By: Nicole D'Andria
Time to Kickstart the Week... again! This week I am featuring the Kickstarter for the graphic novel The Forever Maps about a man who lives forever... as long as he follows the maps.
The Forever Maps is a 72 page graphic novel. It also includes 14 pages of bonus material, including alternate artwork, author's notes, and more. The graphic novel is being printed on environmentally-friendly paper with vegetable-based inks.
The story begins in 1794 after a young man, John, leaves his home to get away from his abusive father. He meets a weakened man and helps him follow a map. Together, they discover a mysterious wooden box carved in a tree stump. Within the box is another map. The other man, in anger, destroys the box, leaving John the only one to follow the next map. The process continues, with John finding box after box across continent with nothing but another map to follow inside each. Over time, John discovers as long as he continues to follow the maps, he will not grow older. However, if he stops following them for even one hour, he will rapidly age.
Each chapter of the graphic novel will explore a different aspect of John’s life. The first chapter shows John’s relationship with his parents. In the next chapter, John falls in love and has a family. The dilemma is, if he stays with them, he knows he will die. The final chapter shows John truly becoming his father’s child as he takes on the role of a father and he must fight to redeem himself.
|The Forever Maps Cover|
You can pledge money for The Forever Maps on their Kickstarter page. The project will be funded if $12,000 Canadian dollars are pledged by April 25th, 2015 at 11:00 PM EDT. Recently, the creative team received a generous offer from a backer who said they will match any pledges made this week by new backers.
The graphic novel is scheduled for release in November of 2015. The smallest reward for pledging their Kickstarter is set at $5. For $5 you will receive a digital copy of the first chapter of the book and your name will be included in the printed version. You will receive a full PDF copy of the book for $10. If you pledge $1,000 or more (which someone has!) you will get all the rewards listed on their Kickstarter page, plus extra sketches and prints, a manuscript evaluation and you will be mentored by the author.
The creators of the comic book are writer Michael Lagacé and artist Todor Hristov. The two have worked together on previous projects including The Great Train Robbery and The Mad Trapper.
I spoke with Lagacé about his Kickstarter project in detail below.
Me: How did this idea of a man becoming immortal by following maps come to you?
Michael Lagacé: I've always been fascinated by the concept of time and mortality. We move through life, finding our own unique path along the way, but we are all limited by the same incremental measurement of age. The idea for The Forever Maps came from wondering what it would take to avoid aging, and I thought that perhaps the biggest loss would be that person's unique path. The maps will lead you on and on until the end of time, but if you can never go where you want, you'll never be happy. I think this is something we can all relate to, feeling obligated to fit into a certain model of what life should be like, and perhaps not being encouraged to pursue what we truly want.
Me: How would you describe your protagonist, John?
Lagacé: Like most of us, John is conflicted. In the beginning, all he wants is to get away from his father who has determined how John's life will go and what he will do. He feels like he doesn't have any choice and rebels by leaving it all behind. He is given the map, not knowing where it will lead or what will happen. He just wants some kind of change, something different. He wants an adventure.
Me: What is the importance of family in John’s life?
|The Forever Maps Page 5|
Lagacé: Family is a driving force behind John's decisions. His father was an abusive tyrant, which he vows never to be. When he follows the maps, he isn't making any choices, he's surviving. They take him all over the continent, and somewhere along the way he encounters a woman that he has a child with. Now the stakes are higher because taking care of his family means he can't follow the maps, and following the maps means he can't take care of his family. For some, the choice would be survival, but because of John's desire to not be a bad father, he can't bear to abandon them. He makes what he thinks is the best choice under the circumstances.
Me: If you were given a choice to live forever chasing maps or die, what would you choose and why?
Lagacé: Hard to say. The temptation to live forever is huge, but seeing everything around me change without being able to participate in it would be too devastating. I think I'd have to choose to stick with my current plan of living to 152.
Me: How would you describe Todor Hristov’s art style?
|The Forever Maps Page 6|
Lagacé: Incredible. From the first drawing I saw of his, I was captivated. The things he does with simple lines is unbelievable, and the amount of emotion that he can pack into a panel astounds me. Whenever I'm lettering his work, I find myself editing the dialogue to use the fewest words possible because I don't want to detract from what he's done. He's got a ton of talent and he's not even 25 years old. Todor's got a long career ahead of him.
Me: Why did you decide to print The Forever Maps on environmentally-friendly paper with vegetable-based inks?
Lagacé: We chose to print as eco-friendly as possible because it's most in line with our values. It's more expensive, but it's one of those things that's worth the extra cost. Even details like the texture of the paper are important because it adds so much to the story without the reader realizing it. I've worked in printing for the past twelve years, and I've learned that paper quality is crucial to your final product. We want to deliver the best final product we can with the least impact possible. After all, if someone's planning on living forever, they probably want the planet to be in good shape.
Me: You have worked on a couple of projects with Hristov before including The Great Train Robbery and The Mad Trapper. Can you tell me a bit about these projects?
Lagacé: The Great Train Robbery is a little story about three bandits who rob a ghost train. If you've ever considered doing a train heist, maybe don't do it on a dark and strange night. The Mad Trapper is based on a true story that happened in the Northwest Territories in the 1930s, where a man was on the run from police for over a month in the dead of winter. He had nothing on him except a rifle and a knife, but he somehow kept ahead of the men despite having to continually forage for food and set up shelters during terrible blizzards. The comic we did is from the perspective of one of the men chasing him, right before he escaped by climbing a sheer mountain in the dead of night during a storm. Keep in mind, he didn't have climbing gear, he didn't even have proper winter clothes. Stories like this amaze me.
Me: With a story about an immortal man, you could make The Forever Maps into an ongoing series. Why did you choose to make it a graphic novel?
|The Forever Maps Page 7|
Lagacé: Honestly, I don't think this story needs to be any longer. The main character lives a long, long time and there are plenty of other huge events in his life, but I only told what I needed to. I didn't want to distract from the theme, and I certainly didn't want the reader to get bored. The story is set over hundreds and hundreds of years but it happens quickly, and with purpose.
Me: Do you have any other plans for other future comic book projects?
Lagacé: Always. There's plenty going on in my Brain Factory and Todor isn't slowing down either. We've been talking about some other little stories to collect in an anthology with The Grave Train Robbery and The Mad Trapper. We love working together and we're always bouncing ideas off each other, so I'm looking forward to seeing what we come up with. I'll be as surprised as everyone else!
Me: What is some advice you would give to aspiring comic book writers?
|The Forever Maps Page 8|
Lagacé: Write. All the time. Carry a notebook and jot down every little silly thing you think of. Write, and write with the confidence that you will always be able to improve on what you've written. Figure out the whole story before you start, it'll save you a lot of time in the end. Oh, and I suppose, don't make your story any longer than it needs to be.
Me: Thanks for your time Michael. Best of luck living to the ripe old age of 152… and kickstarting The Forever Maps.
Do you have a Kickstarter? Want to be interviewed about it and have it showcased on “Kickstart the Week?” Let me know in the comments below or message me on www.comicmaven.com.
Other “Kickstart the Week” features: