Interview – Miguel Cima of Dig Comics

For several years, one fan has been striving to make an impact in the comic industry, but not as an aspiring artist. Instead, Miguel Cima has become arguably the industry’s biggest cheerleader. His Dig Comics project has been in development for quite some time. He’s currently in the middle of a KickStarter campaign to fund a feature length documentary with one simple goal: get people reading comics again.

Dig Comics Logo

PoP!: It’s been a while since we last talked, so let’s start at the beginning. What’s the “elevator pitch” for Dig Comics?

Miguel Cima: It’s an ongoing film/TV project following the mission of sharing the awesome world of comic books with America – the people, the scenes, and of course, the incredibly cool art. It’s about culture, history (comics were born in America, yet lost most of its audience in the last 60 years) and lots of fun. This ain’t no stuffy documentary. Think of Anthony Bourdain with some Michael Moore thrown in. We’ll get people laughing as they cheer on the great underdog of entertainment as we carry comics up to the level of esteem enjoyed by films, music and books.

PoP!: This one could be easy, or it could be tough; why do you care so much? Why not be content to sit back and enjoy?

MC: I hate injustice. And I love art. And I thrive on seeing new things. Endless surprise – that’s what growth as a human being is all about. Very few movies ever surprise me: there’s too much money at stake for experimentation, risk, deviation from the safe bet. Any gal with a piece of paper and a pencil and some talent and passion can make it happen, and show me something I’ve never really seen. That’s important. It’s a sin to not offer these experiences up on a plate, especially when we have so many underappreciated graphic masters producing amongst the best work in history.

Dig COmics 1

PoP!: You enthusiasm is infectious. What kind of response do you get when you randomly toss people into the world of comics and graphic novels?

MC: I do pretty good. I require two things: a captive audience and some conversation. You can’t expect to turn everybody on with your random favorite comic. Giving your grandpa Wolverine won’t do it in most cases. Handing your niece The Walking Dead won’t win you friends and allies. Get to know your audience. And never stop expanding the scope of your comics knowledge. It’s great to have so many fans essentially be walking encyclopedias of Marvel and DC, but keep your eyes out for the indies, the horror, drama, humor, history, weird tales, surreal masterpieces, touching love stories, kids’ tales. They’re all out there. This won’t just give you the power to convert friends and family in a big way, it also keeps the fan on a course of constant discovery, and who knows what awesome stuff you’ll find out there?

comic-con-winner-dig-comicsPoP!: What’s the best reaction you ever got?

MC: Well, the kid in the original movie was pretty good. He hungrily gobbled up my copy of Marvel Masterworks (FF 41-50; we staked out the FF movie to find the kid; know your audience). That moment was everything to me. You could see him crossing the threshold. I hope we can find him someday soon and see if we sparked a habit. On the other hand, a producer I pitched the project to a couple of months back emailed me after he saw the original: “Now I want to make comics.” He had ZERO knowledge of comics before he saw the film, and now he was pumped up. That’s what I want to see in adults we turn on to sequential goodness.

PoP!: Obligatory follow-up: what’s the worst reaction you’ve ever gotten and (more importantly) was it captured on film?

MC: One gal we showed a comic too found it too dark, she said she was looking for something brighter and with more hope. So we pulled a different comic for her, and she loved it. The world of comics is so universal; we can find something for everyone.Nobody came and threatened to banish me from the earth though. Some professionals nitpick my facts and figures, which is fair if I got something wrong, but even those folks admire the cause. Worst reactions? In pitch meetings with possible patrons. You hear the same echo of marketing research: “comics don’t sell.” But then, maybe it doesn’t apply as in more than one meeting I had to wonder if they saw the movie at all. Anyway, I look forward to shutting those people up. The fans are out there, they’re big enough to get noticed.

PoP!: Last time we saw it, Dig Comics was a short. It definitely felt like an infomercial for something bigger. What’s been happening with the project since the original was set free into the world?

MC: Well, as I alluded above, we’ve been pitching this puppy as a TV show for quite some time, often to some pretty big players, sometimes in the company of some pretty awesome people. There’s been more than once that we thought we were at the finish line…but that damned market research. That’s why we are going to make a feature and gather up a following while we do it – to prove the marketing geeks are wrong, just ill-informed, and offer up some assurance by way of rallying the 500,000 or so comics fans we do have. Not only that, we’re going to be multiplying that number.

PoP!: And all of this lead us to the present with the KickStarter campaign. There have been a slew of success stories from KickStarter lately. What are you guys hoping to get out of your campaign.

MC: Comics need an emissary, a bridge from the scene to the uninitiated. A film followed by a TV series is the ticket, adding online experiences alongside as well. Look at the state of factual television. They got shows about toothless gator hunters who fish with their earlobes. They follow people driving cars. Pawn stars is one step away from Dig Comics, except we lose all the manufactured drama, and add on that Anthony Bourdain style of hanging out with cool people doing cool things around the world. Add a dash of me challenging people’s sensibilities in funny ways (and hopefully moving ways) a la Michael Moore and you start to get the idea. I’ve got a formula to entertain people while they learn our culture. That’s how it will happen. And I’m going to do it if the fans will give me a shot.

Loeb

He’s been working on this since Heroes was a thing. That’s dedication.

PoP!: Any cool rewards?

MC: Oh yeah. On the low end we got the downloads, apparel and of course the obligatory shrieking flying monkey in a cape. Yeah – you read that right. On the high end, we’ve got retailer incentives to have us film in their comics store for the movie, creative input on the final cut, and having your image animated in the film by the great Scott Shaw!

PoP!: Where can people go to stay on top of Dig Comics?

MC: @digcomics everything. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn – but also at www.digcomics.com. The website is not nearly as big as I want it to be, but you can see some of directions I want to work in, especially the “Cool Comics” pages. That will be a huge focus once we get the proper resources.

Check out the pitch from the campaign’s page where you can see the original short film.

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Lee Rodriguez is a co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Panels On Pages. He is also a freelance graphic and web designer, action figure customizer, swell guy, and an awesome dad.

I'm even on Google+... Kind of.

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