Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of your latest graphic novel, The Jekyll Island Chronicles (Book Two): A Devil’s Reach! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the series’ premise?
Steve Nedvidek: The Jekyll Island Chronicles graphic novel series is an action/adventure, alt history look at the period between the World Wars. It is a time of great wealth, great political upheaval, and great invention. Historically, it was also a time when anarchists were attempting to terrorize the stability of the post-war world. The Jekyll Island Chronicles imagines what would happen heroes of the Great War, inspired by the inventions from the likes of Ford and Tesla and the wealth of industrialists like Carnegie, did battle in a global setting against an evil cabal of anarchists known as Zeno. It is a tale of good guys versus bad guys, all with really cool tech, interacting within key historical moments of the early 20th century. There isn't anything quite like it; it hits the reader from action hero/cool, tech design/social commentary/political intrigue/and weird-facts-that-most-of-us-don't-know angles.
BD: This graphic novel is a continuation of The Jekyll Island Chronicle series. What was your experience in revising this world for Book 2, and do you feel that this book is a solid jumping-on point for new readers?
SN: The new book in the series, A Devil's Reach, is a continuation of the story that unfolds in Book One, A Machine Age War. We see many of the same characters, along with a whole new crop of heroes and villains. With each chapter of the saga, we seek out those interesting factoids to weave into the story. In this part of the narrative (Book Two), there are very clear references to historical facts, such as the 1920 bombing of Wall Street, the anarchist round up that followed, the fall of Germany into an economic depression, and the rise of a new form of crime fighting force in London known as the Flying Squad.
BD: Were there any previous creators or works that impacted your approach to the story?
SN: One of the things we enjoy as creators is the ability to make something new--we try our hand at imagining a different world that "might have" existed. There is SO MUCH that naturally sparks the imagination about this time in history. We truly don't do a lot of other borrowing, other than hiding an "easter egg" from time to time. There are PLENTY of those in Book Two (as there were in Book One), but they are mainly nods to forgotten historical people as well as things that are our own personal affinities. We set out at the very beginning of this journey to create a world where heroes weren't perfect, but they also weren't dark. We felt there were plenty of cynical, conflicted heroes out there. We chose to imagine classic heroes that know the difference between right and wrong, who fight for a greater good, and who, despite their clear differences, are best when they are working together. There are two sides: one of hope and one of destruction. You don't have to search hard to know who is on which side.
BD: What can you tell with us about your shared creative process in working with co-writers Ed Crowell and Jack Lowe and illustrators J. Moses Nester and SJ Miller, and what do you hope that readers will take away from the story?
SN: For Book Two, the three creator/writers (Steve, Ed, and Jack) divide up responsibilities to get the work done. Starting with an overarching story arc, in a classic Three Act structure, we lay out the narrative and share writing duties. Once a portion of the script is written, we continue to work on the rest of the script while at the same time starting the art for the finished beginnings of the script. Steve typically lays out the pages from the script on his ipad, dropping in reference photos, shot angles, copy and sound effects. I then send them over to Moses for drawing and inking. Once the three creators approve the inks, Moses sends them to SJ Miller for coloring and final sound effects. The process works quite efficiently.
BD: Do you foresee expanding this story into subsequent graphic novels?
SN: Definitely! When we began this project in 2012/2013, we thought of it as ten books. We adjusted that number to six, as it became clear exactly how labor intensive the process actually is. (Remember, the three of us were working dads with full-time jobs, with wives, and kids in school.) Since then, Steve has retired, but still, creating one book is quite a haul. So, now, we are imagining six books--but will be VERY GLAD to be done with the first trilogy in two more years. Then, we will see if readers continue to enjoy this story, our characters, and if we have enough energy to do another one! We have always seen this as a compelling visual story, so the idea of a graphic novel works well; however, we have also seen this as something that very easily, and with great imagination, could make its way to other forms of storytelling, like film, television, or even video games. There is a LOT here. We really have created a unique, richly imagined world that we hope people enjoy and learn from.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
SN: With two of us still employed full-time, and even with me retired, this is the largest project we are working on. We all have our own loves and hobbies, but I think it's fair to say that nothing we do individually is as large as this project is collectively.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about The Jekyll Is-land Chronicles: A Devil’s Reach and your other work?
SN: We have our own website (jekyllislandchronicles.com) and are most active on Facebook and Instagram. Readers can purchase the book at book stores, on the web at Amazon, through IDW/Top Shelf, and at many other sites. They can also purchase the book on our website, as well as other JIC-themed merchandise.