Brandon Thomas may be the next big thing in comics. As the creator of a new graphic novel The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury I was lucky enough to spend some time with him for a nice conversation.
Brandon was fully introduced to comics when his dad took him to his first comic book shop when he was 12-years-old. “At the time, I never knew such a thing existed! And from that day on, once a month, for years, my father and I would go to the comic book store and just run wild,” says Thomas when we discussed his burgeoning love affair with the genre. He gravitated towards a lot of early Image works and like many people, the first issue of Spawn naturally caught his eye. During that first trip, he also began a lifelong obsession with Tim Drake, who was being introduced in the books at the time, and sent him on a quest to find the character’s first appearances. To this day, Tim remains one of his favorite characters of all time and Chuck Dixon one of his favorite writers, and he actually got the opportunity to write an issue of Robin in 2007.
Going from loving comics to writing comics is a pretty substantial leap and when I asked Brandon what got him from point A to point B, he told me that back in high school, his primary goal was to become the next great American novelist. Even though he’d been following the medium up to that point, he never thought he could become a part of it until he saw Chuck Dixon discuss the 10 Commandments of Comic Book Writing at a convention panel. That hour long discussion set him on the path and in 2001, he started a weekly column called Ambidextrous that helped him break into the comics biz.
For a time, Brandon was writing for Marvel Comics, but when that was winding down, he began to develop a new creator-owned project that would eventually became The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury. The goal was to create a character and a concept that would be, “unique and challenging from a creative point of view.” Finding a publisher for the book proved challenging, as his relative inexperience, combined with a general reluctance about the prospects of success for a book featuring a black female hero, made the book a tough sell, but Archaia Entertainment proved bold enough to embrace the task. The book’s publication proved that “We had the capacity to create, write, and publish a book about a strong black female heroine, and just because it’s hard doesn’t excuse other people from trying.”
In a confluence of events, this summer seemed to be the perfect time for Miranda Mercury to hit the scene, as there have been lots of conversations throughout the industry about the role and prominence of female characters and creators in comics. It is also a time when the major players are making an attempt to feature more ethnically diverse characters. When I asked Brandon about what needs to happen in order for these characters to survive and thrive in the modern industry, he said, “Every company, big and small, needs to keep pushing to reach new audiences, and I’m anxious to see how the upcoming DC relaunch and the full introduction of Miles Morales as Ultimate Spider-Man goes. Personally, I’ll be supporting several of the books and I urge others to do the same. Maybe the books aren’t the perfect perfect fit for every single consumer, but every success will encourage more attempts, and along those same lines, every perceived failure will have the opposite effect. It’s not fair, but waiting and waiting for the mainstream companies to produce the perfect book for you spontaneously might not ever happen if no one supports the attempts that are being made. You have to be willing to help the process along with the tools available to you, and if you’re still unhappy with the offerings, go out there and create your own.”
Brandon has done this with Miranda Mercury and passionately believes, “There is an audience for this book, but we might have to work a little harder to find it,” Brandon muses, “I hope that people will give it a shot and encourage everyone to buy the first volume so that there can be more in the future.”
The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury is a great book. Any fan of comics will appreciate the writing and artwork that makes up the saga of this young adventurer. Run – don’t walk, to your nearest store to pick this one up.