In 1976… a secret war raged on Pluto.
In 2006… Pluto’s planet status was revoked.
One by one… those who know the truth are being silenced.
But one man remembers everything.
30 years later… Cale Beckett must return to the… Forgotten Planet.
When a new creator-owned project emerges, combining a writer and artist of considerable talent and pedigree, I’m fairly likely to be interested at some point. When said project is described by it’s writer as a long-awaited labor of love, years in development, then you have my complete and undivided attention.
In 2007 Pete Rogers co-founded Orang Utan Comics, publishing anthology title Eleventh Hour, featuring his own short stories, alongside the work of other rising talent. Within a year the book had been nominated for an Eagle award. In 2011, his first graphic novel The Interactives was released, to critical acclaim, with art by Luciano Vecchio, Beware the Batman. Earlier this year the first title from his new imprint Dapper Chimp Press was released, Chris Smith and the Nazi Zombies from Hell, which Rogers served as editor on.
Giancarlo Caracuzzo has worked for most of the major European and American comics publishers, since his first work was published in 1982 in his native Italy. His bold, energetic artwork has been seen in the likes of Jonah Hex, Gorilla Man, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Random Acts of Violence.
They have combined forces with Shane Chebsey of Scar Comics and founder member of the Comic Book Alliance to launch this exciting publishing prospect on Kickstarter and the initial response has been most enthusiastic. This does seem one of those instances where a creative collaboration feels like a nigh-on heavenly alignment, with the promise of great things.
Rogers, Caracuzzo, and Chebsey were kind enough to speak with us about Forgotten Planet:-
AP2HYC : Forgotten Planet, a heartfelt science fiction, action adventure about freedom, identity and revisiting your past’, as described on your Kickstarter page. What have been your inspirations & motivations for telling this tale?
Rogers : The initial idea came from the news that Pluto was being reclassified and would no longer be considered a planet. That event was definitely the initial catalyst and much of the research I did helped cement the story I wanted to tell; things like Pluto’s classification number 134340 and the ice cold temperature on Pluto both ended up contributing to the narrative. I have taken the planet’s timeline and placed my imaginary one over the top of it, so that real world events inform where I’m taking our story. By having some of the story set in the ’70s that gave me scope to look back at real world events and make them part of the tale we’re telling. The high concept about Pluto is a key element, but there’s a lot more to the story than what we’ve shared so far.
AP2HYC : Could you tell us about the central character, Cale Beckett and his circumstances as the story commences?
Rogers : I’ve always been fascinated by stories where the central character is revisited by their past and unable to shake off the violence they’ve previously been associated with. Books like Red by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner, and films like Unforgiven, do that really well.
When our story opens Cale Beckett is living a solitary life on an African Game Reserve, having kept himself to himself for 30 years. The news about Pluto has activated hidden memories in the surviving mercenaries who fought in a secret war in the ’70s. The difference with Beckett is that he never forgot, so he is ready when a group of armed men are sent to kill him. After so many years of solitude he slips back into violence again, when his own life is threatened.
One of the central themes of the book is perception, what’s real and what isn’t, and who controls that information. To the Plutonian people Beckett is the ultimate enemy, the man whose face is synonymous with the war, but in his eyes he was just doing a job. I liked the idea of putting him back with the people he fought 30 years earlier, and seeing what would happen.
AP2HYC : I admire Giancarlo’s work as clearly both of you, Pete and Shane do. What led you to approach Giancarlo for Forgotten Planet?
Rogers : I’d been chatting to Giancarlo online for a while, having seen the great work he’d done at Marvel, DC, Image and IDW he was on my list of people to one day work with. I ran a few projects past him and this one seemed like a good fit. Then, when I discussed projects with Shane he also mentioned Giancarlo when we talked about Forgotten Planet, so we’d both already been thinking of him.
Chebsey: For me Giancarlo was an obvious choice for artist on this book. The story demanded a true professional who could draw just about anything and who has a solid storytelling ability and Giancarlo ticks all of those boxes in a big way. Since the first time I saw his work I wanted to work with him on something at some time and Forgotten Planet seemed like the perfect fit as soon as Pete pitched it to me.
AP2HYC : Giancarlo, may I ask what aspects of this project initially encouraged you to climb aboard?
Caracuzzo : When Peter proposed to me to collaborate on this project, I read the script and accepted with enthusiasm, because the whole project had an idea, old-style, formal and stylistic. I loved always these atmospheres, I thought that I’m the right artist to tell this story.
AP2HYC : As the execution of this graphic novel has progressed, are there any interesting creative developments that have arisen, whilst working together?
Rogers : Working with an artist who has such a wealth of experience from collaborating with big name creators like Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Jeff Parker was a little daunting at first. But like all the artists I’ve worked with, we soon hit a rhythm and the changes from script to page that Giancarlo suggests always enhance the storytelling. There’s one iconic image in particular that I can’t wait to see his interpretation of.
AP2HYC : Shane, I’m keen to learn what led you to choosing this concept to be your first Kickstarter launch with Scar Comics?
Chebsey : As a small publisher with a limited budget we knew the only way we could get an artist on board the calibre of Giancarlo was to be able to pay him a reasonable advance, a successful Kickstarter campaign will allow us to do that. It will also mean we can offer some really nice high editions of the book to our readers, and engage with them through the creative process. I think it’s really important for publishers to engage with readers these days and Kickstarter is a great tool for helping us to do that.
AP2HYC : Your array of incentives for this launch are considerable. I’d be grateful for an insight into the decision-making behind the panoply.
Chebsey : We’re going to be adding even more rewards as the campaign progresses and as we get a feel for what our supporters want from us
AP2HYC : Is this the best of times to be working in comics?
Rogers : I’m not sure. There are two sides to where comics are right now, on the one hand more people are reading creator owned books, which is great for the industry. On the other hand, more people are making creator owned books, including some very established talent, so it’s harder to stand out. The best thing about the current age is that it’s easier to get your work out there and to build an audience and a community around it, thanks to the internet. The same goes for collaborating with others, the majority of artists I’ve worked with have been through connecting via forums and increasingly social media.
AP2HYC : Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Rogers : Get in touch if you’d like to know any more about the book, the Kickstarter campaign, other projects we’re all working on etc. You can find me on twitter @peterogers and I have a blog Peter-Rogers.com as well.
I’m seriously excited about this prospect. Publication can’t come soon enough. I suggest you mosey on over to their Kickstarter page and treat yourself.