Mack the Knife

Stan Mack of Real Life Funnies fame has produced a lighthearted look at cyber crime, “Max & The Black Bots,” with enough tech to give it oomph. It’ll run in Mediapost for 15 segments. I asked Mack to talk a little about this crazy cyber rabbit hole. It is indeed fantastical.

part 1 hacked
What prompted your interest in the cyber world?
For the past three years I reported on advertising and media in my “Real Mad” comic strip for the online publisher Mediapost. Much of the action centered on big data, social media, the interconnectivity of devices, and especially the growing worldwide specter of cyber espionage. I was fascinated by cyber skulduggery but stymied by the difficulty of getting access to a secretive world.

Where are you getting your cyber facts?
At a cyber conference where he was a speaker, I met Alan W. Silberberg, the owner of Digijaks, a cyber security firm. I worked with him on a “Real Mad” comic based on his experiences, and he said the times are ripe for a cyber superhero comic strip. Aha, I thought, Flash Gordon meets Richard Feynman. So with Alan as guru and expert, and turning to other tech hotshots, scientists, the black hole of Google and my Mediapost contacts, I birthed “Max and the Black Bots.”

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How many installments will you do?
I’ve planned 15 segments (each with its own mini-cliffhanger), which are the first adventure and the origin of the superhero team: Annie, a smart-ass techie, and Max, a cyber detective.

Do you have a sense of what the conclusion will be?
This first adventure ends with justice meted out and my new super cyber sleuth duo assembled. In the 15th segment, a drone carrying a message crashes through a window (a 21st century brick with a note tied to it) and sets up a cliffhanger for the next adventure, which will see our heroes caught in a web of international intrigue.

What happens if you’re hacked and someone steals your comic identity?
Once, back in The Village Voice days, a friend told me he was at a bar doodling on a napkin when a good-looking woman came on to him by asking if he was Stan Mack (never happened to me). He said, with an anticipatory smile, “yes.” Anyone tries to breach my firewall today, I’ll hit ‘em in the face with an algorithmic malpie.

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