What happens when one of the most famous missing persons in history wakes up in a strange fantasy world? Well, Jay Faerber and Sumeyye Kesgin answer exactly that question with ELSEWHERE, out this week from Image Comics! Jay and Sumeyye took some time to sit down with ComicBuzz to talk about the series, and some of the surprises they have in store for us!
Hey guys, thank you for taking some time to talk to us! Jay is actually the very first comic creator I ever interacted one on one with, back in his days writing Generation X! It’s a thrill to be talking about such a cool new series with you both!
So what’s the elevator pitch for Elsewhere?
JF: Elsewhere is about Amelia Earhart’s adventures in a strange fantasy realm, as she makes new friends and foes while trying to find her way home.
Can you tell us a little bit about how the two of you got together as a creative team?
JF: I had seen Sumeyye’s work on Twitter and was instantly drawn to it. She has a real energy and a dynamic style. I thought it would be really fun to work together — and I was right!
SK: Jay contacted me via Twitter and he said he had a project I’d be good for. I said yes immediately. He is an amazing writer and I feel honored to get a chance to work with him on a creator-owned book.
I love this concept so much, because it’s one of those things that creeps into fiction writers’ brains all the time. Jay, what about “Amelia Earhart was sucked into a fantasy realm” clicked in a way that transitioned it from crazy concept to story?
JF: I set out wanting to do a fantasy series, mainly because I’d never done one before. And honestly, I’m not a huge fantasy fan. A lot of work in this genre leaves me cold. So I knew I had to anchor the story with a human protagonist, to give the audience (and me!) someone to relate to. And somewhere along the way, I hit on the idea to use Amelia Earhart as this character. And it all just fell into place.
How far into the story do you have planned?
JF: The first story arc (4 issues) has already been written and drawn, and I’ve roughly plotted out the next arc (issues 5-8). We have a loose idea of where the book will go through issue #12.
Jay, you’re really well known for long-term stories in your creator-owned work. Is this a story that could last as long as Noble Causes, or is it one that may have a little more of a set end-point?
JF: It could potentially last that long. We don’t have a strict endgame in mind. We’ll be here as long as we feel there are stories left to tell — and have an audience that agrees with us.
So clearly, the legendary Amelia Earhart is your main character. Can you tell us about some of the other characters that are important to the story?
JF: Shortly after arriving in Korvath (the mysterious world Amelia finds herself in), she befriends two scrappy rebels: Cort and Tavel. They’re natives of Korvath and are part of a rebellion against the powerful Lord Kragen. Cort is a classic heroic adventurer, Tavel is his more self-interested (re: cowardly) friend. Aside from Amelia, they’re the other main characters in the book, at least in this first story arc. And the evil Lord Kragen plays a pretty big role, as their adversary.
What’s each of your favorite challenge with building a world from scratch?
JF: I think it’s a balancing act, in terms of just how much of the world to reveal at once. So in our first story arc, we stay relatively small — we only see one “corner” of this world. But in the second arc, we open things up a little more, and get to see more of this fantastic world.
SK: I agree with Jay. Elsewhere universe getting bigger and more exciting.
Sumeyye, what did you think when you got to start designing a whole new universe for the story?
SK: I really love fantasy genre and my first goal was to capture to create something unique and interesting visually. Also I aimed to shape a concept which is in harmony with Amelia’s aviator/aerial side and also the ‘absence’ theme of the book. So I preferred to reveal a fantasy world more alien-ish, strange and attractive.
What’s your creative process when designing the look of this world?
SK: First I’m reading Jay’s script carefully and taking notes. Thinking about what I want to show readers. Sometimes ideas come to my mind suddenly but sometimes I need to think on them a few days more. Doing research among my favorite fantasy comics, movies, books and sketching again and sharing my stuff with Jay & our editor, Frank Pittarese.
What does your day to day process look like for working on the book?
SK: It’s very changeable. Sometimes I find myself struggling with housework at mornings but sometimes I’m starting to work on my table just after morning coffee. I was used to work at night until 3-4 a.m. for a long time but later I realized it’s not good for health 🙂 There is no daily working time period or weekend sense for me. I’m starting to draw anytime I feel ready.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to draw so far?
SK: I hope it’s not a spoiler. Crowded battle scenes with rifles… That was the hardest thing I drew in the book. I don’t have a problem drawing a gang who fire guns or samurais with swords, but rifles feels so military/militant and my antimilitarist side resisted it, even if i must draw anything as a professional. I know it sounds weird 🙂
What’s been your favorite thing to draw so far?
