Tyrese Gibson updates us on Mayhem, his new superhero comic

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

Tyrese Gibson is an actor, singer and producer who can now add "comic-book creator" to his ever-expanding resume: The first issue of his debut comic, Tyrese Gibson's Mayhem, will be published in August by Image Comics.

SCI FI Wire spoke to Gibson by telephone late last month. The following are edited excerpts from our exclusive interview.

So now you're in the comic-book business? Where are things at with Mayhem?

Gibson: Listen, I have to tell you this, the presales of Mayhem are already at 5,000 in two weeks. That's just the presales, and it doesn't come out until August the 5th. I am so damn excited about this energy. Yesterday this woman called in from Texas. She's a huge comic-book fan, and she works a lot with kids, and she bought 1,000 over the phone. I can't even express my gratitude. It's unbelievable, the love and support that's happening with Mayhem. Eric Stephenson and Robert Kirkman and Todd McFarlane over at Image Comics have given me the opportunity of a lifetime, and my responsibility is to help make this the best comic book ever, that the fans out there can experience.

But why comic books?

Gibson: I'm not a comic-book veteran. I don't have this long, 20-year relationship with comic books. But I am one to say that I went to Comic-Con last year when I was promoting Death Race with my man Jason Statham, and the energy just blew my head off. I just could not believe the energy and the passion that was in that building, and it affected me so much. So instead of me sitting back and waiting on Luke Cage and Black Panther and Captain America to be green-lit officially, it became one of those things where I not only wanted to be a part of this world, I wanted to introduce people to something. And that's when the world of Mayhem was created.

There are so few African-American protagonists in comic books, yet on the cover of issue number one, the character is wearing a mask. Will we get to see this guy without his mask?

Gibson: You'll just have to read and see. You'll just have to read and see. There's a reason why he wears the mask. There was some abuse that took place when he was a child, and so there are some scars and things that are on his face that Mayhem is ashamed of. And that's why he wears his mask.

On a day-to-day creative basis, how involved are you with Mayhem?

Gibson: It's written by Mike Le and Will Wilson, and my man Tone Rodriguez is doing all the art on it. I've got my hands in there. I'm writing. I'm critiquing and picking apart, but I'm a more visual guy. I'm just making sure that, visually, it fits and it goes in a direction that I want it to go in. And I'm the marketing guy. I'm the guy that wants to tell as many as people as possible about this comic book.