The tales of Barsoom have been told since the beginning of the 20th century, yet the appeal of John Carter and other characters from Mars continues. This April, Dynamite is adding another installment to the mythos created by Edgar Rice Burroughs with John Carter of Mars #1. Award-winning writer Chuck Brown (Bitter Root, Aquamen) is on writing duties and illustrator George Kambadais (Firefly) takes on art and colors.
The Beat chatted with the creative team to discuss their take on the popular character and sci-fi universe.
Deanna Destito: What is the continued appeal of John Carter and the Barsoom universe?
Chuck Brown: John Carter has an amazing cult following. I think the appeal stems from that it’s the classic sci-fi story. These stories have aliens, adventure, war, and of course love. Burrows’ books suck you in and do not let go until the last page. Fans have a vast range of characters, worlds, and false gods to get lost in.
George Kambadais: For me at least, any story about heroics in a distant, strange land is appealing. Be it a fantasy land of elves and dragons or a faraway planet with new and exciting races of aliens. A story that generates such a childlike sense of wonder will never grow old.
Destito: How is your approach to this universe different from other incarnations?
Brown: In our comic, we’ll spend quite a bit of time on Earth as John and his friends deal with Martians that have come to our planet. Our story also takes place in the year 1919 and I don’t think that’s been done before…I could be wrong. We’ll be using all the classic elements of the John Carter universe but with a great deal more chaos on Earth and Mars.
Destito: How did you come up with this story and direction for the art?
Kambadais: This particular project is challenging in a unique way for me. I’m neither the first nor the last artist to work with this story. I have to make it different and memorable to make it interesting for the readers. My influences as I work on John Carter of Mars is a mix of every comic book artist I have ever admired, American and European alike as well as animated films. I take this approach as I feel that it is important for a story like this to be fast-paced and dynamic.
Brown: I wanted to really play with the Martian technology I’ve read in the comics and books. The idea that this technology or magic is unstable really sparked my imagination.
Destito: How is it working with this creative team and Dynamite?
Brown: It’s been very smooth. George and the editor Nate [Cosby] are great guys and fun to work with. Nate’s knowledge and love of these characters have been very inspirational and helpful. Even though we are all in different time zones we’re still in close contact and on the same page.
Kambadais: It might still be very early but I’m definitely excited. Everyone is great here and I feel that my colleagues are the best possible people to work with on a project with such a complicated story and history.
Destito: Who is your favorite character and why?
Brown: That’s a really good question. I really like Tars Tarkas because he’s so different than other Tharks. I’m a big fan of characters that are foes turned friends. He’s at the top of the list, but I’d have to say Dejah is my favorite. I love grounded characters with no superpowers. She is a princess and a warrior and can hold her own in a fight. She’s also a just and compassionate leader.
Kambadais: Dejah is definitely my favorite from the classics! I love strong female characters! Now for the story we are currently working on, I’m really excited about Lt. Fred Hines. I feel like he’s going to be a very important part of the story and I’m excited to see what Chuck is gonna do with the dynamic between him and John Carter.
Destito: What is it about this series that fans new and old can enjoy?
Brown: There will be a ton of action and bazaar events taking place in the series. We’re creating a story that can be read by someone that has never heard of John Carter. Yet, our tale will be filled with easter eggs and we’ll see George’s increasing interaction of the classic Martians, monsters, and gods the fans love.
Destito: Any plans for more Mars stories?
Brown: Let’s just say Mars is only the beginning of our series. We’re going to explore as much of the lore and mysteries the planet has to offer. Then we’re going to take things to another level!
Kambadais: If it was up to me, I’d work with Chuck on Mars stories forever!
John Carter of Mars #1 is solicited in Diamond Comic Distributors’ February 2022 Previews catalog, the premier source of merchandise for the comic book specialty market, and slated for release in April 2022. Comic book fans can preorder copies with their local comic book retailers. It will also be available on digital platforms such as Comixology, Kindle, iBooks, Google Play, Dynamite Digital, ComicsPlus, and more.