South Florida Sun-Sentinel.com
Comic book artist sells first volume 22 years after finishing it
By Alysha Khan, Sun Sentinel
1:45 PM EDT, July 8, 2013
Link to original article.
In 1989, Cooper City resident Mike Kaye was a bored 13 year old with streak of shyness and a penchant for drawing.
So he began dreaming and sketching. Out of his imagination emerged Dr. Ulrius Joules, a cancer-ridden doctor who came a across an extraterrestrial gem that transformed him into a frogman whenever he became wet and who must stop others from being infected by these gems.
Kaye would sit for hours with his notebooks and pencils, pitting Amphoman, Joules’ alter-ego, against enemy after enemy.
“Drawing was almost like a full-time job for me,” he said.
Two years later, Amphoman Volume #1 was born, photocopied and stapled by hand. But it would be another 22 years before anyone purchased the comic book.
Kaye continued sketching the characters of Amphoman while he pursued a bachelor’s degree at Broward College but eventually put aside comics in order to “become serious in life.”
He became a graphic designer, married and had three children. He found a job at BECON TV, the Broward County School Board’s TV network, and was nominated for a Suncoast Regional Emmy for set design. Kaye also started his own company in 2003 called LunchboxCollector.com. Inc, which sold lunch boxes and assorted collectibles.
Meanwhile, his comics lay forgotten in the backyard shed, buried under “lizard eggs and all sorts of garbage,” said Kaye.
That was until 2011, when inspired by the many comic book movies in theaters, he unearthed his own comics. Kaye decided to use his money to professionally print and publish the nine Amphoman books through his own company.
He began to sell Amphoman online, but no brick-and-mortar store was willing to pick up the comic. Then Kaye approached Tate Ottati, the owner of Tate’s Comics at 4566 N. University Drive in Lauderhill.
Since Ottati opened his store in 1993, he has had a policy of assisting local comic book artists get their start, from buying their comics books to sell them in his store to helping them figure out how to publish their work.
Over the past 20 years, he has helped more than 50 South Floridians.
“It’s so difficult for an artist,” said Ottati. “I value that and support it.”
So when Ottati met with Kaye, the comic book store owner was more than willing to buy Kaye’s merchandise. The sale was a net loss for Kaye, but he didn’t care.
“That was the best day,” he said. “I kept those dollars as a memory.”
Now, 22 years after it was created, Amphoman is available for sale at Tate’s Comics alongside industry giants like Marvel and DC Comics.
Kaye is currently in the process of rewriting and updating his comics.
“I have evolved with this whole crazy story,” he said. “It’s not just a fake character. It’s who I am.”
Want to meet Mike Kaye, author of Amphoman?
What: Tate’s Comics “Not at Comic-Con 2013″
When: 2 to 4 p.m., July 20
Where: Tate’s Comics at 4566 N. University Drive.
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