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Interview with Allegiance Arts: Mitchell Breitweiser

Welcome back to Dan’s ToyBox! As you can see, we’re very excited to be writing from our new home at Dan's as part of the Inked Studios LLC team! To celebrate our new home, we are kicking off with an amazing interview with one of the coolest guys I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Today we are talking Independent Comics with Writer and Artist Mitchell Breitweiser. Mitch and his wife, Elizabeth, are co-founders of Allegiance Arts and together are putting out some of the neatest Indie titles that I’ve had the chance to read. Right off the bat, I want to thank Mitch not only for our time visiting with one another but also for the incredible comic books he gave me access to. I’ve begun reading them and cannot wait to bring you my reviews of these amazing books! Without further ado, let’s jump in and talk comics with Mitchell Breitweiser.

Dan’s Toybox: Hi Mitchell, thank you for taking time out of your schedule to talk with me about Allegiance Arts. I’m eager to talk about your projects and get your perspective on Indie comic books and the future of the industry. I have a format that I like to try to follow to give my readers some insight into the people we interview, so, right out of the gate… what got you into comics?

Mitchell Breitweiser: Hi Dan, thanks for having me. I appreciate your interest and am happy to be talking with you today. As far as what got me into comic books… I’ve always had a big interest in writing and drawing. I was probably 11 or 12 years old when I read Spider-Man 2099 for the first time. This book made a huge impression on me and that was when I realized that I could do this stuff if I wanted to. I went to Harding University as an Art Major and graduated in 2000. I enjoyed that experience because of the amount of studio time I had access to. That allowed me to develop my own portfolio on the side and that was when I started going to comic cons. After graduation, I was able to go more frequently and start booking my own tables in the “Artists Row” sections. In 2005 I began working for Marvel on the Drax the Destroyer mini-series as pencils, inks, and cover artist. I worked for Marvel from 2005 through 2012. I met Elizabeth while I was working for Marvel. She was an art student at my alma mater and a painter. She began coloring for Marvel in 2009 on Jeff Parker’s Hulk run and then on Ed Brubaker’s tenure on Winter soldier and Captain America. She was nominated for an Eisner Award first for her Marvel work and later for her work on Velvet with Brubaker and Steve Epting

DT: Wow! That is awesome! I promise not to go all fanboy on you while we’re talking. Having that experience at Marvel, working on books like Drax, Captain America and the X-Men certainly guided you in your current endeavor. As I’ve been meeting more independent creators, I’m finding myself more excited for the future of comic books. Honestly, I could spend our entire time talking about your work at Marvel, but I really want to dive right in and hear about Allegiance Arts, if that’s ok? What was the genesis for this company?

MB: After leaving Marvel, we decided not to renew several of our exclusive contracts. I love storytelling and for several years, wanted to craft my own narratives, rather than drawing someone else’s. I felt that my ideas were solid and could be developed into something big. So, I helped Elizabeth with the books at Image and began laying the groundwork for my own projects. This led to the creation of our first character: The Red Rooster and to fostering my vision for reaching readers. I wanted to find an easier way to get books into people’s hands, so I would ask long-time comic book enthusiasts where they first discovered comics. The answer was almost exclusively at their local newsstand, grocery store, or big box store. I became driven to make that local accessibility available to potential new comic book fans again.

I had several characters, mostly developed, that I was starting to pitch, notably what became our Flagship title: The Red Rooster. I had an outline for the character and in 2018 set up a crowdfunding campaign for the book. The book really resonated with people and was an attractive concept as evidenced by the fact that on July 4, 2018, the first day of the campaign, we raised $50,000! Armed with that success, I started meeting with local businesspeople who had an interest in the project. My goal for this and future books was mass market retail, side-stepping the Diamond Comic Distributors of the world and reaching people where they are. I wanted my books to span different genres and not necessarily compete with superheroes, per se. The success of the campaign also allowed me to develop a network of great storytellers and artists (long-time friends in the industry.) Three months after the campaign, October 2018, Elizabeth and I met and pitched Red Rooster/Allegiance Arts to Walmart’s book buyer. We spoke with potential investors and distributors and were told if we got Walmart, the distributor would come on board and the investors would also join the team. In December, Walmart contacted me and said they wanted to carry my books. Upon hearing that, the distributor and investors also jumped on board, and we took off!

DT: “Took off” seems an understatement! I’m going to say you had a Merry Christmas that year, along with the sudden surge of adrenaline that this thing is really happening… and happening quite quickly. I can’t image how that felt! Of course, this isn’t something you can do alone… please tell me a bit about the team at Allegiance Arts.

MB: As you know, my wife Elizabeth and I founded the company, we recently brought Nick Amendolare on board as our Editor-In-Chief, he also writes Red Rooster with me, and Cathleen Brignac is our Marketing/Design Director. We work with several different writers and artists on the five titles currently in production.

DT: Which leads me right into our next topic… your current projects. Would you be able to give a brief synopsis on each of the books?

MB: Sure, we currently have five titles in print, and they are:

“Red Rooster”, my original book and our flagship title. Think “Batman in a Barn.” This is what I like to call Southern Gothic Cape and Cowl and is our cornerstone and, to me, really defines our brand. Frank Cooper has taken up the mantle of the Red Rooster, which has been passed down through generations, and now must continue the fight against evil, in this Dust Bowl-era story of mystery and redemption.

