Kid, The Suit, The Comic — Zooooom!
comic fan John Taddeo has achieved every fan's dream: publication
of his own comic. Popular with parents and kids alike (even
girls!), Zoom Suit follows the
adventures of an ordinary teen who finds an alien super-powered
suit ... unfortunately, he's not the only one interested in
it. Taddeo took a few moments out of his very busy schedule
(comic, film, cons) to answer a few questions for ST.
Tart: Which comics did you read as a kid?
John Taddeo: I read everything, and I mean everything!
I couldn't buy them all, but when I was about eleven the man
that owned the smoke shop where I bought my comics took pity
on me and gave me a job sweeping up and stocking candy. For
about a half hour's work I could hang out there all day and
read every comic on the rack.
People would come in and I would start talking to them about
various comics and he noticed his comic sales rise when I
was hanging around, so when I was thirteen he gave me a job,
got rid of much of the smoke stuff and expanded the comics.
The pay became actual money, and I could still read the comics
I should have never left that job. Sweeping the floor and
reading the comics. You could do worse for a job.
ST: Which series do you read now?
JT: Well, I was at about 100 comics a month until about
June of 2004, and I had to cut some of my hobbies to work
on Zoom Suit. I started doing the
comic as a little hobby. I had no idea the workload involved
in making a comic series. There is nothing little about the
workload involved in making a comic book.
ST: How did the idea for Zoom
Suit come about?
JT: When I was a kid and saw the cover Iron
Man #118 I came up with the basic concept. See, way
back in the early eighties some of us suckers actually believed
the Marvel and DC
characters were in oxymoronic real fictional mortal danger
... so when I saw Tony falling from the SHIELD Heli-carrier
without the armor I was sure he was a dead man. I immediately
wondered who would find the armor.
I hope I'm not ruining it for anyone, but Tony lived.
I was disappointed because I thought it would be exciting
if someone else found the armor, and of course, like any little
kid, I imagined it was me. (There were a group of bullies
I would have liked to use those repulsor rays on — especially
Anthony Amonto. And Anthony, if you're reading this, now that
I'm 6 foot 230, I don't need the armor, and I haven't forgotten
about that little "Back pack in the sewer incident.")
So I rewrote the story as an extra credit book report — man,
I can't believe I'm saying this, between the bullies and extra
credit you're finding out what a friendless loser I am.
That story kept evolving over twenty years into Zoom
Suit #1, so you figure at this rate I'll get maybe
3 books out before I'm dead.
ST: What is the target audience for the series?
JT: The primary target is everyone! It's a feel good
story about a loser getting a break and becoming a winner
so we're taking on all comers ... 8 to 80, blind, cripple
or crazy ... and if they can't walk we'll drag'em.
Zoom Suit is written sort of like
Shrek or the old school Bugs Bunny
cartoons. The kids like this about it, but the adults like
this other stuff. It's not a kids book, but kids love Zoom
Suit. It's definitely not mature audiences, but adults
dig it. It's a great family comic in the sense that a parent
and kid can read it, both find it cool and then talk about
it or share the secrets that they've found in the book.
I'm also very surprised at the number of girls reading Zoom
Suit. Of about 2,000 Team Zoom Members almost 500 are
girls. Further proof that chicks dig a man in uniform.
If you want to get all the inside gags it helps if you're
a longtime comic and pop culture fan. It's a very broad audience.
ST: Will we ever learn who the Zeta Reticulans are?
Their origin? Why they ended on Earth?
JT: Actually you can find out more about who they are
and why they are here by dialing the phone number that was
hidden in Zoom Suit #1. Since the
book came out I'll give you the number to help get you started,
There are hidden web sites, hidden gags, hidden pop culture
references throughout the series. I wanted Zoom
Suit to be the most bang for the comic buck so aside
from the card stock covers and MetalFX you also get 36 story
pages and a ton of clues that can lead you to internet games,
flash movies and hidden web sites. It's a very interactive
ST: Would the suit have fit anyone, and it was just
chance that Myles found it? Or did fate play a hand?
JT: Well ... there are more clues about that in issue
#3, so without ruining it I can say that all the main characters'
lives are much more intertwined than they might know. If you
read Simon's choice of words in issue #1 carefully you'll
find clues that could lead you to the answers you seek.
The fun thing for readers about Zoom Suit
is that I wrote 13 issues at once, so you're getting clues
every step of the way. In issue #1 a major villain made a
cameo, did you see her? Also, issue #2 reveals another major
villain that won't officially come to light until the second
I even hid anagrams and other clues in interviews such as
this so make sure you always read carefully. It's a mistake
to rush through Zoom Suit.
Brittany suddenly changes attire on page twenty-two of
the first issue. So, was that really due to forty-straight
hours of pencilling or was that a joke? :)
JT: Well, we made it a joke, but that's exactly how
it happened. I received the page and was like wtf? So I called
Billy and said, "Dude ... this is your brain on drugs. You
screwed up a costume on the same page, neighbor panels?"
And Billy was like, "Ugh, could you put an editors note that
says 'Moments later after a quick change?'"
So I said, "Well, I could ... but I won't. I'm going to celebrate
our screw ups by pointing them out."
The impetus to point out when we screw up is that's what friends
do. We break each others stones. I want Zoom
Suit fans to feel like they're on the inside. Not that
your reading just any comic, but you're reading your friend
John's comic. Comics isn't my business, it's my passion, so
it's all about having a good time, making friends, and breaking
their stones in public.
