It takes a lot of money to put humankind into space, and with NASA and other government agencies seemingly unable to take that "one small" next step for man, a new solution is being offered: porn.
In the recently launched creator-owned series Money Shot from Vault Comic, manned space exploration is finally happening thanks to those brave astronauts filming and selling porn to a voracious public back home on Earth.
Described by co-creator/writer Tim Seeley as "Star Trek by way of The Deuce," Money Shot boldly goes where not many sci-fi comic books have gone - but in a sex-positive way that isn't just about sex.
After speaking with co-writer Sarah Beattie earlier this month, Newsarama spoke with the rest of the creative team - co-writer/creator Tim Seeley, artist Rebekah Isaacs, and colorist Kurt Michael Russell - for a deep dive on this deep space sci-fi drama.
Newsarama: Tim, how would you describe Money Shot?
Tim Seeley: I'd call it a romantic comedy/sci-fi adventure about science and the porn industry and how close they are together.
Nrama: The idea of funding space exploration by having the explorers do porn - that idea for funding a dream project sounds like something a freelancer would come up with. How did it come together for you?
Seeley: I believe it as partially inspired by something my wife said...about how it'd be so much easier to fund just about anything with a porn website associated. It stuck in my head, and I started thinking about how difficult it as for scientists to do their work in out modern era, and thus our Star Trek by way of The Deuce was born.
Nrama: After reading the first issue, I'd say this is more sex over sci-fi - how would you describe the balance you're aiming for the series as a whole?
Seeley: Is it? I think there's so little sex in modern comics this just seems like a lot. But I think the balance will switch between issues, and we'll see different elements shift into play when they're important to the story.
Nrama: Rebekah, let's bring you in. I enjoyed the first issue for its sex-positive approach. Why is that so important for you?
Rebekah Isaacs: Probably because, if I'm being totally honest, putting a book like this on the shelves scares me a little bit! And it really shouldn't.
Seeley: We live in a society that's real weird about sex. And i mean, I can see how it's affected my own view as well... sometimes sex scares the living shit out of me, and I don' know how to handle it. So, I think in some ways, this book is me working through my own feelings about it, and listening to the viewpoints of people far smarter than me.
I'm finally starting to see the ways in which shame about sex is used to hurt people, amd I just want to show a future where sex can be a bonding force instead of one that separates us.
Nrama: Rebekah, when people ask what is this Money Shot project you're drawing - how do you explain it?
Isaacs: Typically, "a cross between Star Trek & The Deuce about a group of scientists who fund their space exploration program by making porn with aliens." Or just "space porno" if I don't feel like talking (this often backfires.) Or if it's my parents, "ummm...it's sort of sci-fi... but a little racy... you might not want to mention it to the rest of the family."
Nrama: You're coming into this after Image's Reaver, and then a long run on the Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchise. That's a big switch in terms of what you get to draw, and also the style needed for this. Were you looking for something far and away different from previous projects?
Isaacs: I've never really thought about my next career move in terms of genre, just what pitch really grabbed me. Ironically, the one thing I wanted to avoid, after drawing 5-6 Scoobies in Buffy & an ensembleof six in Reaver, was another group book! I tried to stick to my guns on that, and initially I turned the pitch down when Tim sent it to me. But I loved it so much, and couldn't stop thinking about. I think it took less than 24 hours for me to change my mind.
Nrama: Kurt, I really appreciate the color palette switch from the flashback scenes to MIT versus the modern-day, with the cold blues to warmer hues. How'd you go about deciding the palettes overall for the three major settings in this first issue?
Kurt Michael Russell: Thanks! For the scenes on the alien planet, I was thinking about Mad Max and Gladiator. The scenes take place on a hot, dry planet, so warm colors made the most sense for me there. It's a sort of visual shorthand that most people are familiar with already. I wanted the alien planet to feel entirely different than the scenes back on Earth, so the palettes are distinct.
For the lab scenes on Earth, I tried to make it look clinical and clean, and the scene in Chris' bedroom... well, in my mind, it's the palette of 90's late-night Cinemax and sultry saxophone solos.
Nrama: Tim, this isn't your first time delving into adult subjects - I've read Loaded Bible. But a lot has changed since then. Putting on your businessman hat, do you think the market is ready for something like Money Shot?
Seeley: Ha, I mean, Loaded Bible came out the week a cartoonist was murdered fro drawing Mohammed, so I dunno if things could have been much tenser.
I do think we live in a weird time for sex....we're more open minded about lot of things, but more rigid about others. I think MeToo has made it much more clear to men what's okay and what's not and that's only a massive positive. I felt like I reached out to a variety of viewpoints on this, and hopefully made something compelling but sensitive, but also open to a lot more education. I'm going to make mistakes and I want to know about them.
Nrama: How did you connect with Sarah Beattie and Rebekah Isaacs?
Seeley: Both are old friends of mine, both via Hack/Slash basically!
Isaacs: My first "real" comics gig was a Hack/Slash fill-in arc in 2007, I think? Tim and I had been trying to put something creator-owned together for a while since then. After initially turning down this pitch, I wrote him back and told him to consider me attached.
Seeley: And Sarah contacted me on Twitter about Hack/Slash, also probably 10 years ago, and we've kept in touch since. I pitched them both on the book very early and it wouldn't exist without their input.
Nrama: Kurt, how about you? You're frequently working with Tim, but I believe this is your first time coloring Rebekah's work.
Russell: I've only one year without a project with Tim since I've started! I actually colored a cover by Rebekah once before, and fortunately for me, she remembered that and liked it. They recommended me to [Vault Editor-in-Chief] Adrian Wassel. He sent over a short synopsis and some art. I was ready to get involved before I finished reading the first paragraph, and Rebekah's work is just amazing - so much fun to color.
Nrama: And I believe this is your first time working with Vault, and I believe this is their most adult series yet. Why were they the right company for this?
Seeley: I'd told Mike Moreci about the book and he thought Adrian would love the idea. And, I was super surprised when he responded so well. I think the fact that they approach their publishing slate as if they were a novel publisher helps them see the value of diverse genres without judgment as to it's controversial nature.
Nrama: Last question - putting yourself in your characters' shoes. Star Shot needs a cartoonist to document their voyage - do you sign up, even if it includes being a full member of the team?
Isaacs: Fake my own death. I've had full-blown panic attacks simply having to introduce myself on camera.
Seeley: [Laughs] Oh lord no. I've got way too many hang-ups! Also, I'm pretty sure my stomach would never handle interstellar space travel. I get traveler's diarrhea going to Canada.
Russell: I'd pack my drawing tablet and the universal power adapters. The outlets are all wrong once you get outside the Milky Way.