Welcome to the InDiY Hunter interview here at the League, with creator Erik Hendrix discussing his new Steam Punk inspired kickstarter project: The Steam Engines of Oz! Set 100 years in the future, and placed in the world of L. Frank Baum's Oz.
Every story has a beginning. Author of the World of Oz series L.Frank Baum began this story. What was the inspiration for taking it further and continuing this story? What were the origins of your involvement?
Sean has wanted to do a SteamPunk-infused Oz for well over a year. Several months ago, he approached me about collaborating with him and writing the book. I've always loved the World of Oz and jumped at the chance... I can remember flipping through some tattered hardcovers my sister and I had as kids, reading about the early adventures Baum wrote. We didn't have a full collection, but I recall loving what I did read very much.
For fans and tinkerers alike, Talk to us about the difference between coming up with a concept from your own mind, your own story and working on a story or mythology who’s conceptual world was created before hand?
I'm a big world builder. It's a part of the process of writing that I've loved since my old RPG days. After spending a couple of dozen years designing worlds for players to run around in, and running around in worlds created by others, transitioning that knowledge to writing came naturally. When it comes to writing in someone else's sandbox, however, you have certain rules you have to play by. In the case of Oz, Baum put an amazing foundation down of how things are in the world, and it's much darker than people think. The other writers who picked up the baton after he passed away kept the spirit alive. When it comes down to it, we're trying to do the same thing in our own way. The benefit to tossing the book a hundred years in the future, however, is that we can do pretty much anything we want within reason, as long as there is a logical path to take you there. That was part of the fun. You look at the events that happened in Oz's past and think, well, where does that put this character in a hundred years? The amazing thing about Oz is that, based on Oz history, people don't die of old age... In fact, at some point they stop aging! It's rarely discussed, but is one of the little gems of the Baum books I personally latched on to. In a world of Magic AND SteamPunk (a form of technology), how do these things come into conflict?
Is it easier or more difficult in your experience?
Now, is it easier or more difficult to write in someone else's sandbox? I'd say more difficult as long as you want to show respect to the source material. If we threw the rules out, it would have been easier, but the magic of Baum's work is something that HAS TO be retained. It's unfortunate just how many books try and re-invent the wheel, re-telling old stories, rather than trying something new with the challenge of accepting the past as canon.
Before we get to this specific kickstarter effort and your goals please give our readers and potentially new supporters of your work a brief background of works and books you’ve done already Erik.
I've been writing since I was six... so, over thirty years. Now, I wasn't trying to get published for a long time, rarely even considered it aside from a pipe-dream. The comic side of the story was that I was working on a novel through 2008 and had a ton of ideas mulling in my head that needed to get out. I decided I would try to write comics, since I have been reading them for decades anyway. So, I checked out some sample scripts, and off I went! Over four years later, I've published a nice chunk of work. After self-publishing a couple of things that are currently being rebooted with new artists (Faction and Citizens), I've released SideShows, The Evil Tree, Champions of the Wild Weird West, Deadly Harvest, The Book, The Intrinsic, Zipper Vs Dominatrix: The Slave Trade, some anthology shorts, and a bunch of other things in development aside from The Steam Engines of Oz.
Now the Kickstarter!
What’s this one about and what can people expect from your current kickstarter effort?
We are releasing the first arc of The Steam Engines of Oz regardless of how the KickStarter resolves itself... Those books were already in the works. The KickStarter is to put the decision in fans hands if they would like our story to continue beyond the initial story.
What are some of the goals?
Basically, the more we get with the KickStarter, the more we get to do! The funds are to pay for printing incentives, pay the art team, printing, etc... This way, regardless of how the book does in the retail channel, people will get the books, we'll finish them, and fans of SteamPunk, Oz, and our interpretation will get to keep on reading.
What are some of the rewards?
Everything from digital and print copies of books to t-shirts, SteamPunk goggles, original artwork, and more. There are a slew of cool options.
And a couple of the stretch goals if you make it?
The first one is if we hit a goal of $10k, everyone who pledges $75 or more will get a Join the Tin Man's Army shirt I designed... It's pretty fun and I can't wait to wear it around myself. We also have a radio play we'd like to do, motion comics, and more.
Talking about the book itself, who’s the creative team? What I’ve seen so far looks stunning!
How’d you all hook up?
Sean Patrick O'Reilly and I are the creators, plotters of the story and I'm writing the scripts. Yannis Roumboulias is the artist, and Chandran does colors. Amanda, my wife and also Sr Editor at Arcana, is doing the letters (except the first part, which I did myself), and Amanda is also editing.
I've been working with Arcana since late 2009, taking a more and more active role in the company, so my involvement comes from that, plus Sean thinks I'm a good writer, which helps. Yannis and I have been working together for a few years, first on Deadly Harvest and then on to Zipper Vs Dominatrix: the Slave Trade. We'll take any excuse to work together. Chandran came into the picture, because he is the go-to colorist for Arcana... Love his work.
Finally what do you want people to take away from your efforts with this project? When it’s finally in their hands what would satisfy you and your team from a creator’s stand point?
We just hope people enjoy the story we're trying to tell and see our love of comics, of course, and of Baum's Oz!
Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Erik Hendrix. Where can people find your kickstarter online?
Here's the link ~ http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/arcanastudio/the-steam-engines-of-oz-original-graphic-novel
Where can they find you and your other works?
All of my graphic novels are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble web sites, plus on Arcana.com. My personal web site is CarpetBombComics.com, which has info on all of my projects, and you can learn more about The Steam Engines of Oz over at TheSteamEnginesOfOz.com!
Best of luck to you all this looks like a worthy project!
VP of Publishing
With only a few days left to go on their kickstarter if you liked what you read here and are interested in helping Erik and his crew meet their goal, do not make waste, but set to haste and head over there now and pledge! Pledge I say! You can check out a six page preview of The Steam Engines of Oz Free Comic Book Day special below...
I'll be over here, waiting, still J.M., still The Indy Hunter!
And feel free to continue the discussion over at the League boards!