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February 20, 2013

Royal Oak author embarks on a comic book quest

By Elizabeth Scussel
C & G Staff Writer

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Royal Oak author embarks on a comic book quest
Royal Oak resident Dominic Riggio, right, stands with Detroit native and former pro wrestler Kevin Nash during last year’s Chicago Comic Con.

ROYAL OAK — Perhaps inside all of us, there lies a superhero — one who longs to lurk in the shadows and save lives, do good deeds and right the wrongs of the world — all while masking our identities. Dominic Riggio is doing just that; he is channeling his inner superhero, but in a different way.

In 2010, Riggio, 34, started an independent publishing company called Mess Bucket Comics, and he is the sole writer of “The Arcane Awakening” graphic novel series. Riggio plans on releasing the trilogy of books one at a time, with the help of a Kickstarter program, and the monetary support of family, friends and fans.

Riggio’s love for graphic novels began at a young age.

“I remember the first time I was introduced to comics in the fifth grade. I went to my friend’s house and he started showing me his collection. I began to read and got lost in a world of capes, colors, outrageous powers, and girls in spandex with unimaginable curves,” Riggio said. “My friend told me he would be right back, forgot I was still upstairs in his room, and went to the mall with his family. My friend and his family came back home from the mall four hours later, and were shocked to find that I was still reading comics. I went home and got yelled at, but it was so worth it.”

On Feb. 12, Riggio initiated a 30-day fundraising drive, and is currently seeking donations to offset the cost of publishing and marketing his trilogy.

“The first book in the trilogy is ‘The Arcane Awakening.’ This (Kickstarter) campaign will fund the final two books in the trilogy, and any proceeds will go directly toward marketing the books. I have already written the next two stories and can’t wait to finish this unique and compelling story,” he said. “I have hired many talented artists from around the country to provide the stunning visuals for ‘The Arcane Awakening,’ since I have zero artistic ability.”

Riggio explained he always wanted to be involved in entertainment of some kind, and at first, he was unsure of how to approach it. He then discovered he could tell his story in a relatively inexpensive way — through a comic book.

“I guess the idea came to me after 12 years of Catholic school,” Riggio said. “My stories are not preachy or churchy, even though they are partially based on religion. The reader does not need a vast knowledge of religion to enjoy the story.”

This is not Riggio’s full-time job, but he hopes one day it will be. Currently, Riggio owns a car wash in Madison Heights, a small home-cleaning company, and he organizes a hockey charity called The Frozen Fish Fiasco. In fact, it was Riggio’s love for hockey that spawned the colorful name of his publishing company.

“I’ve played hockey my whole life. The term ‘Mess Bucket’ is such obscure hockey lingo that I haven’t met one hockey player to this date that has even caught on when they heard it mentioned,” he said. “Mess was the nickname for Mark Messier, a Hall of Fame hockey player, and bucket is a term often used for a hockey player’s helmet. Mess wore a classic old Winnwell bucket adored by many fans. What most people don’t know is that when Mess took off his bucket, he could barely skate. He channeled his hockey skill through his magical helmet, and I am attempting to steal that magic by naming my company after this glorious piece of equipment.”

Riggio describes his comic books as “X-Men” meets “The Da Vinci Code.”

“All the main characters’ abilities originate from a human descendant and an angelic or demonic being. Stigmata is the leader of The Ministry and the protagonist. He is the descendant of Archangel Michael and Alexander the Great. He bleeds from his head, hands and feet when feeling any type of strong emotion.”

“Fuhrer is the leader of The Demonic Blight, and the antagonist. He is the descendant of Lucifer and Adolf Hitler. He has a pentagram burned onto his chest that blasts hell fire at enemies. The Blight and The Ministry fight for God and Lucifer one last time for all the marbles — humanity and earth — winner take all,” he said.

Friend and fellow fantasy world aficionado Chad Perry said Riggio’s book is a unique graphic novel that left him wanting more.

“I’ll spare the hyperbole that often accompanies comic book reviews, and it would probably sound even worse, since I personally know the guy that wrote it,” Perry said. “However, by providing the entire first story, I got the instant gratification that we all really want.”

Riggio had a table at the Wizard World Comic Con in Chicago last year, and the Detroit FanFare in Dearborn. He plans on attending more this year, including the Motor City Comic Con in Novi and C2E2 in Chicago. He is also in the running for a contest to win graphic novel of the year with Readersfavorite.com.

“I’ve met some incredibly talented people, and learned some great tips, as well. I’ve had some classic celebrity run-ins. I had a beer with Lou Ferrigno, who played The Hulk in the 1970s television series. He is a great guy. We’ve even had America’s Next Top Model winner Adrianne Curry holding our book. She was very into me — well, that’s what I kept telling her. All the celebrities have been fantastic,” Riggio said.

It’s not just the celebrities who have been supportive to Riggio. He has received immeasurable encouragement from those closest to him.

“My friends and family have been beyond supportive,” he said. “Starting a company with nothing but determination and a dream is not easy. There are new roadblocks all the time. The first “Arcane Awakening” took me two years to complete, from start to finish. People doubted that it would ever get done. My friends and family always supported me and kept telling me to chase my dream.”

And his dreams know no bounds. Riggio hopes to one day create an animated movie or series, along with “Arcane” merchandise like toys, trading cards and T-shirts.

“At the top of the mountain is a live action movie for which the movie script is already written,” Riggio said. “At a very young age, I was fascinated how still pictures on a comic book page could transform into a vivid movie in the reader’s mind. I still have that child-like appreciation for the art form today. I want to continue to bring more original stories to the superhero genre. I am motivated by my passion for storytelling.”

For more information, visit www.messbucketcomics.com. To help support Dominic’s cause, visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/1546761130/the-arcane-awakening.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Elizabeth Scussel at escussel@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1037.