|"Eddy Current" #1
Full Issue #1 preview at the end of this interview.
This April "Eddy Current" will return to store shelves in three new 120 page trades from Atomeka. Each book will contain four of the original issues with a new cover for all three by McKeever. Dave Gibbons is writing the introduction for issue #1, which will also contain a three-page story called "Liberetto" written by McKeever and illustrated by Gibbons. And for those who can't get enough Eddy action, "Eddy Current" will also be appearing in each of the three "Bojeffries Terror Tomes" to come out from Atomeka at the same time. CBR News caught up with McKeever to see what "Eddy Current" is all about and what he's up to next.
"The story itself is about one man's interpretation of the world around him, albeit he's insane, so his perspective is a bit off center," McKeever told CBR News Wednesday afternoon. "But that was the question of the series -- was Eddy insane in a sane world or was the world crazy and Eddy was the one who made sense? One night, Eddy escapes from the insane asylum, and ventures out into the world, the city of Chad, in the hopes of 'saving the world' from its self-destruction. He escapes at 6pm and must be back before 6am, bed check. And so his adventure spans 12 hours, each chapter dealing with each hour of his 'freedom,' as he literally stumbles onto a variety of situations and characters, nuns, punks, crazed mothers, toupee' wearing rockers, until he ultimately does find himself in a true world threatening situation."
With almost 20 years since "Eddy Current" originally arrived on the scene, McKeever's done a lot of work in the industry and has seen his own work change and grow. Compare his work on "Enginehead" with Joe Kelly last year to "The Extremist" in 1993 with Peter Milligan and on back to "Eddy Current" and you'll witness a noticeable creative evolution. You might think that looking over the original work McKeever would be inclined to go all George Lucas on the series, fiddling with it endlessly until it matches his current artistic output, but McKeever says he's not the type to do that.
"I tend to accept any given project at its completion. I spend a large amount of time prior to any story, 'Eddy' included, so that when I actually start on it, it's pretty much finished in my head, as an overall story that is. 'Eddy' was and is a product of my sensibilities on the world. Relationships, friendships, religion, super heroes, music, films, and when I wrote his 'voice,' it was actually my voice coming out of his mouth. So, if I were to have created 'Eddy' now, chances are it would sound the same, with the same humor and emotion, with maybe a bit of changes in the current events. At the time music censorship was a major issue and even though it still is, back in the '80s it was huge. And Tipper Gore was splattered across every headline as the leader of the Mothers Against . . . whatever the hell it was initialized. And so in my own way, I felt the need to show the evil side of that and from that grew the 'antagonists' in 'Eddy Current.'"
And while he may have created the series years ago, McKeever thinks the story in "Eddy Current" is timeless.
"It's about friendship and honor," said McKeever. "Bonds between unlikely souls. The values of heroes and the people who they touch and inspire. As well as the age-old quest for evil to be exposed and eliminated. It's definitely not caught up in fashion of its time, because everyone in it dresses to the beat of their own drummer. I was never into 'fads,' so I don't illustrate any given time period. I think, actually, it fits in today's sensibilities more than ever, especially considering the state of the comic industry's single-minded focus to give the readers what they think they want, rather than what the audience says they want. It's like a dog chasing its tail. Different dog now, but still running in the same circle."
In 1988 "Eddy Current" was nominated for an Eisner Award in the Best Single Issue category, but ultimately Eddy lost to the "Gumby Summer Fun Special #1" by Bob Burden and Art Adams. McKeever didn't mind too much. "Hey, if you gotta lose, better it be to Gumby having summer fun than some leotard! Seriously, being nominated then was like being handed a gift from Will Eisner himself. I was so new back then, having come from working at ABC News doing courtroom sketches and then finding myself nominated for a book I did with no expectations or visions of success and purely out of love for the medium. Then at the ceremony, Will comes up to me and says 'Remember, appreciate the fact that you are in the company of five nominees out of hundreds of creators out there, than to be picked one out of five." After that gift, I was just glad to be there. I don't know if it had a direct affect, but what it did was bring attention to my work, which in turn brought about greetings from creators I had very much admired, like Moebius and Dave Gibbons, Frank Miller, and Jack Kirby. I have never forgotten that time, and some of those people today are still good friends."
"Eddy Current" has a long publishing history, which McKeever detailed for us.
"The book got started after I had submitted ash-can copies of my first book 'Transit' to as many publishers as I could find," explained McKeever. "After I had decided to go with Vortex Comics out of Canada, I got a call from Jan Strnad, who at that time was starting up his new comic company Mad Dog Graphics. He'd asked if I had anything else, and I said I had this story in mind about a lunatic guy who escapes an asylum. Next thing, 'Eddy Current' was a go and so I started on the first issue as I neared the end of 'Transit's' run. As I got close to finishing the first issue of 'Eddy,' Mad Dog was putting out an anthology book called 'Splat' and I was asked if they could use the first few pages of the first issue. But rather than cut the book up like that, I said 'how about a prequel?' Five pages that kind of introduced Eddy's intentions at being, in his mind, a true 'super-hero.' How he saw the world and his 'super-self' in it. It was approved and so the story in 'Splat' was actually done after the first issue was almost completed."
In addition to the new collection of "Eddy Current," Ted McKeever fans have a number of projects to look forward to in the coming months.
"Ironically, I literally just completed a piece for a Will Eisner tribute issue of 'Comic Book Artist.' He lived right by me, and from time to time I'd see him, and we'd talk. So to get a chance to pay my respects creatively, it was a joy. Also, IDW Publishing is doing a hard cover series of adapted classic novels like Frankenstein and Dracula, and they asked me if I wanted to do the visual adaptation of 'War of the Worlds' that Steve Niles would be doing the text/story on. I said 'hell yeah' without reservation. There's also a couple other projects I have lined up with IDW. One Steve is writing, a brilliantly damn evil bastard of a story and after that a mini-series I'll be writing and illustrating."
Look for the first volume of the collected "Eddy Current" in April from Atomeka.