Golden Age Superheroes Return in ‘Not Forgotten’ [Back Pages]
The Golden Age of comics is best remembered for the creation of the iconic superheroes such as Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman. But for every lasting success story, there were other characters who were created and then seemingly forgotten. Whatever happened to those heroes?
A new anthology spearheaded by Einar Másson and Matt Harding looks to answer that question. Not Forgotten is a collection of stories that revives some of the other heroes of the Golden Age, in the hopes of returning these relics to new relevance. With an impressive line-up of creators, the anthology is currently running on Kickstarter, seeking a funding target of $25,000. ComicsAlliance spoke to Másson and Harding about how the project came together.
ComicsAlliance: What’s the concept of Not Forgotten?
Einar Másson: Not Forgotten is a celebration of all those other Golden Age comic book heroes that just didn't catch on for whatever reason. We’ve got grim-faced avengers, magnificent magicians, and intrepid space explorers whose time had simply not come. We want to dig up all those goofy old characters, dust them off, give them fresh paint jobs, and tell some new, fun, and interesting stories with them.
Matt Harding: The great thing about a lot of these heroes is just how unique they were, without any boundary to the creativity that flowed into them. For example there’s one guy, a heavy fellow, whose superpower is to change into a literal flying saucer and just kinda fly around. It can get weird in the archives of the public domain golden age superhero stuff.
Half the fun of doing this book was to comb through the hundreds of stories and pick out hidden gems. There’s so much unique and crazy material that we could make ten of these books and still just be scratching the surface.
CA: How did you first come up with the idea? What sparked this project for you?
EM: Sometime in the spring of 2016, a friend of Matt’s made a Facebook post about how rad some Golden Age superheroes looked and how it’s a shame nobody’s doing anything with them. A discussion grew from there between Matt and I about reviving some of these stories.
MH: As soon as we put the idea out on the internet, we were getting contacted by all kinds of people who began pitching these stories to us, professionals and newcomers alike. It was really cool to see how energized creators were getting over these old superheroes.
EM: The public domain nature of Not Forgotten allows for built-in nostalgia without being convoluted, and it offers our creators a combination of structure and flexibility. The established rules of these characters are merely guidelines; the canon isn’t concrete.
CA: What interested you most in the idea of taking public-domain characters and giving them a revamp?
EM: I was most interested in exploring the hidden nuggets of potential in these characters, and bringing them up to the surface to shine. It could be their strange backstories, their weird powers that hadn’t been codified the way they usually are today, or just the striking visuals of their costume designs.
MH: At first it was just something we were doing for fun as a group of friends. However, after a buzz started generating around the project, it took on a new importance. As we went through the archives and learned about these characters, we started to understand the magnitude of this strange, early age of superhero that had been lost to time. This is our history here in the comic book industry, and we have all but forgotten about it. Doing this book has become an important thing to me now so we can remember these awesome characters and the creators who made them.
CA: Public domain characters suggests "old" characters, and "old" characters suggests "white male" characters. Will Not Forgotten look to update these characters and stories to better reflect society?
MH: Absolutely. One of our biggest goals in updating some of these old properties was to add more diversity and represent as much of society as we could.
EM: You’re absolutely right in that the roster we have to work with is predominantly white and male. During the call for submissions, we encouraged creators to change up the characteristics of the characters they were working with to inject some much-needed diversity into the crowd. Quite a few of our stories are female-lead, some feature openly gay characters, and a few have had their gender, ethnicity, etc. altered.
CA: How did you find people to take part in the anthology? What were you looking for from contributors?
EM: As Matt mentioned earlier, the project was originally meant to be a much smaller affair between me, Matt, and maybe a dozen pals from our art school days. We mostly wanted to put together a modest little showcase for ourselves. Then word got out and more seasoned professionals started asking about the project. We realized that the anthology had the potential to be much bigger than we’d planned, so we rose to the occasion.
