They're the hidden threat that no one knows about.
In the upcoming graphic novel The Book of Lilah from Kickstart, a secret cabal is revealed that keeps a firm grasp on mankind by controlling its knowledge through books. These Keepers as they're called believe some knowledge is too risky for society to possess and keep it hidden away. But when a teenage undergrad named Lilah accidently gets ahold of one of their most taboo books, the Keepers – and the world – are in for an awakening.
The Book of Lilah is the latest in a line of slimline graphic novels that Kickstart plans to put out this spring. Coming from the world of film, Kickstart's comics line features talent from comics and film teaming up. In the case of this book, it's Pushing Daisies writing room alum Jack Monaco. Monaco's bounced around the TV dail, working on things like Star Trek: Voyager and The Dead Zone to the recent series on the Hub, R.L. Stine's Haunting Hour. But this experience is a new kind of story – and a new medium for Monaco, who partners with artist and fellow newcomer Javi Hernandez.
Good for them this book about a secret world of books and book-hoards seems like an ideal place to start.
Newsarama: Tell us Jack – what is The Book of Lilah about?
Jack Monaco: The Book of Lilah is the story of Lilah, an unassuming college girl whose mind expands exponentially when she inadvertently reads from an ancient and mystical Book of Knowledge. Suddenly she’s caught between Xerxes St. Martin, a power-hungry wealthy industrialist and the Keepers, a secret society that’s manipulated mankind for centuries. Oh, and as if her life didn’t just get crazy enough, the future of mankind may just hang in the balance…
Nrama: Although her name is in the title, Lilah knows as little about this centuries-old book as we do. What’s she about?
Monaco: Lilah’s a sophomore at a community college. Major: undecided. Her Dad pressured her to go Ivy League (she’s smart enough for it) but she wasn’t interested. He’s this big time professor at Georgetown who, in her words: “is obsessed with knowing everything.” She’s always felt she came second (or third) to his quest for knowledge and so has grown up suspicious of books and learning.
Nrama: Earlier you mentioned a secret society called 'The Keepers'. What's their story?
Monaco: The Keepers are an ancient and powerful, far reaching secret organization, some might say “cabal” … of librarians. They endeavor to control mankind’s acquisition and application of knowledge. Allegedly for our own good. They believe that some knowledge is just too dangerous for us to possess. But are they right? And why do they get to decide?
Nrama: Can you give us some real world examples of the kinds of things the Keepers would be involved in?
Monaco: Sure. Without giving too much away… Since the beginning of civilization the Keepers have had a hand in practically every great leap in human knowledge. And have prevented countless other leaps. They were there at the burning of the Library at Alexandria. They were there when da Vinci created some of his most amazing inventions. And when his inventions failed, you can bet they had a hand in that. They also had a surprising role in the dawn of the nuclear age.
For the record, the Keepers are lovers of knowledge.
Nrama: How does Lilah get wrapped up in protecting the Keepers?
Monaco: Well, I wouldn’t say Lilah is protecting the Keepers. In fact, one of her struggles throughout the book is figuring out: are these Keepers good or evil?
Early on, she learns she has a latent “talent” related to the Keepers’ organization. A talent certain forces want to exploit.
Nrama: Your name is new to comics, but I remember you from the credits on the TV show Pushing Daises. Can you tell us about your writing background and how you ended up doing comics?
Monaco: Funny you should bring Pushing Daises; it’s connected to my entry into the world of comics. I’d been working primarily in animation, writing for many kids’ shows, including the anime-inspired Megas XLR for Cartoon Network and selling stories to Star Trek: Voyager and The Dead Zone. A few years back Bryan Fuller was adapting the Mike Mignola comic The Amazing Screw-On Head for Kickstart and Sci-Fi. It was such a bizarre and fantastic property that Sci-Fi actually thought it might be too weird, even for them. To show them what the series could be, Bryan brought me and Mike Taylor (Battlestar Galactica, The Dead Zone) in to write the first couple of scripts. Awesome experience. And I think we wrote some great stuff. I guess it was still pretty out there, because Sci-Fi passed.
Nrama: And that brought you to comics?
Monaco: Yes. Long story long, that’s how I was introduced to Kickstart and the world of comics. I worked with Kickstart again adapting another project, and when they decided to start their own original comics, they asked me if I had any ideas. And so The Book of Lilah was born…
Nrama: What have you been reading to get up to speed for The Book of Lilah, Jack?
Monaco: Since I’m a recent convert to the world of comics, I immersed myself in the medium, and ever since a friend introduced me to Y: The Last Man and Fables, I’ve been absolutely hooked. Can I just say how cool it’s been seeing the art come back? You see the story so clearly in your head and you hope and pray that the artist “gets it,” but once Javi’s pages started coming in, they were even better than I imagined.