Take one part military buff, one part sci-fi nerd and a pin-up girl… what do you get?
Taking cues from world history and mixing it with a healthy dose of science fiction and pin-ups, artist Paolo Parente originally created the world of Dust as a table-top game and model kit series akin to Warhammer. But his explosive ideas begged for more, so in 2008 he brought this world to comics with the miniseries Dust with writer Christopher “Mink” Morrison. And now they’re returning with an all-new three issue series entitled Dust Wars beginning this June.
“Dust is Paolo Parente's alternate WWII sc-fi universe inspired by real war world II stories blended with a splash of science fiction, pop culture, femme fatales & kick-assery,” said Morrison, who penned the script for the comics. “[The story has] a great hero, great villain, exotic location, literary base and dash of sex appeal. These equal parts come together to create Dust which not only currently exists in print but t-shirts, skateboards, collectables, model kits, board games, toys and even live action airsoft extreme events with hundreds of players attending each game. Dust has come a long way from Paolo's beginning of it just a few years ago. In the new series we further the adventures of Dust in Dust Wars introducing some new characters and epic robot battles.”
The series takes place around the 1950s in a cold war that’s in some way similar to our own, but in other ways far far different. In this reality, Nazi Germany survived the second World War and in this uneasy peace both sides have developed robotic monstrosities, genetically engineered intelligent apes and reanimated zombie soldiers and other bizarre weaponry that they’re about to pit against each other in a whole new war. In this sci-fi/military mash-up, the Allies and the Soviet Union are teaming up to finally put a stop to the Nazi uprising.
“It is really like nothing in the market at the moment,” said the writer. “It has many similarities to a lot of material but Paolo's and his art team's take on the world mixed with my ramblings is very unique. It is a really good time and easy read with fantastic art.”
In the first series, simply titled Dust, the creators introduced the basic premise that in 1938 the Axis found a space ship full of technology and built incredible modern robot weapons to take over the world. “So when D-Day happened the Axis countered the Allies’ offensive with the robots and we end up with a twenty-some year cold war between the Allies and Axis,” explained Morrison.
The central figures in this war are the Russian commander Koshka Rudinova and the Axis leader Sigrid Von Thaler. She’s drawn as a pin-up girl who’s more than able to command and pilot the immense robots that do battle. But inside, she’s her own person with her own fears, hopes and dreams.
“Koshka is a tormented soul, a strong fighter as well as a beautiful woman,” said Parente. “Her struggle is mostly within herself; she’s the daughter of a national hero who went missing in action in the middle of the war. She joined the Red Army in the hope to be able to find him one day but also to emulate him. She constantly fights her battles thinking of him, becoming almost obsessed by his lost and heroism.”
Standing opposite to Koshka and the combined forces of the Soviets and Allies are the Axis and their commander, Von Thaler.
“Sigrid’s forces are the emanation of the greatest evil out there,” explained artist Davide Fabbri, who drew the actual comic pages while Parente did the cover & character designs. “They’re the worst kind of Axis troops from the period and their criminal scientists are creating undead zombie soldiers, armed gorillas, doomsday devices and more. At the same time, the new robot machines Thuler has called Gunthers are a mix of real elements and technology from WWII splashed with alien technology that could only come from Paolo’s crazy mind”
“The new Axis robot the Gunther stands almost twice the height of their Allied counterparts, with three times the firepower and range. In terms of capabilities, the Axis’ strength lies in their accuracy while the Allies are better in terms of speed and armor-plating.”
The upcoming second series Dust Wars explores the full-scale implementation of the Nazi’s Gunther robots, as well as how the Allies got a hold of their first robot and entered this robot “space race”. These robots are one of the key attraction of the series, as the central components in Dust’s first incarnation as a table-top game and with his elaborate model kits.
“I am a huge fan of all Paolo's robot designs -- there are too many to count these days,” Mink said. “These robots are made famous in the toy & model kit line Dust sells all over the world, and I wanted the new series to expand on this with a lot of robot fighting action. Each side having their robot tech and how they exploit it to try to win the war.”
The origin and machinations of Dust War and the entire Dust concept comes from deep inside Parente’s mind and childhood.
“The world of Dust came to life through my love of world war II model making,” said the Italian artist,” and expanded by Mink’s love of the WWII films of the 60's, 70's and early 80's. The era represents an epic story telling genre for real Black & white or good versus evil scenarios. It is has been used in everything from Casablanca to Indiana Jones and back again. So once I had my world rolling the next step was to include all the moments of real heroism, espionage and historical military significance from all the different areas and we were off to the races with dash of sexiness and humor.”