The 1986 indie series Fashion In Action was fashion-forward for its time -- and now in 2016, one publisher hopes pop culture has caught up so that it's in-style once more.
Bedside Press publisher Hope Nicholson is aiming to collect this cult-favorite title by John K. Snyder III for the first time in 30 years, but instead of just a simple reprint she's bringing back the original creator to update and expand on this Eclipse alum. This new edition of Fashion In Action is currently seeking $20,498 on Kickstarter -- and with 7 days to go in their campaign, it's just 19% shy of its goal.
But what is Fashion In Action? Set in 2086, it centered on "the world's highest priced and best dressed celebrity protection agency." Leader Frances Knight and her squad is pitted against villains with names like Dr. Cruel and Boss One, along with an obsessed fan named Roxanne.
Newsarama spoke with Nicholson, who has organized several successful Kickstarter-backed reprint volumes, to learn more about Fashion In Action and why she wanted to bring it back in action in 2016.
Newsarama: Hope, how did you come across the original Fashion In Action series from the 1980s?
Hope Nicholson: I first met John K Snyder III, the creator, at AwesomeCon in Washington, DC, we were table neighbors. It was a slower con so we spent a lot of time chatting and he brought up his comic Fashion In Action which I had never heard of (and I thought I was a pretty big Eclipse fan!). His description and passion for the characters, and good, varied representation of female characters was really inspiring to listen to.
So we started chatting about me potentially publishing it as a reprint and a few years later...we're both ready!
Nrama: I’m asking you to self-analyze a little bit here here, but what about it struck a chord with you to jump on this as your next major project?
Nicholson: I think what's really interesting to me too, is that people often don't think of the 1980s as prime material for reprints. But there was a surge of independent comic publishing at the time and so many of these comics have faded into oblivion. I really think that we need to remember our history, and it's as essential to study and read the comics that were really trying to defy the conventions at the time.
Also, I was a huge fan of Katy Keene comics when I was young, and this marriage of fashion and comics has always been really compelling for me! You can instantly see John's fashion designer influences in these comics, and the way the clothes drape and fall is definitely unusual for comics in this era, where spandex was even then, in its heyday.
Nrama: This was originally published by Eclipse, from work by Snyder and Chris Fauver. Are they involved in this new re-release beyond just giving approval?
Nicholson: We kept in touch after that convention meeting, he also helped me with my Brok Windsor campaign by drawing paper dolls of the main characters for funders. We're really full partners on this project, and he is working as hard as I am to bring it back, in fact he's contributing all new artwork pieces, over 20 in total!
Nrama: The Kickstarter describes this as more than just a reprinting, but a restoration. What are you doing to modernize the book?
Nicholson: John is doing all the restoration himself, using the original artwork. He's maintaining the original color palette, but with new printing techniques and with the colors refreshed a bit, it will definitely come off as more vibrant than its original release.
Nrama: You've previously brought forgotten classics like Nelvana of the Northern Lights and Brok Windsor back in print; Fashion In Action is a more recent release, comparatively. What made it worth doing?
Nicholson: There is the idea that the 1980s weren't that long ago, but by now? It's actually been 30 years since its original release! It's as far as the 1950s were from the 1980s now. And it's a fantastic group of dynamic women who are protecting the innocent (well, those that can pay for it) and saving the world. It's just a fun story along with having great art and being an important piece of independent comic history and feminist comic history.
Nrama: Fashion In Action is the tip of the iceberg for an entire subgnere of comic books about fashion, much of which has died out. Was that a facet of your interest her?
Nicholson: Martha Thomases has written an amazing essay in Fashion In Action, and if nothing else, I highly encourage you to pick it up for this in addition to the comic content. In her essay, she discusses when comic book artists started to divide their art from fashion, as fashion design became less figure-conscious, more about bold shapes, powerful looks, and drapes. And few artists wanted to work with these looks, unlike 1960s mini-dresses, which happened to be in fashion in their era and be fun and easy to draw.
Nrama: The original Eclipse issues of Fashion In Action contained paper dolls and other backmatter. Will your new editions have any of that?
Nicholson: Yes! We are including all of the original advertisements, paper dolls, and “behind the scenes” artwork and concept sketches/photos from John's personal collection. In addition to being in the book, funders can select a folio option where they will receive the full set of paper dolls to cut out for their own use.
Nrama: Last question: In addition to bringing back forgotten works, you've also curated new comic book work. Any chance there's an interest of you to develop new comic books in this fashion genre?
Nicholson: Oh I'd love to create new fashion comics! John has some ideas for future Fashion In Action storylines, so there's a lot of potential! We just have to see if the audience is interested in it. For me myself, I wonder what fashions will take place in the Fashion In Action's 2090s, 3000s, 3010s... a part of me hopes that it still retains the 1980s aesthetics!