High adventure takes to the skies this June in Mike Raicht, Zach Howard and Austin Harrison's new creator-owned miniseries, "Wild Blue Yonder," from IDW Publishing. "Wild Blue Yonder" revolves around teenage girl Cola, a fighter pilot on a mythical airship in a war-ravaged future where the ground is so polluted humanity has permanently retreated to the skies.
While "Wild Blue Yonder" initially began life as a Kickstarter project for artist Howard and writers Raicht and Harrison, it was picked up for release by IDW shortly thereafter. Howard is perhaps best known as the artist of Joe Hill's "The Cape," also published by IDW, while Raicht is currently writing "Dark Shadows" for Dynamite Entertainment.
Howard, Raicht and Harrison spoke with Comic Book Resources about the unique world they're building in "Wild Blue Yonder," discussing their new artistic startup Noble Transmission, explaining how "Wild Blue Yonder" went from Kickstarter project to IDW release and more.
CBR News: What's the premise of "Wild Blue Yonder?"
Mike Raicht: It's a coming of age story that just happens to be set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The surface of the earth is so polluted that the lucky ones escaped to the skies on huge air barges. Unfortunately, just like with any new frontier, humanity is engaged in a vicious war to rule it.
Our focus is on Cola, a young female fighter pilot who helps protect a very special solar powered air fortress known as The Dawn. She and the rest of the Dawn's crew are currently on the run from The Judge and his armada of warships.
How did Cola become such an ace pilot at such a young age? And just what kind of name is Cola, anyways?
Raicht: I wanted her to be an 18-year-old girl, with typical teen issues, trying to survive in this world. She also happens to fly a jet and protect her air barge from other pilots and killer air pirates.
Her flying prowess comes from growing up in a place where you are trained to take on a role at a very young age. Because there are no schools people inherit their positions, usually from their family. Her father, Big Cola, has been training her to be a pilot to protect The Dawn since she was a little girl. Someday, if she has kids, she will do the same.
The name just kind of came to me. Not sure where it came from. I kind of felt different names, maybe things from objects that would be obsolete in a world like this, would begin to become names for characters. Cola just happened to be the thing I typed at the time as a placeholder and it stuck.
Zach Howard: For me, it was just a matter of making her look original, but still functional. She needed to be cute and bubbly, but fully capable of taking care of herself.
What's so special about the airship The Dawn?
Raicht: In this world, The Dawn has become a bit of a myth. A legend sick people on the ground tell each other about and other air societies dream of possessing. In short, a place that could fly safely among the clouds forever.
The Dawn runs on hydrogen and solar power. Unlike most if not all of the other air barges, planes and fleets in the sky, it does not need to refuel. As time has gone on, and the ample fuel reserves and mining facilities have started to dry up and disappear, an air barge like The Dawn would clearly be desirable to those hoping not to fall out of the sky and have to survive on the polluted earth below.
Howard: It takes a long time to draw.
What's the political reality of this world amongst the clouds like? Is The Judge the resident oppressive ruler?
Austin Harrison: There is no organized political structure. It is more like a patchwork of tribes. The Judge is the commander of the most powerful fleet of warships and combatants. He rose to power over time through his prowess as a pilot and a demonstration of leadership under the pressure of making life and death decisions.
What inspired the unique world of "Wild Blue Yonder?"
Raicht: I was coming up with a bunch of pitches about seven or eight years ago and it was just something that came to me. I pictured dudes with jet packs flying around huge air barges fighting with axes and crowbars. I've always loved post-apocalyptic worlds and it just came together.
What sets your tale apart from other recent post-apocalyptic stories?
Harrison: We've put quite a bit of work into the story and the details of the world. It wasn't thrown together quickly and Zach's ability to create visuals of grand scale helps. I suppose everyone says that, but hopefully people notice the effort and so far the reviews have been quite positive. The air-to-air combat battles are a big focus so our story isn't a wandering the ground post-apocalyptic tale.
Raicht: First off we have a superstar artist in Zach drawing it. We also have a unique setting, having it set so high in the sky. But most importantly, I think we have a cast that is real family who I think readers are going to relate to.
Howard: Not being thoughtless warmed-over schlock separates us from the masses.
"Wild Blue Yonder" began life as a Kickstarter project, so how did it wind up being published by IDW?
Raicht: Zach and I had been talking about trying to find the time to work on "Wild Blue Yonder" for about seven years. It was just tough to take that long of a break from paying work to get on the project, so Kickstarter was a great place for us to find funds for it. IDW approached Zach about bringing the book to them after we had begun the Kickstarter process. Obviously it was a huge opportunity for us to have our book sitting on the shelf alongside all of their great properties and creator-owned books. Zach had also just finished working with them on "The Cape" with Joe Hill so it all seemed to make sense.
The experience on Kickstarter was a great one. I felt like we met a lot of great people and they were all excited about working with us to make "Wild Blue Yonder" a reality. It was not only a great way to fund the book, but it was also an amazing way to get the word out on the project and raise interest. It was a real win-win for us.
Austin, is this your first comics work?
Harrison: I have worked on several comic book properties including "The Dread of Bete Noire" with Zach Howard going back quite a while. However, this is the first one to come out. I have loved comics since I was a kid and I grew up drawing and painting, so the visuals are very moving for me. Since I saw Zach's art about 10 years ago I've always been a huge fan of his work. He and I have been in contact since then and he brought me in to work on "Wild Blue Yonder" with Mike.
Now, the three of us have a partnership called Noble Transmission where we will attempt to transmit a noble flavor of energy into the universe.
What exactly is Noble Transmission?
Howard: Early last year I decided to fully commit to doing "Wild Blue Yonder" with Mike, come hell or high water. However, Austin and myself had been developing another story over the years, and yet again, it would have to be put on hold. That eventually led to Austin being brought on to "Wild Blue Yonder" to help Mike and I make our story well rounded, complete, and ready for sale in multiple media avenues. All three of us quickly became aware of the quality of work we were creating, and decided to expand that into an actual company with multiple high-end properties.
Harrison: The company is a brand new startup. Noble Transmission is a collaboration between the three of us to build a library of characters for publishing, licensing and production in a variety of media forms. Our logo is a satellite, and our goal is to transmit a noble flavor of energy into the universe. There are those that may seek out the vibrations. They can start by connecting on our web site at nobletransmission.com.
What are some of the other projects coming from Noble Transmission?
Harrison: Our next book series is an all-ages title called "Buck." You can see more about us and our titles on our web site at nobletransmission.com.
What's "Buck" about?
Harrison: We haven't announced too much about the young fellow yet. Here's the logline that is on our web site that is also accompanied by art: "Buck is the last descendant of a race of legendary warrior rabbits. With barely any training, he must rediscover the ways of his father and lead his fellow rabbits against an oncoming horde of barbaric ferrets." But he will be launching soon and we would love to talk to you about him in the near future...
Howard: We can't go into too much detail about the property, other than it might be the best story that any of us have ever worked on. It's one of those stories where anyone -- kids, parents, and everyone in between -- can enjoy. Even if you are freakishly gross, and read nothing but Aquaman comics, you will dig it.
Moving back to "Wild Blue Yonder," Zach, what were you going for aesthetically on this project?
Howard: WWII mixed with future tech.
And is the book a stand-alone miniseries or part of a larger story?
Raicht: We've crafted this to be a complete story. It is five issues long. I think we'd all love to return to the world at some point. I think it has a lot of potential.
"Wild Blue Yonder" #1 by Mike Raicht, Austin Harrison and Zach Howard debuts June 19 from IDW Publishing.