Indie Comix Dispatch loves highlighting new and innovative projects in the Indie Comics Industry, with a 3D version, Mike Tener’s Midnight Highway is exactly that! Dive in for Greg’s discussion with Mike and Alex!

Greg: Thank you Mike for doing this interview. So, you have several titles you’ve created such as Black Jackets and Dead End Moon. However, we are going to talk about your new comic series called Midnight Highway. What inspired you to write an 80s horror comic series?

Mike: The idea came to me when I was doing a lot of traveling for work and there were a lot of late-night drives and, because I relied on GPS, I would end up on some of the old and sketchy roads, wondering if I was ever going to make it home. And just like any kid with a monster under their bed, my imagination started taking off. 

Alex: I was brought on to the project by Mike. I’m a huge fan of 80s horror, anime, music so there’s so much to pull from with that. What really inspires me about it is that it’s as much a love story as a horror story. A guy trying to get back to his girlfriend in a world of wicked twists and turns. The 80s are done to death in culture but we try to make something that walks a fine line between fresh and nostalgic and I think we did a pretty good job of that.

Greg: I love horror movies a ton. My favorite series is Friday the 13th. Do you have a favorite series?

Mike: Not a series, but I have a director: John Carpenter. He had an amazing run in the ’80s. The Fog, The Thing, Christine, Big Trouble in Little China (my favorite movie of all time), and They Live. I could go on. 

Alex: I’m a huge fan of the Halloween films. Carpenter is a god to me.

Greg: Now for Midnight Highway, you had a 3D version. I honestly hate that I missed that on the Kickstarter campaign somehow because I always thought that was a cool feature people have used over the years in comics. Anyways, what made you want to make a 3D version of the comic?

Mike: I think earlier on, Alex and I wanted to make sure that this series felt more like an experience however we could afford to do so. Fortunately, my fiance mentioned she knew an artist that specializes in anaglyph 3D art (which was a popular gimmick in the ’80s) and I was like, “you gotta be kidding me…this is perfect.” Lol. 

Alex: We created a world much like Alice in Wonderland as far as the atmosphere and world change constantly. When we started to project we wanted to experiment with where this story could go and things like 3D and augmented reality were ways for us to play around with this. Overall we wouldn’t have made a 3D version if it wasn’t going to turn out well but we were able to get Mateo Fuentes on board and I couldn’t be happier with the end result. 

Greg: This is the first comic of yours I’ve personally read so far and if Midnight Highway is any indication of your writing ability (and Alex Maday’s) then I will be a much more frequent reader of your work. I loved the flow of the story from beginning to end. You really hooked me with the 80s vibe and influences in the comic. I don’t want to spoil it for others, but the one animal that transforms over time. What made you want to use that animal and not a bigger animal? 

Mike: We went back and forth on a lot of ideas and we settled on something that felt very Cronenberg-ish and The Thing-ish with the body horror component. Also, from personal experience, where I live in West Virginia, I see deer on the roads all the time (I’ve actually plowed into three deer and totaled two cars). But that’s a pretty common thing in my state, so I was hoping that there would be a lasting association between this story any time someone takes a late-night drive and comes across a deer on or near the road. If at least one person thinks about this book when that happens, I’ll be fulfilled, haha. 

Alex: It was mostly just about what could blend into a town like that. There were drafts of it jumping from animal to animal but something is unsettling about this creature in the state we put it in and it just worked the best. 

Greg: Your Kickstarter also had an augmented reality feature for a poster. I’ve so far only seen augmented reality used in comics one other time so seeing this was pretty interesting as well. What made you want to add that as a feature to the poster?

Mike: Similar to your question about the use of 3D, we just wanted to include any sort of interactive art that we could, within budget, achieve. We also had glow-in-the-dark art, which was another staple of the ’80s and ’90s. I think we’ll lean into all of these on the next issue even more. 

Alex: Mike had seen an art exhibit when he was out at a local venue and an artist had some pieces up that were really cool. We just had to try it out. Again we wanted to try and do all sorts of wild stuff with this project and augmented reality was just another way for us to say “not all things on the Midnight Highway are as they seem.”

Greg: What got you into creating comics? How about writing in general?

Mike: I always wanted to be in film actually, but that’s a pretty difficult business to break into, and someone convinced me early on that comic books are essentially storyboards for future films. Since then, I’ve learned that it’s more than that…but that cinematic connection has stuck with me. 

Alex: It was a creative outlet that inspired me. Some of the most ambitious creative minds are making stories and artwork in ways they can’t be told anywhere else. It really gives me fire to write and collaborate with others and I really need that to be honest.

Greg: What is your favorite genre to write?

Mike: Well, anything with monsters. Lol. 

Alex: Action or comedy but I’m not picky as long as it’s fun. 

Greg: Do you have a favorite Goosebumps book?

Mike: I’m so glad you brought up Goosebumps. The green slime reference in the book is a nod to Monster Blood…so that book and the Girl Who Cried Monster had a very Twilight Zone-ish twist that I loved. 

Alex: Camp Nightmare

Greg: If you could direct and/or write your very own horror movie what would it be about?

Mike: Midnight Highway. No lie. 

Alex: You’ll have to wait and find out.

Greg: How many issues are you thinking of doing for Midnight Highway?

Mike: We’ll go forever. For the story arc that focuses on Alex as the protagonist…that will be finite…but we’ve no plans on a number yet, just when we’ve felt a natural conclusion to his adventure. 

Alex: Midnight Highway is ongoing and it can go till our minds run out of gas.

Greg: Thank you so much for doing this interview. Where can people find you to read your creations?!

Mike: I’m only Facebook right now, building my publisher site right now (waiting for business licenses and all that can take some time). So just look me up on Facebook and if you’re interested in making a purchase, message me. 

Alex: We’re getting it up on a website right now but until then just hit Mike or me up and we’ll get you a copy.