While many people have dreamed about creating their own comic book series, Miguel Santizo, a graduate student of English at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, and John King, a lifelong resident of North County, have broken into the comic industry in a big way. Santizo creates the storyline and writes copy for Monsters & Macedonians while his friend, King, brings the written world to life with his illustrations. Santizo and King recently tasted some of the satisfactions of publication when they met fans of their comic and signed autographs at Wizard World’s Comic Convention in St. Louis.
Santizo and King had been kicking around the idea of the comic for a couple years before creating a finished product a year ago. Once finished, they were faced with the problem of publishing. Signing with a major publisher is difficult, so a business had to be formed to self publish. Doug Moser helped create the Legion Macedonia Entertainment, LLC to publish Monsters & Macedonians.
The comic takes place in a violent world controlled by vampires and demons that hide in real businesses in the United States. Most people are oblivious to their presence. The Legion Motorcycle Club, the “best of the bad” heroes of the series, are introduced fighting a werewolf and vampire drug deal to keep control, power, and profit in their territory. The story continues in the second issue with the leader of the Legion Motorcycle Club, Billy, growing into his leadership position with support from his brothers. Santizo described his work as Sons of Anarchy in the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Gangland without the Hamlet.
Santizo researched whatever he could find on outlaw motorcycle clubs to help with the storyline and character development. “I read a number of books, watched documentaries, TV shows, and movies. I wanted to make sure that the book felt authentic, and we didn’t disrespect a culture that I am outside of,” Santizo said. This research is reflected in the strong anti-establishment perspective of the main characters and the intense loyalty they have for their gang.
Although Santizo and King have been working on a comic book for three years, the storyline changed drastically from the original concept about superheroes. Santizo changed the concept of the comic’s current genre. “So, I had to convince John [King] that starting over was worth it, and I believe it was. Then I had to back up what I said and develop characters and a story worth telling,” Santizo said.
“I found that there are a lot of people out there who want to write comics, more writers than artists. There are a fair amount of people who want to draw them, but there are few that are willing to learn what it entails: have the skills to execute the art, the willingness to take the risk of going in on it, especially independently, taking the risk of being criticized, losing money, your own money, and basically making a fool of yourself to anyone that doesn’t understand your passion. We’re still risking that now,” Santizo said.
A typical, large market comic usually has five or six people working on them either writing, drawing, or both and having only two people working on the storyline and artwork makes for a comparatively slower production process. Both have full-time jobs that can also get in the way of production. Their goal is to release at least two issues a year. The first issue is available online. The second is to be released within the next six months.
“If you have the writing bug, after you read long enough you eventually want to give it a shot, and if you have a friend that already has an interest it is even easier. Then the research and writing of the work became my favorite hobby. I could take my whole life and call it research. I could create a whole world full of people and situations, and I would really enjoy it,” Santizo said.
Talking about his illustrator and partner, King, Santizo said, “[King] has always wanted to be a comic book illustrator, has devoted himself to comic book art. His biggest artistic influences are Dave Gibbons, Frank Cho, Steve McNiven, Phil Hester, and Angel Medina. He wasn't able to use most of what we working on before Monsters & Macedonians, but it served as practice. To develop character sketches and looks we play casting call. We use actors, famous people, important people, people we know, etc, and cast them as characters. Then John finds images that help him capture these characters. He doesn't usually make an exact look alike, but an adaptation of that person in the role. For example, Billy, is based on Chris Hemsworth only taken to the toughest biker form possible. John [King] is always on the hunt for images or ideas to make his art and character drawings better.”
Legion Macedonia Entertainment, LLC was started with their own start-up capital. Seeking to build their fan base, they had a booth on the floor of the St. Louis Wizard World’s Comic Convention in May. The two entrepreneurs hope to travel to other conventions after receiving generous amounts of feedback in St. Louis. Besides individual sales, the young company is also accepting donations from fans who want to help see their company grow.
Readers can purchase Monsters & Macedonians: Welcome to the Church online at their website (where you can also read a 10-page preview) or at Comixology. You can also follow the comic on twiter @LegionMacedonia.