With the present second crammed with a lot uncertainty and dread, it’s all the time an fascinating head journey to think about the counterfactual: what if this occasion or that occasion occurred as an alternative? Definitely, students of historical past think about the choices and political pundits lament concerning the insurance policies which have may need been enacted, however most important takes on various historical past have all the time leaped from the pages of science fiction and fantasy. In fact, the style itself is nothing new, however it’s all the time thrilling to see new takes on historical past, particularly historical past that isn’t dissected as a lot within the common tradition.
Cue up THE JEKYLL ISLAND CHRONICLES collection from Prime Shelf/IDW. A pastiche of pulp, punk, and wild creativeness, Jekyll Island revels in wild conspiracy and rip-roaring journey. Set within the interregnum between the World Wars (however leaning nearer to the top of the First), the story explores the intersection and consequence of energy, notably in an age the place political disagreement typically meant societal upheaval.
Uniquely, the collection is the product not of veterans of the business, however the Misplaced Mountain Mechanicals, who’re described as “three working grown-ups, all with households and all with careers, who simply determined to do one thing totally different.” These three self-described “grown-ups”–Ed Crowell, Jack Lowe, and Steve Nedvidek–took their concept and, with the assistance of Kickstarter, launched their dream. I had the chance to interview Nedvidek just lately concerning the Jekyll Island Chronicles. We chatted about the place the thought for the books got here from, the attraction of the varied punks (diesel and steam, respectively!), and the alternatives that crowdfunding has for creators.
AJ FROST: Hello Steve. Thanks a lot for taking the time to talk. I suppose I need to begin off by asking about the place your fascination with various historical past comes from. Why is counterfactual historical past such a ripe matter for storytellers? And the way does the medium of comics permit writers and artists to stretch the bounds of the style?
STEVE NEDVIDEK: I feel that basically good storytelling begins with the idea of fact. It ought to all have a grain of human fact, in order that it could possibly join with the reader, however I like when one thing can tie again to actual life occasions. I discover it makes me curious and I need to do additional digging. Was this ALL true? Was a few of it true? How a lot? And so forth. and so forth. We hope that the alternate historical past in The Jekyll Island Chronicles helps individuals to ask these sorts of questions. We found SO MUCH historic reality as we researched for this collection—we have been, and are, nonetheless blown away by it! In as we speak’s world, studying what’s true and what’s not has by no means been extra necessary. We stay in a world that traffics in half-truths and even boldface lies. Nowadays, it is necessary for the reader to know it’s their duty is to find what’s true. Our guide is definitely being taught in faculties, each from a historic standpoint, but in addition to assist college students study to dig for themselves into the “alt” a part of alt historical past.
FROST: As a author, what was it concerning the internecine interval between World Warfare I and World Struggle II that evokes you as a author? Are you an avid reader of this historical past? What was the spark that pushed you in the direction of utilizing this specific second—virtually a century in the past now—because the sandbox on which to construct this narrative?
NEDVIDEK: All three of us creators had household ties to grandparents that have been both in WWI or related to it. So, all of us had an curiosity from that perspective. However we additionally noticed this time as being such an thrilling, and fragile, interval of historical past. The world had modified. Nations have been shaped, swallowed up, or ceased to exist. Know-how was going loopy. Individuals have been constructing new issues. And there have been many individuals who have been struggling. We don’t study rather a lot about this time in class, and we thought it was value exploring. All of us are avid readers of historical past, and all of us have our specific tastes, however this period contained the mother and father that gave delivery to “The Biggest Era”. We thought it was fertile floor for a narrative.
FROST: Relatedly, The Jekyll Island Chronicles takes place within the years instantly after the First World Conflict. The state of the world on the time was a lot in flux. What drew you to this historic time interval?
NEDVIDEK: For me personally, I had an expertise in school that drew me to this timeframe. I used to be capable of be part of a satirical musical from Joan Littlewood referred to as “Oh, What A Pretty Conflict!” It was all concerning the Nice Conflict, the way it got here to be, and the human implications inside it. It actually shook me. It modified my perspective, so I’ve since that point been drawn to that world. In mild of the truth that we simply celebrated the 100h anniversary of the top of the struggle, I used to be truly stunned extra theatre corporations hadn’t picked up producing that highly effective piece.
FROST: To not get too political, however what does it say that a few of the most outstanding characters—President Woodrow Wilson, Rockefeller, Carnegie, and Vanderbilt, and so on.—are oligarchs? Certainly, their real-life counterparts weren’t so into preventing world conspiracies of evil. Why select these characters?
