My Goal Was To Put Mixed Martial Arts In A Good Light – Ian Parker on Cage Hero

Corinna Bechko, writer of Aliens/Vampirella #3, talks with Ian Parker, co-creator/co-plotter of Cage Hero #1, about his book. Both comics are on sale now. Cover art by Renato Rei.

CageHero01CovAReiCORINNA BECHKO: The theme of dislocation seems to be a big part of this story. Did you personally move around a lot as a kid?

IAN PARKER: Actually, no. As a kid, I grew up in East Meadow, New York, and lived there for my entire childhood. But in high school I had a very good friend whose father was in the military. He moved around a ton and never was able to establish himself in one location. The constant changing of friends and environments took a toll on him. Fortunately, his father was stationed in East Meadow for his sophomore, junior, and senior years of high school and he was able to create a group of friends through the sports that he participated in.

CB: Special attributes aside, it seems as if Ryder has the additional gift of possessing an outsider's perspective on the social structure at his school. His grandfather and teachers think this means he lacks focus, but I'm wondering if it might not be the "secret weapon" that allows him to weather the changes in his life as well. Was that something which emerged naturally from the original concept or was it found more in the scripting stage?

IP: I think a combination of both. With the original concept, Ryder was always the type that wouldn't let his change of environment stop him from achieving his goals. At the same time, when we hit the scripting stage, that is really when we hit it in stride and dove into his outsider's prospective.

CB: It's clear even from this first issue that much of the drama and intrigue in this story will revolve around the world of mixed martial arts, and I understand that's something you know quite a lot about. Was it a struggle to pull back far enough so that Cage Hero could be understood by an audience that might be unfamiliar with even the basics of this kind of contest?

IP: Funny you mention that! I don't know if I would call it a struggle. I would say it was more of an obstacle to overcome. My goal with Cage Hero was to put the sport of mixed martial arts in a good light. The sport takes a ton of discipline, desire and, most importantly, heart! These men and women that participate in the sport are some of the hardest working athletes in the world. For those that are unfamiliar with the sport of mixed martial arts, I chose to take the time to break down each aspect of the sport and show how it can be used for good and not just for the assumed violence that is sometimes portrayed.

CB: I'm sure that everyone reading this first issue will be dying to know exactly what is in the box, and what the things we've already seen mean. Did you know exactly what was in the box when you started this project? Do you now?

IP: From Day 1, I knew what was in the box. I felt that it was important to establish the importance of the object the box protects. On a side note, every detail and aspect of this story just flowed from my brain right onto the computer screen. I can promise you this: there are plenty of surprises along the way, and plenty of questions that I have decided to not answer and leave wide open.

CB: What was it like working with writer Rik Hoskin? Did you and Kevin Eastman have everything worked out before the scripting stage, or was there a lot of collaboration?

IP: Working with Rik was quite the honor. He really took the time to get to know me and understand my vision. He contributed a ton of great ideas and really helped the story come to life! Kevin and I had the majority of the story worked out, but there was also a solid amount of collaboration. Kevin and I connected very well and bounced ideas back and forth based off of my vision of how I saw Cage Hero. When Rik jumped on board, as I mentioned before, he really understood my vision. Rik had some really great ideas and I gave him the green light to add what he thought would work to the story. After it was all said and done, I think we have something really special here with Cage Hero.

For more on Cage Hero #1, click here.

About Dan Wickline

Has quietly been working at Bleeding Cool for over three years. He has written comics for Image, Top Cow, Shadowline, Avatar, IDW, Dynamite, Moonstone, Humanoids and Zenescope. He is the author of the Lucius Fogg series of novels and a published photographer.