J.N. Monk Heads for the Stars to Find ‘Enough Space for Everyone Else’ [Back Pages]
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Edited by J.N. Monk and Lee Black, Enough Space for Everyone Else is a space and sci-fi themed anthology with a difference: the book promises to feature absolutely no stories about war, imperialism, or anything that looks to turn the grand unexplored majesty of space into yet another battleground. With the galaxy stretching out infinitely, why do so many authors seem intent on using that canvas as merely another place to do a war story?
The PG-13 anthology looks to truly make use of the endless possibility of space, widening the types of stories that can be told within its limitless scope. ComicsAlliance stopped to explore the galaxy with J.N., and find out what they have in store for the project.
ComicsAlliance: What's the basic premise of Enough Space For Everyone Else?
J.N. Monk: A diverse sci-fi comic anthology that seeks to reclaim the cosmos for different kinds of stories.
CA: What was it that made you deliberately want for this to rule out imperialist narratives for the stories?
JM: I find the imperialist, or in some cases anti-imperialist, nature of a lot sci-fi stories a bit suffocating. I started to realize that so many tales set in space seemed to revolve entirely around some form of militarism or imperialism. Someone's always fighting for or against something, or they're trying to colonize another someplace or other. Even something like Star Trek, which largely preached against this sort of thing, had this as its main focus.
There doesn't seem to be a lot of mainstream sci-fi or space fiction that's concerned with people doing anything else.
CA: What kind of stories does that lead us into instead? What can we expect to see in this anthology?
JM: You'll see comics, illustrations and prose about all sorts of things. We have stories about archaeologists discovering that the ancient riddles of other planets aren't so different than our own. Or how hypersleep affects humans and robots differently. Or how an ill-fated vacation leads to someone coming to a better understanding of the universe around them.
We have friendships that transcend time and space, and the complications of failed teleportation experiments. We even have one with an educational bent about the difference between gravity on a space station and the kind one would feel on a planet.
CA: What was the genesis of the project? How long have you wanted to get this up and running?
JM: I pretty much put the word out on Twitter a little over a year ago, and the ball was rolling almost immediately. There were a series of setbacks; but everything was back on track by late last year. The idea seemed to interest people right away. The moment I mentioned the imperialism thing a lot of people came to the instant realization that they too lacked sci-fi media that veered away from that sort of thing.
I was kinda surprised by how much people wanted this thing and wanted to be a part of it.
CA: How did you find people to join you for the anthology? Who are some of the people involved with the project?
JM: I personally asked some people and others came along by submitting via a Google form that we had set up on our official Tumblr. I would feel bad about not listing everyone... so I think I'm gonna do that right now. We've got cover art by Eryn Williams, and illustrations by Kodi Steffen, Claudia Rinofner, Zoe Maxine, and Elemei.
There are new comics by Megan Kearney, Alice Gao, Z Akhmetova, Kristen Gudsnuk/Benito Cereno, Niki Smith/Kori Michele, Anna Landin, Constanza Yovaniniz, Debbie Fong, Caitlin Major, Megan Gedris, Mari Costa, Patabot, Sigmund Reimann, Jon Vanneste, Jeff Laclede, Eryn Williams, Simon Lindenthaler, Diana Nock, Courtney Hahn, Tod Wills, VER, and Sarah Winifred Searle; as well as prose by TS Porter, S. Pace Smith, and Samantha Rich.
CA: This isn't your first time editing an anthology. What do you enjoy most about the process of working as editor on anthology projects like this?
JM: This is only my second anthology. My first one, Disruption, was a labor of love that ended up being a lot of fun, if incredibly frustrating at the same time. I love doing these things because I like pointing a spotlight at some of the more underappreciated and unknown talent out there. Letting them get work to new audiences who would've otherwise not known about them fills my heart with joy.
But I also love to see what ideas and artistry can come from simple prompts. Things I never would've thought of if I had just tackled an idea all by myself!
I have a couple of ideas for future anthologies that I hope I can tackle in the near future. One that focuses on the bizarre occupations people do, both real and fantastical. And another one for an all-ages audiences that would be tonally somewhere in between Goosebumps and Eerie, Indiana.
CA: Why take the anthology to Kickstarter?
JM: You can't really call it Enough Space For Everyone Else without giving everyone a chance to truly be a part of it coming to fruition!
But it's also because I didn't want this to be a digital-only release. Disruption never saw print, and I think that limited just how many people it could reach. I wanted Enough Space to be able to reach everyone it could, and Kickstarter seemed to be the best way to do so.
CA: I noticed you're being published by Hope Nicholson, who is no stranger to Kickstarter herself. How important do you feel Kickstarter has become for new, ambitious projects like this to get funded and actually come to print?
JM: Hope is amazing. I'm still impressed by how much she's achieved in such a short time. Completely blown away.
As for Kickstarter, I don't know where comics would be without it. It's totally revolutionized the industry and I'm honestly not sure I'd even be where I am right now without it. It's very important to not just all the projects coming out now but also shaping the future of the industry.
CA: What stage are you at with the book? How much has already been completed?
JM: Much of the book has already been completed. There's only a few stories left to be finished. But we're pretty far along now to the point that it's nearly finished.
CA: Should you achieve your goal, what’s your estimated delivery on the final project?
JM: Estimated final delivery of the digital and print version is December 2016!
Enough Space for Everybody Else will run on Kickstarter until Sunday 17th July 2016, looking for a funding target of $33,000. You can find the Kickstarter here, and the twitter page for the project here!
Notice of disclosure: Enough Space contributor Benito Cereno is also a regular contributor to ComicsAlliance.