By: Nicole D’Andria
Kickstart your weekend with a group of funky space travelers as they explore the cosmos and fight against the forces of evil. Today I’m talking with The Disconauts creator and writer, Jonathan Stevenson.
This Kickstarter features The Disconauts #1, a 36-page full-color issue featuring the misadventures of the Disconauts (think the A-Team meets disco traveling through space). The crew consists of The Boogie, the coolest kat in the galaxy and leader of the Disconauts; Starfox, the greatest pilot in the galaxy; Dude Dynamite, the brawn of the team; Kitty Kat, the fearless femme fatale on the team; and the brains of the operation known as The Whizz. This issue features the Disconauts facing off against a t-rex and Rasputin.
The creators of the comic include Eisner Award-nominated editor Jonathan Stevenson (Doctor Who, Tank Girl) as the writer and character designer/illustrator Luke Balmer-Kemp (The Corbyn Comic, FutureQuake) as the artist. The two are seeking to raise £3,000 ($4,197) by July 1, 2021, at 4:00 AM EDT on Kickstarter. Rewards include digital (£3) and physical (£4) copies of The Disconauts #1 as well as a Disconauts Plectrum (£8). The rest of the rewards can be scoped out on their Kickstarter page.
I talked in-depth with Jonathan Stevenson about his project below.
Me: Why did you decide to mix disco with space travel?
Stevenson: I was deliberately trying to come up with ideas that I wouldn’t normally. I wanted to push myself to create a short story that was different from what I was writing at the time. It grew beyond the original short story idea, but that was how I came up with the characters and the basic concept. I oddly feel that disco and space are a good match. There’s even a sub-genre of disco called space disco. I guess disco and old-fashioned ideas of space travel share a lot of shiny outfits.
Me: You mention on the Kickstarter page that animated shows like He-Man, BraveStarr, and The Real Ghostbusters were on your mind when creating The Disconauts. What is it about these shows that inspired you?
Stevenson: It was the feel of those shows. The tone. I wanted to create something fun and feel-good that also had a simple message. I also wanted to keep the episodic feel. The Disconauts has a loose arc but it’s mostly intended to be standalone issues or two-parters. And I wanted something bright and colorful that would remind people of those animated shows from the 80s and 90s. Hopefully, there’s a kind of nostalgia to the comic that makes it feel familiar even though it’s new.
Me: If you had to pick one member of the Disconauts to hang out with for the day, who would it be and why?
Stevenson: The Boogie. He’s the leader of the group. He’s calm, level-headed, and effortlessly cool.
Me: How would you describe Luke Balmer-Kemp’s art style in this comic and why was he the perfect pick for The Disconauts?
Stevenson: Luke captured exactly what I imagined. It’s bright, colorful, and cartoony. I think I had Luke’s art in my mind when I came up with the idea. I wanted to work with him and I wanted it to be on a project where my writing complemented his style. His cartoon style lends itself well to silliness and fun. If he had a more realistic art style then I’d probably never have created The Disconauts. We’d have done a western instead.
Me: Your two-page story “Hyperthymesia” is included as one of the rewards. What can you tell us about this story and the inspiration behind it?
Stevenson: It’s basically a gag—two pages with a joke twist at the end. I’d written a few stories for an anthology called FutureQuake, and I was always trying to write for the maximum page count of around five pages. But I decided to challenge myself to see how few pages I needed to tell a story. So I did one, two, and three-page stories. I was probably inspired to do it after hearing about the challenge that Ernest Hemingway undertook to write a six-word story. The title, “Hyperthymesia,” is a real condition that allows people with it to remember minute details of their day-to-day lives.
Me: What is the number one reason why someone should pledge money to your Kickstarter project?
Stevenson: I genuinely think that, for their money, they are getting a good, solidly written, excellently drawn comic that will make them smile. If you’re into comics and you enjoy a laugh, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by The Disconauts. Having been around the industry for a few years I feel like I’m a safe pair of hands when it comes to following through with the comic. I know how to get a comic to print so no one will be complaining that the project never happened or is massively delayed. In fact, the whole issue is complete. I can send it to print the day after the campaign ends.
Me: What inspirational words do you have for aspiring comic book writers?
Stevenson: Well, I’m just an aspiring comic book writer myself, so I’m probably not in a position to offer inspirational words. I had my first story published in 2014, but I’m still only aspiring. I’m still doing it because I enjoy it, not because I imagine Marvel are about to come knocking.
Me: As an Eisner nominated editor, what are the biggest mistakes you find yourself addressing when you edit comics?
Stevenson: The book that was nominated was a translated book. That’s a niche where I have unintentionally found myself. With translated books, it’s not so much dealing with what’s been done wrong as it is working around the different comic conventions and styles between different countries.
As a freelancer, I work for whoever’s willing to pay, and I’ve found that most people struggle with the basics. They’re so keen to tell the story they’ve come up with that they often pay no attention to how to format a script, how many panels and balloons they should have on a page, and how much text they can have in one balloon. They also often describe several beats of action in a single panel, making it impossible for an artist to draw. That comes from them seeing the comic as a movie in their heads, rather than as a static image. Most people aren’t interested in correcting any of these things. They often get annoyed because they only want feedback on the story itself, not the fundamentals. But you need those foundations to build on, otherwise, you’ll never improve.
Me: Promote yourself! What else do you have in the works at the moment that we can expect to see in the future?
Stevenson: I’m British, we’re not good at self-promotion. Luke and I would love to be able to carry on with The Disconauts for now. It’s a fun idea that we are enjoying working on. We have four issues written and drawn so we’d love to be able to get those Kickstarted and into people’s hands. Getting the first one funded should set us up well to make that happen. Whether the campaign is successful or not, I intend to carry on working with Luke. We’ve got an outline for an OGN that’s very different from The Disconauts. And, one day, we’ll definitely get around to doing a western.
Me: Thank you for taking the time to share your world with us, Jonathan. If you’re reading this and you’re interested in mixing in some sci-fi with your disco, check out The Disconauts Kickstarter.
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