William Katt may be best known for his three seasons playing the unlikely superhero Ralph Hinkley on the hit TV show “The Greatest American Hero,” or for his big screen roles in CARRIE or the seminal surf classic BIG WEDNESDAY, but these days, aside from doing guest roles on shows such as “House” and “Heroes,” Katt can be found hard at work on his own comic label, Catastrophic Comics. Launched in 2008, Catastrophic Comics is currently publishing two titles, including THE GREATEST AMERICAN HERO, produced in conjunction with Arcana, and the noir thriller SPARKS, written by Chris Folino. Aside from its standard comic book format, SPARKS has also just taken an innovative approach by being offered as a motion comic on both the iPhone and iPod Touch with celebrity voices including Michael Pare (EDDIE AND THE CRUISERS) and Michael Bell (“Transformers”).
Katt’s philosophy with Catastrophic Comics is simple: he wants all of their comics to have great stories and inspiring art, and always delivered to the fans on time.
allangiven.com recently talked with the multi-talented actor about his incredibly versatile career and his newest venture setting up his own comics label.
Allan Given: What was the inspiration for starting Catastrophic Comics?
William Katt: My partner Chris Folino and I met on the film he wrote and directed called GAMERS, which is a very funny film by the way. We were both long time comic book fans and frustrated filmmakers with a running bet who could tell the better story. That’s kind of where it started and now we’ve moved into producing motion comics which is a step closer to actual filmmaking.
AG: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced starting your own company?
WK: Chris Folino is kind of a jerk and a horrible businessman. Noooo, just kidding. Learning how to monetize the product has been a steep learning curve for sure. The best part of all of it has been getting to spend time with the fans.
AG: What lessons did you learn from starting your own business?
WK: You have to be a bit of a masochist. There is lots of pain forthcoming.
AG: Talk to me about how SPARKS came into being.
WK: SPARKS was Chris’ brainchild that grew out of frustration because we suffered so many setback trying to get MYTHOLOGY WARS off the ground. We had set backs after set backs. SPARKS was a welcome relief and an easy one to do because everyone associated on that project was terrific to work with. Still is. Now MYTHOLOGY WARS is almost ready after years of work.
AG: SPARKS has taken a revolutionary approach and has now turned into a digital comic for the iPhone and iPod Touch. How did this come about?
WK: Again we are frustrated filmmakers and Chris comes out of the gaming world. It was a natural progression as far as I’m concerned. We’re currently in production on Mark Waid’s IRREDEEMABLE for Boom Studios. It’s turning out really cool.
AG: What is your vision for the future with Catastrophic?
WK: It’s the wild west out there right now with how the economy is. One minute we’re safe and sound, the next minute the Indians are right outside our door.
AG: How did Stephen J. Cannell, the creator of “The Greatest American Hero,” react to the idea of turning the show into a comic book, and did he offer any suggestions on story elements?
WK: He suggested we do a good job was all. Stephen is a great guy with far too many really big concerns to give us much thought. He just wanted to make sure that his trademark creation was going to be treated with the respect and reverence it deserved. Hopefully we did that and will continue to do that in the future. I liked the story we came up with. Retelling the starting adventure, keeping the original spirit intact, but introducing new ideas for a new audience.
AG: Attending various comic conventions and getting to interact with your fan base, what has been the greatest thing that you have learned from your fans?
WK: I’ve learned that there are a lot of wonderful people out there. They’ve been extremely gracious!
AG: You’ve been involved in so many different mediums, from film, to television, to voice work, to the stage and now to publishing comics, what has served as your motivation for continuing to try new things throughout your career?
WK: Boredom! I’m completely A.D.D.
AG: Talk to me some about your fantastic work in the 1981 filmed version of Bob Fosse’s hit Broadway show “Pippin.” How did that come about and how did you prepare for the role?
WK: I had auditioned for that role like six times. I had flown to New York twice to replace the leads but it didn’t work out. When I finally met Bob Fosse for the last audition I said, “Mr. Fosse, I’ve auditioned for you so many times. Do I really have to sing ‘Corner of the Sky’ again?” He laughed and said no. I got the part. FYI, Ben Vereen spent his own personal time on days off teaching me the dances. The whole experience was fantastic!
AG: Having been such an integral part of Bob Fosse’s team, what was it like working with choreographer Kathryn Doby on “Pippin?”
WK: What a love she was to me, and a consummate professional. She was there to make sure Fosse’s work was represented to perfection. As it turned out Bob wasn’t even supposed to be there but he showed up the first day of rehearsals and stayed right thru filming many weeks later.
AG: Do you have any plans to return to the stage?
WK: The last extraordinary theatre project I did was in 2003 in Seattle working alongside Randy Newman on his show “The Education of Randy Newman.” It was bound for Broadway but never arrived. A fantastic show. Too bad.
AG: How did being on a hit show like “The Greatest American Hero,” that is still popular with fans over 25 years later, change you as an individual?
WK: The great privilege of working with Stephen J. Cannell and all the wonderful folks on that show changed me in ways that are too deep to give voice to. An honor!
AG: What would you say you are most passionate about in life?
WK: My children.
AG: If you had to choose any profession other than the myriad that you are known for, what would it be?
WK: There’s still time. I haven’t decided yet.
The new SPARKS motion comics are now available from the iTunes App Store.
To learn more about what Catastrophic Comics has in the works, and to order their comics personally autographed to you by William, visit them online at: www.catastrophiccomics.com