Archaia Entertainment today announced that they are launching a new series, Lantern City, based on a property that is already in development as a TV series and has seen a novel -- Rise: An Illustrated Novel -- released.
A class-conscious, dystopian steampunk adventure, Lantern City sees a world where the many life in squalor within the walls of the titular city, while the few live in luxury above.
We spoke with the creative team about what to expect from the series, now that it's coming to comics, and about the challenges of developing across multiple media at once. You can read on, or skip to the bottom for more details on just Lantern City is.
What was the genesis of the project?
TREVOR CRAFTS: I had the original idea on a cross-country flight from New York to LA in 2010. It was a simple question that popped into my head that became the core of what Lantern City would ultimately become: "How far would you go to be with the person you love the most?" I mapped out the main characters for the series and created the core story and visual elements. The idea kept rolling around in my head for the next year.
I was executive producing a pilot with Bruce Boxleitner in early 2011, and we got to talking about my next project, Lantern City. Bruce was captivated by the Steampunk, historical, and science fiction aspects to the story and we started hashing out some of the important details of the show. I could see we would need help so I called my good friend Matt Daley.
MATT DALEY: I came on board in early 2012 as a co-creator to help build and add to the world — from its history to all of its nuances — and map out character and series arcs.
TC: We all realized very quickly that Lantern City was going to be an epic property.
Trevor, what role do you play in guiding the comic?
TC: As creator of Lantern City, I'm like a producer on a film. I'm communicating constantly with everyone, approving the scripts and artwork. I'm making sure that the comic fits into the overall universe, since we are developing so many different aspects of the world.
What are the challenges of developing a property for multiple medias at once?
PAUL JENKINS: This is the fundamental premise of all-media projects: that they cross over into whatever form is appropriate. Star Wars could be a comic, film, game, novel, and other things, right? I think that is the answer — they can easily share the same creative space.
TC: With Lantern City, we always had a clear vision for the television series. It tells a particular story set in a specific era of this alternate world. While the television series will be an incredible experience for fans, it won't be able to touch on so many other aspects of that world.
MD: From the very beginning, Lantern City has been a property intended for multiple outlets. All of them will be set in the alternate world, but there are so many possibilities that a fan could partake in all of them and not be bored with them. There are so many layers to the world and there are great plans to explore them uniquely in different properties, from the television show to the comic book series to novels to films to video games. An advantage that Lantern City has is that this has been part of the project's DNA from day one.
Will the prose and comic properties share a world and continuity, or will they be based around the same premise but occupy their own spaces?
MD: The first prose property for Lantern City, Rise: An Illustrated Novel, is set a few centuries prior to the comic book series. They both take place in the same alternate world, but during different eras. Readers will see stark differences immediately but understand their connection to each other.
How did Carlos come to be involved in the project?
TC: The great thing about working with the team at BOOM! is that they have access to great artists all over the world. Matt and I made a list of our favorite working artists and Carlos was on both lists.
MD: Editor in Chief of BOOM! Matt Gagnon introduced Carlos to the project at New York Comic Con last year and his response was simply, "I'm in!" and agreed to be our artist on the spot.
What do you think is the biggest thing that Carlos brings to the table?
PJ: A gun.
MD: You only know that because you've worked with him before!
TC: It's true though, Carlos is a big gun!
MD: His sense of style is so strong and unique, yet it never gets in the way of the story. His work on Planet of the Apes is absolutely remarkable. He has an uncanny ability to blend the established principles of an existing world with his own style.
How did the world building happen? Did it start with the novel and move from there, or did you guys co-develop the art for the comic to help set a mood with Rise?
TC: The world was always a big one and Matt really helped develop Lantern City into the sprawling metropolis that it is now.
MD: The mantra that drives the project forward is, "The world has to feel real." Everything has to have a purpose and nothing can exist just because it was "cool." We really had to look at things like the history and conflicts of the world, the types of occupations, why the class system exists, what it takes to keep a society shut off and oppressed, and how to maneuver through all of these machinations. When I wrote Rise, it was a way to introduce our fans to the origins of those conflicts.
PJ: And world-building is something that develops over time. For example, the Lantern City concept has been alive and growing for some time. But world-building is something that adapts and grows — it is organic in nature. There are hundreds of tremendous ideas at play in the LC universe but more are added all the time. We've added new characters into the comic and adapted city designs to fit some story concepts. We've drilled into how the city is structured and where people live. Every chapter is an opportunity to build, but it only works with a solid foundation.
