Writer Mikel Miles explains growing up in Canada, his reason for creating Her Impact!, and what he's learned from working on it
Mikel Miles is a basketball fan, anime watcher, and creator of two comics born in Canada.
Toronto, Canada, which makes him a Raptors fan.
“But,” he adds, “I also have two other favorites: the LA Lakers and Chicago Bulls. They have been my favorites way before the Raptors came in the league.” When he’s not watching basketball games (and subsequently talking smack on Twitter), he’s writing, which, as he explains in the interview, was something he didn’t take seriously until a bit later in his life. He also talks about his latest creation, Her Impact!, which tells the story of Sadie Hiroshi, a single African-Japanese mother who took over her father’s legacy in boxing.
TheOASG: Are you one of the many that got into anime or manga with Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z, etc, or did something else get you into the medium?
Mikel Miles: Dragon Ball Z was my first anime, but there were others like Yu-Gi-Oh, Digimon, Pokemon, & Beyblade when I was younger, and I was used to watch these on TV. What really got me into anime was Samurai Champloo & Afro Samurai. Funny story, the first time I watched Samurai Champloo I bought it from an illegal store. It was labelled “Samurai Champloo volume one” and it had 4 episodes. Once I finished watching those I wanted to see more, but, I didn’t know at that time who distributed it. I did my research and at that time FUNimation didn’t have a streaming service.
So it took me at least 4 years to finish the whole series cause in Canada anime wasn’t that much popular on TV, except for Pokemon, Beyblade, Yu-Gi-Oh & Digimon, but that was more for kids. Now, it has gotten popular and more adult content has started coming on TV for older audiences. When I finally found Samurai Champloo, I loved it and was quite happy that I watched it and it led me to watch Afro Samurai, the Naruto series, Psycho-Pass, The Boondocks, Black Lagoon, Cowboy Bebop, Attack on Titan, One Punch Man, My Hero Academia, Darker Than Black, Death Parade, Death Note…
…Man, I can go on and on.
Since you grew up in Toronto, how was the anime and manga scene over there then How is it like today?
There are a lot of anime on television nowadays in Canada compared to when I was younger. In my late teens, the only anime we could watch were Pokemon, Beyblade, Digimon & Yu-Gi-Oh and I didn’t like those as were for younger audience. I thought they were your regular cartoon shows. We kinda had a little something in Canada, a channel called “YTV”. It was for youngsters and kids with a great line up of shows like Rugrats, Hey Arnold, Doug, Dexter Laboratory & more. Back then the channel had a program called “Anime Night” or “Anime Friday Night” and they showed Naruto, Inuyasha, & more, then they were cancelled after six months. I’m not sure what happened, but it was a great program. That was too bad because anime would have progressed more in Canada if we had more programs on television like that.
On the manga side, things in Canada are a lot better now then they were in the past. Generally, you would just see your Marvel, DC Comics, One Piece, DBZ & Naruto manga here and there, but now you go into stores called “Chapters, Coles or Indigo” and even libraries now and can find the manga you are looking for.
When did you decide you wanted to write?
It was around 2009 when I started to write for fun. It wasn’t serious until around 2013 and that’s when I wrote Samurai Shin.
How did the idea for Her Impact! come about?
I wanted to do a female project lead for quite sometime because in the anime/manga industry, there’s not a lot of female leads, and some are used either as a sexual character or to make male characters look good, which is not cool. A lot of woman need someone to look up to and that’s how I made “Her Impact!”.
It’s pretty rare to find a character in a comic that’s not just mixed, but is African-Japanese. Was this something already planned or was Sadie’s creation a case where you discussed it and felt it would be best to go with that?
One of the problems with anime & manga is the lack of diversity. I understand that there are hardly any African-Japanese or other races in Japan, but focusing on one race is not the reflection of the world. That’s why I made my character, Sadie Hiroshi.
It’s emphasized how important Sadie’s father was when it came to boxing so far. What made you want to showcase that so early in the work?
Kazuki Hiroshi (father) plays a big role in the manga because Sadie considers him her role model in life. I wanted to show how proud Sadie is for being his daughter, and how she looks up to him and considers him a big inspiration.
What’s been some of the challenges of working on this one so far, particularly compared to your other comic, Samurai Shin?
I think Her Impact! was more difficult because I wrote this from scratch and tried to put as many details as possible, whereas in Samurai Shin, I got inspiration from other anime, like Afro Samurai and Samurai Champloo.
It’s only been one issue so far, but what do you think you’ve learned from writing this, and how this will help you in other projects?
I learned how to be more of a team player and to communicate better with others on this team. I would like to give a shoutout to my team, Digitkame, Lavender Khan, Joe sketch, Yunnika, June & Sukma Agustriyana for being great support and working on Her Impact! with me.
Can you say when Issue #1’s coming out or you can’t say just yet?
First issue is coming hopefully on 3rd or 4th Quarter of 2018 with a trailer made by Studio Izune. We just released the demo (pilot) version of manga to see if people would like this. Issue #1 will give you more of the story than the demo and hopefully, the audience would love it.