NEDVIDEK: These truly aren’t the primary characters in our story. We purposely put these characters within the second and third circle of significance. They’ve vital affect on this world, to make certain, however our primary characters are literally the WWI veterans that develop into our excessive tech motion heroes. The opposite factor to recollect is that Jekyll Island is an actual place. 1/6 of the world’s wealth lived there throughout a part of the yr. That reality allowed us to create an fascinating place for the story to unfold and people males have been merely part of that historic world. And don’t overlook that Carnegie gave away greater than $300 million in his lifetime, together with constructing a community of libraries all throughout the nation. His aim was to offer all his wealth away earlier than he died–and we appreciated that about him. If any character is extra of a primary character, it’s him.
This story takes place, as do most tales, in a political world. The politics of that point, particularly because the story progresses, trigger the world to splinter once more. However we would like the story to truly converse to the human aspect of issues, not the political aspect of issues. So we have a tendency to not focus a lot on that half.
FROST: Setting apart non-fiction sources which offered a few of the primary framework for the setting, what comics did you flip to for inspiration whereas writing your books?
NEDVIDEK: All of us grew up studying comics as youngsters–Spider-Man, Implausible 4, Batman. Our writing room has an entire carousel of them! I might say, usually, these comics function a basis to our work. Journey books did the identical factor. All of us grew up studying that stuff. All of us love movie and TV, too. When you look intently in our books, you will notice many Easter Eggs to a number of the issues we love and we pay homage to–the whole lot from Dr. Who to An American Werewolf in London. Oh, and Joe Alves, the man who constructed the shark for Jaws, makes a cameo. All these nice fictional/cultural influences pop up sometimes.
FROST: Apart from being an alternate historic piece of fiction, the Jekyll Island Chronicles is closely impressed by a steampunk aesthetic. In principle, it feels that this mix doesn’t work. What’s it about this retro-future look that fascinates so many individuals?
NEDVIDEK: We have now came upon that there are a LOT of several types of punk if you wish to get technical about it. That was a part of what we’re always studying, as we meet totally different individuals who punk in another way. Steampunk, dieselpunk, cyberpunk, and so forth. Steampunk is the phrase that’s mostly used, and typically describes greater than its precise time interval. Our story is extra dieselpunk that something. We take the know-how of the time (Tesla, Ford, Steinmetz for instance) and stretch it out to what may need been potential if it didn’t need to be commercialized. For instance, we requested a curious query like “What would Henry Ford’s private automotive have been like?” Issues like bulletproof glass and air con hadn’t been commercialized but, however science was making them potential. How may Ford have used that? How may Carnegie have used metal if he didn’t need to business the trouble? In consequence, the dieselpunk vibe works very nicely for our timeframe. We get to stretch the know-how past the capabilities of the time.
The humorous factor about it’s once we take our Cosplay characters round Comedian Con, we don’t get lots of people who parse the punk. They merely love the truth that we’re distinctive and that they appear tremendous cool. There’s nothing fairly like what we’re doing, that’s for positive.
FROST: The Jekyll Island Chronicles was launched courtesy of a Kickstarter marketing campaign. What do you see as probably the most promising and extra detrimental results of crowdfunding inside the subject of comics?
NEDVIDEK: Most promising: You get individuals concerned and also you get them excited early about your undertaking. You construct an viewers of like-minded individuals who care about what you’re doing. This provides you one thing to speak about and provides you a hit story.
Most detrimental: Should you do a Kickstarter and set a aim and don’t attain it, you don’t get something. Different crowdfunded choices are totally different, however that’s how KS labored. Sending out all of the stuff you promised is time-consuming and dear–so that you’d higher work postage, manufacturing prices, and labor prices into your equation for people who give at sure ranges. The sheer quantity of content material that’s on the market also can harm you. You must be totally different, and it doesn’t harm if you have already got individuals in your aspect who need to see you succeed.
FROST: What’s subsequent for you?
NEDVIDEK: We’re diligently engaged on Ebook three. We have now a brand new illustrator (Prentis Rollins) for the collection; he comes with a many yr DC/Marvel pedigree, and we’re SUPER enthusiastic about that. We have now began engaged on pages already, so it’s underway. We may even be doing one other Kickstarter marketing campaign to complete the trilogy–search for that and take part on the enjoyable for those who’d like!
Thanks a lot for taking the time to talk! I actually respect it!
NEDVIDEK: Really recognize the chance!
The primary two volumes of The Jekyll Island Chronicles can be found now. Study extra on the official web site and comply with on Twitter.
AJ Frost is an editor/author based mostly out of Phoenix, AZ.