Interview with Catastrophic's William Katt
Will he be the Greatest American Comic Book Publisher?
years, fans have cherished actor William Katt's performances
in a variety of genres. Theater folk love him as Pippin in
the video of Bob Fosse's classic musical. Surfers know him
from Big Wednesday. Horror fans still get a kick out of his
turn in House -- the horror comedy, not the Fox series, and
of course his role as the doomed all-American boy in Carrie.
At least one person I know immediately leaps to the first
prequel -- Butch and Sundance: The Early Years -- when talking
of us here, though, think of the Greatest American Hero,
three seasons on ABC that really answered the question what
if an ordinary guy gained fantastic powers -- and wasn't
exactly sure how they worked?
few series and several movies later, Bill Katt is still
vital as an actor, including doing a guest-turn on the the
upcoming third season of Heroes. But what really holds his
interest these days is his new comic book company, Catastrophic
Comics. On Wednesday, June 18, the first issue of the company's
first title, Sparks, hits comic book stores.
past weekend Bill sat down at a local restaurant to talk
about the company. An open but intense man, he's also gracious
and kind, stopping our interview to chat on a stranger's
cellphone when the guy said it was his wife wanting to know
if Katt was still cute. It was a genuine moment from a man
grateful for where life has brought him, and where he hopes
it's about to take him.
McCaw: What led you to becoming a comic book publisher?
Katt: I had been writing scripts for a long time,
a number of them produced. I had one that I couldn’t
get produced, a film script. I had met one of my partners,
Chris Folino, on a film that he directed, and we started
talking about this script idea that I had, that it would
make a nice animated piece.
said, “no, this would not make a nice animated piece.”
(laughs) It was for twelve-year-old girls. He had
some ideas, and suggested we try to put it together as a
comic book. I said, okay, well that’s interesting,
so we started throwing around ideas on how to adapt the
film script into a comic book. Together we wrote a story
for ten books, we created this world, Mythology Wars.
(currently scheduled for a 2009 in-store release)
are any number of ways we can go with it in that world.
The name just grew out of that. Then we were going to do
some other books, which we have done and are in the process
of doing. We just liked the name “Catastrophic.”
It’s “earth-shattering.” (laughs)
No one else would touch that name.
McCaw: Were you a comic book reader beforehand?
preview page from Mythology Wars.
Artwork by Jeff Jumper.
yeah. When I was a kid, you know, in the Valley here growing
up it was all dairy farms and orange groves. Every Saturday
morning it was like a race to get down to the drugstore
in Sherman Oaks on our bikes to see who could get there
when it opened, to get the newest editions of Superman,
Green Lantern…Spider-Man…I guess mostly DC books.
At the time, there weren’t a lot of independents.
McCaw: You may have fallen away as you got older,
but when you started this company, did you start getting
into comics again?
Katt: I have. I’ve been reading a lot.
McCaw: Which titles have caught your interest?
Katt: I love DMZ. I still read a lot of
the DC books. I’ve been catching up on graphic novels.
I just got finished reading Wanted. I love Watchmen.
the first graphic novel I ever read years ago was Maus,
and you know that was just damned impressive.
McCaw: We talked about Mythology Wars,
but the first book coming out of the gate is actually Sparks.
What sparked you to Sparks?
Katt: Well, Sparks really comes from Chris.
He has a real dark side to him, and I think it was taking
longer than expected to create Mythology Wars.
We’d had some problems finding the right artist, working
out the problems, so I think he got impatient and wanted
to express this dark side of himself. So we talked about
(ideas for) Sparks, and got that going.
To me, Sparks is Chris. It’s different aspects
of his personality.
McCaw: Do you have a particular viewpoint,
a mandate, for Catastrophic editorially?
Katt: I personally like really dark pieces.
McCaw: But when you started out with Mythology
Wars, it was for a twelve-year-old girl. You must have,
well, if not a little girl inside you, a light side…
Katt: I think in all of my work, what I like to
do as an actor, and I’m trying to bring to the books…I
like darkness, I like to see the underbelly of people. But
it’s got to be funny, too. There has to be an irony
to it, and I think that’s apparent in the books that
McCaw: You’re obviously in this for the long
haul. What hopes do you have for Catastrophic’s future?
can count on this monthly mini-series...
Katt: I’m hoping to bring out a new book
at least once a year. We’re going to be around. Sparks
is a mini-series of six books. That’s for a number
of reasons. It’s our first trial, and we’re
kind of feeling the waters out there. Fortunately, it’s
been reviewed very well. People seem to like it. I personally
like it a lot.
other books, I think, are going to have longer legs. I’m
hoping that we can revisit Sparks in a little while.
We’re going to be pretty busy with the other books
for a while.
McCaw: There’s definitely room for
Katt: There’s room to come back and revisit
Sparks. Mythology Wars is going to be a book that
will be around for a while, going many different directions
McCaw: Obviously, comics have become a fertile
development ground for other media. Is that a hope you have
Katt: I don’t want to completely rule that
out. It’s fun to think about, but it’s not the
reason we got into it.
into this because we were really a little frustrated not
being able to make films, and Chris and I are both storytellers.
We love to tell stories. It was just another venue for us
to tell stories, fun stories that don’t suck. Stories
with an interesting beginning, middle and end. We throw
the audience some red herrings, do the unexpected and take
them through some doors they weren’t expecting to