It’s not easy living two lives; just ask any superhero! Juggling a secret identity and a superhero persona can get pretty hectic, but what about managing three separate identities?
Nate Cosby, Jacob Edgar, Kike J. Diaz, and Rus Wooton explore this question in their upcoming original graphic novel Alter Ego (currently available to back on Kickstarter) and we got a chance to discuss the origins of the project, the 1940’s setting, and the nature of crowdfunding in this exclusive interview.
What are the origins of Alter Ego?
Nate Cosby: It began with Jacob Edgar and I wanting to work together on something new. We’d done a western called Fantastic Bandits, and for this next one, I was trying to think of something I’d never written before, to challenge myself. I’d never really written a superhero story…maybe because I’d edited so many superhero comics, it didn’t really occur to me that I had anything different to say about them. But after going a few years without working on them, or reading them, my mind started wandering back to what I loved about superheroes as a kid…this idea of costumed people fighting bad guys, to try and help people. And then I tried to think about how far that idea could be taken…like, what if there was a person that wanted to be a hero ALL the time. What would that look like? How would they do it? The answer for me was, he’d become TWO heroes.
Your protagonist leads two very different heroic lives. What was the impetus for him to branch out and assume two secret identities?
Cosby: Ace Adams is a Hollywood stuntman that felt compelled to help people, so he designed a bright costume, called himself Whiz-Bang, and bounded around town fighting crime with a big grin. But after a while, he realized that Whiz-Bang wasn’t effective in fighting the seedier elements that come out at night. So he adopts another persona, The Black Dog, who lurks in the shadows and comes a little closer to crossing lines than any daytime hero.
Ace is doing all of this with the goal of helping as many people as possible. Only problem is, when you spend all your time being three totally different people…who are you, really?
Why is the 1940s Hollywood setting so important to your story?
Cosby: It just made sense to set our story in a time and place where an entire city was centered around “putting on a show.” Because I feel like being a superhero is largely about performance…the main goal is to save the day, of course. But if you’re throwing on a cape or mask and fighting villains in public, you’re trying to SHOW people something…inspiration, fear, some kind of emotion. It’s an acting performance. And what better place for acting than the grimy, glitzy Golden Age of Hollywood?
Also, it’s the era where most of my favorite films were made, and you’ll easily find nods to them in our story. Movies like Casablanca, Singin’ In The Rain, The Third Man, The Adventures Of Robin Hood, Meet Me In St. Louis, Sabrina, Only Angels Have Wings, 12 Angry Men, The Bad & The Beautiful…as well as hat tip to some of my favorite films set in that era: LA Confidential, Chinatown, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? and The Rocketeer.
You mix sci-fi, fantasy, and horror elements in the world of Alter-Ego. Is it difficult to balance all of the genre elements?
Cosby: Don’t forget noir and westerns and romantic comedies! Genre elements are a pleasure to play with, because the audience has certain expectations when they see a giant sci-fi robot, or a guy with a magical wand, or a set of horrible glowing eyes in the dark. The fun is using each convention to my advantage, showing a reader something they think they’re familiar with, and then veering in another direction.
How would you describe Jacob Edgar’s art and what does it bring to the story that is unique?
Cosby: The technical term for Jacob’s art is “Flipping Awesome.” Jacob’s the co-creator of Alter Ego; it wouldn’t be what it is without his storytelling sensibilities and ability to make every page crackle with energy. We spoke a lot about influences for what Alter Ego would look like…Darwyn Cooke’s DC: The New Frontier, Mike Wieringo’s Fantastic Four, everything Jack Kirby ever drew, David Mazzucchelli’s Batman: Year One and Michael Lark’s Gotham Central. Despite the huge size and scale of the action, we wanted to maintain a sense of style and place, and only an artist of Jacob’s skill can bring that sort of thing to life on the page.
How do you find the Kickstarter experience as a means for funding and fan engagement?
Cosby: It’s been fantastic. I’ve worked on a few crowd-funding projects now, and the Kickstarter community has been really supportive of me and my collaborators. We’re already developing the next few projects that we plan to launch on Kickstarter, via my production company, Linney Incorporated.
Cosby: I have to finish writing Alter Ego! And we’re nearly finished with Fight-Bunny, by Jennifer L. Meyer, Ariana Maher and myself. Then it’s on to the next couple secret projects…
Alter Ego is currently available to back on Kickstarter until Wednesday, April 13. Check out the main cover as well as a number of limited edition variant covers below.