Zoom Suit 1B NM Superverse John Taddeo 1st print Variant Cover


SKU: 14458 Category:


Zoom Suit (2006) #1B

Published Apr 2006 by Superverse
by John Taddeo, Billy Dallas Patton, Justice, Hunter & Martinez
40pgs, Full color

Zoom Suit is the The Greatest American Hero meets Cinderella. Twelve year-old Myles Mason is bummed about not being able to afford a Halloween costume. But from the sky falls an alien armor that crashes to earth just a few feet behind him. Hilarity and superhero antics ensue in Zoom Suit, a classical “ugly duckling” story set in a superhero universe.

Zoom Suit is one of those comics that you want to like before you even open the cover. The series has had a phenomenial promotional push, including an animated film, and, from the first page, it’s clear that every effort was give to make this book as strong as possible.

Zoom Suit goes the extra mile by using metallic ink in the interiors. Zoom Suit is the story of a boy who discovers an alien suit of armor on Halloween and uses it to impress his girlfriend.

The story follows an alien suit, taken from the crash at Roswell in 1947, that the government has been unsuccessfully trying to reverse engineer. The suit is stolen by NSA agent Simon Bane, but lost in a free-fall from a helicopter and found by 12-year-old Myles, who mistakes the suit for a particularly cool Halloween costume. Superhero-style adventures follow – at the urging of Myles’ friend and crush, Brittany – as Myles learns the powers and limitations of the suit while avoiding Bane.

The comic is interspersed with humor and partially serves as a parody of other comics in the genre, including Spider-Man, X-Men, Green Lantern, and others. Pop culture references are hidden throughout each issue, and all of the ‘advertisements’ are either in-jokes or clues to the interactive online treasure hunt for the second short film.

The Zoom Suit animated short, which combines traditional and computer animation, has won Best Animation awards at film festivals around the country, as well as “Grand Festival” and “Best in Show” awards. The suit was adopted as the official school mascot of the Charter High School of the Arts in Sherman Oaks, California in March, 2006.

John Taddeo is a former Marvel brand manager and a long-time comic book fan. John has now turned to the occupation of film maker and comic writer with Zoom Suit, a creation that has been with him for years. His animated film short, Zoom Suit, has garnered acclaim, awards, and attention at more than 50 film festivals, not to mention a copious amount of internet buzz on both the film and the up-coming comic book.

With an impressive array of comic professionals involved, Zoom Suit #1 is due to be released in April with much anticipation on the part of both John and comic fans. When offered a shot at a Silver Bullet Comic Books interview John graciously agreed.

Kevin Noel Olson: John, thanks for agreeing to the interview. Could you give an overview of what Zoom Suit is all about?

John Taddeo:It’s about an alien suit that was recovered from the Roswell Crash. Through a crazy chain of events reminiscent of a silver age superhero origin it winds up in the hands of a latch key kid. He goes from being the target of schoolyard gags to the target of the FBI, CIA and a turncoat NSA agent codenamed Simon. You can check out an animated short film based on the comic online.

KNO: Now that the animated short has shown potential, do you foresee a feature-length animation in the future?

JT: There are a couple of things going on with TV and film. It looks like the film will be live action. I already submitted the first draft of the script. Although, I won’t get to direct it…dagnabbit. There’s an animated series deal being kicked around, and I’m holding fast to my directing a few episodes if that goes through.

KNO: The Zoom Suit comic is labeled ‘The Worlds First Super Premium Comic Book’. Perhaps you could elaborate on that appellation.

JT: Well, first off, I didn’t coin the “super premium” phrase. That was Juan Campbell at Datachrome. It took a five company deal in three countries and on two continents to bring Zoom Suit to comic fans at $2.95.

The MetalFX ink is five times the price of normal ink, the production to “spot” the millions of metallic colors ONLY on the suit was an additional 60 hours of production time. To maximize the effect, the job had to run on Datachrome’s Staccato Press which uses twice the dots per line than a “normal” comic and finally to get the most out of the effect required a big upgrade in the paper.

Juan’s been printing comics for way too long, and remarked that this is by far the best package he’s ever seen, a “super premium” comic book. I know they’re looking to break into printing comics in a big way, so they’re showing Zoom Suit all over town.

My hat’s off to Datachrome, MetalFX, Coast Paper Turgeon and Hublein Inks for making this book look as cool as it does. They all worked at dead cost to make Zoom Suit happen at $2.95.

