Kickstart the Week Pneumatic Cases #1 & 2: Sleuthing Steampunk Spouses

By: Nicole D’Andria

With only a couple more days to go, the Pneumatic Cases #1 & 2 Kickstarter has reached its goal, but stretch goals are still available. Join the entire creative team as they talk about this project. Follow along on this steampunk adventure with Bohemian inventors solving a murder mystery!

Pneumatic Cases is a steampunk adventure series starring Lord and Lady Ravenscroft, two brilliant scientists and inventors. Their Bohemian lifestyle and inventive ways are put at odds with the proper ways of Victorian Era London. With their inventions and steam-driven metallic Majordomo, Pneuman, these two scientists consult on a mysterious murder that takes them to Austria.

The creator/writer of Pneumatic Cases is John Wilson, a founding member of Last Ember Press. Rowel Roque (The Ballad of Rory Hawkins) is the artist on the project. Brant Fowler (The Last Ember), another founder of Last Ember Press, is the letterer; and Lisa Moore (The Last Ember, Regular Show), another founder, is the colorist.

The goal for the project was $1,500, which it has met. There’s a variant cover inspired by Scooby Doo created by CrankRats artist Katherine Ellis that is now unlocked as the project has reached $1,800. The Kickstarter will end on March 3, 2018 at 12:59 AM EST. Rewards for the project include thank yous in the new issue ($1+), digital copies of issue #2 ($3; $14 for a physical copy) as well as #1 ($5; for a physical copy $25) plus a subscription to the next two issues of Pneumatic Cases ($17). Even more rewards can be found on their Kickstarter page.

Enjoy interviews with the entire creative team!

John Wilson

Me: Can you share with us some of your favorite Steampunk and Holmesian murder mysteries and how they influence Pneumatic Cases?

Wilson: I am sadly woefully ignorant on the contemporary generation of Steampunk authors but, I can say all my roads lead back to the works of Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. It’s all there. Take equal parts action, crazy science and deduction and you have Pneumatic Cases.

Me: Why did you pick Austria as the setting for your story and do you have firsthand knowledge of it? Or did you have to do research?

Wilson: Austria is just the first stop on a long, strange journey for the Ravenscrofts as they learn more about the mysterious letter “M” and the murder connected to it. Oh, believe me, I most definitely had to research! Hours and hours were spent on maps and websites making sure names and locations were correct. Even though I’m writing fantasy, I like to ground it in as much reality as possible.

Me: The Kickstarter mentions the Ravenscroft’s steam-driven metallic Majordomo, Pneuman. Can you explain to us what this is and how it will impact the story?

Wilson: Pneuman is the Ravenscrofts’ steam-driven chrome plated all-purpose Man Friday! Think of Batman’s Alfred crossed with the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. Primarily he helps Lord Ravenscroft in his lab but Pneuman can always be called upon for everything from housecleaning to wielding a mean blunderbuss.

I don’t know if Pneuman will be joining the couple on their travels, but we might check in on him from time to time.

Pneumatic Cases #2 Page 1

Me: If you could pick one famous murder mystery to solve in real-life, what would it be and why did you choose that one in particular?

Wilson: I have to stay true to my comic book geek cred and say George Reeves, TV’s Superman from the 1950’s. I’m one of those people who falls firmly in the camp that there is no way that this was a suicide and it had to be a murder. There are too many unanswered questions.

Me: What is the number one reason you think people should back your Kickstarter?

Wilson: Pneumatic Cases is a truly unique book. The story follows a loving committed couple of brilliant people who are equals. They live in the Victorian Era but they are very Bohemian in terms of their views on sex and gender equality. They believe in racial equality and abhor slavery. And the only thing they love more than each other is solving murders. Add to that corsets, monsters, Gypsies, fairies, and mechanical men. Now where else are you going to find that?

Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers?

Wilson: Never, ever, EVER, give up your dream of being a writer. It took me quite a while before I was published. A lot of promises that weren’t kept, a lot of goals that weren’t met and a lot of people whose confusion of their path placed obstacles in mine. Try your best to avoid these people and stay focused on your own path. Write every day. Read everything across multiple genres and most importantly know your own worth. No one else has your voice and perspective. You are unique.

Rowel Roque

Me: How did you become part of this project and what about it stood out to you?

Roque: I was working on another project and Brant is the letterer. He asked me if I was interested in doing Pneumatic Cases and I said yes. I was always illustrating a lot of horror and superhero story at that time and I thought illustrating a steampunk story would be so awesome!

