Jet packs, sky pirates and mountaintop taverns.
Such are the elements of "Wild Blue Yonder," a five-issue comic book miniseries that centers on Cola, a skilled female teen upstart pilot whose adventures form a tale set in a world where humanity lives among the clouds in floating airships away from the broken, poisoned earth.
The first issue of the series from Mike Raicht, Zach Howard and Austin Harrison of Noble Transmission was released by IDW Publishing on Wednesday, seven years after Raicht wrote it in one sitting.
"I have always loved post-apocalyptic stuff, and I had this idea about guys with jet packs fighting each other with crowbars and axes and not being able to live on the earth," he said of the story, which came to life after a marathon writing session in a single sitting in a laundromat. "Pirates in the sky mixed with families and overcoming insurmountable odds."
While the story itself has been tweaked since the initial draft, Harrison said it still has the same spirit, noting that during story development, the three felt they were part of an "alchemy, a collaborative process where we essentially create a story that we all believe in."
Readers were hooked from the start, helping fund the trio's plans through the fundraising site Kickstarter which, in turn, drew IDW's attention. From there it was a matter of the trio working together to refine and focus on the five-issue story, blending Raicht's words and Harrison's scripts with Howard's art.
Howard, who's drawn for Marvel, Image, DC and Dark Horse, among others, calls the series a labor of love, adding that Harrison had approached him years ago about doing a book together and that all three were able to make the time to pursue the story they wanted to create.
"World-inventing is what Mike and I often do best. Technology, solar power fuel -- it's about bringing a reader and viewer into our world," he said of "Wild Blue Yonder," which is set on an earth where catastrophe has rendered the surface untenable for life and putting humanity in the skies where the struggle to survive -- and thrive -- is decidedly uncertain.
"It makes us feel like our hard work pays off," Raicht said of the story and the positive critical response to the issue. "You feel built into the world immediately."
Moore reported from Philadelphia. Follow him at http://www.twitter.com/mattmooreap
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