KNO: You attempted to purchase the Acclaim publishing company and the rights to reproduce defunct Valiant characters at auction, but the purchase never came to fruition. Are you comfortable giving a synopsis of what happened?

JT: Well, this alone could probably be a whole interview, but to sum it up, some tool went and filed for a bunch of the Valiant trademarks.

In and of itself it didn’t mean much, someone was going to have to take this clown to court and get them back. Handled properly, dude has no chance of keeping those names, and if he uses them in any manner whatsoever that relates to the Valiant characters, that’s a copyright infringement. So basically all he did was screw me, the fans and waste $1,700 per mark.

I felt the language of the purchase contract made it the job of the trustee to “Re-Secure” the marks that he lost before closing a final sale with me. (This is much more legal – I’m trying to keep it “readable”). In a bankruptcy, one of the trustee’s main jobs is to protect the assets until a suitable buyer is found.

They argued that the sale was, “As is, Where is.”

The contract included language that either side could argue. It did say “As Is,” but also included the marks in a list of trademarks included in the purchase.

So my choices were to battle the company that the aforementioned “tool” is hiding behind, or battle the trustee. Either would be a long, drag out, expensive fight. I felt I could earn the decision in either case, but to actually “win,” the best move for me would be to stay away.

KNO: What is the intended future direction of the Superverse ‘universe’?

JT: We’re not a “Universe,” we’re doing one cool book. All of our energy is on making Zoom Suit the coolest it can be.

DC and Marvel already have a universe concept that’s awesome. We don’t need another “universe.” We don’t need any more grandiose publishing plans that scream about launching 20 titles in 2006 and then goes on to lateness, cancellations and a slew of average offerings in the hopes of maybe finding one good book in the lot. That’s not the deal.

The direction for everyone that doesn’t own Superman or Spider-Man should be to focus on making one hit book. I can’t force anyone to stop making “universes” and besides, the landlord usually does a good enough job of that, but it’s not for me. This industry needs like a comic nazi that walks around screaming, “No Universe for You!”

Zoom Suit is cool, it’s a great read at 40 pages. It’s a great package and best of all it doesn’t take itself too serious. It’s a fun superhero comic written for fans of superhero comics. If this limited series is well received, the next one is already written. If it isn’t, I’ll start again . . .I’ll try to make one cool book.

I guess I should mention, even if I had won the CrossGen or the Valiant “Universe,” I wouldn’t have re-launched the full line. If it was CG, I would have focused on the best Sojourn limited series I could produce. If it was Valiant, it would have been X-O Manowar, again limited series. My philosophy is that it’s better to do less stuff great, than more just OK.

KNO: You have brought quite a group of comic book bruisers to bear on the Zoom Suit project, including Bob Layton, Bart Sears, Rob Hunter, Billy Dallas Patton, Billy Tucci, and Gene Colan. With these proverbial bullets in you gun, it doesn’t seem possible you could fail. How did you manage to assemble your team?

JT: Sheer luck. I’ve had Zoom Suit in one incarnation or another for over 20 years. I mentioned to Bob Layton that his Iron Man work had inspired me to write comics at an early age, specifically referencing to the cover of Iron Man #118. A few days later, a Zoom Cover arrived featuring Simon Bane reaching for the Zoom Suit having just leaped from a military chopper.

Later, I was telling Rob Hunter that Bob had just sent me this sick homage cover and he mentioned that Bart was interested in doing a cover or two in his spare time. At this point, I can’t believe I have the biggest Iron Man guy and biggest X-O guy in the history of comics, both by complete accident.

A few months later, I literally bumped into Gene Colan at MegaCon. I’m like, “Oh my God, the Iron Man #1 guy!” So I took that as fate and grabbed him.

Meanwhile, Shi from Dark Horse was running real late and Billy was pretty close to putting a beat down on the colorist who was supposed to be finished, but actually didn’t even start yet. So I talked him out of murdering the guy and offered to put my stuff aside to color Shi for him. We colored that whole book in a week. A few days later, I received an absolutely stunning Tucci Zoom cover as a thank you gift.

KNO: Would you make favorable comparisons for Zoom Suit to any other comic book characters (not necessarily in powers and abilities)?

JT: I’d probably say Superman, Spider-Man or maybe even Cinderella. It’s a very classical story. The ugly duckling becomes a swan . . .only in a super suit.

It’s got an alien suit that the owner doesn’t understand, so in that sense it’s like the Greatest American Hero. The powers are discovered in a very Smallville type manner. I guess you can say you have the teen romance thing somewhat similar to what you might see in the early issues of Ultimate Spider-Man.

