Interview: Mister Who

It would be rather stating the obvious to say that Superheroes are a mainstay of the comic book industry. However for the most part these characters tend to be spandex clad American characters which, popular though they may be, can leave the British amongst us feeling left out. This is something that seems to be changing as a new raft of home grown heroes have started to spring up amongst the British independent comic book scene. In the interview below I talk to The Dual Amp Brothers, Rasheed & Tayo, the creators of Mister Who – one such character. In the interview we discuss Mister Who’s plans for multimedia domination, how the guys are making a big difference to kids lives by taking their character into schools & get an exclusive peek at the cover for issue 2 of Mister Who, drawn by Alwyn Talbot.

Who is Mister Who & what is he about?

Dual Amp Brothers: Wow ! Where to begin ? This character has so much depth, angst, love and strength he’s hard to summarise.

Mister Who’s real name is Samuel Leone. He grew up in foster care along with his younger brother, Simeon. In his late teens Samuel became a leader of a notorious London gang during which time he was known as ‘Mister’, a name which earned him respect and fear. His world was turned upside down when his brother was killed by a rival gang and he himself left in a coma, during the same vicious attack. Whilst lying in hospital, having lost everyone that was close to him, he comes to realise that he has been visited by ‘karma’, which taught him a lesson for his own vicious acts. As he recovers he realises that he has a debt to pay to create balance in his life and focuses his energy and vengeance on London’s criminal underworld. By him becoming ‘Mister Who’ his view of the world is different, hence the white eyes and he is now on a journey of self discovery a journey that could also lead to his demise. Whether or not he is on the right path is the question at the heart of his story. Also things get very interesting when he realises that he has certain subtle powers after he emerges from the coma…. How’s that for a summary lol!!

That’s a great introduction to London’s latest comic book hero & it really  enhances the first issue. Mister Who isn’t just a comic book character though is he? Your website (www.misterwho.co.uk) offers a full on multimedia experience including music & video’s. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? Also, which came first & how did that help to develop the character?

Rasheed – Well the multimedia side of things came about from the fact that Tayo and I are both passionate about music. In fact Mister Who was the name of my music project before we decided to merge it with the animation and comics. Ultimately we want to make the Mister Who cartoon, movie  etc but the idea of making our own mini cartoons in the form of music videos really excited us. Plus it’s a great way of letting people know about the character and reaching people who may not go to comic cons or comic stores.

Tayo – Also in this way we’ll keep honing our craft and making the next piece better than the last. All at our own pace. Our comic embraces the multi-media aspect of things too because each one comes with an interactive CD that enhances the reader’s experience. We’ve got big ideas as to how to advance the project further and as long as the fans keep supporting what we do we’ll keep pushing things forward. This is the perfect time to do that because the internet has changed the way we all consume our entertainment. 

By becoming "Mister Who" his view of the world is different and and he is now on a journey of self discovery a journey that could also lead to his demise

I completely agree with you regarding the Internet – It’s made it so much easier in one sense because you can get stuff out there to a wider audience, but because there’s so much more competition it means you have to do more to stand out from the crowd. One of the other things you guys have been doing, which really does make you stand out from the crowd, is putting on workshops in schools. Can you tell us some more about this & how it came about?

Rasheed – Tayo and I are from inner city London. At school, the type of creative jobs that are out there, we never got exposed to but luckily through our own individual drive we found the path that we wanted to take. Through the workshops we get to show kids some of the magic and hard work that goes into a project like ours. Also it’s a chance to explain to them how they can get involved in the industry themselves in the future. To give them a goal to work towards. Truancy, illiteracy and youth crime are all borne out from boredom, low self esteem and the feeling that they have no future. Hopefully we can give them a little glimpse of something cool for them in the future.

Tayo – at the workshops themselves we get the the kids to create their own heroes. They have to come up with a name, the hero’s background, his or her powers and of course weaknesses. Then each one of them talks about their character to their group. Some of the ideas have blown us away with their creativity. We’re really pleased that schools and youth groups from all over are contacting us. London has been great and now we’re being asked to do them in other parts if the country.

