about that. He barely played any games. So that’s not something I shared with him, but so when we do that show my son my son Gabriel sits in with us and oh my God, he’s going to be 13 next, next, next month.
He sits in with [00:29:00] us. And also Todd’s son gray usually does a segment. Gray is what? Six he’s. Six. Yeah. Yeah. So, so we have you know, it’s different w we’ll look at something different every, every week when we do that. So like we’ve covered and the season is usually, you know, the title of the episode is Julie things just like.
Straight for it’s a teenage mutant ninja turtles or super Mario world. We did demolition man. We did Willow. We got what else, what else did we do? Todd Sonic and
Todd Hunt: knuckles make a man to a night trap, which trap would be considered in the nineties. We would have been considered abusive parents have game play.
So, yeah, that’s been really fun. And again, yeah, like we did the dad cast that we could spend more time together and we did the mother. Yeah. So that we could spend more time with each other and each other’s kids. And again, this all really kind of popped off during the pandemic. So it was really the only option we had to really hang out with each other.
And then the last bit is we do something called this American Sprite. Which is a spoof on this American life where we top, we tackle really niche, topics of [00:30:00] video games that we think have never been explored before, because there’s just so much stuff out there that everyone’s talked about a hundred times.
Like, did you know, super Mario two was not actually submitted those tune’s called donkey. Don’t get panic and it’s. Yeah, everybody has a video game fan knows that stuff. So yeah, we like, would you like to tackle, you know, really fun things on there. And we do that with an acting team and Mike and I script that and Mike does really heavy post-production on it.
So it really sounds like. Radio this American life
Michael Fleizach: it’s meant it’s meant to be like complete send up. I meant to, you know, like I kind of host it like IRA does and this American life, and then Todd will be, you know, w you know, we’ll be producing the story this week, and then we do it, you know, essentially it’s kind of like, you know, it’s like, like radio theater or whatever, it’s, it gets a little silly, you know, like we do fake phone calls and things like that.
And like, you know, the, the music gets really ominous and we like really play things up for drama, but we’re talking about video games, so. Yeah, we’re trying to, yeah, we’re trying to do more of those this year. They’re a little bit more heavy on the post-production side and it’s tough. Well, we’re pushing the comic, [00:31:00] but we’re doing, we’re doing our best to get a, you know, another three or four of those out this year.
The other stuff hopefully
Todd Hunt: have a conversation. That’s like, can we still do the show? Can still do the show. It’s like, let’s just do a show this week and we’ll see where it goes. And we haven’t had to skip a week yet. So
Michael Fleizach: exactly, exactly. Keep it all going. Yeah. Our schedules like rarely sync up too, because like Todd and I are on completely different kinds of shifts and ways of living right now.
So it gets, it gets really into it. Todd’s like I have one hour on S on Sunday morning and 6:30 AM. And I’m like, now I gotta wake up at 6:30 AM on Sunday morning.
Todd Hunt: Yeah. It’s funny. The show that we released actually today, I was listening to it back last night and I’d send Mike a text and I was like, God, we sound really tired.
Like we’re doing it, but we’re really, I can hear how much is going on in our world. And I’m sure people that are listening closely enough can understand that as well. We haven’t actually shared the two spheres [00:32:00] yet of our creative world. We don’t really talk about. I mean, we’ll talk about the podcast when we do interviews for the comic, but we haven’t really mentioned the comic on the podcast.
And I think we will, I’m sure there will be an audience that, that shares that interest. But yeah, I think we’ll get there at some point. Okay.
Melissa: Yeah, that sounds really interesting. What, you know, like what kinds of niche topics have you covered so far?
Todd Hunt: The first, this American Sprite was about flash man from mega man to getting a job at a Piggly wiggly after the robot wars
Michael Fleizach: that was totally made up.
Todd Hunt: So we talked, we talked to flash man for a while about his job at the Piggly wiggly and how he is ascending to become the manager at the deli counter and his, his love and hate relationship with the Coinstar machine and the robot that searches the aisle for spills. Right. So, but it’s also very humanized.
We have a really great acting team and it sounds like you’ll feel for this guy afterwards. We, [00:33:00] it sounds like he’s really trying very fast. Yeah. Yeah. He doesn’t want to be called flash, man. He likes to go as Michael Flashman now. And we really do try to humanize it all and we have a good enough acting team that can pull it off.