It’s very grounded in comics. I wrote Zoom Suit for my friends when I was a kid and kept rewriting it for friends. All my friends are hardcore comics guys so there are probably a hundred inside jokes in the script and art in the first issue alone.

KNO: Given a free-range across all comic book companies, what would be the dream team-up for Zoom Suit with another character or characters?

JT: I read like 100 comics a month for 30 years, so teaming up with anyone would be a thrill! Anyone! Even “Arm Fall Off Boy” would be cool. So this is tough.

I’m a giant Superman fan, and the character is so iconic it could be fun to see Myles be all nervous around him, scared senseless of Batman, hanging and cracking jokes with Ultimate Spider-Man or getting into trouble with the Teen Titans. A scene with Wonder Woman could be really funny. Myles is only like 5’2” so he’d be staring. . . ahem. . .straight ahead, and she’d be like, “Look at me when I talk to you . . .up here.”

“Sorry ma’am.”

KNO: Zoom Suit is a four issue mini-series. Any plans to continue it as its own monthly title beyond that?

JT: I’d love to do more! The story was written 13 episodes / issues at once. So you’ll see things in issue #1 that will make a hell of a lot more sense in the later issues. If you read and look carefully, aside from all the pop culture gags you’ll find plenty of clues as to the upcoming story and character development.

Comics are always best when a writer knows he’ll have a chance to settle in and really layer a story. The Zoom Suit timeline for the first 13 episodes is on two giant white boards in my office. I’m constantly adding more layers and clues. It’s very well planned. There’s nothing forced in Zoom Suit, it’s all labor of love.

KNO: What is the feel concerning the responsiveness of the market for Zoom Suit?

JT: We don’t think we have enough copies, and we think it may wind up being allocated.

Comics are normally printed to order, maybe a few extras for reorders.

However, because we wanted to show off the overall package, we printed the book almost three months early in order to give retailers an advance copy.

So we took a guess on how many we thought we would need. It was probably a valid guess in November, but not anymore. Over 2,000 people have requested free trading cards and joined the Zoom Suit fan club, nearly a half million fans have seen the short film, Zoom Suit has played on TV three times and it’s been completely out of control on the internet. We’ve been contacted by some larger comic chains and offered larger than usual orders in exchange for a signing. Can you believe that? A comic fan asked to show up and autograph his own comic!

Hell yeah! What time do you open? I’ll wait outside.

My first impression upon setting eyes on Superverse Comics’ Zoom Suit #1 was the quality. It should have been the merits of the storytelling or the “heart” of the piece (and it’s got those things going for it too), but being trained as a comic editor I tend to immediately look for Quality. And creator/publisher John Taddeo has produced one damn fine looking book. With multiple covers by the likes of Bob Layton, Bill Tucci, Bart Sears, Jim Starlin, Keron Grant, Gene Colan, and other legends, unique MetalFXR color technology (think an overlay of metal cover-to-cover), gorgeous art by Billy Dallas Patton, and high-grade production values & cover stock this is how an “indie” comic that wishes to compete with the “big boys” should be done. And the numbers have bourne this out orders for the first issue exceeded 20,000 copies! This is incredible for a small comic publisher and made the journalist side of me take notice. The big question is how did Taddeo do it?

It starts, I believe, with Heart. I realize that sounds like just so much sentimental clap-trap in a comics world filled with billion-part crossovers and characters getting their arms torn off and slapped upside the head with them. But Taddeo’s story of a lonely teenager who has his prayers answered when an alien suit of armor literally falls at his feet contains that sense of wonder and innocence that started with Superboy (the non-limb ripping version, of course) flying around Smallville and continues today with books like Robert Kirkman’s Invincible. With Zoom Suit we get the cutting edge art & presentation of a Wildstorm/Top Cow type project coupled with a tale that both the young & the young at heart can enjoy. Bottom line: you need not worry about your little nephew or niece reading Zoom Suit and finding this or that lurid interlude in it. Like the more successful superhero movies such as Spiderman or The Fantastic Four this is a great way to introduce a kid to comics. For John Taddeo to take the high road and make something that can actually bring in new young readers takes Heart and obviously it has begun to pay off for him (paging the Big Two, please pay a little attention…)

However, without the successful execution of that noble idea–that comic book with Heart–you might as well keep it in the flat-file and use the money to buy yourself some lottery tickets. Zoom Suit boasts DC/Marvel quality art and coloring that in my opinion surpasses a great deal of the mainstream. Kudos to Billy Dallas Patton, whose art made me hearken back to the fun of Ed McGuinness’s Superman & Mr. Majestic, and MetalFXR Technology, whose Universal Process and Spot Metallic Color System makes the Zoom Suit armor truly jump off the page. Add great paper stock & hip graphic design (including a nostalgic trade dress that subliminally prompts us to ask the question: “remember back when comics were fun?”). All these elements convince me that John Taddeo very deliberately molded this book to be a winner.

