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Michael Mendheim brings "The Four Horsemen" to Heavy Metal

Chicago-based writer teams with Simon Bisley to tell apocalyptic tale

May 31, 2012|Elliott Serrano, for Redeye

When I attended the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) this past Spring, I met Chicago-based writer Michael Mendheim. He was at the show promoting his new graphic novel series "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse", an action/fantasy series that is published under the iconic Heavy Metal banner.

"The Four Horsemen" tells the story of Adam Cahill, a gritty action hero chosen by fate to stave off the end of the world. First conceived as a video game, Mendheim fought to bring the story to the medium of graphic novels.

For Mendheim, creating the series has been a struggle almost as epic as the one his hero goes through in the book. To his credit, he has succeeded in bringing Adam Cahill to life on the four-colored page, with the help of comics superstar Simon Bisley no less.

With promotions for The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in full swing, Michael Mendheim took some time to answer questions about the book, and even offer a FREE COPY of the book for one lucky Geek To Me reader!:

Geek To Me: I see that you were debuting your new book "Heavy Metal: The Four Horsemen" at the show. How did the book come about?

Michael Mendheim: The concept for Four Horsemen originally started as a videogame at the 3DO Company. This was back in 2001. I was the Creative Director / Producer for the title and hired Simon Bisley along with Academy Award winner / special effects guru, the late Stan Winston to help us with the early character designs. The game was coming along nicely but then 3DO endured financial hardship when the tech bubble burst and they filed for bankruptcy. Rather than let the property die and my dream disintegrate, I purchased 4H out of bankruptcy – it took about 18 months for the property to clear but once it did, I owned it free and clear and then tried to get the game back into development... but the timing was not right so instead decided to write a graphic novel. I called up Simon and pitched him the idea and he was on board.

It took another few years to get the books finished, part of this was because of scheduling conflicts and a lot of it because of finances (I personally financed the project with some help from family members). Four Horsemen is an epic story, with epic art and nothing about this project has been small or easy. It's consists of 3 books, totaling about 213 pages. Trying to get
the book completed has been a never-ending, uphill battle and not for the faint of heart. Anyone who is sane would’ve quit years ago but I’m not sane and either is Simon -- so somehow it all worked out and it got it finished. One thing I learned from finishing this beast is to never give up and always believe.

Geek To Me: What kinds of fans do you see getting into "The Four Horsemen"? Does it lean towards fantasy? Will fans of the sci-fi punk Heavy Metal era enjoy it?

Michael Mendheim: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Graphic Novel has the potential to draw from a variety of different fan bases, obviously if you're a Simon Bisley fan this graphic novel series is a must have. It’s the first graphic novel from Simon Bisley in over a decade and has some of Simon’s best work to date. One reviewer wrote, “It's almost as if the pages are drenched in ink that's evil.” That pretty much sums it up.

The book is for fans that enjoy well paced action mixed with horror elements. Think “The Matrix goes to Hell.” The hero of our story is Adam Cahill, he is a warrior bound by bloodline to guard
the Seven Holy Seals that contain the End of Days. But sinister forces strike against him and send him into Hell itself. There, he must find three corrupt souls (an addict, a serial killer and a
corrupt politician), chosen by Divinity, to join him in battle against the Four Horsemen to not only save their own souls, but to decide the very fate of Humanity."

The villains in most other comics are the heroes in Four Horsemen. We use religion and the end of days as a backdrop to our story, which is about 4 people coming to terms with their inner
demons and overcoming their fears and doubt. The underlying theme drives home the point that no matter how bad you are whatever sinful acts you've done, it's never too late to change and for those willing to sacrifice to make a change -- redemption is possible.

Geek To Me: Heavy Metal is a title I remember from my days as a comic-book geek in high school! What does it mean working under such a prestigious banner?

Michael Mendheim: Heavy Metal is known throughout the world, it is synonymous with cutting edge art, art that is brash and unashamed. Heavy Metal was one of the first magazines to view the world of comics as serious art. The artwork in Heavy Metal is beautiful, sexy, edgy and prolific as is Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse -- so it was a natural fit.

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