Fans of COPPERHEAD, RISE OF THE MAGI, and historical fiction, get stoked for ELSEWHERE! Written by Jay Faerber and illustrated by Sumeyye Kesgin with colors by Ron Riley and lettered by Thomas Mauer, ELSEWHERE tells the story of the lost pilot, Amelia Earheart. The comic features Amelia crash-landing in a strange land that’s completely unlike anything she’s seen before. With the comic coming out next month, ComicsVerse talked to Jay Faerber and Sumeyye Kesgin about their work in ELSEWHERE.

ComicsVerse (CV): The premise of this book is just a little bit bonkers but in a really wonderful way. I was floored but also madly excited when I read the first issue. Can you tell our readers what ELSEWHERE is about?

Jay Faerber (JF): Elsewhere is about the adventures of Amelia Earhart in a strange world populated with exotic figures and creatures. All she wants to do is get back home, but along the way she ends up becoming a sort of freedom fighter and a hero to the oppressed people of this world.

CV: Why Amelia Earhart post-disappearance? To me, it just seems like a completely random, albeit brilliant, idea for a comic. Can you explain that decision?

JF: I just think Amelia was an incredibly inspiring and interesting person and had offered such great potential if you put her in a fictional setting like this. She truly was a fearless explorer and adventurer, so it didn’t take much of a leap to imagine her in this environment.

ELSEWHERE #1
Courtesy of Image Comics

 

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CV: The setting and landscapes play such an important role in this book. How did the two of you find yourselves collaborating on this work, particularly in regards to building the settings?

JF: I write full scripts, but they mainly concentrate on the characters and their emotions. The actual visuals of the world are all from Sumeyye’s brilliant imagination.

Sumeyye Kesgin (SK): I’m getting a full script from Jay and I’m working on new characters/creatures/vehicles if there are any. He’s setting me free with all designs, and I’m starting page sketches and working on final pages after I get approved by Jay.

CV: What are some of your influences for this comic?

JF: I look at books like Brian Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ SAGA and Mark Millar and Stuart Immonen’s EMPRESS as great examples of crazy, inventive fantasy and sci-fi — yet with incredibly relatable and familiar characters at the center of it all.

SK: Moebius and Miyazaki are my most favourites. Also, I really love to see any new stuff from Andrew Robinson, John Arcudi, Paul Pope, James Harren, and Roger Ibanez. Their art and stories fuel my imagination.

CV: Amelia Earhart stars as the super strong female protagonist. Jay, you have a lot of experience writing women. Can you talk about how you approach these characters, many of which are outstandingly successful (like COPPERHEAD)?

 JF: First off, thank you. I guess I just think of them as people first, women second. Meaning I don’t think “how would a woman react in this situation?” I think, “How would this specific character react in this situation?” And I think there are a lot of similarities between COPPERHEAD’s Sheriff Clara Bronson and Amelia Earhart. They’re both very brave and don’t care what people think about them. But there are big differences, too. I think Amelia is a much better person than Clara is. Clara is petulant and a little prejudiced and arrogant. Amelia is none of those things.

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CV: Can the both of you talk us through the character design of Amelia? Was it challenging to take this real life mystery figure and superimpose her into your own work? Was there a lot of research involved both for what she would look like and her mannerisms?

 JF: I did a lot of research into Amelia’s life story so that I knew what motivated her and how I could reasonably extrapolate how she’d react in this otherworldly situation she finds herself in. It was definitely challenging. But it helps to keep in mind that we’re creating a work of fiction, not a biography. So it’s perfectly fine if we take liberties. And we do! And I think Sumeyye has managed to capture Amelia’s likeness amazingly well, without it ever feeling photo-referenced.

SK: I can find lots of reference photographs of her, and I think I committed her expression to memory. Also, I’ve always imagined her as a naive, brave, and smart woman, so these keywords are guiding me while drawing her. I guess I can capture something closer to her real personality and appearance.

Courtesy of Image Comics

CV: In the first issue, the audience gets to see Amelia, an incredibly competent protagonist, break down under the pressures of her new situation. Can you talk about balancing this vulnerable scene with the clear image of her as incredibly capable and mostly in control?

JF: I would’ve included that scene pretty much exactly as written even if it featured a male protagonist. I think it was utterly necessary to help convey the enormity of the situation Amelia finds herself in. Taking a moment for that to land on her doesn’t diminish in the slightest what a courageous person she is. So it never really caused me any concern. If she didn’t react like that at some point early on, the whole thing would feel too light and fluffy with no real stakes, y’know?

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CV: The art for ELSEWHERE is fantastic. Sumeyye, you’ve worked on SEPTEMBER MOURNING and RISE OF THE MAGI, can you talk us through how you approach designing a fantasy world? What were some of your inspirations?

SK: I never wanted to show a fantasy world that looks like DUNGEONS & DRAGONS or LORD OF THE RINGS in ELSEWHERE. You know, a universe that mixed dragons, magics, and the middle-age style. I aimed to create something more alien-ish and strange. Something like popping out from Heavy Metal Magazine.

ELSEWHERE #1
Courtesy of Image Comics

CV: Amelia finds herself in a world with a despotic ruler. Can you talk about the decision to put this specific figure in this specific environment?

JF: We wanted to have our own iconic, archetypal villain for Amelia and her new friends to go up against. In the first issue, Lord Kragen is only seen briefly. But he makes quite an impact. But as the series progresses, we’ll get to know him a little more, and understand his motivation. There’s more to him than just Token Evil Guy. We want to subvert archetypes wherever we can in this book.

CV: What is your favorite comic book project that you’ve worked on?

JF: That’s a very tough call. I don’t know that I can single one project out. But ELSEWHERE is definitely near the top of my list. It’s such a pleasure working on this book with Sumeyye, plus our colorist Ron Riley and letterer Thomas Mauer. The three of them are bringing my words to life in such an incredible way.

SK: ELSEWHERE and RISE OF THE MAGI are my fave comic work, I think.

ELSEWHERE will be available here on August 2, 2017! Check out Jay and Sumeyye’s twitters!

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