And then last week we released a one about, so. On Castlevania three on the MDs, there’s a red sticker on the box that says enter to win a trip to Dracula’s hometown. And while just kind of looking through the retro collections that Mike and I kind of share at this point. We realized what the hell happened to this contest, no one ever wins.
So I did some research on it and found that there was some unrest in Romania at the time. So they were like, listen, this probably is a good idea, but right. We should just make this contest go away. But we decided to go and treat it as if it did happen and they lost the kid and they tried to cover it up.
So. [00:34:00] Found the tapes of the guy, Jack fin marketing mastermind of the eighties who invented the creepy crawlers theme song, who pitched the idea of sending a kid to Romania, as terrible as it was and lost the kid and then tried to cover it all up. And then we end it very true detective style. And it’s fantastic.
I mean, anyone who. Anyone who would lie? I mean, there’s even Easter eggs about Castlevania too in there. Like we talk about like store locations that are just from Castlevania games. He gives clues that he doesn’t even understand like the dead, like the the ferryman likes garlic and you know, things like that.
So it’s really, it’s very cool. Yeah, it’s silly, but we treat it very seriously.
Michael Fleizach: I think that’s what makes it work. Yeah. Right. Exactly. It’s like, you know, any of these that, cause there’s a new podcast. Like every week that’s about something serious and it’s like, you know, it always ends on something like it’ll have a narrator and they’ll be able to like, you know, but then there’s just one problem what happened and where they go, [00:35:00] oh, cue the certain end of the music.
Like yeah. Oh, no, no, no. Mike
Todd Hunt: gets the music. So I mean the second Mike even plays the music while we’re recording to get me. And the other actors like really jazzed up because the music is so good and so pitch perfect. But I think if you put in American life and American Sprite next to each other, people who have never listened to both would be like, All right, this is the same show.
Yes. This is what they were doing with this one. I want to get back to you know, oil companies in Texas. But again, I answered really like really produces it really, really well to the point where it feels, it feels real. And that’s why the steelier or the story is the, you know, it just
Michael Fleizach: serious be quiet,
Melissa: so, well, have you guys ever heard of Well, there’s like radish is one company and Kendall, I guess, is going to, Amazon’s doing one soon called Vela where they’re like serialized stories for your Kindle and release a chapter a week or however many you want to do.
Yeah. That might be something interesting for you guys to do with that [00:36:00] concept to like get it on.
Todd Hunt: Yeah, that’d be great because Mike and I script the having, as, you know, the playwriting background that we had we script everything. Yeah, you would think that the script that we did for these shows, even our dad cast were really just, you know, screwing around with each other.
They’re scripted, like, you know, four or five page, sometimes longer scripts and this American Sprite much longer. Because we just don’t know any other way we, we have to prepare. So yeah, that would be really cool.
Melissa: Yeah. I used to look into that cause that’s immediately what I thought of. Okay. This is like serialized.
Yeah. Detective noir kind of story. That would be perfect. I think for it. Perfect.
Todd Hunt: Yeah. Well, I’m
Melissa: definitely check out your podcast as well. Cause it sounds very entertaining. Awesome.
Todd Hunt: Thank you so much.
Melissa: Yeah. And before I let you go do either of you have any advice that you want to give to aspiring young artists?
Todd Hunt: Yeah. Make it just make it, no, just not as far as like making it, the industry just, just do it. Well, I’ve met so many people and you know, the first comic that I need. [00:37:00] I, I didn’t know what was going to happen with it, but I need it to finish it. I, to make it look like it would go on the shelves the next day.
I think that getting started is obviously always the hardest part, but in these days, especially where there’s so many different avenues to produce things, whether they’re podcasts comics movies, anything, I mean, you can shoot a movie on an iPhone these days you can build, you can record a whole record with your iMac.
I would just look, there’s no word. There’s nothing stopping you from doing it. Just make it. And you’ll find where it belongs, but you just get started and do it. Don’t wait for it to wait for a deal. Don’t wait for the right time. Just do it. Just get started. Yeah, long
Michael Fleizach: before we were submitting or had any connections at all, or any kind of encouragement from anyone.
