With the Kickstarter of TAP DANCE KILLER now at 105% funded, this sparked an interest to get to know the man behind the curtain, Ted Sikora, president of HERO TOMORROW COMICS. He is the creator and writer of TAP DANCE KILLER; and the creator, co-writer, colorist on APAMA THE UNDISCOVERED ANIMAL, which chronicles the offbeat saga of Cleveland’s own resident superhero.
The Kickstarter has 14 days to go! Feast your eyes on this phenom and become a backer. There are plenty of delectable pledges to choose from.
Eagerly, I reached out to Ted to ask him a few questions about himself and the development of his current projects.
Ted, tell us a little bit about yourself.
What’s YOUR origin story?
I got my first Spider-Man comic in the 70s from a comic book vending machine (yes, that was a real thing) and I was completely hooked for life.
In 2004, my friend Milo Miller and I co-wrote and co-produced the indie feature film HERO TOMORROW, which I also directed. It’s about a struggling comic book creator who ends up becoming his own creation – Apama.
The movie debuted at Comic-Con International, played film festivals all over the globe, and many who saw the film said our main character’s superhero was unlike anything in comics. We remedied that when we launched APAMA THE UNDISCOVERED ANIMAL, which is the story of an ice cream truck driver in Cleveland who becomes a superhero by unlocking the spirit force of the most savage beast mankind has never known.
Give us a short synopsis of the origin of Tap Dance Killer? How did she come about?
In volume 2 of Apama, our main character, Ilyia, has hit the skids. He’s come to realize that being a superhero sucks, and he’s tired of getting his ass kicked. As he’s making the rounds with his ice cream truck, he meets this mega-talented actress, Nikki St Clair. They get flirty with each other, and she convinces him to come audition for a community theatre production of a new horror show musical titled “Nothing Like Vaudeville.” Ilyia attends the audition and lands the lead role as the Freak. Nikki is cast as the Tap Dance Killer. There’s a supernatural occurrence at the theatre which makes Nikki and two of her villain castmates permanently locked into the headspace of their respective roles. The Vaude-Villains start taking it to the streets trying to take out the mob as the new crime power.
As we were teasing images to this story arc on our social media, images of TAP DANCE KILLER were being liked and shared thousands of times – by people who didn’t even know who she was. I decided to launch her into her own spinoff series which is sort of like Punisher meets Rocky Horror.
What most attracted me to your table at New York Comic Con 2018 (NYCC) was the art of Apama and Tap Dance Killer. Please tell us a little about their artistic development and the illustrator(s) behind the characters.
For Apama, I wanted something that had sort of a creepy, fierce, earthy quality. When we were casting the HERO TOMORROW film, the lead actor, Perren Hedderson, had dreadlocks, so we implemented that into the character’s appearance, and it really ‘locked’ down the look. (pun intended with apologies.)
Benito Gallego was hired as the artist on Apama. He shares our affinity for the bronze age of Marvel Comics, and we were thrilled to be working with an artist who has this timeless classic quality. Benito is an amazing storyteller. I love not only his main characters, but the way he creates real people in the background. He’s a rare talent, and super nice dude.
TAP DANCE KILLER was originally a song I wrote back in 1991 for a concept rock project titled Nothing Like Vaudeville. I had illustrations for a male version of the character at the time. In 1994 the project evolved from rock to theatre, and the role was changed to female. Then in 1999, I was smitten with Sarah Vaughan’s vocals and asked jazz vocalist Ki Allen to sing a demo version. Ki nailed it, and from that point on I liked the idea of the character being Black. When it was decided to bring the characters of the musical to life in the comic, I reimagined the costume and went with a half-mime face to feature both sides of Nikki St Clair – sort of this ultimate actress in the ultimate role.
We put out a call for an illustration on the TAP DANCE KILLER series about eighteen months ago, and Donny Hadiwidjaja beat out over 200 other artists for the gig. He really nailed the street level toughness and sense of movement required for this series. One point of clarification: on the first three issues Donny Hadiwidjaja was using a pseudonym Nikolaus Harrison, but his agency suggested he switch is actual name. This comic is so mysterious even the artist has an alter ego! Starting with issue 3 we also added monster inker, Chis Arieswendha.
What does the future hold for Tap Dance Killer? What else can we expect to see in the future from you?
These characters — the Vaude-Villains — are still getting to know each other, and there’s going to be serious fallout from TAP DANCE KILLER #5. Seeds have been dropped throughout the series that are about to sprout into completely unforeseen problems.
Additionally, I’d love to do a new cast album of the Nothing Like Vaudeville musical itself. We just recorded a new version of the Tap Dance Killer song that is now unlocked in the stretch rewards of the Kickstarter campaign for anyone who reserves a reward at $15 or over.
Also, Apama’s arch nemesis Regina is about to be launched into her own series titled Bloom which tells her creepy origin tale set in the psychedelic ‘60s. New Apama stories are underway too.
Because I was introduced to the world Apama and Tap Dance Killer via your exhibitor table at NYCC 2018, will you be exhibiting at a table in any future pop-culture conventions in 2019? Where can we meet you in person?
I’m at pretty much all cons in Northeast Ohio. I do Steel City three times a year. Louisville, Michigan Comicon, NYCC are some of the upcoming shows.
Lastly, we are a pop-culture fandom site. Can you tell us about any of your favorite fandoms? Favorite movie, tv show, cartoon. Favorite celebrity encounter. Whether classic, retro or modern fandoms. We love it all!
Favorite Movie: WEST SIDE STORY. The cinematography is just completely SICK beyond belief. Every shot is like a painting. Then there happens to be the most amazing music and lyrics ever. I love it on so many levels.
TV Show: I’m gonna throw down Chris Elliot’s GET A LIFE. It was nuts. Too cool to last.
Favorite celebrity encounter: This is tough. I got to meet Stan Lee and talk to him about Apama, but then there was this time at the Rainbow Bar and Grill when I was the only other person in the men’s room with Ozzy Osbourne, so…
Ozzy Osbourne…whoah! It was always a treat to be in the mere presence of Stan Lee. I must agree with the brilliant cinematography of WEST SIDE STORY. Haven’t seen it in years. It’s time for a re-watch. And thank you for reminding me of the forgotten tv show, GET A LIFE. Took me straight to YouTube and I actually watched an episode. Ted, thank you so much for the opportunity to get to know more about you and your company! I look forward to seeing what the future brings after your successful Kickstarter and will be sure to visit your table at New York Comic Con this Fall.