11 Questions with Mike Oliveri, Writer of Call of the Wild

This was originally posted on my old Blog Beneath the Mask on 6th December 2006:

What initiated your interest in comics?

I’m from the GI Joe and Transformers generation. I used to come home from school and watch both on TV, and we had a lot of the toys. When I found out the neighbor kid was selling some GI Joe comics, I raided our milk money jar, bought a bunch, and I was hooked. I got in trouble for that one, but afterwards Mom started taking us to the comic shop.

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Was it always your dream to write or did you somehow ‘fall into it’?

I’ve been a big reader for as long as I can remember, and I used to write these goofy adventure stories about my friends and I fighting bad guys in an underground kingdom. Shortly after that I got into roleplaying games and thought it would be cool to write game modules, but that never went beyond running games for my buddies. When I took a creative writing course my senior year in high school, my teacher suggested my work might be publishable. I tinkered after that, but I lost a few years while I was working in retail management. It was shortly after that I discovered I was better at writing horror than sci-fi and started to get serious.

Who do you look up to as influences?

It’s hard to say as this fluctuates all the time. Different people are good at different things, and I’ve probably learned different things from different writers. For example, in novels, Richard Laymon is great with pacing and suspense, Jack Ketchum creates some of the best characters I’ve ever read, and Tom Piccirilli lays out a good, eerie atmosphere. In comics, Warren Ellis is one of my favorites because he’s got a great imagination and a unique way of looking at things.

Can you give the outlining plot for Call of the Wild?

In a nutshell, it’s a crime thriller with werewolves. Our protagonist, Cole Tyler, comes to a small town looking for his younger brother Will and Will’s fiancee, Kate. Cole soon finds the town is hiding several secrets, but he’s got a few surprises himself.

How did you come up with the idea for Call of the Wild?

It all started with the opening scene, actually. The first three pages of the first issue depict the murder of Will and Kate, and that sequence had been in my head for several months before I met Joe Gentile at Moonstone Books. When Joe agreed to look at a submission from me, I sat down and thought about why these people were killed, who might come looking for them, and so on. Two weeks later I turned in a three-issue script, Joe liked it, and we went into the editorial process.

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How has the reaction been to the book so far?

Very positive. We’ve had our share of criticism, but most of the reviews have been great and the fans have really dug it. Unfortunately our sales numbers didn’t follow the reviews, as our store penetration was low.

Will we see a return of Cole Tyler after the mini has finished?
Any chance of an ongoing series?

I’d like to say yes to both of those. I have more stories to tell about Cole and the rest of his family, and Moonstone and I discussed the possibility of an ongoing early on. However the sales numbers just don’t make a fourth issue feasible at the moment, so we’re leaving it as a mini for the time being. If I can build a larger audience for the book and more demand for my work, I will definitely revisit Call of the Wild.

If any readers want to check out the book or help spread the word, they can find everything they need at www.cotwcomic.com or www.mikeoliveri.com.

What other projects are you currently working on?

I’ve got two comics in active development. Patrick Hoover is the artist on Wounded Gods, a supernatural war story about a conflict of faiths between two soldiers in . We’ve got some preview artwork up at www.woundedgods.com. I’m working with Bryan Baugh on an untitled project, a straight-up horror comic set in 1850’s . Neither have been placed with a publisher yet, but I’ve got a lot of confidence in both.

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If you were able to be on any book what would it be?

I’d love to take a crack at the Punisher, and I’ve got a few ideas I might work up the balls to pitch sometime. As a close second I’d be thrilled to work on some of the supernatural-leaning titles like Hellblazer, Swamp Thing, and Doctor Strange.

What other work have you done?

I’ve been published in the horror small press on and off since 1999. I won a Bram Stoker Award for my first novel, Deadliest of the Species, and I’ve had short stories and novellas appear in several anthologies. I recently sold a Phantom short story to Moonstone for The Phantom Chronicles.

I’ve also got free, serialized fiction running right now at Muy Mal (www.muymal.com), which some comics fans might dig. My pieces, Bastard Precinct and , are horror-crime hybrids and are set in the dark fantasy world two friends and I created for the site. We just launched a crossover event called Cataclysm on Halloween.

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