Kickstarter has been the provider of some great comic projects in the past and while there has been some controversy surrounding certain properties put up by major celebrities, for the most part we get books like Zenescope alum Tony Donley's Albert Einstein: Time Mason.
Taking and mixing elements from Indiana Jones, Quantum Leap, and Doctor Who, Donley and writer Marcus Perry created a comic that was funded within its first day.
Though AE:TM still has more than two weeks left until its Kickstarter funding ends, the team are not resting on their laurels. The remaining money from the project will go into investing future Einstein adventures. Newsarama talked to the duo about their project and how it evokes classic comics that became inspiration, why they chose Albert Einstein as a subject, and try to get more information on what exactly a Time Mason is all about. Donley even supplied Newsarama with some exclusive art!
Newsarama: Tony, Marcus, how surprised were you that your project was funded in less than a day?
Tony Donley: I was blown away! I always believed that we’d reach our goal, but I was prepared to stress out the whole time while begging friends to help us promote.
Marcus Perry: It was really incredible. We both felt the story would find its fans, but we were definitely expecting a longer haul. The response was inspiring.
Nrama: So I have to ask, why use Albert Einstein as the main character...or at least a caricature of him?
Donley: The whole idea for the series came to me while watching a Discovery Channel show about Einstein. I couldn’t believe he figured out relativity while just sitting on a bus. Right there on public transit he figured out time and space! It dawned on me that if time travel was ever going to be possible, it would start with Einstein.
Perry: He’s such an iconic figure, and with his work on the Manhattan Project, shrouded in the perfect amount of intrigue. When you cook up a story this “out there,” you need a strong character everyone can grab onto -- which usually means someone grounded in reality.
Nrama: From the sound of it, you guys created this comic as a love letter to comics themselves. What are some of your favorite comics and how did they inspired you?
Donley: I was a huge X-Men and Daredevil fan growing up. Those characters always felt very real to me. The Rocketeer & Hellboy are also two of my favorites. They’re a perfect blend of action and adventure, with a swashbuckling pulp feel. That's everything I want in comics.
Perry: Totally agree. I grew up on Amazing Spider-Man and X-Men, before it became a hero’s mandate to be tortured and brooding. There was an innocence and fun in those pages that’s sorely missing today. I think it’s okay to save the world without having daddy issues, know what I’m sayin’?
Donley: And both [Mike] Mignola and [Dave] Stevens set up their books so that they would be able to tell different types of stories--the themes work because the characters are portrayed in a realistic manner. I had been searching for an idea I could develop into that kind of a series and I think AE:TM is that book for us.
Perry: There’s no limit to the scale of conflict in a series like this, and thanks to the time travel element, we can incorporate any historical moment we want.
Nrama: Whose idea was it to use the more classical color palette?
Donley: Originally, I planned to release the book in black and white with a ton of grey tones. Marcus was having none of that, and convinced me we needed color --
Perry: Of course, without considering how much work goes into it. I come from film and TV, so I’m used to saying, “We’ll have production take care of that.”
Donley: Problem was, we didn't have the money to hire a colorist, and I’m not a fan of asking people to work for free. So it was time to learn how to color comics. We had always intended for AE:TM to have a very classic adventure comic tone, so this just felt right.
Perry: There’s a real nostalgia for this style of coloring, especially with people our age who grew up with it.
Donley: Comic book fans remember that time so fondly, and to non-comic fans, it’s still what comics look like. I have to acknowledge Glyniss Wein as a huge inspiration for what I'm doing here. I poured over her work while getting ready to color the series. I wouldn't have been able to do it without her books as a template.
Nrama:So the first issue is ready to be printed with the left over money going towards future issues? Have you thought about going to a publisher after the first issue, or are you satisfied with the KS model?
Donley: Well, the Kickstarter model has worked very well for us so far, and we couldn't be happier with the results. That being said, we’ve definitely talked about going to a publisher, but we want to make sure we do what is best for the book.
Perry: It would have to be a company that understands our tone and audience. This humor’s not for everyone (if you hate joy and laughter and puppies!), and we’d need to be confident they wouldn’t repackage everything.
Nrama: Can you tell us a little bit about the Time Masons?
Donley: The Time Masons, in a nutshell, are the protectors of space and time. But we’re keeping everything else top-secret for now.
Perry: Trust us, it’ll be worth the wait! Albert’s induction into the Masons, and their role in protecting mankind, will unfold in a battle for the ages. Or, is that across the ages? Across the ages… for the ages. Look, it’ll be big, okay?
Nrama: What brought about this collaboration between you two? You guys seem pretty simpatico.
Donley: Well, we’re good friends so that makes it pretty easy!
Perry: Let’s not be too quick to paint with the “good friends” brush…
Donley: I started this book with a rough idea of the plot and dove right into drawing it, but when it came to the script I hit a wall. Marcus was the first person I called when I needed help making sense of it all. He jumped right in and saved my butt with a great script. I'm a fan of his writing and I always knew he would be a perfect fit for AE:TM.
Perry: For me, it was a dream project. My background is writing action films with a comedy bend, so I felt right at home. And take one look at Tony’s incredible art -- who could say no?
Nrama: Could this Einstein ever meet our reality's Einstein?
Donley: Oh, absolutely. We have so many historic meet-ups planned -- including that one -- we can't wait to show you.
Nrama: You guys hinted at other future adventures you want to take Einstein on. What is one perfect example of where you want him to go...or when you want him to go?
Perry: Without spoiling too much, the first arc of the series will catapult us from ancient Egypt all the way to… New Jersey in the distant future, as Einstein battles the forces of evil for control of the space-time continuum.
Nrama: To finish up, guys, if you wanted to sell Albert Einstein: Time Mason to a person who has no idea what's it about, what would be your tagline to use to get them to read?
Donley: I think our Kickstarter video says it best: Imagine Tom Selleck playing Albert Einstein as Indiana Jones, traveling through space/time like Dr. Who, while dressed as Han Solo. Honestly, who could resist that?
Perry: But don’t let his suave charm fool you, our Einstein is a tooth-chipper. To crib a tagline from one of my favorite time-travel flicks, “Turn back the clock, and you’re history!”
To check out this project on Kickstarter, as well as the incentives or to donate, go to their Kickstarter page.