Mike Kaye Asks: "Can Other Comic Books Save Real People?"
Every big superhero has a secret identity. Local comic book author Mike Kaye claims his creation, the awkward frog man Amphoman's alter ego is Dr. Ulrius Joules. But as New Times interviewed him, it turned out both Amphoman and Dr. Joules might actually be Kaye's own alter egos.
Kaye pours his own struggles, whether financial, family related or his own battle with cancer into each action-packed, family friendly volume of Amphoman, a saga that now spans nine colorful issues. While Amphoman might battle super-powered costumed cretins, Kaye tries to fight his enemy by donating proceeds from each comic sold toward cancer research. After putting his three children to bed Kaye found time to answer our questions.
New Times: How did you come up with the idea of Amphoman?
Mike Kaye: As a teen, I felt like I never fit in. I thought, if I have a character that is different and tries to fit in with society, it would be something I could relate to and write about. A smart, intricate, multi-faceted, unusual person who not everyone understands.
Before the comic book, I created a comic strip series called, Amphoman Presents which was published in my college paper, The Observer, from 1994 to 1996. It was the same Amphoman character, but in a classroom setting trying to fit in with students. I then decided to expand on the story and add new characters, which brought me to storyboarding where I wrote Dr. Ulrius Joules is... Amphoman.
Other gems fall to earth transforming those that come into contact. A trigger event transforms the fused people into something else for a few hours. As for Dr. Ulrius Joules, when you hear someone referred to as "Doctor" you think, smart, experienced, rich, and he is all the above except the riches. He has spent his wealth on finding a cure for his own cancer with no success. He studied marine biology and the nacreous concretion clams/oysters form, which makes a pearl. Pearls are a form of tumor and the closest thing to cancer in the underworld where he thought he'd find answers. If he removes his gem, his cancer will return.
What comic books have influenced Amphoman?
I am embarrassed to say that I do not read comics. There was a time I had collected comics but solely for the beauty of the covers. I've been drawing since I was 3. I use my surroundings as reference. The stories take place in Florida. As I age, so does he with each issue. This is why he's realistic and believable as a person and "hero." In the comics, Ampho's family asks the same questions mine do. When you look at the most famous superheroes you'll find, for the most part, they don't have kids, they are tough, cool dudes in top shape that work alone. Amphoman is different. He's tired, out of shape, needs caffeine. Face it, he's in every one of us.