First Comics News: How did you become involved in creating comics?
Julian Darius: I’ve been writing comics since I was a teenager. In fact, I even went to a lawyer to try to arrange venture capital for a comics project, while I was in high school. But I didn’t start actually publishing comics until many years later when I’d founded Martian Lit and friends like Kevin Thurman encouraged me to push the publisher into comics.
1st: How was Martian Lit formed?
Julian: I founded it. I had experience with Sequart Organization, and I wanted to have something separate that could publish fiction. At first, Martian Lit focused on prose, poetry, and original art. But we’ve since moved into comics, and now I’m in the middle of a huge epic thing that’ll take me many years to finish.
1st: What is the mission statement of Martian Lit?
Julian: We focus on weird literature that does new things. We come from a literary place, where we don’t want to talk down to the reader.
1st: What is the basic storyline in “Martian Comics”?
Julian: Martian Comics is really the backbone of an epic that includes other titles, like Kimot Ren and Lazarus, the Forever Man. It’s an epic told over multiple books. The first one is “The Girl from Mars.” We’re working on multiple books at the same time, and a big part of the story is a retelling of Martian history, tracking historical developments and themes over generations.
1st: Why use Mars and not another planet?
Julian: It’s an homage to old sci-fi. I see Mars as our great Other, this planet just one planet over, onto which we’ve projected our anxieties throughout science fiction. So Mars allows me to get at what is to me one of the central functions of fiction: exploring viewpoints other than ourselves.
Also, Martian Lit (the publisher) came first. The basic backstory of Martian Comics was the backstory of Martian Lit: Martians were hiding and watching us, and this publisher was their idea of good fiction. It’s a neat little idea.
1st: How did you come up with the look for the Martians?
Julian: I had a lengthy description. Sergio Tarquini, who’s illustrating “The Girl from Mars,” designed them for Martian Comics #1, based on my description.
1st: You also write “Kimot Ren” how did you create Kimot Ren?
Julian: Kimot Ren is a Martian android, and I had been working on his story for some time before I realized that he didn’t belong in Martian Comics. He deserved his own book!
Andre Siregar designed the character’s look, based on my descriptions.
1st: Is having a robot as the main character a good idea for a comic?
Julian: Absolutely! I love stories with robots as the main characters!
1st: Do you have any ideas for other comics?
Tons! The problem is that I don’t have enough time and money to make them all!
1st: What has been your best and worst experience working at Martian Lit?
Julian: The thing I love most is seeing pages coming in. There have been lots of times when I have been depressed, and maybe even unable to write, when I’ve been able to look at these beautiful pages and think, “I’m doing something amazing here. This is so beautiful.” I’m in awe of artists, and the best art makes a story come alive in a way the writer helped steer but couldn’t have imagined with such visual completeness.
My worst experiences have to do with feeling depressed. Am I crazy to spend so much time and money on this? Will this find an audience? There’s so much commitment, in both time and money, in such a big, epic story told in comics form, and it’s hard not to ask these questions when low for other reasons.
1st: What makes a great comic book?
Julian: I think the best comics combine visuals and writing in exciting, and sometimes new, ways. I’ve lost interest in conventional fight scenes. Instead, I love stories that blend cool ideas with something that makes me think. If the story is told well, both visually and in the writing, and it makes me think, that’s a good comic.
1st: Where do you want Martian Lit to go next?
Julian: Martian Lit is going to keep publishing Martian Comics, Kimot Ren, Necropolitan, and Lazarus. We’re also launching The Synthetics in early 2018. Except for Necropolitan, these are all set in the same universe.
After Martian Comics #16, we’ll be ready to do our first collected edition of Martian stories, put in chronological order. It’ll be almost 300 pages, containing 19 stories by a wide array of artists. My hope is that readers will be able to see the sweep of this collection and really start to see the ambition at work, how we’re telling this huge story that’s like Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles combined with Gaiman’s The Sandman. We’ll follow that collection, over the course of the next year or so, with the first collections of “The Girl from Mars,” Kimot Ren, Necropolitan, and Lazarus. It’ll be nice to have these pretty collected editions to show people and say, “Look what we’re doing!”
Beyond this, there are long-term plans. In Martian Comics, we’ll keep working on “The Girl from Mars” along with these other stories, including a couple real epic ones. Readers are going to get a better idea of the key moments of Martian history, as we go along, and sort of see how everything fits together. Meanwhile, we’ll keep working on our other titles, for which I’ve got big plans too! I’m putting together a Martian Universe, which will eventually have a climax and an ending. Everything fits together, and when it’s done, it’ll be a huge triumph.
1st: Would you like to visit the Mars of “Martian Comics”?
Julian: I think so. I’m a fan of technology, so that would be fun. Plus, it’s impossible to refuse a trip to an extraterrestrial planet! Even a one-way ticket. How do you refuse that?!?
1st: Anything to say to the fans of your work?
Julian: Thank you so much for your trust and support. We can’t do this without you, and I’m constantly amazed by our fans. They’re incredibly kind. Martian Comics might not be for everyone, but the people who “get it” are among the kindest, smartest people around!