The Vi Empire Story

I have always wanted to be a comic book artist, but life had other plans for me.

The Vi Empire has been an idea for as long as I can remember. At first, I didn't think that I could do the book justice, so I quit my technology company and made the long journey from L.A. to N.J. and attended the Joe Kubert school. After a year and a half, I came back to L.A. I knew I couldn't make a living as a comic book artist and went back to working in the tech sector. There I met Richard Gold and, with his love of comics, we became friends. While doing my interview, Richard was one of the engineer's present. He found out I loved comics too, so he gave me a fun pop quiz, "What is the significance of HULK 181?" I asked for a hint, and as soon as he mentioned Canada, I knew it had to be Wolverine's first appearance.

During our lunch hours, we discussed the idea of VI EMPIRE. We even took some classes in one of the local colleges to write/create your comic. The teacher explained that he was working on his current comic, and it was taking years. Both Richard and I laughed at that later. Our comic wouldn't go that route.

How very wrong we were. Here we are, ten years later, publishing our sweat, blood, and tears, and we couldn't be prouder of this moment. We tried the first run at the script. We knew what we wanted but got writer's block trying to fill in the details, dialog, world-building, and so on. We were way over our heads, so we reached out to one of my old teachers in Joe Kubert school—Michael Kraiger-who connected us with Stuart Moore.

Immediately, we searched and googled Stuart. We were so happy to have Stuart that in my head, we were already working together. Stuart had to tell me to slow down: "I have to listen to the pitch before I agree." After email discussions and a Skype call, he finally agreed, and we began our journey.

Receiving the comic's first outline and seeing our plot points fleshed out, my heart skipped a few beats. It was so good. We will make the script available on our site soon, along with a lot of early sketches.

We persuaded Kim DeMulder, one of my other beloved teachers from the Kubert school, to ink the book, and recruited David Curiel for the coloring. At the time, David was not at Marvel, or if I remember correctly, he had just started to work with them.

started to pencil the comic, but soon it became clear that it was impossible to juggle work, life, comics, and everything else.

Enter one of the most established veterans of comic book art: Val Semieks. I couldn't believe I was working with Val.

Imagine, if you will, as a child having idols and, at some point, not just meeting them but collaborating with them. I have checked off boxes on my bucket list that I didn't even know I had.

Being a comic fan, we know what it's like to read comics and geek out. That said, we made sure to purchase all the artwork so that we can give back to our fans. We will also host an online live discussion/panel with the fans so we can answer questions—date and time to be determined.

For now, we hope you will enjoy our story as much as we did create and publishing it.

-Max
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