Back in 1932 two guys from Cleveland Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created the world’s first super powered crimefighter, Super-Man. Over the years thousands of characters have been created in the genre but almost none have ever called Cleveland home. Now longtime friends and filmmakers Ted Sikora and Milo Miller are co-writing and producing a new comic book series entitled “Apama – The Undiscovered Animal” whose adventures take place all over Cleveland.
Apama made his debut at San Diego’s Comic Con International, in the independent film “Hero Tomorrow” which has been an international film festival sensation, screening at festivals everywhere from New York to Montreal, Rome, Brazil and Australia.
In the Cleveland based film, David is a struggling comic book artist who can’t sell his original superhero idea, Apama, to a publisher. His girlfriend, being an aspiring costume designer, makes him a costume of Apama for Halloween. Once David’s life goes to pot, he decides to embark on various misadventures in real life dressed up as his own superhero—a premise similar to the film Kick-Ass that Miller & Sikora envisioned three years earlier!
The comic book “Apama: The Undiscovered Animal” is a realization of David’s dream that imagines what David would have created had he succeeded in his comic book creating career.
So what is an Apama? With so many great super-heroes based on creatures from nature (Spider-Man, Bat-Man, Wolverine) the creators asked themselves, ‘What if there was another creature that was so powerful and stealth that is was still undiscovered by modern man?’ That creature is the Apama. In the comic book, Hungarian ice cream truck driver Ilyia Zjarsky goes hiking one day and finds the ancient Native American scroll that reveals the key to enabling the Apama’s spirit in a human. Says Sikora, “This isn’t just some adaptation of a movie – Milo and I felt that we truly had something new to say in the genre. This book will stand on its own two feet without any knowledge of our film.”
When the team decided to make this into a comic book they put an ad out for an illustrator on the website ConceptArt.org. “To our shock over 100 artists from all over the world applied for the project. It was tough to narrow it down, but Spaniard Benito Gallego was our ultimate choice.”
“Benito’s art reminded us of the classic ‘70s comic book style we all grew up loving,” says Sikora. “Many artists can draw nice panels and characters, but the way Benito lays out his pages, he is able to tell such beautiful stories visually that some pages don’t even need dialogue—a very rare quality. He draws beautiful intriguing females, rugged ‘everyday looking’ men, and does wonderful work with architecture. He has done a lot of animal-beast themed comic art in the past too, so he was just the perfect fit.”
Says Gallego of the project, “It’s a very mature approach to the superhero genre, It goes from comedy to horror passing through romance. There are references to spiritual knowledge, ethnicities, culture, religion, and mythology.
To help Benito capture authentic Cleveland, Sikora went all over town, photographing various locations to create the right feel. “It was just like scouting for our film all over again. I actually got permission to show some actual storefronts and apartment buildings as well.”
The first issue of “Apama” will be available for free downloading on the film’s website (www.herotomorrow.com) in June; the comic is expected to publish on a quarterly basis, with T-shirts and posters featuring Apama becoming available soon.
The DVD for “Hero Tomorrow,” which has over four hours of material, is currently available for purchase on the film’s website, Amazon.com, and iTunes.