To fully understand the complete, complex and tragic history of Ocelot training in the United States; one must know the story of Michael R Colbert. Born to a father specializing in giant slug husbandry and a croquet champion mother Mike’s childhood was typical of the bustling proto- metropolis of Pittsfield, MA; searching for aluminum can by the train tracks, turkey shoots in the fall, hanging out by the Miller light billboard on warm humid summer evenings. Two things distinguished Michael from the other Pittsfieldian teens: 1 – A complete finger and toe count and 2 – A fascination with occupations destined to become obsolete – Radio broadcasting, Comic book writing and Ocelot training. Of course at the time no one could foresee how each field would be affected by future technologies, entrenched habits
of consumers and that Ocelots make terrible pets, trained or otherwise.
After acquiring an associate degree in theater (Which Michael fully admits he did to “score chicks”) at Berkshire Community College he packed up his bags, filled the ol’ Chevy Impala with high test and headed for the west coast and the notorious and world renowned Mr. T’s Ocelot training academy and Pizza Fun-O’-Rama in Santa Barbara. The early 90’s were an exciting, anything is possible, experimental time in the Ocelot training community and the culture at large. As everyone who lived through it can attest. The rise in Ocelot popularity
mirrored but had no relationship, even tangentially, with Grunge, hip-hop and the new indie film scene. Chevy Chase was rumored to be into Ocelot training. Santa Barbara became ground zero for the burgeoning alternative Ocelot training culture and Michael was in the thick of it. He specialized in Ocelots jumping through flaming hoops and Ocelots not maiming their owners. To paraphrase the famous song from legendary pop band Timbuck 3; The future’s so bright Mike had to wear shades.
Then tragedy struck and the world of Ocelot training was never to be the same. There is no need to go over again the well documented details of the collapse of the Ocelot training community; that’s already folklore and part of the history books. Mr. T’s academy closed in shame and Michael was left with being an overnight radio personality at a local radio station and handling the mini-gun on a recon missions through the Montecito badlands. He also remembered liking movies and went to Brooks institute of Photography receiving a bachelor degree in film. Film making not really being as glamorous as Ocelot training but hey, a man’s gotta eat.
It should be noted that during these mad, groundbreaking times Michael had stopped reading comic books altogether.
Michael’s career in film and TV is one of geek culture legend: Babylon 5, Crusade, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Torchwood, not working on Enterprise, knowing Keanu Reeves’ stand in from The Matrix sequels, and being personally fired from his column in Babylon 5 magazine by BAFTA nominee and Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors scribe J. Michael Straczynski. It was during the Babylon 5 years where Michael befriended future Pyr books mastermind, bacon apologist (and writer of this book’s afterward) Lou Anders. One day, after reading a time travel script Michael had shown him, Lou said the fateful words “Have you heard of a comic called The Invisibles?” What followed was an exposure to the new and exciting comics being done, mostly on the Vertigo label; Preacher, Transmetropolitian, Planetary… etc. Michael had rediscovered an art form he had left behind when Magneto went bad guy for the nineteenth time. This exciting mature direction in comics inspired Michael to abandon his shattered dream of Ocelot training and take up comic writing in its place. Crazy Mary is one of many projects Michael has written since. And though he’ll never stop teaching Ocelots to not eat live chickens in front of small children, the love of creating characters and adventures in the medium of sequential art is a reasonable substitute.
Writer: Crazy Mary