ST: And Myles' Mom's reaction when she finds out
what her son has been up to ...?
JT: She hasn't found out yet! After Simon smacked the
snot out of her in issue #2 she was rushed to NSA. Funny scene
coming up in issue #3 when she wakes up in an operating room
next to a Zeta Reticulan. It ships July 5th.
ST: Who exactly is Dr. Tesla? And how does she know
that Myles has
JT: Oh ... you have no idea what a good question this
is ... that I can't answer — sorry.
But I will say Dr. Tesla definitely knows more than she has
revealed so far ... she definitely seems to know an awful
lot about Myles as well, doesn't she?
You will get a huge clue to their secret relationship and
what happened when they met in issue #3.
ST: All the references to other characters and comics
in Zoom Suit are a lot of fun. How
do you come up with them?
JT: I just make all that stuff up. I've been screwing
around with comics since the 80's. When I worked for Marvel
I wanted to reprint a few of the series with a Mystery
Science Theater 3000 slant. Basically reprint the books
and just rip on them in fun like the MST3K
tv show did with films. The suits/executives didn't get it.
They were baffled like, "You want to make fun of your own
characters? We would never make fun of our characters."
Well, maybe they're brilliant and I'm a screw I don't take
myself to seriously. Life is too short to not have fun.
ST: Any favs? Any you had to drop?
JT: I try to hide a few things on every page, so it's
tough for me to keep track. The alien Zhan has what I believe
to be the funniest line to date in issue #3, but he has another
ripper in #4.
I didn't drop or remove any jokes because the book has a comedic
element in a South Park type manner
— only clean and all ages. They're only jokes, and more importantly
they aren't the type of gags that are meant to be malicious
or to hurt.
The brand of humor in Zoom Suit is
meant to celebrate our comic culture, not ridicule it. I love
Marvel comics. I love DC
comics. I'm a subscriber to CBG and
Wizard. I love everything about comics;
all the humor is done out of love.
ST: I love the fact that the characters complain
to artist Bill Dallas Patton. Whose idea was that?
JT: I give my artists the script and breakdowns and
let them crank out the pages. Once I get the pages I start
adding stuff, and adding and adding. If Billy or Keron draw
a character I'm going to give them a personality. I love backgrounds,
but if the artists use people as backgrounds you're going
to know who they are and what they're thinking. I think all
that background chatter is funny and brings the book to life
in a new dimension.
Great scene in issue #2 — Four of the main characters are
in this heated meeting, but Keron drew five people in the
room. So while Tesla, Agent Mann, General Nails and Sutherland
are arguing, here's this other dude thinking, "I think I'm
in the wrong meeting ... how am I going to get out of here?"
Meanwhile the rest of the gang is wondering who the heck this
ST: What has gone into making the Zoom
Suit animated shorts?
JT: Two years of ten hour days. I had no idea how much
work would be necessary to make that happen when I started.
But I'm equally as surprised at how successful it's been.
The first animated short has been in 84 film festivals to
date — which I'm told is a world record, so we just recently
applied. Meanwhile the second film was accepted sight unseen
to over a dozen festivals — that's unheard of. If you get
to the end of that internet challenge using that phone number
I gave you, you'll be able to view Zoom
Suit 2 online, as well as get a free Zoom
These festivals get thousands of entries, so just to be one
of the ten or twenty official selections is an honor. Once
we are chosen, we're competing with these incredible shorts
including 3D projects that when they roll the credits it looks
like a small country worked on it; meanwhile Zoom
Suit is two guys and a few interns animating in Flash.
Despite those facts, and the miniscule budget our "rag tag"
Team Zoom still manages to hold our own. We've won dozens
of awards and prizes over the past year and we all feel the
second film is much better than the first.
ST: How are you attracting talent for the voices
— and narrowing the field to the perfect candidates? :)
JT: We put up a casting section at our site with photos
of the characters and descriptions, then we accepted submissions
digitally. Some folks were doing their readings right into
their laptop with a $10 mic, so technology and prior experience
were not huge concerns. If you had the voice we wanted we
worked it out.
If folks are interested in doing a voice, check Superverse
often because we update the site weekly and there's always
new info. When I'm ready to cast again for my next project
the info will be at the Superverse site.
ST: What other projects are you working on?
JT: Zoom Suit 2 for 2007!
We sold 20,000 copies of Zoom Suit
#1 and 11,000 of #2. Orders for #3 are over 10k, so at that
rate I'll have sold 50,000 Zoom Suit
comics over 4 issues. For a tiny company with no marketing
budget that's a serious number. It tells me that fans and
retailers alike really stepped up for the book and after such
a warm welcome I don't want to let them down with sub par
stories, art or lateness.
Plus, the letters are screaming for more info and "what happens
next", so I think if I'm late with the next series the fans
will kill me. I'm staying focused on Zoom
for thirteen issues before moving to or adding another project.
I'd rather sell 50,000 copies of a well received comic series
like Zoom Suit than release five
different series that each sell 10,000 total copies. Quite
a few companies have come and gone because they over extended
and moved too quick. Slow and steady wins the race.
ST: Which conventions will you be attending this
JT: Hero Con, San
Diego, Chicago and anywhere
else I'm invited. I love to attend shows so I go to as many
as I can get out to. But if you can't make it to a con, many
of the Zoom Suit issues and some
of the special editions that we have left are available at