Former Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory can now add another bullet point to his already impressive resume, which includes being this city’s top executive from 2005-13:
Well, Mallory’s not a real space pilot, but he voices one for a new cartoon produced in Cincinnati.
The locally created animated web series is titled Ravens of Mars, a science-fiction space tale depicting a cold war between Earth and a colonized Mars. Our former mayor voices an elite pilot with the call sign “YoloFlex.”
The Ravens of Mars website describes the character— whose real name is Darius Jackson — this way: “Few humans are designated as a full-blood member from one of the Five Tribes of Earth. His pure bloodline establishes his royalty status. However, he escaped to Mars abandoning his arranged marriage. He pilots the Dark Raven — the stealth raven designed for spying on the shipping lane.”
“YoloFlex is one of the main characters,” says Douglas Samuel Meyers, the show’s creator and director. “I wanted him to be this very suave, sophisticated character — a bit of a role model. He’s the calm one. He’s collected, intelligent. He’s a strong leader.”
Mallory is no stranger to a recording booth. He’s been taped in professional studios since childhood, when his mom encouraged him as a 9-year-old to voice a commercial for his father’s campaign for the state legislator. Mallory’s father, the late William L. Mallory Sr., served as an Ohio House representative for 28 years.
“So, I go to the studio and I cut this ad where I say, ‘Hi, I’m Mark Mallory. I’m only 9 years old and I’m not old enough to vote for my dad, but you are,’ ” he recalls. “The ad runs, it’s a big hit and everybody loves it. It’s cute because I’m a little kid. They asked me to do it again, then again and again. I was doing commercials for my dad up until the time he retired in 1994.”
The roots of the web series go back to a novel that Meyers, a Cincinnati native, originally wrote in 2003 called Adventures of the Manic Raven. The new animated series serves as a prequel to the book.
“I grew up in the Cold War era with the Soviet Union, and there was always this threat that one day we could wake up and there could be nuclear war,” Meyers says. “That’s a really bizarre way to grow up.”
Being brought up during an uncertain time, coupled with his love of classic animation and illustration, led Meyers to embrace his dream of running an animated show. Meyers is the creative director of 30 Graphics Unit, a locally based digital design department.
The first episode of Ravens of Mars launched Sept. 26. The full season will be released on a weekly basis, in segments spanning around five minutes. The character animation was provided by Flaming Medusa Studios, located in Mount Lookout.
The premiere episode, released just last week as an embedded video on the Ravens of Mars Facebook page, had nearly 2,000 views at the time of this story’s writing.
Mallory said he got involved in the project to demonstrate, through his participation, that Cincinnati is a destination city for independent artists.
“My thought process in running for mayor and then becoming mayor was that we needed to create a Cincinnati that people said they wanted to be in,” Mallory says. “If you have the chance to be somewhere you want to be, that causes you to put down your stakes. All of the other decisions become subsequent to that.
“Things like development of the arts community, the advancement of innovation, the support for small business startups, creating this vibrant environment that people want to be in — that’s what really enhances your ability to attract and retain the young professionals and creative types.”
Mallory won’t be leaving his consulting firm to become a full-time voice actor, but there’s always a chance the former mayor could put his skills as a space pilot to good use, should we ever have need of a real-life YoloFlex in the event Martians invade Cincinnati.
For more information about RAVENS OF MARS, visit ravensofmars.blogspot.com.