Todd and I were talking with friends about what the logo would look like and, you know, it might cost a little money to get off the ground sometimes. But if, if you really believe You know, in your idea, then, then it’s totally worth it. We had, you know, we had, I don’t know how many top 50 books printed up of the [00:38:00] first a hundred pages that could have been on
Todd Hunt: the
Michael Fleizach: bookshelf.
Yeah, we made it look like we did that. We got a graphic designer to set everything up. We had it all. Just everything, the way we wanted it. And we were like, this could be real on someone’s shade. Like we fully realize their idea. I think the only thing really you know, source point adjusted was that we were going to do it in like four or five, 100 page books and they, they wanted to break them out into issues.
So we did that and there was some, a few new pages we had to do to just kind of make that work. But, yeah, I, I totally agree with Todd. Just, just do it there, there are writers out there that are looking for artists and artists that are looking for writers, get on Twitter and make friends get on you know, anywhere, put your artwork on Instagram.
Believe it or not, Facebook is still relevant. Yeah. There’s, there’s groups of people that are just looking to collaborate and just make cool stuff. And it’s just all about waking up and doing it. So just, you know, don’t think about how just kind of throw yourself into it and you’ll figure it out, you know, baptism by fire or whatever the [00:39:00] expression is.
It’s I had no idea. I’d never worked on a comic before. I didn’t even know how to get started. Todd had some experience, which was great. And, you know, we kind of leveraged that and he kind of guided me through how most of it works, but even Todd and I are still learning a lot of the ins and outs of how comics work in the comic industry.
So, Yeah, I would just say, just, just do it and do it.
Todd Hunt: And don’t be too worried, worried about the end result because 90%, this is such a tricky thing to say, but it really is about the journey. Like my favorite memories that I have about working on this comic and this podcast with Mike is the behind the scenes stuff of when we were creating it.
I don’t have any great memories. Like even the day that we got the deal, we were like, okay, cool. We got the deal. Let’s get back to work. You know, some of my favorite memories are when we realized. Well, the big bad was. And we were like, yes, that’s her. That’s exactly her. This is the backstory. This is all the stuff we’ve been working towards God.
Remember where I was when we realized what the backstory was for our big, bad in the first arc. And I just [00:40:00] remember feeling like this is. Absolutely. Right. And like that electric, creative, collaborative feeling. That is what it’s all about. The main, the finished product. That’s great because it gets into more people’s hands and you can share your story with other people, but just, just enjoy the work and do
Michael Fleizach: it very simply.
Put just make stuff really great. It’s just really great to make stuff just to make it.
Melissa: Yeah. You have to enjoy writing if you want to be a
Todd Hunt: writer.
Michael Fleizach: That’s right. Yeah, exactly. Although
Todd Hunt: I had one of my favorite quotes is I’m a writer is someone for who? It is more difficult to write than anyone else. Yeah.
wants to be like, that’s a really that’s really, I want that.
Melissa: Yeah. I think someone, I heard saying their favorite part of writing was when they were like finished. Yeah,
Todd Hunt: exactly. Exactly. Exactly. I’ll thank God. That’s over. I can do it again. Jesus
Michael Fleizach: Christ. Yeah. Yeah. Looking at a blank page triggers a huge amount of anxiety in me every time.
Every time. Yeah.
Melissa: You kind of just got that moment where you’re like, wait, how do [00:41:00] I do this? You know, you kind of forgot. And then as soon as you. Right that first paragraph. It’s like, okay, I remember what I’m doing. Yeah. Okay. Okay.
Michael Fleizach: This is, this is going all right. This is going okay.
Melissa: Yeah. Well talk to along the way.
Well, thanks so much for coming on today and sharing your story and your brother’s story. And you know, I think a lot of people are going to really appreciate this comic and I look forward to reading it as well.
Todd Hunt: Awesome. Thank you. Thank you so
Michael Fleizach: much.
Melissa: Thank you for having us. Absolutely. And you guys come back any time.
This is great. Everyone, you know, was saying, make sure to pick up a copy of darling wherever comic books are sold and also check out the super Nintendo dads podcast. I think that sounds like a lot of fun too. Yeah. Thanks again for coming by spoiler country.
Todd Hunt: Thank you.