The following is an interview with actor and writer Austin Basis regarding his work on the comic book series, The Kinetix. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Basis about the inspiration behind the series, his shared creative process in working with Dave Maulbeck and Josh Taub, what he hopes that readers will take away from the story and characters, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the recent release of your comic book series, The Kinetix! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the premise of the series, and what inspired you to tell this story?
Austin Basis: Thank you. It’s been a passion project of ours for several years now, and it felt really fulfilling for us to finally be able to share these comic books with the public.
The KINETIX tells the story of a group of teenagers with disabilities & chronic illnesses who are students by day and a team of superheroes by night! It’s about taking something that the world may perceive as a weakness and turning it into your greatest strength. So, each character’s superpower is generated by the very condition that has previously set them apart. Our four mini-comics tell the origin story of each of these characters. Joules Joyner is a gymnast born without legs who becomes the superhero DEADLIFT, with superhuman arm strength; Daryl Dennis is a skilled artist on the Autism spectrum, and becomes BRAINSTORM, with the ability to bring his drawings to life; Rosario Richter is a photographer & wannabe social media influencer who was born deaf & unable to voice, but becomes AFTERSHOCK- a flying super heroine that wields a Vibration Force; and Bobby Byers is an immature jock who has Type 1 Diabetes and turns into the teenage super-cyborg CYABETES.
This character is very close to me, since I was diagnosed with T1D at the age of 8 and have lived with it the past 34 years. As an actor in the public eye, I’ve done a lot of advocacy work as a celebrity ambassador for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF). At one such event in Ottawa, I met a Canadian kid that used to tell his friends he was a cyborg, because he wore an electronic insulin pump to manage his diabetes. He took something most people see as a medical device and made it cool! A seed was planted in my imagination and the story grew from there, with the help of my writing partners. Ultimately, we wanted to tell a story about diabetes (or any chronic illness/disability) being empowering instead of it being an impediment.
BD: What can you share with us about your shared creative process (with partners Dave Maulbeck and Josh Taub) in bringing this comic book series to life, and what (or who) have been some of your influences?
AB: Dave, Josh, and I have known each other for about 17 years. We met doing improv & sketch comedy in New York City. We were collaborators first, and then became friends. Since then, we have been collaborating, developing and pitching TV & online content for the past several years, and The KINETIX is the latest incarnation of those efforts, with Dave being the graphic artist behind all of our visuals. We had been pitching the idea as a TV series (and still are) and decided that self-publishing a comic book would be the best way to get that done. In other words, creating an IP (Intellectual Property) that we could put out into the world ourselves, and then turn into a TV series. We mounted a Kickstarter campaign in March/April of 2018 for the comic books and raised over $11,000 from 150 backers. We released the comic books this past November.
Our main hope for these inaugural issues was to have them be sort of an homage to the classic comic books we all grew up with, like Spider-Man and X-Men and even Archie and Veronica. In telling the hero’s journey, we believe the two essential moments of an origin story are: 1) when & how a character discovers their superpower, and 2) when & how that character becomes a superhero. We explored the many ways in which each of these non-traditional, complex characters can take this journey, and came up with the most dynamic way to tell those stories. Then, Josh & I trusted the magical mind of Dave Maulbeck to pull it off & design FOUR 9-page comic books.
In addition to drawing from each of our lives, our other artistic & creative influences include Jim Starlin, Brian Michael Bendis, Peter David, Jim Lee, and Marv Wolfman. Of course, there’s Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko, but what comic book writer/artists haven’t been inspired by them.
BD: You and your colleagues have distributed over 4,000 copies of the series to charities, children’s hospitals, libraries, schools, and other worthwhile programs. What can you tell us about the response that you have received from readers?
AB: The response has been overwhelming! The look on kids’ faces when they read our comics & see themselves depicted as superheroes is indescribable. We also have received many, many messages & posts from parents about what a comic book like this has meant to them & their children’s lives. (We try to post as many photos as we can on our Instagram feed.) And whenever we have been lucky enough to hand them out in-person to kids, we frequently get unprompted brainstorming ideas from them asking about new characters and telling us what storylines “would be really awesome!” Some of them have even sent us their own drawings of The Kinetix & their ideas of what characters should look like! Whether it’s inspiring new comic book writers & artists, or allowing kids to see themselves in the form of a comic book superhero, from our perspective, it’s really gratifying & rewarding to know that The KINETIX is making a difference.
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from the series?
AB: We hope that readers will realize their potential is not limited to the perception of others; that there’s a whole group of superheroes living among us, waiting to be discovered. We hope that readers are enlightened & empowered by THE KINETIX and our depiction of a new kind of superhero. We want our message of inclusion & representation to be seen, heard, and/or felt by everyone, but especially by communities that have yet to experience a story like this in comic book form. Disability is diversity, and inclusion/representation matters. There are so many stories still out there, yet to be told. We hope to be just the beginning of what is to come.
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on – either inside or outside of The Kinetix universe – which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
AB: We are currently developing a TV series with a major studio, based on The KINETIX comic books. We have also created another full-length issue of The KINETIX, which skews a little older. We are looking to partner with an imprint company to publish & distribute The KINETIX to a wider audience. The team & I are fielding meetings to discuss this & other ideas with several of these companies.
I am also co-writing a children’s book with my brother, Jeremy, based on his 3 ½-year-old son’s love of playing baseball & going to the zoo.
As an actor, I have several TV appearances coming in 2020, one of which is in the final season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC… but that’s really all I can say.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about The Kinetix?
AB: Here are our social media pages:
Please feel free to message us at one of these links to request copies of The KINETIX. ***WHILE SUPPLIES LAST***