Friday, August 18, 2017

Kickstart the Week(end) with The Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe #1

By: Nicole D’Andria

Explore the nightmarish world inside the mind of a famous poet with the Kickstarter for The Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe #1. Writer Dwight L. MacPherson describes his comic book as "Alice in Wonderland meets The Lord of the Rings or “Homer's Odyssey meets Dante's Divine Comedy” and shares more of his musings on the book in an in-depth interview. 

In The Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe, readers literally enter the mind of Edgar Allen Poe. His madness manifests in Terra Somnium, a nightmare world where his horrifying literary creations, gods, and monsters roam. Will the poet be able to escape unscathed or will these nightmarish creatures stop him from ever leaving the horrors of Terra Somnium?

The Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe #1 is the beginning of a twelve issue arc. The comic has already been released digitally, but now it is being released in print due to popular demand. It is a reimagined version of the Harvey and Eagle Award-nominated graphic novel from Image Comics. This Kickstarter-exclusive comic has a revised script and new art by Luis Czerniawski (artist of the Bram Stoker Award-winning Kolchak the Night Stalker: The Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe).

Includes an Irving Rat solo story

This version is 28 pages and features a new cover by Emmy-nominated director, producer and illustrator David Hartman (Phantasm 5, Transformers Prime). There is also a special four-page "Making-Of" section created by the author and illustrator Tricia Martin.

The project has already raised three times its $1000 goal, meeting several stretch goals. It will end on August 30, 2017 at 8:51 AM EDT. There are three tiers of rewards, with each higher tier including all the rewards from the previous one. 

The first tier includes digital copies of The Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe #1 and the prequel series Terra Somnium #1 ($5). The second tier gives backers the printed edition of The Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe #1 and two prints created by Luis and Andrea that are exclusive to this project ($15). The final tier has a David Hartman cover print and T-shit ($25). View the Kickstarter here if you are considering backing the project.

Without further ado, take a trip with me and writer Dwight L. MacPherson to the macabre world inside Edgar Allen Poe’s head:

Dwight L. MacPherson

Me: What about Edgar Allan Poe interested so much that you wanted to create a comic book about him?

Dwight L. MacPherson: I've been fascinated with Poe since I first watched Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven and the other Corman "Poe Cycle" films back in the mid- to late '70s. As I grew up, however, I discovered that Poe's stories were much better in printed form (no offense to those great old films, of course), and that the author's personal life was almost as interesting as his macabre tales and poetry. In fact, the more I studied Poe's life, the more I felt a kind of kinship with him. At the time I created this title I wanted to write a fantasy book, and, since I was studying Poe's works in a course at a university at the time and felt that connection to him, it only seemed fitting that he should star in my epic adventure. 

Me: How would you describe Edgar Allan Poe's character in this comic? What aspects of his personality and history from real life do you adapt to your story?

MacPherson: The story takes place in the winter of 1847. Poe's beloved wife has succumbed to tuberculosis and her ghost haunts him. He is nearly destitute, and has had some major literary failures which have caused him to doubt himself and his abilities. Because of the crushing weight of these stressful factors, Poe is exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually. His character is fractured in this story—quite literally. Thanks to years of personal research and the invaluable assistance of imminent Poe scholar, curator of the Poe Museum in Richmond, VA, and friend, Chris Semtner, we have been meticulously faithful to Poe's character and the historical context of the story. 

Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe #1 Page 1

Me: What can you tell us about the character who journeys alongside Poe, Irving Rat?

MacPherson: Irving is "Little Poe's" guide through Terra Somnium in the same way that Virgil and the Cumaean Sybil guide Dante and Aeneis through the Underworld. Brave and faithful, Irving takes his responsibilities as guide deadly serious. Along the journey, however, Irving shows himself to be more than a guide to Little Poe. He is a true friend that "sticks closer than a brother," even when the road grows dark.

Me: Who are some of the gods and monsters we can expect to see inside Edgar Allan Poe's head?

MacPherson: Without spoiling the story, readers can expect to see gods and monsters from Greek, Norse, and Egyptian mythology—as well as people and creatures from his own works. Poe was fascinated with mythology, antiquities, the macabre and the arcane, so we've incorporated all of these interests into the dream world of Terra Somnium. If readers would like to find out more about this dream land, they can check out the completely free Terra Somnium webcomic on Line Webtoon ( Truth is, you never know who will show up! 