Steampunk works really well in comics. Are you worried about developing a look that holds up across live action for the TV show?
TC: We are actually thrilled to bring true steampunk to television; it's the last un-explored visual frontier on TV. We have taken real care to make sure that everything from the costume design to the cobblestone on the city streets has a shared design language. Our production team is the best in the business.
Obviously this feels like a very class-conscious work. Did that almost Dickensian kind of feel contribute to the decisions you made regarding the comic's look?
PJ: To me, it's much the same as Gotham informs Batman stories. The city is a big character in our story.
MD: The separation of classes has been ingrained in Lantern City from early on and it was always planned to have very distinct looks for the different strata of society. Even though our main character is from the working class section of Lantern City, which has a very dark and foreboding quality to it, it was important that his journey takes him through the ruling class and Underground sections as well in order to give readers a full sense of the city. Once readers are immersed in the world, they will quickly know where they are based on the look.
How deep into the politics of Lantern City do you get, versus how much you guys have figured out as background for the work?
PJ: I would say our story is a mix of family intrigue and megalopolis politics.
MD: True, this is not a comic book about politics, but it is a world where politics are integral to all levels of the society. Every character is impacted by the way in which the city operates. Most of the citizens accept their fate; those that don't, whether they have power or influence or not, face great obstacles.
As writers, you all come from very different backgrounds. What's that working relationship like?
PJ: I'm older than them. That means I get to throw my weight around and they punch me in the nose when they have had enough. But seriously, Matt and I have had fun collaborating in real time, working story into that dreaded format of 22-page comics. It's a fun experience.
MD: Every medium has its own unique rules and rhythms. Paul and I fell into a rhythm very quickly with issue one, it might be the fasted a comic book has ever been written. It also goes without saying that behind every writer is a great editor and I've loved the editorial process.
TC: Our editors on Lantern City, Rebecca Taylor and Mary Gumport, are incredible. Their feedback in shaping the work is invaluable. They've taken scripts that are good and made them great.
At the heart of Sander's story, as it's described by Archaia, is kind of a family drama. Do you think that's important, in terms of grounding characters in a world that doesn't physically resemble ours?
MD: Humans are social creatures. People have always needed one another. Family is one of the most universal commonalities that unites everyone, no matter where they are. Sander is taking on a role he is not only uncomfortable with, but one he adamantly opposes, all in the name of protecting his family. This will allow the readers to role play throughout his journey, constantly asking themselves, "Would I have done the same thing?"
PJ: Story begins and ends things—it is the only reason we dress up our ideas and sell them with words and pictures. So character is at the heart of everything, and that universal constant will never change…even if we have cool costumes and crazy cityscapes.
TC: It's true, for every exploration of Lantern City, in any media form, we always come back to the core question. It's always about love.
What's the biggest thing you want readers to know about the project that you haven't had a chance to say yet?
MD: This is only the tip of the iceberg.
PJ: People have been clamoring for projects and worlds that can cross into different media, and are intentionally designed that way. Lantern City provides that, and it also creates a great world of steampunk that in itself depicts an amazing environment and atmosphere. It's effing awesome!
TC: We are building this amazing place for fans all over the world. We can't wait to share it, in all its forms, with all of you.
You can check out the solicitation information from Archaia below.
Lantern City #1
Publisher: Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios
Authors: Paul Jenkins & Matthew Daley
Artist: Carlos Magno
Main Cover: Benjamin Carré (99%)
Jackpot Variant Cover: Carlos Magno (1%)
BOOM! 10 Years Variant Cover: Ben Caldwell INCV
Incentive Cover: Dave Dorman INCV
Format: 32 pages, full color
What's to Love: From the writings of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, to comics like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and Lady Mechanika, the detailed and imagination-fueled steampunk movement has excited fans worldwide. Set in an original, sprawling steampunk world, Lantern City explores everything we love about the genre and what it takes to change a person's place in the world.
What It Is:
Sander Jorve just wants to keep his wife and son safe. Living in the brutalized lower class of Lantern City means living in near constant darkness, the enormous walls of the city always looming overhead, while the upper class enjoys the elevated, interconnected towers and airships above. When Sander's brother-in-law, the persuasive activist Kendal, convinces him to infiltrate the brutal ranks of the Guard, he's set on a dangerous path that will test his abilities and beliefs, all in the name of making a difference for his family and his caste.