Modern Hero

First, they made a film about a fictional comic-book junkie. Now, Ted Sikora and Milo Miller are writing a real comic inspired by their main character's alter ego.

Three years ago, two Cleveland guys dreamed up an unorthodox superhero and created a movie about what happens when a comics creator becomes too obsessed with his creation. The result, Hero Tomorrow, made the film-festival rounds, generated some buzz and then, like many independent movies, ended up a DVD release.

But this month, Ted Sikora and Milo Miller are writing a new chapter for their superhero, Apama: The Undiscovered Animal.

From an artistic perspective, Apama is a throwback to the look and feel of the comics of the '70s. The modern twist is that the 25-page comic is an online read. It will premiere at on July 15.

"It's completely backwards," Sikora says. "Most people get a comic book and then make a movie out of it; we're doing things in reverse."

He stresses that Apama is not merely an adaptation of Hero Tomorrow. Instead, it envisions the comic book that the film's main character, David, tries to create before suiting up as his imagined superhero and hitting the streets himself. "If David could have gotten Apama published, this would be that book," Sikora explains.

And like the movie, which was filmed entirely in Northeast Ohio, the city of Cleveland serves as a backdrop for the action.

"All the fights and battles take place on the streets of Cleveland," Sikora says. "We're kind of wallowing in Cleveland. We love it."

Sikora says he and Miller chose Spanish artist Benito Gallego from more than 100 people who expressed interest in drawing the comic because "his style really had that 1970s flavor" they grew up with.

The online comic is free, and Sikora says he hopes it will bring new fans to the Hero Tomorrow DVD and Apama merchandise, which will generate revenue to keep the series going.

"In a profound way, I realized while doing this that comics are so superior to [superhero] movies because they're the real thing," Sikora says. "That really is the real Spider-Man on the page. Hollywood does a facsimile of it, but the real Spider-Man lives in the comic."

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