Dynamite recently announced a new Dejah Thoris series for their lineup, and at the helm is acclaimed science fiction writer Dan Abnett (Guardians of the Galaxy, Aquaman). With three decades under his belt and a love for Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series dating back to his youth, Abnett was made for the project.
The writer chatted with the Beat about tackling the Barsoom universe and the Princess of Mars.
Deanna Destito: You’ve been quoted as being a fan of the Barsoom stories. What about them drew you in?
Dan Abnett: They were amongst the earliest works of [science fiction] or fantasy I read, when I was very young, alongside obvious things like Tolkien. They really made an impression. Burroughs’ work has dated in parts, understandably, but his books are massively influential, and the Barsoom stories – now over a century old – are packed with ideas and world-building that have underpinned so much of the ‘big’ scifi we take for granted these days (that list would include Dune, Star Wars, Avatar, Superman…). They are also the epitome of the ‘planet story,’ an exotic and atmospheric sub-genre of early scifi, which is so deliciously easy to get lost in. When Dynamite asked me to write Dejah Thoris, I said yes immediately because Barsoom is an ingrained part of my imaginative DNA… and I was stunned how much continuity and lore I could remember from those days, years ago, when I read the books.
Destito: What are you bringing to Dejah Thoris that will be appealing for old and new fans?
Abnett: Dynamite asked me to explore the IP, much as I do with my Warhammer novels, or I did with Aquaman for DC Comics…to really make use of the wonderful world-lore. So I’ve tried to create a story that celebrates Dejah as a resourceful hero, and which places her at the heart of an epic Barsoomian plotline. I’ve tried to capture the spirit and atmosphere of the classic books, the sense of exotic and dynamic adventure. So it’s a big story, with lots of action, but also lots of supporting characters, a dynastic struggle with her at the heart of it, filled with intrigue and propelled by strong, character-driven moments.
Destito: How has it been working with the creative team?
Abnett: Really good. My enthusiasm for the project seems to have been taken up by everyone: the art and design, the lettering design… the artist, editor, and I have had some fun working out how new elements should look and feel so they fit into the classic ‘feel’ of the stories.
Destito: You’ve had a prolific career in the scifi genre. Is that where you feel at home? Are there other genres that you’d like to tap into?
Abnett: I absolutely do. That range is broad, throughout fantasy, through superheroes to harder scifi, and I love the points at which those things overlap. I think, for me, the crucial part is authenticity. Whether something is extraordinarily fantastical, or ultra realistic, the goal is to make it utterly credible and believable. As for other genres, I’ve always liked crime…and I haven’t written enough of what I’d call ‘horror,’ though I’ve overlapped there too, from time to time.
Destito: Are there other worlds you’d like to try your hand at?
Abnett: So many, to be honest. And given the fictional universes I’ve been lucky enough to explore, there aren’t many I haven’t touched upon. But I’ve been a fan of Star Wars since ’77, and I’ve never set foot there, so that would probably be top of my wish list.
Dejah Thoris #1 is slated to debut this December, with artist Vasco Georgiev (Xena), colorist Dearbhla Kelly (Red Sonja), and letterer Simon Bowland (James Bond Origins) rounding out the creative team. Fans can preorder their copy this month at your favorite local comic shop. Check it out digitally on Comixology, Kindle, iBooks, Google Play, Dynamite Digital, ComicsPlus, and more, or head to Dynamite’s website for more info.