Me: When designing the steampunk elements in the story, what was your favorite object/clothing to design and why?

Roque: My favorite elements are the weapons, settings and clothing. I was always fascinated by old things and buildings.

Me: What was your favorite page/panel to draw in Pneumatic Cases and why was it your favorite?

Roque: I love every single one of them including the covers. But if I were to pick one, it would be the opening scene in issue #2.

Pneumatic Cases #2 Page 2

Me: If you could pick one famous murder mystery to solve in real-life, what would it be and why did you choose that one in particular?

Roque: Jack the Ripper, I guess. I watched a bunch of documentaries about it. I like old London’s history and it always spooks me.

Me: What is the number one reason you think people should back your Kickstarter?

Roque: Pneumatic Cases has an amazing story and awesome characters and art. I am very sure you will love it.

Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book artists?

Roque: Keep at it and don’t stop; show the world what you can do.

Lisa Moore

Me: What was your favorite page/panel to color in Pneumatic Cases and why was it your favorite?

Moore: Hands down the first page of the issue. It was a beautiful splash page of our traveling duo at a train station. So there are other travelers milling about and a massive steam-powered train taking up the focus of the page. That one was fun!

Me: If you could pick one famous murder mystery to solve in real-life, what would it be and why did you choose that one in particular?

Moore: I’m going extremely expected with this answer and picking likely the most notorious unsolved murder cases ever. Those, of course, would be the murders spanning the Jack the Ripper case. It would be incredible after all this time has passed for a definitive answer to be found!

Me: What is the number one reason you think people should back your Kickstarter?

Moore: Who can resist a good mystery! I love the tale John Wilson has been building up here and I cannot wait to show everyone how it unfolds. Plus the main characters are extremely endearing and just a lot of fun on the page.

Brant Fowler

Me: This Kickstarter is part of the Make/100 promotion. Can you tell us a bit about what this is and how Pneumatic Cases will be participating in it?

Fowler: The Make/100 promotion is an annual thing Kickstarter now does. I believe this is the second year they’ve implemented it. Basically, your Kickstarter had to launch by January 31st and include one reward item limited to 100 backers, or at least that’s how we perceived it! We are officially part of the promotion and have the badge on our page to prove it! 🙂

Our participation is a Kickstarter-exclusive acrylic charm featuring Lord and Lady Ravenscroft inside a heart-shaped magnifying glass surrounded by flowers, hearts and gears. Considering our campaign ran right through Valentine’s Day, we felt it was a fitting piece!

Pneumatic Cases #2 Charm

Me: How did you decide what type of letters to use for this story?

Fowler: When I set out to establish a style of lettering for any book, I take a lot of things into consideration. Theme, art style, tone, genre, etc. Typography is an art, and even with my years of experience, I don’t know all the ins and outs and nuances, but I try!

For Pneumatic Cases, it was a bit tricky for two reasons. One, with the first issue, it was down to the wire and I practically lettered the entire issue overnight. Two, even though it is a period piece, the tone of the book is very modern. So I went with a general style for the main dialogue of the book.

Pneuman’s dialogue was a bit trickier as he’s a robot, but in the Victorian Era. So I tried to balance the mechanical vibe with the times and hopefully it worked out okay.

Me: If you could pick one famous murder mystery to solve in real-life, what would it be and why choose that one in particular?

Fowler: I’d probably go for the Zodiac killings. It’s an intriguing case with so many unanswered questions. The audacity this person exhibited sending ciphers and cryptic clues to the authorities makes it all the more disturbing. From a profiling perspective, one might infer he wanted to be caught, but never was. Regardless, it’s one of those mysteries you just want closure on at this point.

Pneumatic Cases #2 Page 3

Me: What is the number one reason you think people should back your Kickstarter?

Fowler: There are plenty of steampunk stories out there. There are plenty of fantasy stories out there. There are plenty of murder mysteries out there. And there are plenty of love stories out there. This book combines ALL of those things into one unique experience and features interesting and compelling characters you can’t help but fall in love with!

Me: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, everyone! If you’re reading this and you’re interested in a new steampunk adventures, check out the Pneumatic Cases Kickstarter here.


Do you have a Kickstarter? Want to be interviewed about it and have the project featured on “Kickstart the Week?” Let me know in the comments below or message me on my website.

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