Me: How did you find the artists and how would you describe their art style in the book?

MacPherson: Luis and I have known one another for more than a decade. I originally approached him about drawing the book when I was pitching it to Image. Unfortunately, Luis had prior obligations and wasn't able to collaborate with me. When I decided to revise the script and resurrect the property, Luis was first on my mind. Thankfully, Luis enthusiastically jumped at the chance to draw the entire story—a whopping 12 issue series—because he'd fallen in love with the story and characters. 

Luis is a classic comic book artist all the way. His style for this book, however, is a bit more cartoony. I hate to use that word because it's gained a bad connotation in the medium, but that's the best way to describe it. Having said that, however, it is not cartoon art. His classic training shows through, and, in my estimation, it fits the story PERFECTLY. I believe he was meant to draw it. And, being the professional that he is, he's chosen a style of art that is absolutely perfect for this story. 

Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe #1 Page 2

Me: Which of Edgar Allan Poe's stories is your favorite and why?

MacPherson: This may surprise readers, but I am more of a fan of Poe's poetry than his stories. I believe Poe was, at heart, a poet. He had a poet's soul, as they say. The Raven will always be near and dear to my heart as will his entire poetic catalog.

If I had to choose a favorite story, however, I would have to choose The Fall of the House of Usher because it contains one of my favorite poems: "The Haunted Palace." The man was a wordsmith—a true Master of the English language. I hope fans of his stories will also seek out his poems, because they are exquisite. At the heart of this story is Poe's insightful and poignant poem, A Dream Within a Dream.  

Me: Your project has been doing very well on Kickstarter, tripling its goal and still going! As a result, a few stretch goals have become unlocked. Can you tell us about these in more detail?

MacPherson: The Irving solo story was put together in 2007 as a favor for a friend. To my knowledge, the story was never used, so I decided to unearth it for this campaign. It's a fun little story that I'm sure readers will enjoy. That Irving is quite the rascal—though he wouldn't want you to think so! 

The second story is illustrated by remarkable friend and artist, Dave Youkovich. Dave's been a friend for more than a decade, but he's generally too busy with steady work in the RPG industry to collaborate. Well, thankfully, Dave agreed to draw a special gut-punch of a story that will only be available in this special Kickstarter-exclusive comic. It details perhaps the single darkest day in Poe's life. 

Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe #1 Page 3

Me: What is the number one reason you think people should pledge money to your project?

MacPherson: I think the number one reason to pledge is that it sends a clear message to the comics industry that there's a desire for more literary comic books. With the exception of the many comic adaptations of literary works that have been published over the years, there simply aren't many comics out there that appeal to the more "literary-minded." I don't say this in a snobbish way. Not at all. But I've often felt that the comics’ medium is a marriage of literature and art. That is to say, it's what comics CAN be. And if you've read any European (especially French) comic books, that's exactly what many of the creators have done.

Don't get me wrong, I love American comics, but sometimes I yearn for something more. Not just a fun—but ultimately disposable—story, but something that is engaging, rich, and poignant; a story that will draw from my literary knowledge and stick with me after I read it. And, since my French is horribly bad, and Alan Moore isn't making any more comics, I've decided to try my hand. The Imaginary Voyages of Edgar Allan Poe is my attempt to capture exactly what I've meant by saying comics are the marriage of literature and art. 

Another reason people should pledge to the project is that Kickstarter is the only place to get this extremely-limited first issue. When we say Kickstarter Exclusive, we mean it. Never again will the book be published in this special format packed with all kinds of extra story, pin-ups, and back matter, which will make it highly collectible. 

Poe story by artist Dave Youkovich

Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers?

MacPherson: Don't give up. Believe in yourself no matter what. There are many gatekeepers and people who will attempt to dissuade you along the way. Don't listen to them. Hone your craft, make comics, and keep moving forward. And when life knocks you down, get back up and press on. Talent alone won't get you there. You have to work harder and be more prolific than the other guys, but it can be done. So do it. 

Me: Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions! If you’re reading this and you’re interested in looking at the project, check out their Kickstarter.

Do you have a Kickstarter? Want to be interviewed about it and have the project featured on "Kickstart the Week?" Let me know in the comments below or message me on my website.

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