About The Guardian Line Creator
Many comic fans -- and those in-the-know when it comes to the world of animation -- have experienced the innate creativity and boundless imagination that is Michael Davis. He’s the architect behind The Guardian Line™ and co-creator of Static Shock!, a highly-rated, Emmy-award-winning WB & Cartoon Network show based on his life. Davis’ career began as an illustrator, but over the years he’s acquired a unique range of talents from artist and entrepreneur to teacher and mentor. And In 1992, Davis and three co-founders became pioneers with the creation of Milestone Media, which released an innovative, full-scale, multicultural universe of heroes and villains. The well-told stories appealed to Time Warner, resulting in one of the biggest joint-venture distribution deals in comics’ history. The new universe of characters was distributed alongside the media giant’s DC Comics.
Davis moved from Milestone to Motown in 1994, serving as president and CEO of animation and filmworks. His media company, Bad Boy Studios, which was founded back in 1987 (yes, before P. Diddy), continues to grow immensely and now has a mentor program with an impressive list of successful artists, directors and writers. In addition, he has created a line of educational materials called the “Action Files,” for Simon and Schuster. It’s the only reading curriculum based on comics that is taught in any school system. Davis comes to UMI as vice president of new media and shares his inspiration behind The Guardian Line™, its characters, and who will always be his superhero.
|Michael Davis at Comic-Con|
Q: Do you think The Guardian Line™ will have broad appeal?
A: There’s a spiritual base, yet these books are geared toward everyone -- they look and read like regular comics –- because they are! Our characters have a life and love and have frailties and everything else. Good versus evil…that’s the stories. Code is really about trying to serve God or not. His nemesis is all about temptation and going over to the dark side. The Seekers is really about the choices we make and who we choose to listen to. Joe and Max is really about two kids in the projects, Joe and Linda, his best friend. Now Joe happens to have his own Guardian Angel -- but don’t we all? Genesis 5 is about really cool high school kids who have real angels among them.
Q: How did you come up with the characters and premise?
A: Whenever I create a “universe,” I create the town first and populate the city. New families, different neighborhoods … all of those things build into it. I also do a lot of ‘What if?’ With Code it’s ‘What if you woke up one day with no memory but you knew your goal was to serve God and defeat evil...AND you were one bad so and so? Code is without a doubt one of the coolest character in our universe. Joe and Max have a simple premise -- ‘What if your imaginary friend was real and he was an angel?’ Genesis 5 –‘What if angels attended high school? The Seekers –‘What if you had a time-travel machine, what would you do?’
Q: What inspired you and three others to create Milestone Media?
A: Denys Cowan and I were at a comic book convention and he turned to me and said, “I wish we could get the best black creators in the business and do comics.” I said, “ The problem with that is that the best black creators in the business are idiots!” I was joking and we had a good laugh but he called me in a day or two and said, “I really want to do this.” So we sat down and came up with a list of things to do to make it work. His girlfriend at the time was an executive at DC and she thought DC Comics might be interested.
Q: You’ve said you have the best job in the world because each morning you wake up and get to make something up. Who is your real-life superhero?
A: My cousin William -- William T. Williams. He’s a serious artist who’s shown internationally and represented in more than 100 museums nationwide and abroad, including New York's Museum of Modern Art, the Studio Museum of Harlem, and the Whitney Museum. He was my mentor and he taught me my motto: Each one, teach one. I have a mentor program because of him. He's a phenomenal painter. My cousin is the most important man in the world to me. I grew up in New York in the projects. I was raised by my sister, mother, and grandmother. My sister and grandmother were both killed. That forged who I am today. I could have easily gone the way of being some kind of thug.
Q: How did William mentor you?
A: I was staying home most of the time and I loved drawing comic books. I’d go to his studio and as he was teaching me about art, he was also teaching me about the business of being an artist. Kings, queens, and presidents own his artwork. He went to the High School of Art and Design in New York, so did I. He went to the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn undergrad, I went to Pratt. The entire time he was telling me, “If you become an illustrator, you will starve, you will die.” In other words, if you don't do the work … if you don’t apply yourself like this is the only thing you have to do in your career, you will starve, you will die. I really wanted it.
Q: Your resume is impressive. What are you most proud of?
A: I was recognized by the Stockton school (now the Gordon Parks Academy) in East Orange, N.J. They named an auditorium after me. They were starting a magnet school for film, animation, radio, and TV, and they came to Hollywood to get an insight on the entertainment business. They met with a few studios but everyone they met with was a PR-type person. I met with them as the CEO of Motown Animation and spent half a day with them. I guess they were impressed with my passion and the fact that I was so young and energetic. They reviewed my achievements and named their auditorium after me. How cool is that?
-- Shari Noland