SK: I love to draw all fantasy elements in book. Creatures, landscapes, anything specific i create for Elsewhere.
Jay, is it a challenge writing a real historical figure in the story? How do you overcome any obstacles that poses?
JF: I’m fortunate in that we’re telling an obvious fictional story. So there’s no real basis for any of this stuff. I’m using Amelia’s real personality traits as a sort of jumping-off point — trying to guess, based on what we know, how she’d act in such an outrageous scenario. But because it’s SO out-of-this-world, is sort of lessens any expectation of historical accuracy.
Do either of you have any specific influences on the characters?
JF: Nothing I can really speak to yet. I’m afraid if I talk about specific influences, it might tip my hand in terms of where we’re going.
SK: Not for characters, but Moebius was my biggest inspiration at designs of Korvath landscapes and structures.
Just after I got the review copy, I saw the story with the “picture” of Amelia that “proved” she actually survived. Did you see that story and what did you think?
JF: Yeah, I watched the special on History Channel… and then saw the article online a few days later that easily debunked the whole thing. It was kind of a waste of time. Although I won’t complain about it helping to get Amelia Earhart back into the public conversation just before our book comes out!
Jay, what’s Sumeyye’s greatest strength as an artist? What made her the right artist for Elsewhere?
JF: I think she’s great at both really epic, large-scale fantasy (her imagination is so vivid) and also in drawing Amelia in a very recognizable way without it ever looking like photo reference. I can’t imagine doing this book without her. This book only exists because of Sumeyye.
Sumeyye, what has been your highlight in working with Jay?
SK: Jay is very special writer and a great partner. I’m really surprised with every new script he sends me. Every issue and story arc are climbing another higher level and getting more exciting. Of course it goes without saying, he’s a master at cliffhangers. So I really can’t wait to read what happen next as a reader too. We’re doing a really good book thanks to Jay.
Also one of the best part of working with Jay, we can talk anything about Elsewhere. I really enjoy our brainstorming. He’s tolerant to discuss the new ideas, he’s open-minded and understanding.
Jay, what is your daily work process like?
JF: It depends on the time of year. If I’m staffed on a TV show, that’s my “day job.” So I spend most weekdays either sitting in the writers’ room with the rest of the staff, or alone in my office working on a TV script, or up in Vancouver on set. That means I do my comic book writing on the weekends. But at the moment, I’m on hiatus. My current TV gig, Zoo, has wrapped for the year, so I have a lot more time to spend on other projects — like Elsewhere. I have a home office attached to the garage behind my house, so I do all my work out there, while my wife is at work and my son’s at daycare. They get home around 6pm, and by then I’m done for the day and in “family mode.”
Do either of you have an unusual ritual when you work?
JF: Not really. I just drink an awful lot of Cherry Coke Zero.
Hey, me too!
SK: I don’t have too. Only thing, I have a cat who requires my attention continually. I’ve built feet muscles while petting her under work table during 7 years. I guess i used to do it!
Do you have any other projects you’re currently working on?
JF: I’m currently writing Copperhead, a monthly series at Image Comics. Plus I’m working on a new project for another publisher, which I’m really excited about. And I’m in the process of pitching a pilot to the various TV networks, as well as writing my first feature screenplay.
Jay, what can we expect from Copperhead when it returns from hiatus?
JF: Copperhead #15 goes on sale in October, and it’s the start of a new arc where we finally reveal Sheriff Clara Bronson’s backstory, and what brought her to Copperhead in the first place.
What comics are you reading right now?
JF: I love all of Brian Vaughan’s books, and I’ll follow Chris Samnee wherever he goes. Marvel just announced that he and Mark Waid are taking over Captain America and I couldn’t be happier. I’m also still really digging Invincible. It’s exciting watching Robert and Ryan head towards the finish line with that one.
SK: I must admit that, artists’ names shaping my book choices. Yes I’m an artist and also I’m still a fangirl of art. Just finished Stuart Immonen & Bendis’s All-New X-Men series and I’ve started to read Empress. I’m not missing any good book of Image also.
Do either of you have anything else to add about Elsewhere?
JF: Just that everyone should buy it!
SK: Yep, go and read it everybody!
Thank you guys!
ELSEWHERE #1 is available on August 2nd in comic shops and digitally!