“Norah’s Saga” written by Blake Northcott and illustrated by Kelsey Shannon. We have six Episodes of this book and are currently in the midst of a crowdfunding campaign for the graphic novel. This is our best-selling book at Walmart and is a coming-of-age story. Norah is your typical teenage girl with typical teenage girl angst and problems. Her mother passed and after moving to a new city with her father, Norah finds herself having trouble fitting in and takes all of this out on her father. After an accident, falling through the ice, Norah awakens to find herself in a Viking era feudal village/universe. She’s got to make new friends, rely on her wits, and go on a mythic odyssey to return home.

“Bass Reeves” is based on the adventures of U.S. Marshall, Bass Reeves and is our western themed, comic book biography. Reeves was born a slave and managed to escape into the Oklahoma territory. While there, he learned tracking and other hunting skills. Already an excellent shot, Reeves returned to Arkansas and became a Bounty Hunter. Judge Isaac Parker recognized Reeve’s skills and deputized him as a U.S. Marshall. Reeves became the first black man, west of the Mississippi to wear the badge and his arrest of more than 3,000 outlaws is a record for the Marshall Service, which still stands to this day.

“The Futurists” is our Swashbuckling Opera. Butch Guice, Patrick Stiles and Rick Magyar bring us this riveting tale set in 1866 India. This complex narrative weaves a tale of magic and menace as treasure hunter Teddy Gunn races against war, monsters, cults and three dangerous foes to discover the secrets of Shambhala to save his daughter from the forces of dark magic.

“The Saints” is our newest addition and was a crowdfunded project. Patrick Stiles and I created the book which is now written by Mike Baron and illustrated by Christian Rosado. I consider this to be our “Indiana Jones meets Jake Paul” book. Jean Marc LaPointe is a world-renowned archaeologist, rogue scholar, despised by his peers for his willingness to take on sponsors and perform reckless stunts… all of which end up proving his science! LaPointe is on the verge of making a discovery that would rewrite history as we know it. When he is targeted by a group of dark and deadly conspirators, LaPointe finds himself financially ruined and on the run as an international fugitive. He is recruited by The Saints, a secret society of scientists, soldiers, etc… who, themselves, have disappeared from society, and are now tasked with protecting mankind from ancient menaces and fearful secrets.

(Editor’s note: I recently got to speak with Mike Baron as a guest host on the Atomic Comicradery podcast about his new work “The Thin Blue Line”)

MB: Those five books are paving the way for more titles from Allegiance Arts.

DT: I must admit, I’m drooling over these books. I have met many Indie creators and am simply in awe of the ideas and talents out there. The books that I’m learning about are incredibly interesting and very story driven, and these five are amazing examples. I can’t wait to read them! What I find most enjoyable is the fact that Indie books give us entertaining stories and aren’t preachy, like the big two have become, pushing agendas and what not. This is so refreshing, so with that in mind, what do you make of this growth in independent comic books?

MB: Honestly, I feel that creators are “against the wall.” We have to keep pushing, growing, and evolving to survive. This medium could slip away if we aren’t on top of it. My personal goal is to have my books become “coffee table” fare. Right next to magazines and newspapers. You can sit down, have a conversation, look down and there’s this comic book that jumps up and grabs your attention.

DT: It’s my belief that there will come a point in time when Indies outsell the mainstream comic books out there. I think people really need that escapist fantasy, especially given the world today. Readers don’t want to be preached at, they want to be entertained, what do you think?

MB: Our goal for Allegiance is to be an “entertainment company that happens to specialize in comics. Our agenda is to tell great stories that engage the reader and help them get away from the stresses of the world. I think you may be right regarding sales. There are so many more Indie comic books out there that it’s only a matter of time before they begin outselling the competition. I think independent comics is on the cusp of its’ “Harry Potter” moment; One burst of flame that sets a massive brushfire.

DT: Mitchell, I cannot express how much I appreciate the time we’ve spent together today. Would you indulge me one last question?

MB: Sure, what’s that?

DT: With your penchant for and love of art, who would you say are the biggest influences that drive you to do what you do?

MB: My earliest influences in art were Jim Lee, Marc Silvestri, Rob Liefeld… they really pioneered the enthusiasm behind the 90’s comic boom, which propelled me. Many of the books from the Image generation, as products of their time, inspired me to reach higher and create stories that are products of our time. As I mentioned earlier, I was an art major so painters like Maxfield Parrish, J.C. Lyendecker and John Singer Sargent have had a profound influence on my personal tastes and direction in art. I am also a huge fan of Japanese print making and will own a print by Hiroshi Yoshida one day. I find his work to be very complex, intricate, and mind boggling. I’m convinced he will be a household name.

DT: As influences go, those are some incredibly gifted talents and it’s easy to see why they inspired you to get into this industry! I would love to schedule a follow up with you sometime, when your wife can join us, to discuss the future of Allegiance and your tremendous partnership.

MB: That would be great, just let me know.

DT: Thank you! I will certainly do that.

As of this writing, Mitchell was incredibly generous and gave me access to their digital catalog of books. Needless to say, I’ve begun devouring the amazing titles from Allegiance Arts and am very excited to start writing reviews on this phenomenal work! Thank you for stopping by the new and improved ToyBox and until next time… Geek Out!!!



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