The whole Zoom Suit multimedia project (I’ll explain shortly what I mean by this) is one of the most well-conceived independent comic productions I’ve ever seen. It took a lot of planning, an obvious investment in production values (a financial risk for even the big companies’ (when I was working on JLA we woulda killed for this grade of paper), and top talent (it doesn’t hurt that former Marvel employee Taddeo is buds with some of the industry’s most legendary talent & hot newcomers). And that’s a lot but that’s what it takes to reach 20,000 in this market.

Okay, so you’re the creator/publisher of Zoom Suit and you just got orders for 20,000 on the first issue. Now what? What’s your long-term strategy? A #1 always tends to sell well how about #3? Here is the next factor that makes Taddeo’s Superverse Comics so unique & successful: Multimedia & Interactivity. Multimedia is just what it sounds like: multiple media. Why simply have your fabulous new characters remain in the comic format alone when they could be hopping & bopping in their own movie or video-game? Let’s face it: comic books unfortunately do not have the same wide appeal they had when we were kids. Back then, you could nag your parents to buy you an issue or two at the local supermarket or drugstore. It wasn’t a specialized hobby as we all had comics back then, they’re what kids read (instead of that Harry Potter jazz). Now we have more adolescents playing with PS2 or loading their iPods than giving that four-color magic a chance. And what is the solution??? Simply appeal to the adult “fanboy” fanbase and skew the books dark & violent? Or try reaching that elusive young audience through another medium?

Enter the Zoom Suit animated movie short. Released well in advance of the first issue coming out, the cartoon (which can be found on www.superverse.com) garnered a built-in audience of over 500,000 fans to date to me, another crucial reason why the orders were so unexpectedly high. And I was fascinated by how successfully the short translated the actual comic (or rather, vice-versa). How one story can be presented in two different media. It’s a lesson that prospective independent comic publishers who want to reach “Big Boy” numbers should definitely learn. Though the investment in quality computer animation will be a significant expense, the rewards in terms of viral marketing on the internet are obviously worth it you know, one web site posts the link & then another, and another (and then you email the guys at work with the link, etc. etc.). Plus, the Zoom Suit cartoon has been shown in many mainstream, non-comic oriented film festivals and even won “Best Animation” from the Palm Beach Film Society. Such outreach into other media and venues is absolutely necessary for the small publisher to thrive & build a significant imprint.

Now let’s briefly discuss the topic of Interactivity and the capacity of the comic book (or other medium) to “interact” with the reader/viewer. A big key to the success of the video game is its interactivity. Heck, it’s all about interactivity. If a hyperactive 12-year-old has to chose between passively reading a comic or getting “involved” somehow in the action (if only in a small way), well it’s no contest. Thus Superverse Comics “encoded” Zoom Suit throughout the book with a “alien language” that has to be deciphered. Here again we see the appeal being made to kids – what child doesn’t want to figure out a secret code (as long as it doesn’t go the “Christmas Story” route and spell out “Drink Ovaltine”)? Once they decipher the messages, the book has become that more special to them, they feel more involved. And to appeal to children in the age of 3-D video games, that sort of out-of-the-box thinking (as quaint and “low-tech” as it might seem to the more jaded among us) makes the difference.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this column, my experience in comic book editing (and production & marketing) naturally leads me to access new comic projects with a rather objective (ruthless?) eye in terms of their ability to succeed. I found Superverse Comics’ Zoom Suit to be a textbook example of how to do it RIGHT. The first issue of this four-part mini-series just hit the stands last week, and #2 will be out next month (featuring glow-in-the dark variant covers – now that brings me back to those days when I was in comics retail & we shut all the lights so we could see that particular Ghost Rider cover shimmer). Buying new comics in the era of the almost four-dollar single issue is a chancy thing as it was much more easy to take a chance on something new when you just had to plunk three quarters on the counter. But for $2.95 you’ll at least get something substantial with Zoom Suit and heck, when you’re done with it your little brother or sister can read it too.

Near mint, 1st print. Bagged & Boarded.