Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Managing Editor: Congratulations on the release of your graphic novel, Miles Away! What inspired you to write this epic action/adventure tale, and how would you describe its premise?
Anthony Montgomery: Thank you! There are a lot of factors that went into the decision to launch my own franchise: I wanted to create something memorable for our incredible Star Trek fans; I wanted to create a worthy piece of work that would, hopefully, inspire young people to pursue their dreams; I wanted to create my own superhero; I wanted to establish a quality sci-fi franchise that could be enjoyed around the world, whether Star Trek fan or not; and many other reasons. Miles Away is about a teenaged boy with a clouded history who develops an amazing super-ability, gets recruited by a shadowy organization to battle evil, teams up with alien refugees, and falls into an interstellar war as he explores his family’s dark past. You know, a fun, little sci-fi romp!
BD: What is unique about the story’s protagonist, Maxwell Miles, and how do you feel that readers will most identify with him?
AM: What’s unique about Maxwell is that he develops SUPER PHOTOGRAPHIC REFLEXES; he can mimic any physical feat he sees regardless of the complexity or danger, but there are two catches: he has to wait 5 minutes before his ability “kicks in” and he never knows when his ability will fail. I feel that readers will identify with Maxwell, because both his parents disappeared under mysterious circumstances and as he pieces together his past, people will be able to relate to Max’s desire to know where he comes from and know his own history.
BD: As the creator and co-writer of the series [along with co-writer Brandon Easton (Thundercats)], what can you tell us about the process of working with your creative team and the contributions of these individuals in developing the story?
AM: It was a LONG process. I actually created a “History” section in the back of the Miles Away graphic novel where I detailed at great length the journey of bringing my vision to fruition. To avoid sounding redundant, I’d rather not go into the full story here (hopefully all the readers will buy their own copy and learn the full story). I can tell you that the most important component in the process was my collaboration with Brandon Easton. It was a blessing to meet and work with Brandon, because being a very talented writer and a graphic novelist himself, he was able to help me effectively turn my source material into a compelling graphic novel that will be the foundation of my Miles Away franchise. I truly appreciate Phillip Boute, Jr. (Concept Artist), Jeff Stokely (Pencils/Inks), Dawnsen Chen (Colors), Jonathan Mullins (Pencils/Inks), Rashad Doucet (Colors), Adam Pruett (Letters), Brian Denham (Cover Art and Logo), and everyone else who helped make the Miles Away graphic novel a reality.
BD: As a man of many talents, you have had the chance to be an actor, a singer, and now a comic book creator. Given that you are very well known for your role of Ensign Travis Mayweather on Star Trek: Enterprise, did you find it challenging to transition to each of these new creative endeavors?
AM: Making the transition from actor to rap artist was probably the most challenging, because Hip Hop fans are very selective about the people they embrace into the fold of being a quality or “real” artist. I’m not a kid, and I don’t care about “flossing” or “bling,” so I don’t rap about the things that a lot of today’s rap fans might want to hear about. I like to make club bangers (because I used to be a dancer/choreographer), but most of my tracks are telling stories where I’m actually saying something. They have a message, a reason for being told. I write my own songs and because I haven’t been rapping since I was a youth, the challenge to prove myself as a talented rapper gave me an extra motivation to make the best music I could. In my book, quality is quality… hot music is hot music… regardless of the source. Making the transition from actor to graphic novelist presented a different set of challenges, because although I’ve always had a vivid imagination, not being a writer (when I began the process) and not knowing how to write comics/graphic novels delayed me from being able to share my dream of Miles Away. I don’t like having to rely on people to accomplish my goals. But, that’s part of the creative process, so I’ve learned to embrace it.
BD: Did you find that one aspect of the creative process for the graphic novel was more challenging (or more natural) for you?
AM: Like I just referenced, the most challenging part of the process for the creation of the Miles Away graphic novel was relying on so many other people to bring my idea to life. Everyone has his or her own lives, and it was definitely frustrating having to wait for others’ schedules to align to see my concept realized. Once the book was in my hands, however, I forgot the frustration, because it was all worth the wait. Because I am so passionate about Miles Away, the easiest part of the process was conveying my idea to my creative team and getting them invested in sharing my vision.
BD: While Miles Away released last month as a graphic novel, Fanboy Comics has learned that there may be an animated adaptation of the story in the works. Are there any details that you can share about the upcoming series with our readers?
AM: My goal was always to turn Miles Away into an animated series. My plan is for the epic scope of the Miles Away franchise to ultimately span across three mass media outlets: Graphic Novels, Animation, and Live-Action Feature Films. I was originally planning on targeting broadcast television for the animated series, but, recently, I have been approached by a very successful online company about launching my animated series as a YouTube channel. Honestly, I was skeptical at first until I learned that YouTube is working diligently to get into quality scripted programming, so they can compete with companies such as Netflix and other online content providers. Since there isn’t anything like Miles Away on YouTube, I believe that if launched and marketed effectively, Miles Away has the potential to be wildly successful online and help establish YouTube as a leader in online programming.
BD: As you have already released the first trade paperback for Miles Away, are there plans for future graphic novels featuring Maxwell?
AM: Yes, I do plan to do more graphic novels down the road. I was only going to do this initial book and then just do the animated series, but after talking to many comic collectors, I learned that true comic/graphic novel enthusiasts like to acquire their material in sets, if at all possible. So, I’m going to launch the animation (which picks up immediately after the first book), and then pick a point to do the next graphic novel (which will continue the story from the animation), and then do more animation, and then another graphic novel, and so on, until it’s time to do the first live-action feature film. By the time I’m done, I will have created a fun transmedia rollercoaster that the fans will have ridden to the franchise’s inevitable end. And, yes, I do have the end in mind.
BD: Being that we focus on all things “geek” at Fanboy Comics, would you care to geek out with us about your favorite comic books and graphic novels?
AM: I used to collect comics when I was younger, but I don’t anymore because I don’t have time. I still have some of my old ones in storage somewhere. I used to read everything from Archie and Jughead to Richie Rich, but the comics I loved the most were more action driven like X-Men, Power Man and Iron Fist, Fantastic Four, The Amazing Spiderman: all the ones that are movies now (or planned for movies in the future). That’s another reason why I wanted to skew my own animated series towards the action/adventure side.
BD: What is the most important piece of advice that you can offer to our readers who aspire to work in the comic book industry?
AM: I was repeatedly told that I should not get into the comic industry, because “there’s no money in it.” That’s okay, because I didn’t get into the medium to make money. I got into it to share my dream and provide a visual reference for what I want Miles Away to look like. The biggest piece of advice I can offer is to stay true to yourself and follow your passion wherever it takes you, regardless of the obstacles or whether or not you have others who believe in your dream.
BD: On that same note, which creators have inspired your work?
AM: All creators who are able to bring their concepts to life inspire me. I now know how challenging the process can be, so I have admiration and respect for everyone who perseveres.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans that want to learn more about Miles Away?
AM: Anyone who wants more information about Miles Away, I’d love for you to follow me on Twitter: @MrAMontgomery or join me on Facebook: (you can join my Anthony Montgomery Fan Page or join me at MrAMontgomery on Facebook); I’d also love for everyone to “Like” the Miles Away Page on Facebook. Also, I’ll always post updates on TheMilesAway.com. Finally, please order your copy of the Miles Away graphic novel from BarnesandNoble.com or Amazon.com (make sure you look up Miles Away Graphic Novel) or you can still order a signed and numbered Limited Edition copy directly from AntarcticPress.com. Please help spread the word for me, so together we can make Miles Away a global phenomenon. Thank you!! And, welcome to the Miles Away universe!