It’s hard work but it’s worth it, plus Mister Who gets more fans along the way.

When I was at school comics were pretty much looked down upon by teachers of every subject. The English teachers didn’t like them because they weren’t books & the Art Teachers didn’t like them because they weren’t paintings. However I think anyone would be hard pressed to argue with what you guys are doing. It’s something that can make a genuine difference & I don’t think the importance of that can be understated. Were comics something that you both grew up loving & what were the books that had the biggest influence on you?

Rasheed – It’s ridiculous that any teacher should look down on the influence of comics because that’s a real avenue to encourage kids to get into creative writing and reading and using their imaginations positively ! Don’t get me started lol! For me growing up home life was difficult so comics were my way of escaping to another time & place. X-Men & X-Factor were the two titles that got me going. Archangel will forever be my favourite character because the transformation of Angel to the more menacing figure of Archangel is a universal story. He is exposed to his own personal monster which makes his story really interesting. Reading wise I get influences from all kinds of creative writing. From the lyrics of musicians like Wu-Tang Clan, Kanye West and Bob Marley to comic writers like Stan Lee and Mark Millar. I’m working on the Mister  Who screenplay at the moment and I’m a huge fan of reading screenplays to see how the visual and the written word merge to create memorable stories. Everyone knows Quentin Tarantino as a great director, to me he’s a genius writer too. His true skill is turning the words, the script into a visionary spectacle. Christopher Nolan too. What he’s done with the Batman franchise is incredible.

Tayo – Me, I’m all about the illustrators. X-men issue 1 illustrated by Jim Lee, Frank Miller’s Batman The Dark Knight Returns. I also love J Scott Campbell’s work on Spider Man. My personal favourite is Dale Keown’s Hulk, but I can’t forget the master of comic book illustration Arthur Adams. Wow! There are too many!! I keep remembering so many greats, Bruce Tim for his work on the Batman animated series.  Plus the fantasy art of Frank Rosetta is another huge influence. All of these go in the Mister Who melting pot.

"He's so enthusiastic about his work and most important he was enthusiastic about Mister Who and capturing the essence of the character." - The Dual Amp Brothers on Alwyn Talbot

I think you guys have just listed my dream dinner party guest list! I’m also a huge fan of the most iteration of X Factor by Peter David, who obviously worked on Hulk with Dale Kewon. I think it’s great that you have so many influences from different directions, like you say it all goes into the melting pot. Speaking of artists you’ve got Alwyn Talbot, son of Brian Talbot (The legendary comic artist that is, not the Ipswich Town & Arsenal midfielder), drawing the cover for issue 2 of Mister Who. How did this come about?

Dual Amp Brothers – We’ve been a fan of Alwyn from seeing his work on 2000AD. We didn’t even know he was connected to Brian Talbot. We made some enquiries to see whether he’d be interested in getting involved because Tayo can get overloaded with working on the video, comic illustrations and day to day running of the company. Alwyn was on it from day 1. He’s so enthusiastic about his work and most important he was enthusiastic about Mister Who and capturing the essence of the character. People are gonna be blown away by it.

I have to say Alwyn Talbot has certainly inherited his father’s talent (for those of you want to see more of his artwork check out his website here & prepare to be amazed). So in between doing the animation,  drawing the comic & running the company, as well as writing the comics creating the music  putting on workshops & maintaining the website do you guys ever have any time left over to sleep?

Rasheed – Sleeping is one of those things that I love but yeah you’re right this project has definitely shaved off a few hours lol. I’m generally a night owl anyway. The best ideas for storylines, lyrics or concepts seem to come to me at night when everything else is still. We’re also writing the film at the moment so this project will sleeping properly will have to take a back seat for a while.

Tayo  - I’m living in a twilight zone at the moment in the animation suite,  so my dreams are in cartoon form at the moment but it’ll all be worth it.

 

The new Mister Who single and exclusive digital comic are both available on itunes now. You can also watch the awesome animated video and read the first issue of Mister Who for free on the website. As well as all this, while you’re there you can also win a chance to be in the next Mister Who video. Why are you still reading? Click on those links people. Get on it!