On April 3rd, Ahoy Comics publishes one of it’s strangest tales yet. Bronze Age Boogie written by Stuart Moore is a yearbook of the 70’s era of comics.
What do you get when you combine all the best-loved comics genres of the 1970s: apes, monsters, Kung Fu, sword-and-sorcery, and cosmic adventure? You get Bronze Age Boogie, an intense, character-based action-fest with plenty of style! In this collector’s item first issue, young barbarian princess Brita Constantina finds herself battling a Martian invasion—in 1975 AD and BC! Back-feature: Meet Major Ursa, the first bear in space. But will he be a hero or a villain? Plus the usual assortment of Ahoy text stories!
Not to be outdone, on April 17, Planet of the Nerds written by Paul Constant brings back the comedy of the jock versus geek films of the 80’s. A book that’s a love letter to Weird Science and Revenge of the Nerds.
Three high school jocks in the 1980s are accidentally frozen by an experimental cryogenics device, only to be revived in the computer-driven, superhero movie-loving world of 2019, an era ruled by nerds!
After reading both these opening issues, I got the chance to talk to the writers of both these books about the influences and meanings behind each tale.
SM: I hadn’t thought of it that way, because I’m only interested in the fun parts! I guarantee that readers won’t have to sit through long scenes of stock car-chase footage, or settle for a “deadline doom” fill-in comic.
SM: I think this will be pretty obvious, but Marvel of the ‘70s was a big, big influence—not just the obvious titles by Gerber, Starlin, and McGregor, but the big meaty black-and-white magazines, too. In putting this book together, I was struck by the way those magazines were filled with extra features and prose stories…much the way we’ve tried to pack extra-value stories into the AHOY books.
SM: If you lean close, I’ll whisper the names LYNDA DARRK and JACKSON LI, MASTER OF MARTIAL ARTS. Both of them come into the story as we move along
PAUL CONSTANT: It’s the story of three popular high school jocks from the year 1988 who are cryogenically frozen in a freak accident. They’re revived in the year 2019, and they’re dismayed to learn that the world has been taken over by nerds. Everyone has a supercomputer in their pocket, comic book movies and cosplay are culturally ubiquitous, and super-nerds Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are two of the richest human beings on the planet. The jocks immediately decide to declare war on the nerds and reestablish themselves at the top of the social food chain.
CB: As someone who grew up in a time where you’d get beaten up for reading comics and playing D&D, now living in this world where it’s not only accepted but very much what’s in, was there a commentary on nerd culture as a whole you aimed to make with this story?
CONSTANT: I’m a little bit younger than the nerds and jocks in this story, but I’m still very much from a time when that jocks vs. nerds dynamic was the narrative in high schools around the country. I was a comic nerd who played D&D, and everything I knew about romantic relationships I learned from Spider-Man comics. But even today, if screenwriters want to make a character instantly likable, they frame them as a slightly antisocial nerd. It’s become shorthand in American culture for a relatable character, just as football players are often shorthand in high school stories for evil monsters. The whole thing has become a cliché.
What I wanted to do with PLANET OF THE NERDS was to reinvestigate that cliché, and to hold it up to the reality of our times and see if it still holds true. So, that’s a very astute observation on your part—the point of the whole series is to examine and comment on nerd culture, to see what’s still relevant and what’s changed in the decades since the jocks vs. nerds dynamic was first established.
CB: The newsprint look used in most of the first issue is such a great touch. Could you tell us a little bit about what that does for the story? Also, if there’s a chance we could see it again in upcoming issues?
CONSTANT: One of the things I love about working with Tom Peyer and Ahoy Comics is that they really do think deeply about every aspect of the creative team, and how each contributor adds something unique to the storytelling experience. When Tom put my first-issue script together with Alan Robinson on pencils and inks, Alan added a depth and dynamism to the characters that wasn’t there before. When Randy Elliott joined us to illustrate the backup stories which focus on individual characters, we learned important things about their interior lives.And when we saw what Felipe Sobreiro added to the colors—that gorgeous 80s-comic palette—we realized that Felipe was giving a whole new depth to the story, helping to take our jocks out of their own world and into a new one. Felipe will continue to deepen the story in issues ahead—just as the 80s jocks collide with the changing cultural language of our times, their color palette clashes with the modern day in interesting and challenging ways.
CB: These three out of time characters were the antagonists in their day, yet in the world they wake up in could actually be the characters with the deck stacked against them. Will this story be more of a reversal of place due to time or are we just headed for some sort of swirly war of jock vs nerd?
CONSTANT: The premise of the book suggests that it might just be a standard fish-out-of-water comedy, and there are certainly plenty of those moments sprinkled throughout PLANET OF THE NERDS. But the thing about taking fish out of water is that the fish die pretty quickly. You can only coast so far on those “wait a minute, you say that little slab of glass is a telephone?” kind of incredulous time-travel jokes.
What we’re doing with PLANET OF THE NERDS is investigating assumptions about the labels that we give ourselves and each other, and how those labels travel with us throughout our life. Nobody is as innocent or as evil as they first seem, and everyone has reasons for doing what they do. It’s an action-comedy with sex and fight scenes and a splash of sci-fi, but it’s also a satire that hopefully leaves everyone with a little something to think about.
But there are plenty of phone jokes, too, if that’s your thing!