Yesterday saw the debut of Failure to Launch, a new anthology graphic novel being crowdfunded on BackerKit by Iron Circus Comics. The Kel McDonald-edited collection features stories of past fictional technological and societal innovations that have yet to come to pass. With the campaign now in full-swing, The Beat is pleased to present an exclusive excerpt from one of the anthology’s stories, “Rats” by Ryan Estrada & Aarón Cruz.

Here’s how Iron Circus Comics describes Failure to Launch:

Failure to Launch is a light-hearted, educational tour of the (so far!) unrealized technological and societal advances promised in years past, but which never came to be. What could have been, but wasn’t. It tells the tales of space utopias, incredible inventions, societal revolutions, robot pets, and even predictions of planet-wide Armageddon!

History is often written by the winners, but this time? Join us in spotlighting those whose dreams sputtered out, somewhere on the spectrum between disappointment and disaster. And we promise, it’s more fun than you think!

Talking to The Beat about “Rats,” writer Ryan Estrada described the story and his interest in telling it. “I’ve long been obsessed with this story of how a petty fight between a magician and a Morse code tycoon led to the end of the quest for free worldwide wireless energy,” Estrada said, “And the beginning of computer hacking and online trolling. So I’m thrilled that this book gave me the chance to make a comic about it.”

“When Ryan pitched me a story about an arms race between a stage magician and a legendary inventor, I thought it was a really cool concept for a fantasy adventure,” added artist Aarón Cruz. “It blew my mind when I figured out that it was actually a historical drama.”

Estrada & Cruz’s story is one of dozens included in the anthology. Check out the full list of stories and creators, along with the five-page excerpt from “Rats,” below. The crowdfunding campaign for Failure to Launch is live now, and runs until March 9th.

    • Bagels in Space by Helen Greetham

    • Birth by Blonsky by Dani Colman and Einar V. Másson

    • CGIdol by Victor Santiago and Bolu Oriowo

    • Dead Calls by Nakata “Knack” Whittle and Sam “SunnyShea” Roberts

    • Dead Eyed by Erin Keepers and Fend Hamilton

    • Death of a PC Repair Shop by E. Altman

    • Hemispheres by Violet Kitchen

    • Indestructible Bicycle by Rowan Oats

    • Lead Balloon by Katie Tiedrich

    • Little Islands by Blue Delliquanti

    • Lost Dogs by Iris Jay

    • Magic City, All of Fire by Evan Dahm

    • Milking It by Colin O’Mahoney and Mari Rolin

    • Ninit’i or The End by Kelci D Crawford

    • One Man’s Beast, Another Man’s Bacon by Triple Dream Comics

    • Panopticon by Shannon Saar

    • Pneumatic Tube to Nowhere by Cat Parra

    • Poma by Ashley Hasfal

    • Rats by Ryan Estrada & Aarón Cruz

    • When Do We Get Our Star Trek Future by J. Dalton

    • The Digesting Duck by C. S. Garcia Martinez

    • The First Union by Harry “Hbomberguy” Brewis and Skutch

    • The First Wind-Power Revolution by Matthew R Francis and Maki Naro

    • The Paradise Within Reach of All Men by Ryan North and Kel McDonald

    • The Pasilalinic Sympathetic Compass by Maddi Gonzalez and Alice Woods

    • The Rain-Making Machine by Lore Vicente

    • The Second Extinction of the Pyrenean Ibex by Erin Roseberry

    • The World Turns by Barbara Mazzi 

    • To Be Believed To Be Seen by Tuisku H.

    • What Happens at Midnight? by Colton Fox

    • Zigurats by André Valenté