The Mighty Titan is a comicbook superhero that is created and written by Joe Martino. Now that in and of itself isn’t all that spectacular, as the comicbook landscape is replete with costumed superheroes. What makes this particular one mighty spectacular is that, well, he has cancer. Yeah, you read that right, the over-muscled, spandex-clad superhero with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men has cancer. What’s more, Martino is not shy about telling people that the reason he decided to create a character with such a horrific and debilitating illness is that, well, he himself is a cancer survivor. “The story essentially takes the experience I personally went through with cancer and wraps them up in a superhero shell.” Oh, and Martino (the father of three), survived cancer, not just once, but twice — making him something of a superhero himself. “This isn’t autobiographical,” Martino told us. “I have researched and talked to other cancer survivors to try and get the feeling of what other people have experienced.”
Needless to say, the concept, subject matter and execution of the book has hit something of a responsive chord in the series readers, allowing Martino to successfully launch not one, but three separate Kickstarter fund drives, the second two of which went fully funded within 30 and 36 hours respectively. Kickstarter — for those who might be aware — is a unique form of fund-raising (called “crowd-sourcing”) that is available to independent creators and entrepreneurs that allows them to seek funding for their pet projects in small amounts across a wider group of people. It is based on the premise that it is easier for independent businessmen to seek, say $5,000 in funding in small amounts from a couple of hundred people than it is to acquire a $5,000 loan form a standard lending institution.
For independent comicbook creators (especially), crowd-sourcing as a way to finance their creator-owned comics has become something of a way of life. Martino — whose comicbook credits include Shadowflame and Ripperman (both from Arcana) as well as a number of other indie publishers — chose to underwrite The Mighty Titan through Kickstarter. On his first go-round, in August of 2012, he successfully raised over $12,000 in 40 days with 378 backers. As simple as this may sound, it wasn’t an easy task for Martino “People seem to think that Kickstarter is a ‘set it and forget it’ process. It isn’t, you need to be pimping it every day 24/7.” In fact Martino revealed that his first Kickstarter project was so stressful that actually put him in the hospital.
Never one to shy away from doing what it takes to make his dreams come true, back in May of 2013, Martino went back to the well listing the second issue of The Mighty Titan for funding on Kickstarter. Fortunately, this time around, utilizing what he had learned on his first go-round he managed to tap into the zeitgeist of his fans for their support, and, as stated, the second Kickstarter funding achieved an amazing response. Within 30 hours the book rocketed to well above the goal amount, allowing Martino to initiate a number of “stretch” goals — that is to say additional rewards for supporters who help him soar to even greater heights as the clock ticked down to the end of the promotion. Those stretch goals included some very cool items for participants of the second issue, and included prints by Jimbo Salgado and Fred Hembeck as well as an additional free comic with a variant cover by Bryan Hitch.
Martino initially developed the concept for the series back in 2004 while still fighting his first bout with kidney cancer. “It was a very tough decision to take some of my personal experiences and put them down on paper in order to entertain people and possibly allow them to have a glimpse into what some of us go through while battling this potentially deadly disease,” Martino explained. Never fear, funnybook fans, while Titan’s story has some very grim aspects to it, Martino informed us that, “This is still a cool, fun superhero book that is full of vile villains, giant robots, and some really great mythological creatures.”
The Mighty Titan is slated to be a five-issue series, with the possibility of a second limited series depending upon the success of this initial run. Still, given the amazing support that he has seen thus far, Martino is fairly confident that we’ll be seeing quite a bit of Titan in the not-too distant future. Now that he has already assured that his third issue is fully funded, Martino is really pushing the envelope with this Kickstarter promotion. With 14 days to go (This project will be concluded on Sunday Nov 17, 2013) Martino is already well above the $ 2,350.00 he was seeking, (as of this writing he has topped $4,600.00), and is looking to top $7,000.00. If he hits this stretch goal, he is promising that it will fully fund issue #4 (with a cover by veteran comicbook illustrator Bob McLeod), and he will send a copy of #4 to everyone who pledged above $20. (If he hits $9,000.00 everyone with a shippable reward will get a copy of issue # 4 with the McLeod cover).
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing comicbooks for some 30 years. During that time, his reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular comicbook articles and reviews.