MH: We got something close to a hundred fully formed pitches for the book, and narrowing that down to 20 stories was incredibly difficult. Ultimately, we were looking for characters that were both familiar and unfamiliar, and we wanted stories that were not just about a hero beating up a criminal. We looked for unique and interesting stories that we felt hadn’t been told before.
EM: Some of our creators play very close to their characters’ roots, while others revel in the strange, often-bizarre premises that come with these stories.
CA: And who else is participating in the anthology?
MH: One of the most important collaborators in the book for me is my dad, who got me and my brothers into comics in the first place. It’s because of him that I’ve become a comics professional, and it’s really awesome to me to be drawing his story for the book.
Past that, we have Saeed Arjumand, an up and coming talent from Dubai, and Vincent Kukua from Image Comics. We have Kevin Cuffe and Ricardo Lima working on an awesome Iron Skull story. We have Matt Harvey from the hugely popular band Exhumed working with Sinclair Klugarsh, Jason Inman (co-host of DC All Access) working with Nick Robles, Eric M. Esquivel (Lego DC Super Heroes, Adventure Time) working with Ryan Cody (Atomic Robo).
We have newer guys like Malcolm Johnson (The Styx Express), Jared Rosmarin, and Eugene Young who have amazing styles. We also have superstar industry professionals like Kevin Buckley (Madefire, Cyberwulf) doing incredible work for the book. We also have people who come from other industries like Jeff Leeds, a professional newspaper reporter, working with overseas talent like Marco Maccagni.
EM: Off the top of my head, ComicsAlliance’s own Matt D. Wilson has a Scarlet Avenger story that plays around with comic conventions in a very fun way. It’s illustrated by Rodrigo Vargas and lettered by Josh Krach. Ashley Victoria Robinson from Top Cow and Morgan Beem have an absolutely gorgeous little story about the jungle-goddess Terena of the Jungle (creatively rebranded as the Canadian Terena of the Tundra).
Omar Morales and Joel Cotejar have crafted a beautiful little moon-adventure based on Moon Girl, with colors by Paula Goulart and lettering by Jaymes Reed. That one’s already getting some attention from publishers who want to expand on it, but I can’t say any more about that at the moment.
CA: What made you want to bring the project to Kickstarter? What made this the right route for you?
EM: Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites like it make it easier than ever before to reach people who genuinely want to see your work. There’s a lot of DIY-work involved with marketing and coordinating with everyone, but it’s an exciting challenge that I’ve come to enjoy. It doesn’t hurt that Matt’s a three-time Kickstarter veteran, which is very reassuring throughout the process.
CA: What stage are your currently at with production of the comic? How much has already been completed?
EM: As of this interview, we’re approx. 90% finished with the book’s content, with a few illustration prints pending once we’re funded. We have twenty stories in the can with a few more on the way. 2016 was a bumpy ride for some of our creators, so we have a couple of them finishing their stories just before the Kickstarter’s end.
MH: Past that we have all kinds of cool little things to add in as reward incentives. The creators who worked on the book have been very excited and have spent a lot time making cool things and brainstorming cool ideas.
CA: Do you have any stretch goals planned for the comic?
EM: We’ve got some of the standards covered: Stickers, prints, a bookmark. We’re also doing enamel pins. We’d love to do a hardcover edition of the book. We’re also lining up some of our artists to do little 5x7” prints to go with the book. The further we go, the more prints you’ll get.
MH: We also have original art from the book and custom sketches for the higher tiers that are all very exciting.
CA: What’s your estimated delivery on the final product?
EM: By the time the Kickstarter has finished its process, we hope to be able to send the book directly to our printers. I estimate the physical rewards should be making their way to backers by mid-June, early July at the latest.
MH: Just in time for convention season!
Not Forgotten will run on Kickstarter until Thursday 9th March 2017, seeking a funding target of $25,000. To find out more, check the Kickstarter page here!
Please note that the anthology’s contributors include ComicsAlliance writer Matt D. Wilson. He had not participation in the commission or production of this article.
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